Ladies Night at the Lounge

Monday evening Alice Quinn (from TDot Comics) and The Comic Book Lounge threw an all Ladies Comic Nerd night where geeky ladies could get together and talk about their love of nerdery. No men were allowed; even the owner of the shop got kicked out so the ladies could have free reign. I have experienced women only events on multiple occasions, but I have never attended anything nerd related where that was the case. I happily volunteered to man (or should I say womaned) the bar (I got to stand around the booze and food all night) giving me a great opportunity to talk to practically every woman that came to the event, and what great women! Plus, there was blueberry wine.

Alice Quinn and Debra Shelly played host for the evening.Photo by: Debra Shelly
Alice Quinn and Debra Shelly played host for the evening.
Photo by: Debra Shelly

We all know women can be catty or snide, but not these women. Everyone was welcoming and warm and right away you could tell this is a community anyone would love to be a part of. The best part is this was a community I was part of without even knowing it existed. I know there are a lot of geeky women out there and I have been lucky enough to meet some of them outside of events like this, but it is still hard to meet women with nerdy interests especially if you don’t frequent the same comic book stores or are shy. Even more so now with the growing suspicion of “fake geek girls” becoming so popular.

Ladies Night 1
Photo by: Debra Shelly

While playing the role of bartender I was able to be in and witness a lot of conversations. Many of the conversations of the night started with “so, what makes you geeky?” I loved this question! Everyone knew they were in a safe space so they could bring up, rant, and rave about the nerdy thing they were in to. Faces would light up when they realized the women on the other side of the conversation could reciprocate instead of the “huh?” expression one would normally receive. And because of the recent talk of fake geek girls, it is comforting to know that no matter what you’re interested in or the level of involvement you have in it, this community of women is happy to welcome each other, the wine didn’t hurt either.

Ladies Night 4

A lot of business cards were passed around, good connections were made and I think that we will start seeing more women out at other comic events because of ones like this. It’s hard to go to an event when you don’t know anyone, even harder for women to walk into a room full of men (let’s face it: the majority of comic events are populated by men) but events like this allow them, especially the ones new to the community of comics, games etc.,  to know that they won’t be as harshly judged as they might think. It also allows them to meet others in the community without the possible “stare factor” that can sometimes happen when a woman walks into a testosterone packed comic book store.

Photo by: Debra Shelly
Photo by: Debra Shelly

Overall it was a very good night, and I think everyone who came out had a great time. If you are a woman reading this and are in the Toronto area, The Comic Book Lounge is hoping to have another Ladies Night in the near future. If you are a man and you are reading this, sorry but you will have to miss out on the fun because now it’s the ladies turn!

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Leigh Hart
Leigh Woodhall - Soapbox Nerd. Aerialist. Writer. Podcaster. All around tough guy (but a lady version). Follow me on twitter @Leigh_Louise
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24 Comments

  1. Great article!!! I think a lot of comic book shops would succeed if they tried this. There are a lot of women who are scared to enter a comic book shop. I am a big supporter of community events, and anything that helps build a community is A-OK in my books.

  2. Awesome! Response has been fantastic, and I know Alice and Deb want to have these on a regular basis, we’ll pick a date for the next one very soon.

  3. All comic shops are welcome to steal it. In fact, all stores should work to make sure that their comics are welcoming to all genders and ages.

  4. Did we get rich doing it? No, that wasn’t the intent… but the initial observable response was that Monday’s sales did go up. A traditionally slow day, Monday spiked because of Ladies Night to match sales we might see on a Thursday or Friday.

  5. The economics were secondary to our community building and networking goals, but one long term response would be an increase in subscribers and we did sign some new people up on Monday as well, which means bumping orders on some titles, and I’ve got some book requests made as a result of recommendations that were made in conversation.

  6. I am not a fan of ‘Ladies Nights’ as a ‘just so you feel it’s okay to come into a comic shop’ event, which I’ve seen some shops bill them as (but then, I don’t want to be too critical towards how a store chooses to market itself to it’s potential customer base). On the other hand, I do think that a Ladies Night is a fine event to have if there is a broader topic or discussion or book club or something going on, but really, the issue is addressed in Anthony’s article, written on the same day as this one:

    “If you feel that BBT representation of how women are treated in comic book stores are grossly misleading and not at all based upon reality that is fantastic because it means that you have a great local comic book store. But the reality is that at least 50% of the stores out there are awful (and I’m being incredibly generous there). If you are a woman you do get stares from the clientele. Or you do get treated poorly. Now this isn’t only for women, lots of stores just treat everyone poorly. My point is that while there are many great stores out there that are positive experiences for female readers many shops are not. Still. After many, many years. If we asked women to send us stories of a time when they had a negative experience in a shop we’d get a lot of feedback.”

