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    Dykes on Bikes® and Amelia’s

    LGBTQ community leader Rikki Streicher (1922–1994) opened Amelia’s bar and dance club in 1978 at 647 Valencia Street in the Mission District. Streicher named it after the legendary aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. The Mission District, and particularly Valencia Street, became a gathering place for lesbians from the 1970s through the early 1990s, and was home to several organizations and businesses that catered to women. The Women’s Building is still there, but it was also home to the Old Wives Tales bookstore, the woman-only bathhouse Osento, and a lesbian club known as the Artemis Society.  

    It was additionally a home for the fledgling Dykes on Bikesâ, then called the Women’s Motorcycle Contingent (WMC), who had their early meetings at Amelia’s.

    The WMC evolved out of a brave group of women motorcyclists who gathered at the head of the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade (now Pride Parade) in 1976. One of these women coined the phrase “Dykes on Bikes®” and the San Francisco Chronicle picked it up and ran with it. For the next several years, riders just showed up and rode in the Parade as part of no formal organization or registration.

    That began to change when LB Gunn, Kalin Elliot-Arns, Christine Elliot, Sabine Balden, and Mel started the WMC. At first, they met at a private home, but then meetings were moved to an upstairs room at Amelia’s. When Amelia’s closed in 1991, the meetings were moved to The Eagle Tavern, at 12th and Harrison Streets, where Dykes on Bikesâ meetings continue to be held.

    Given the Dykes on Bikesâ connection to Amelia’s, it seemed fitting to feature Amelia’s on the latest in a series of commemorative shot glasses honoring historic lesbian bars of San Francisco. The Amelia’s shot glass will be handed out at the Dykes on Bikes 45th Anniversary celebration at Divas & Drinks @ The Academy in the Castro on August 27, 6–10 pm. The San Francisco Bay Times is proud to partner with The Academy on the event. Thanks to Audry deLucia and Fran Herman of ellaprint for creating this and the other shot glasses in the series.

    Published on August 26, 2021