PROVINCETOWN — Since the Pied Bar at 193A Commercial St. closed in 2018, this gay mecca has been without a dedicated lesbian space.
But for one night only on Monday, July 10, New York’s Cubbyhole — a legendary lesbian watering hole known for its inclusivity and mixed crowd — is coming to town in the form of a pop-up at the Gifford House, sponsored by the Provincetown Business Guild.
The party is the brainchild of Carmen da Silva and Sam Sewell, partners in life and in Babes and Bois, a roving series “for the queer and sapphically inclined” that they launched last winter to help counter the evaporation of lesbian and queer space in town. Da Silva is the manager at Perry’s Fine Wines & Liquors, while Sewell has a theater and sound design background and recently became the town’s assistant director of tourism.
When the pair walk down the street, people stop them to ask where they hang out, Sewell said. “They’ll ask, ‘Where are the women in town?’ ” said Sewell. “We were like, ‘We need to come up with an answer.’ ”
Combining their production and hospitality experience, the duo has launched a slate of events with and for Provincetown’s lesbian, queer, trans, and nonbinary folks — from weekly Tuesday takeovers at the Provincetown Brewing Co. to a cheekily titled “cliterary book club” at the Crown & Anchor. Last week’s Tuesday event drew a crowd from up-Cape and beyond.
“We’re just taking this ball and running with it,” Sewell said. Business owners are now actively reaching out to collaborate, da Silva added. “It speaks to how needed this is,” she said.
Trevor Pittinger, the associate director of the Business Guild, said that Sewell and da Silva are “hitting a bull’s-eye in terms of what’s been needed culturally to engage younger queer folks.”
In conversations with Babes and Bois, Pittinger pitched the idea of a full-blown party during Bear Week, “the week in P’town that’s most skewed towards men,” he said. “I think there’s something really beautiful about providing such a massive foil to what’s going on in the rest of the community.”
Da Silva, Sewell, and Pittinger all have fond memories of visits to the Cubbyhole and reached out to bar owner Lisa Menichino, who has her own Cape connections. “Talking with some of the older women in town and letting them know about the event, they all have some Lisa story,” Da Silva laughed.
As its programming expands, Babes and Bois is building on a legacy of creative queer placemaking, from Kristen Becker’s Dyke Dock party series to Lynette Molnar’s themed weeks like Girlsplash.
“We’re just two people with two points of view,” Sewell said. “We’re not trying to speak for a whole community.
“But it just seems like there’s such want for a space,” she added. “And however you identify, we’re hoping that more people can feel comfortable and safe in this town.”