    That is one heck of a comic shop cultural stigma to fight against, but the reality is that the first order of business should be that ‘Ladies Night’ is how you operate on a day-to-day basis. My recommendation to comic shop retailers would be to start there, and you won’t need to create a Ladies Night to combat the stereotype and can instead create fun in-store programming focusing on Ladies.

    But the comic news websites and comic bloggers sure do jump on board and support and promote the stores that run these events even if, in the end, “Ladies’ Nights are, admittedly, totally sexist and a cheap money grab”, as one of the shops, perhaps not so tongue in cheek, said about their own Ladies Nights.

  7. There’s an assumption on your part, here, Rob, that nothing else is being done by stores to fight what you’ve acknowledged as a cultural stigma (and if I’ve misinterpreted what you’re saying, I apologize, but there seems to be a specific inference that a shop that WOULD have a LADIES NIGHT is one that is doing nothing else), and I think that this is not only unfair, but false and misleading.

    I also feel that smearing the intentions of one store with the same, “perhaps not so tongue in cheek” admissions of another, is, at best, pretty disingenuous on your part. I know that we didn’t approach our event with the cynicism you seem to think that every shop does, and if you don’t believe that, it certainly didn’t come across that way by what you’ve said here.

  8. This is interesting considering that Robert was in the store visiting the day of and helped me pick some books to put out on display while I was getting the store ready for the event. I did not get the sense of discouragement and cynicism that you express here…. and for a fellow that doesn’t want to be “too critical about how a store markets itself” this is a long post!

    Yes, I do agree absolutely with you Robert that every day at any store should be welcoming to people of ALL AGES and ALL GENDERS, as clearly a great store like the Dragon does… and I try to love up to your example.

    However, I obviously disagree with the concept of having a “Ladies Night” at the store when it was one that was proposed and run by the women who shop at the store who asked for it. I would not have hosted it had it been something that I had to “make” happen by forcing it on an audience that wasn’t receptive too it.

    Do I feel that this was sexist and a money grab? No, I don’t.

    Hosting the 24 Hour Comic Challenge a week early made the store 5x the amount of money it made on “Ladies Night” in the time frame of 7 to 12 pm. I’m not unhappy with our sales at Ladies Night though and the positive responses by the participants makes me definitely them and me want to do it again.

  9. Last sentence was garbled It should read “I’m not unhappy with our sales at Ladies Night though and the positive responses by the participants makes want to do it again.”

  10. Actually, if I were to consider costs (food, drink, supplies, employee, product cost of what was purchased), I think I may have made $20-40 on Ladies Night at the Lounge. What a cash grab! That’s a little more than what I spent on dinner at a neighboring restaurant…. but I still think it was a good thing.

  11. It was not my intention of compromise the Comic Book Lounge or it’s event. I apologize for any confusion.

    In my opinion there are two different types of Ladies Nights, and I didn’t explicitly state that I approved of the way the Lounge went about their event. The goals and intentions were good, it was an event that was asked for by the marketplace, the is obviously pent up demand within the GTA for such an event.

    The broader, inclusive cross-marketing events the Lounge are holding show what the readers and customers want, and it’s an example that comic retailers should take.

    Kevin has said that 50% of the customers are women, it shows that good intentions, hard work and listening to customers is a good thing. Working on a day to day basis to make your store equitable for all is a good thing.

    I supported the event, as Kevin said, I was in the shop that day and I was positive about it. I should have done a better job expressing the differentiation between a positive community event and a negative one.

  12. I thought Ladies Night was a roaring success. I got to hang out with dear friends, meet cool new friends, and enjoy some superb conversations about all things comics. We are fortunate to have access to an event space that allowed Alice, Hope and Keiren to dream up this amazing scheme, and I would love to see it become a regular part of the Lounge’s calendar. Cookies, wine and conversation, in a low-key, friendly environment? This is how you build friendships and encourage everyone to feel free to enjoy the things they love. .

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