St. Louis Celebrates Nancy Novak, Legendary LGBTQ Pioneer, This Weekend

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Novak's closed in 2013. - RFT FILE PHOTO

As the proprietor of Novak’s, St. Louis’ top lesbian dance club, Nancy Novak unified Midwestern queer culture.

Novak’s was more than just a bar, it was a gathering space that offered a sense of community to people who often didn’t feel like they had a place to call home. Not only was it the top spot in town to find a new partner (or a new fling for the night), the bar was also instrumental in building all types of relationships up until it closed in 2013.

From the loud, out and proud to the shy and curious, Novak’s was a place that welcomed all sexualities, genders and allies. During the day it was a great spot to grab a basket of chicken wings or watch the latest episode of The L Word, but at night it turned into a full-on club with seemingly all of St. Louis either dancing in the windows along Manchester Avenue, kicking back outside on the patio or making out back in the pool room.

Nancy Novak designed the space to be inclusive and generations of St. Louisians reaped the rewards. And it wasn’t just city residents who appreciated the space, Nancy’s spot was a weekend road trip destination for people from less-tolerant lands like Dittmer, Marthasville or Troy, Missouri.



She gave so much to the St. Louis queer community and now its the community’s turn to give back. Novak has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and there is a huge party scheduled for tomorrow night to raise funds, celebrate her many contributions and return her love.

The party starts at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Just John (4112 Manchester Avenue; 314-371-1333) and runs until 9 p.m. There will be Novak’s shirts for sale at the event and likely plenty of other ways to donate, too.

This will be one big St. Louis queer culture reunion (you’re guaranteed to run into all of your exes), so dress to impress, pack your spare dollars and get to JuJo this weekend to honor a legend.

More details about the party can be found at the Facebook event page.

Email the author at jaime.lees@riverfronttimes.com
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