The Coral Reef, aka, the 'Oral Grief' opens in 1968 in the parking lot of what is now the Rideau Centre. The bar was originally a Caribbean dance club, with lesbian and gay nights on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. However, the Caribbean/Latin crowd left after discovering that the bar was queer some nights, and the Coral Reef became a gay bar seven days a week, withthe lesbian night on Thursdays.
Because the lesbian nights were so popular, the onwers decided to make Friday night a lesbian night as well. The flight of stairs you had to descend into the bar was daunting and risky for those who worked in the civil service or were otherwise worried about being found out.
Although a dive, the space was treasured by those who had nowhere else to go. Marie Robertson remembers that the police would often go into the bar on a lesbian night just to ogle the women dancing together.
The Oral Grief was also well known for its drag acts, with Peaches Latour making many appearances here. Peaches was very popular with the lesbian crowd, and Kerry Beckett recalls having one of her first crushes on her.
The bar had a long run—over 30 years before it closed its doors in 2000.
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