History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Businesses - Bars and Clubs

Location: 135 E. National Avenue, Milwaukee WI


June 1988
February 2012

Male/ female
Bar/ social

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Read about Milwaukee's second major Concentration of LGBT Bars


Late in 1987, Al Thomas was looking for a location for a new gay bar. He saw an ad that D.K.'s Bar, a lesbian bar, was for sale, and decided it might be a good location for gay bar- perhaps lesbian, perhaps gay.

Meanwhile, the location was in the area fast becoming the primary concentration of LGBT bars in the city. (These are documented in the "Milwaukee Bars Region 2" page.) All of these other LGBT bars in the area during this time meant there would always be new, younger people discovering his new bar as it was that close to other bars.

On December 5, 1987, Dotie held a farewell party for customers and staff of D.K.'s Tavern. On the very next night, the bar re-opened, and new owner Alan Thomas (formerly a resident of Kenosha who had bought the business and moved up to Milwaukee) declared it was "still a women's bar" and would retain the same staff and name. But within a few months business had shown that a change was needed; Al renamed the business The Triangle in June 1988 and reopened as a gay bar. (IS SO 4-20)

On its opening, Triangle was extremely popular as "the" place to start a Friday or Saturday prior to migrating to La Cage (the popular nearby dance club), and Triangle typically picked up in business again close to closing time as a last stop. Over time, Triangle became popular for occasional shows and other events (including annual holiday parties), and added an outdoor patio. It was also a relatively early bar, often times the best place to be for people wanting a few drinks or to socialize right after work (4:00-6:00pm).

The Triangle has had its share of ups and downs in business, but survived through several changes in ownership and customer base. At one point (in 1998) two popular bartenders left, opening their own gay nightspot Fluid (located closer to La Cage), and taking a good number of customers with them.

The final chapter however began some years later, in March 2011, when James (James Marr, aka Lana St. James) died suddenly. Ownership passed to a family member, but the bar was already suffering from a severe drop in popularity- partly due to the economy, as well as a failure to keep current and attract new clientele. The bar was closed briefly in February 2012 for an ownership change and licensing issue, but then held its Final Party on Friday, April 27, 2012. A last bash private party was held on Saturday afternoon, April 28, with free drinks and an excellent buffet catered by the La Meranda restaurant (next door)-- after which Triangle closed its doors for good.

    Owners of the Triangle bar were:
    - Al Thomas, 1987-c1995
    - Rob Bruckner, c1995-2000
    - James Marr (aka Lana St. James), 2000-2011
    (James Marr died March 2011, leaving the bar to his mother.)

Recollections: The following are recollections of others who have been kind enough to submit their personal memories to the webmaster. You are welcome to do the same! (Recollections collected and organized by Jamie Taylor.)

    "The bar is currently owned by James (aka Lana St. James) This bar has seen it's changes over the years. James added more video screens, removed some of the built in tables to make room for dart machines and a stage. The stage and video center/magazine rack was built by a very talented carpenter... me.. lol. The place had the strangest men's bathroom. When you walked in, you had to walk past the toilet to get to the urinal. Imagine having to do more than just pee there. That has since been changed. Lots of time and money went into improving the patio for patrons to enjoy cocktails a huge video image and fresh air."
                                              - Jamie Taylor (August 2009)


Patio of the Triangle
(photo courtesy of Jamie Taylor)
Bartender Jimmy Balestrari with owner Al Thomas behind him
(Jimmie later became co-owner of the new bar Fluid)
(photo courtesy of Jamie Taylor)
Joel & Jamie Taylor
(baby shower party for bar owner James' new dog Matilda)
(photo courtesy of Jamie Taylor)
Owner James (aka Lana St. James)
(baby shower party for James' new dog Matilda)
(photo courtesy of Jamie Taylor)
Interior, August 2009
(photo courtesy of Jamie Taylor)
Interior, August 2009
(photo courtesy of Jamie Taylor)
Interior, August 2009
(photo courtesy of Jamie Taylor)
Interior, August 2009
(photo courtesy of Jamie Taylor)

Opening Advertisement, June 1988

Staff photo, Dec. 1990

Drink Card given out for 1991

Building as it appeared May 2004

Credits: Various photos contributed by Jamie Taylor;
Website concept, contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: September-2022.

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