Garden of Allah (cabaret)

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The Garden of Allah was a mid-20th century gay cabaret that opened in 1946[1][2] in the basement of the Victorian-era Arlington Hotel in Seattle's Pioneer Square. It was Seattle's most popular gay cabaret in the late 1940s and 1950s[3] and one of the first gay-owned gay bars in the United States.[1] Prior to becoming a cabaret, the space had been a speakeasy, during Prohibition, and then a tavern.

The Garden catered to both gay men and lesbians, though hetero tourists and military personnel on leave also visited. Acts were primarily female impersonation, though some male impersonators also performed; the former sometimes included stripping. One act was the professional female-impersonation Jewel Box Revue,[4] though that act was largely geared to and supported by hetero people.[1]

Patrons report that the cabaret became like a "family" or "support group,"[3] and Don Paulson, author of An Evening at the Garden of Allah: A Gay Cabaret in Seattle, noted that he believes the sense of community and group consciousness produced by the Garden was what made the gay rights movement of later decades possible.[1]

The Garden closed in 1956, when a combination of a rate raise from the musicians' union and a raise in city taxes on locales that provided both entertainment and alcohol put it out of business.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Paulson, Don (1996). An evening at the Garden of Allah: a gay cabaret in Seattle. Columbia University Press. 
  2. ^ Cohen, Steven (2005). Incongruous entertainment: camp, cultural value, and the MGM musical. Duke University Press. p. 12. 
  3. ^ a b c Atkins, Gary (2003). Gay Seattle: stories of exile and belonging. University of Washington Press. pp. 62–. 
  4. ^ Haggerty, George E. (2000). Gay histories and cultures: an encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. p. 158. 

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Coordinates: 47°36′00″N 122°20′03″W / 47.60000°N 122.33417°W / 47.60000; -122.33417