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

 
Fluid
Location: 819 S. 2nd Street

Opened:
Closed:

July 26, 1998
(present)
Clientele:

Male/ female
Martini bar

View Fluid's Web Site

 
       
 

Fluid bar was opened two previous bartenders of the Triangle, Bill Wardlow and Jimmy. The bar was very popular from the day it was opened, pulling many customers from the Triangle bar.

In addition to the popular bartenders bringing some of their loyal customers from the previous bar, another big draw for the bar's business was its proximity to the popular dance bar, La Cage, which was just half a block away. It became customary for many young men to first have a few cocktails at Fluid, then around 11:00 or 11:30pm to see an exoduc of people departing for La Cage to dance.

Fluid's main distinguishing feature was its martini cocktails. It boasted a large offering of martini cocktails of all types, made in shakers and served in fancy martini glasses. This was at the beginning of the "martini craze", and was the first LGBT bar to offer such a wide selection of drink choices.

After about 2 years, there was a falling out between the two owners. The bar closed for a short time, while Bill bought out Jimmy, and reopened it himself as sole owner and operator. The change was good for the business, and flourished even more.

Over time, Fluid becamse known for several things. It was heavily involved in cooperating with other LGBT bars in the area in promoting events; for example, it helped work out a rotation of stops on such nights as Halloween, where the bars cooperated on a schedule of stops (one bar from 8-9:30, another 9:30-11, etc.) On anniversary and birthdays, the bar boasted a diverse and generous buffet. Many Sunday afternoons it had "Drag Queen Bingo" events. And many Christmas holiday parties saw numerous door prize give-aways, and regular customers recieved drink cards good for one free drink each month of the coming year.

Meanwhiole, as other bars seemed to struggle to accomodate smoking patrons as Wisconsin passed a "no smoking" law for bars and restaurants, Fluid constructed an outdoor patio area where customers could relax with cigarettes or just for some fresh air. This area was quickly enclosed by a tent and equipped with fire pit and heaters to allow its use even in the cold winter months.

Thus even in its second decade, Fluid continues to be a popular destination for many men, and has a changing array of handsome young men serving as bartenders- always good eye candy for the customers.

Photos of the bar taken in 2000 for an early web site
Windows face 2nd street to the East, bar is along the south wall
(photos by D. Schwamb)
 
Photos of the bar taken in 2000 for an early web site
Bar runs along the south wall
(photos by D. Schwamb)
 
Photos of the bar taken in 2000 for an early web site
Tables and stools line the north wall, seating to the rear at west end of bar space
(photos by D. Schwamb)
 
Patio photos from Fluid web site, 2019-2020
 
Bill and two of his employees
from Fluid web site, 2019-2020
 
Outoodr serving tent
(believed to be for a Pride Parade, c2019)
from Fluid web site, 2019-2020
 
Performers
from Fluid web site, 2019-2020
 
Drag shows
from Fluid web site, 2019-2020
 
Seasonal decorations
from Fluid web site, 2019-2020
 
 


New logo, 2019


Opening advertisement, July 1998


Opening flyer, July 1998


Monthly drink card for 2004


Drink card, 2005


Owner Bill Wardlow


Drink card, 2008


Article in 'OnMilwaukee.com', December 2019

Credits: contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: July-2020.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.