Union Jack, the First Gay Business on Cedar Springs, Is Closing

Categories: Biz

UnionJackDallas.jpg
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Cedar Springs Road wasn't always the heart of Dallas gayborhood. Until Richard Longstaff, a British expat, opened Union Jack in 1971, there probably wasn't a gay-owned business on the block, according to a 2011 Dallas Voice article.

It was, the paper reported, surrounded by pool halls, grocery stores, a bookstore specializing in Texas history, and an arrow-straight beer joint. When Longstaff put go-go boys and a drag queen in his store window for gay pride, the bar's owners called the cops.

Most of those businesses are long gone. Union Jack, though, has been a constant, an anchor for the LGBT-oriented businesses that came to dominate the strip. It even played a bit role in LGBT legal history when Longstaff waged a legal battle against the U.S. government for denying him citizenship on the grounds that homosexuality equated to "psychopathic personality." He ultimately lost the case.

But Union Jack will soon be no more. The Voice reported yesterday that the clothing store is closing.

"It has been a wonderful experience, watching all the changes that have taken place on Cedar Springs during this period and history being made," he wrote in an email to the paper.

The changes have been coming rather quickly of late. In the last 10 months, the strip has lost two other mainstays: Nuvo, which decamped for a smaller spot a couple of blocks away, and Buli, which is shutting down.

Before that it was The Bronx and Crossroads Market, which was priced out.

When Union Jack shuts its doors in about a month, it will leave Round-Up Saloon, age 33, as the oldest business on the block.

"We hate to see old businesses go that have been there so long," Round-Up co-owner Alan Pierce says. "[Longstaff]'s been a major contributor to the economy of this block."

That said, Pierce doesn't agree with those who are bemoaning Cedar Spring's demise. He sees the churn on the block as a natural evolution rather an indication of some fundamental shift in the character of the block. Old businesses close, and new businesses take their place. His business, he says, is as strong as its ever been.

Pierce hopes -- and expects -- that new restaurants and retail will take the space of the departed businesses, thus generating the foot traffic the strip needs to thrive.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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34 comments
roo_ster
roo_ster

Maybe Robert Jeffress can open a satellite branch of First Baptist in the retail space?

shawn4848
shawn4848

awwwww....oh the humanity of homos having to go somewhere else to butt ram each other...MAY THEY ALL GO AWAY....

brad.mason.dallas
brad.mason.dallas

Original OP was on Denton Dr and Maple Ave at the converge right before Lemmon where the DART train station is now.  Then the OP was where the DMN is now and I remember lines around the block after 2AM when all the other bars closed and yes they had 5 dance floors.  Never carded and served alcohol after 2AM.  There was D3, it was the Saint, a New York chain leather bar which was sort of over by where the Ritz Carlton is now. Where the old Round Up used to be off Maple was THE original Eagle leather bar with a Harley hanging from the ceiling.  


Corner of Lemmon and OakLawn had black and white striped awning

Use to a be a tiny place called Magnolias in between where the Round-Up is now and Union Jack used to be on that side of the street.  Ah yes, and the Snake Pit where nude dancing was allowed of of Turtle Creek back near the tracks.  Jocks with a runway for strippers where Uncle Julio's is now on Lemmon.  The Unicorn on Lemmon where which catered to the African American crowd.  The HideAway on Lemmon and Inwood in a strip shopping center which catered to lesbians.  I bartendered their in the day where I had to cut of a patron who came back with a gun.  Luckily we had a big bouncer.  


Places to eat after the bar closed were Lucas B&B diner on Oak Lawn where every waitress was a Flo with big hair and a cigarette and The Baked Potatoe behind Mckinney Ave where you get a huge baked potatoe with a flurry of choices as garnish. Great for soaking up the alcohol.  Village Station turned into "The Cave" and then moved to where it currently is.  Man, that was the day!  and the Razzle Dazzle at the Convention Center and an abandoned city vehicle storage facility off Lemmon after Maple.  Used to be an old movie theater off the "bad" side of Fitzhugh owned by a florist in town which also had strippers and of course that part of town was a bit seedy.  Dale Evans, Frank Caven all made a huge difference for the gay community in Dallas at the time.  Corruption occurred but there was also a community.

rusknative
rusknative

I had NO IDEA that the DO was a blog hangout for gays, thought it was just a bunch of ancient hippies and misfit liberals.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

I have ancient memories of that street, going back to the 80s.

I bought a couch at a vintage shop there circa '85. Not Crossroads Market, which sold antiques then, but I can't remember the name. Nuvo was better as Arresta then, too.

Off the Street had great cards, but nobody sends them anymore.

Man, Old Plantation, that roach infested wood paneled dump, was so much more fun than any of the iterations that have followed. Of course happy hour back then meant dime drinks.  I even sometimes feel nostalgic for the sticky floors in Big Daddy's. Who'da thunk a nail salon would be the current occupant?

