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Backstreet Atlanta Discotheque visual arts collection

Collection number: ahc.VIS225

Scope and Content

This collection contains snapshot photographs of staff and patrons inside the nightclub during special events and regular business hours. Included are professional publicity photographs of drag performers and entertainers that include Jimmy James, Cynthia Manley, Bubba McNeely, Jane Doe, and Gladys Knight. Also included are advertising flyers for special events.


  • 1982-2002, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

This material is protected by copyright law. (Title 17, U.S. Code) Permission for use must be cleared through the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. Licensing agreement may be required.

Administrative/Biographical History

Backstreet Atlanta Discotheque opened as Atlanta's first gay bar in 1975. Located at 845 Peachtree Street, at the corner of Peachtree and 6th Street in Atlanta, Georgia, the club became a constant hub in the Midtown neighborhood. Brother and sister owners, Henry and Vicky Vara, opened the establishment as one of Atlanta's few businesses that never closed, staying open for business seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. The club also served as a sanctuary for closeted gays from the 1970s through 2004, when it closed. The club gained regional and national following and a reputation for being, "always open and pouring." Celebrities such as Liza Minnelli, Peter Allen, Farah Fawcett, Cher, and Gladys Knight visited the club to watch the cabaret performances. In 1981, Gregory Harrison filmed the television movie, For Ladies Only, at the club. Married couples also patronized the club, bringing out of town guests to see the cabaret. The club closed in 2004 after being forced to comply with new city legislation that required all clubs to close at 3 a.m. or stop serving alcohol.


204 image(s) (192 photographs; 10 advertisements; 2 posters)



System of Arrangement

This collection is arranged alphabetically according to titles supplied by staff.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Parts of this collection are located in cold storage (CS) as indicated in the descriptive inventory. Patrons must allow 24 hours after retrieval of cold storage item(s) before viewing material.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 2005

Backstreet Atlanta Discotheque visual arts collection
Carla Ledgerwood
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305