New Yorkers are flocking to the infamous Stonewall Inn today to celebrate this morning’s history-making Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage across all 50 states. The iconic gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village was granted landmark status earlier this week in an equally history-defining moment. The Stonewall Inn is a music and dance venue that has played an important role in the city’s gay right’s culture since the 1960’s. Today, New Yorkers are still gathering there to dance.
The dance club became famous in the summer of 1969, when it was raided by police in an effort to stamp out the culture of gay artists and revelers who gathered there. Patrons resisted, and the situation escalated into a three-day long riot that kicked off the gay rights movement worldwide. It is fitting that the venue should receive status as an official New York City landmark in the same week that marriage equality passed in the Supreme Court.
Music and dance have always been a strong component of LGBT culture in downtown Manhattan, and the Stonewall Inn has been a home to that culture. “It was the only bar where we could slow dance,” said Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, an artist who participated in the riots told Vice Magazine. “That was totally revolutionary. Being able to dance with someone of the same sex changed everything in the way you felt about yourself.”
And the music was powerful too: “It was totally eclectic,” Lanigan-Schmidt said. “Everyone went because it was the best place to dance and the jukebox was so good. The music was mostly Motown, a lot of Martha and the Vandellas.”
In the 1960’s the Stonewall was controlled by an illegal crime syndicate that regularly paid off the police. This was why the notorious police raid in 1969 was so pivotal. New York’s National Park Service has launched a project to identify more sites that have historical significance to the LGBT history. These developments in the news today also coincide with national Pride Month, and there will be gay pride celebrations across the nation to celebrate. The revelry currently in underway at the Stonewall Inn can be followed on Instagram.