Now there's lots of vacancy. Maybe we can get a Starbucks on the Strip!

rubberduky
rubberduky

Hahaha--- Richard Longstaff -OR- Dick Longstaff...... ohhhh this is killin' my sides right now.

lecterman
lecterman

This guy has the best name ever.

jmckee3
jmckee3

I sometimes question how important the strip really is these days, sure I enjoy the bars but when I decided to settle down in a more permanent situation I didn't even consider Oak Lawn, too much drama and found that a ton of other gays had made the same choice to settle in Uptown, it's still mostly safe and accepting and the Strip is a short cab ride away but it isn't so hyper focused on our gay identities.

JackJett
JackJett

@brad.mason.dallas brad....you are in the know my man of the 70's.   Several times I have mentioned the original Old Plantation ...was LIKE an old plantation.   Yet no one other than me ever recalls that.   Thus I started thinking it might have been due to some acid called Mescaline that I use to take from time to time to alter the State.   My thought was I had altered too much.  By any chance do your remember ...Michael Andrews or Satchi who use to perform at the Bayou Landing?

ThickFreak
ThickFreak

they definately love the sausage here

JackJett
JackJett

@rusknative Rusky....NO....everyone on this PLANET pretty much knows that this particular website is about as gay as it gets.  Gay men and women from around the world flock to this site to get the insight on ALL that is gay in Dallas.  

I can't believe that it has taken you so long to figure it out.   If you are looking for SOLID Hetero blogging, you should check out the fine folks at D.  You can rest assured you will never find a posting there that is remotely gay positive.   Nor will you find hippies or misfits.  Some of the most uppity right wing vagina hangs out there too.   Woo Hoo for Vay Jay. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@rusknative I guess you have not read much here then, the comments on this blog are more diverse than many other blogs Ive read

JackJett
JackJett

@Montemalone M....I am thinking that we might be in the same age category.........Union Jack was the go to place for Levi 501's and they seem to keep up with great clothing for dudes over the years.  Never over priced.  I remember the first Old Plantation which was in an OLD Plantation style house but can't remember where it was located.

By any chance do you remember on of the first gay clubs in Dallas called The Bayou Landing? 

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@jmckee3You do realize that "Uptown" is the name developers gave to Oak Lawn east of Turtle Creek to get the stigma of "gay" off so they could sell condos to yuppies, right?

brad.mason.dallas
brad.mason.dallas

@JackJett @brad.mason.dallas  Yep - forget about Bayou Landing, one of the very first.  And the lesbian bar was High Country not Hide Away, that was the piano bar.  The movie theater bar on Fitzhugh was Inman Theatre, had a round swimming pool in the middle with a big fountain and men in swim suits dancing as gogo boys.  Terry Inman owned a florist shop on Oak Lawn where the Post Office is know. a blue two story old home, florist shop on the bottom and he lived on second floor.  He purchased the house which was the funeral home where they obtained the casket for JFK which was taken to Parkland to transport his body back on Air Force One.  My partner worked for Terry for several years and he called me up one day at work and asked I wanted to go to San Francisco, that Terry was flying his entire staff out which was 10 people on a whim.  We arrived that morning from DFW, did all the touristy stuff, Irish coffee in Sausalito, Seal Beach, China Town, Castro, Tenderloin, dinner and flew back on the red eye.  Fun times...

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@JackJett@MontemaloneI don't know that one. I remember O.P. was in the same place as the dance club is now. Station 4? I never go out. It was a 2 story place with a balcony on 2nd floor overlooking Cedar Springs. JRs was just a single storefront on the corner. Off the Street was next door, then there were a couple little bars. That's when the bars were smaller and there were more of them. 

4001 was there were the underwear store is now. Entry in the back.

And there was a little dance club next to the thai place we used to go to, can't remember what it was called either. I'm surprised I remember anything.

Then there was the record store, miss that place. Still have all the vinyl I bought there during the Starck era.



pedro527
pedro527

I do...first gay bar I ever went to, back in 1975...was billed as the biggest gay bar in the country...5 dance floors...wasn't it where the DMA now is? 

CleetusR
CleetusR

why, are you wanting to be his 9th grade teacher or something ya perv?

jmckee3
jmckee3

I do realize that the PD 193 overlay known as the Oak Lawn district covers the Uptown PID, the State Thomas historic district and Turtle Creek but yes I would call them all distinct neighborhood and obviously so with different forces that guided their development, image and demographics.

JackJett
JackJett

@Montemalone@JackJett M.....From your gay geography knowledge, I am guessing that you are about 10 years younger than myself.  I moved from Dallas to LA in 1976.   I missed the Stark club era but I do remember a club called The D 3 which I think was near(or at) Lovefield.

JackJett
JackJett

@pedro527 Pedro......so glad that you remember that club as it confirms it was not a figment of my drug induced youth.  Yes it was on Pearl and was the happening place for a long time.  Great original drag shows.


JackJett
JackJett

@Montemalone@rusknative@jmckee3 M...Please don't forget the time we spend destroying the sanctity of marriage or creating earthquakes and hurricanes.  These things are time consuming and thus the reason we can never afford to purchase things like Condos.  

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