Created By: Radical Wellington Walking Tour
Gay and lesbian gathering was very much under the control of the licensing laws until 1967, when ten o'clock closing was introduced after a referendum. The Bistro Bar was one of the first to bend the licensing laws, abot 1963, by offering a token meal (a bowl of rice for 2/6) and so becoming a licensed restaurant where both women and men could drink until 10pm. Women were not admitted to most public bars at all, and to certain private bars (marked "Ladies and Escorts Only" but commonly called "cats' bars") only with a male escort. This was intended to prevent prostitution. Gay men formed natural escorts for lesbians under this restriction, both finding more interesting company once they were inside.
The Royal Oak of the 1970s features in Barry Nonweiler's novel "That Other Realm of Freedom."
Alexander Turnbull Library. Royal Oak Hotel, and Cuba Street, Wellington, ca 1920s. Reference Number: PAColl-7081-24
This point of interest is part of the tour: Walking Radical Wellington