Whatever Happened To Butch Dykes?

kd lang

On a lesbian night out in Dublin, Licky Rake found herself surrounded by a phalanx of femmes. Where the hell have all the butch dykes gone, she wants to know?


Emerging like an albino tortoise from a coma, I decided to fling myself into the new year. And what better way than bumping and grinding with my fellow lovely lesbians of Lesbania on the dancefloor of a girls’ club?

If you’re a woman of a ‘certain age’, like I am, you’ll know the drill when it comes to lezer nights out. You and your pals need to spend a few weeks beforehand talking about the event, because lesbians need a longer lead in time to nights out than gay men or straight people. Fact. The gals in couples will smugly ask their single mates about what their pulling strategy will be on the night. The single gals will be left in no doubt that if they don’t score they’ll be made to feel like Shrek. The single gals don’t need to worry too much about this, since most of the couples will cancel on the night itself, anyway.

Once you get through theButch Dykes doors of a lezer club, there’s a definite sense of relief and pride at being surrounded by so many other gay women. You know you’re in a ‘Sapphic’ club because they play music other clubs scoff at. (Eve and Gwen Stefani’s ‘Blow Ya Mind’, anyone?). The age range is huge, from younger gals charging around like little bunny rabbits on speed, to older women lounging on the sidelines, wondering where the old gang has gone. It always takes forever to get served at the bar. (This is because no bar manager in the history of Lesbania has ever believed a lezer club promoter when she said: “They’re big drinkers. You’ll make a killing! Just make sure you have enough staff on’.)

Crushed in a queue at the bar, because there wasn’t enough staff on, waiting for ‘Blow Ya Mind’to come on, I looked around and realised there was a big gaping hole in the make-up of my first lezbotic night on the town for 2014. A gaping hole that should have been filled with the beaming smile of a butch dyke. I checked all around me and couldn’t find a single, solitary one.

Let’s talk about butch dykes. By butch dyke, I don’t mean someone with one side of their head shaved who’s not wearing heels. I’m talking about a good old-fashioned, leather-wearing, skin head, thick-wristed BUTCH DYKE.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of having a butch dyke hold a door open for you or light your cigarette, then you are missing out on a vital part of the lesbian experience. If you to accept a seat from a lovely butch, it doesn’t make you any less the independent young feminist you claim to be. In fact it’s the opposite. Butch dykes turning heteronormative ideas of femininity on their heads. Butch dykes point out the various shades of grey in our feminine/masculine make-up, and most importantly they give power to a section of our community that can sometimes be too easily mocked.

In the same way the feminine looking gay guy stubbornly swishes into the night, not giving a fuck about comments or looks he gets, so does the butch woman swagger forth. She’s safe in the knowledge that she will take the word ‘dyke’ as compliment, no matter what way it’s shouted at her. If you have had the pleasure of a butch dyke insisting you perch your pretty little bum on a bar stool next to her, you will also have had the pleasure of being flirted with by the best in the business. Somebody who puts that much time into tying an authentic bowtie will put a lot of effort into wrapping you around her chunky little fingers. Fact.

Some people would say that the ever-increasing visibility of transgender people has given butch women the option to become men, which is great for those who need that option. But it makes me wonder about all the butch women I’ve met in my life. Strong women who don’t want to be men, who love women and love being lesbians, who love their place in lesbian society, who love being seen as a dyke, who love their denim, their leather, their motorbikes, their zippo lighters, their uniforms and their strap-ons. (Oh, for a strap on!) Where are these women? Are they all in Cork now?

As we hurtle towards marriage equality I look around at a lezer night and see loads of women who would love to wear a wedding dress, and very few who would wear a black leather cop suit up the aisle, and that makes me sad. As we strive for acceptance are we running towards bland hetero assimillation and turning our back on exciting queer individualism? All the colours of the rainbow blurring into endless white wedding table settings.

Lovely butch dykes where are you? I need you to buy me a drink!

Licky Rake will be launching a series of exciting new lesbian nights. LICKY CHATS speed dating, Lickys  ‘Valentines Love Inn’ and bringing the Chicago drag king and burlesque troupe, The Windy City Blenders back to Dublin for their ten-year anniversary in an explosion of fake moustaches and feather boas. Follow Licky on twitter here and keep an eye on her website for further details

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