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Wildrose celebrates 38 years

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Photo by Georgia Skerritt
Photo by Georgia Skerritt

Last Friday, December 30, saw the city gearing up for a memorable New Year's Eve, but it also marked the 38th birthday of the beloved Wildrose.

Located at the intersection of East Pike Street and 11th Avenue, the Wildrose has been a front-runner in Capitol Hill's Queer nightlife scene since its opening in 1984. While the neighborhood boasts a variety of hot spots, like Queer/Bar, The Unicorn, Neighbours Nightclub, and CC Attle's, the Wildrose stands out as the oldest Lesbian bar in Seattle.

In recent weeks, the Wildrose team took to social media to announce their "Party Like It's 1984" event in honor of the bar's 38th anniversary, at which '80s attire was encouraged. By 9:00 p.m. on the 30th, the space was at maximum capacity, and the line to get in wrapped around the corner, filled with partygoers at various levels of excitement and anticipation.

Photo by Georgia Skerritt  

Upon entering, visitors were immediately swept up by the bustling atmosphere and friendly crew. Small groups of patrons sat at tables and booths lining the wall, nursing various drinks over long conversations with friends and family. Further in, warm and inviting staff members tended to the bar, offering a drink menu with several cocktail, cider, and beer options (all of the beers on tap from local breweries).

Photo by Georgia Skerritt  

In a recent conversation with the SGN, Wildrose co-owner Martha Manning explained that she and her team try to focus on partnering with local businesses, saying, "We love working with local folks and highlighting what's coming from the city."

Manning, who has had partial ownership of the space since September 2001 and currently co-owns with her business partner Shelley Brothers, explained that this focus also extends to music and artistic collaborations. While the Wildrose has previously hosted DJs and musical artists from several cities across the US, any opportunity to highlight local creators is honored. "For music, we do try to focus on LGBTQIA+ folks, and we also try to support local artists as much as we can," Manning said.

For last Friday's event, the team invited Ricki Leigh to mix music for the night. She's been based in Seattle for over 10 years; her website describes her as "one of the premier female DJs on the West Coast," and indeed she is. Throughout the night, throngs of eager attendees sang along and danced to Leigh's music lineup, including crowd favorites like Katy Perry, Nelly, and Beyoncé.

Photo by Georgia Skerritt  

Beyond the dance floor itself, the rest of the venue set a subtle tone, with neon signs and numerous houseplants throughout offering a refreshing dose of decoration. Between the dance floor and the back seating area, lit tastefully in red , was a mural of a rose, one of the bar's signature features. The mural, which often garners attention on social media as a photo backdrop for visitors, was done by another local artist, Takiyah Ward, who was also a major contributing artist in to the June 2020 Black Lives Matter street lettering next to Cal Anderson Park.

Manning explained that the New Year's Eve party thrown the next evening was equally, if not more, busy — both events were at maximum capacity all night. With such an enthusiastic reception from the community, the Wildrose team looks forward to more full houses in the new year. "In supporting the community, they absolutely support us back," Manning said about both visitors and partnering artists alike. "We're like a community center a lot of the time."

While most of us are hopefully entering 2023 in good spirits, we still have a couple of months of winter cold to get through before we can start to enjoy the lakes and beer gardens again. In the meantime, be sure to ring in the new year with a visit to the Wildrose and get a taste of one of Capitol Hill's most beloved Queer venues. It surely won't disappoint.

The Wildrose is located at 1021 E. Pike St. and is open Tuesday—Sunday every week. To follow its schedule and snag tickets to upcoming events, visit its profile on Facebook or Instagram for up-to-date info.