Prizm News / August 1, 2018 / By Celina Nader
Our gathering places might be fading away, but Slammers has been serving Columbus strong drinks and hot pizza for 25 years.
By Celina Nader
I walk in on a Friday night around 11 p.m. and order a gin and tonic. I’ve been here before, so I’m not surprised at the strength of my drink, which is more like four G&Ts squeezed into one.
A few friends shoot darts by the front door. A cute girl wearing plaid and a cropped haircut picks up her pizza to-go order, and an older lesbian couple orders drinks at the bar.
Women’s softball games and “Modern Family” reruns play on the TVs above the bar. Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” fades into Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” courtesy of the communal jukebox.
The dress is comfy-casual: snap-backs, flannel and cargo shorts.
Most of the women here seem to be above 35, and many have been coming to this bar since opening day in 1993. The bartender tonight, Nikki, has been working here for almost four years. She describes Slammers as her family, and I don’t doubt this.
While slinging drinks, she maintains full conversations with almost every customer at the bar. She met her wife at Slammers, and her wedding party was made up of Slammers coworkers and customers. This is her second home. When asked why Slammers has remained while other lesbian bars have shut down, her answer is simple.
The concept hasn’t changed: chill vibes, cheap drinks, fun events, open to all.
Oh, and the pizza is incredible.
I venture outside, passing the pool table and an empty stage. The spacious patio has plenty of seating, an active cornhole game and a lighted pergola fitted with outdoor heaters. Tonight, the place is fairly empty, with a scattering of people enjoying drinks and each other’s company. The crowd at Slammers is either quiet and sparse (weeknights), or so packed that you can’t move a foot without running into a babe with an undercut (Pride weekend).
On this calm Friday night, a few lesbian couples congregate under the pergola with beers and cigarettes. Among them is Mary, a regular who visits Slammers at least twice a week. She’s only been coming for the last couple of years but has quickly become part of the Slammers family. Last week, she styled Nikki’s hair and makeup for her wedding.
Mary and her girlfriend have Tuesday date nights here, which they’ve dubbed “Kiki Tuesdays” for one of the bartenders who works every Tuesday and knows how to hold a good conversation. Mary lives just a mile away and frequents other bars and clubs, but not as much as she does Slammers. This is her home bar, where everyone knows her name (cue the “Cheers” theme song), where the crowds aren’t overwhelming and she can relax with friends.
She describes Slammers as “easy.” It’s easy to come here, easy to feel at home here. There’s no pressure and no pretense.
“It’s inclusive, welcoming to everyone, and you see all kinds of people here. But it’s so nice to be able to say that we have a lesbian bar here in Columbus,” Mary tells me. “No matter where we spend our evening, we always end up here.”
My girlfriend, Jordan, ends up joining me on Slammers’ patio. We grab another round of drinks. We happen to run into a group of our friends. We hold hands freely.
Someone orders a pizza nearby and shares with the people around them. This is where we congregate.
Slammers celebrates an historic 25 years in business on Friday, Aug. 31 with a massive party, and we wouldn’t miss it. Even the most reclusive lesbians leave their cats and their movie nights, don their snap-back hats and snazzy shirts, and come to Slammers to have a drink and catch up with friends.
This is where people from every part of the LGBTQA spectrum lean back and laugh and get a little tipsy together.
This is where we celebrate who we are, as individuals and as a community.
This is where we always end up.
Celina Nader is a Syrian-American writer, chef and blogger currently working on a collection of creative nonfiction stories about the Syrian people and their lives during war. You can read more of her writing at insatiableblog.com or follow her on Instagram at @Insatiableblog.
FIND OUT MORE
• Slammers is at 202 S. Long St. in Downtown Columbus. It’s open from 11 a.m.-midnight Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. on Fridays, 3 p.m.-2:30 a.m. on Saturdays, and 2 p.m.-midnight on Sundays. The bar is closed on Mondays. Visit slammerspizza.com or FB: Slammers.
• Slammers pizza is available to go or for delivery through Uber Eats and Grub. We recommend The Sicilian.
• Slammers is still putting together the details for its 25th anniversary celebration, but keep tabs on it via their Facebook events page.