"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round – brought to you by Aperol, Pinnacle, Jameson, Fireball, Red Stag and Avion. The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
Bars and clubs host ladies' nights – promotional events that allow women to drink for free or to receive discounts – for one reason: to get more women in the bar.
In theory, if more females are in the bar, more men will frequent the establishment as well and will stick around to run up a hefty bar tab for themselves, hoping to make a love connection.
There are many Milwaukee bars with some form of a ladies' night. Often they are during the week – Wednesday and Thursday nights seem to be particularly popular – and usually they provide women with free or discounted drinks all night or for a few hours.
Kristin Godfrey is the marketing director for the Lowlands Group, owners of Cafe Benelux, Cafe Centraal, Trocadero and both Cafe Hollanders. Godfrey says Hollander and Benelux are active participants in various Diva Night activities in Wauwatosa and the Third Ward. She says these events definitely increase the number of women in the bar.
"Men seem often more comfortable going out alone or just 'grabbing a beer and watching a game at the bar,' which is not as much of a typical female activity performed alone," says Godfrey. "More often, we'd see women out in groups, possibly enjoying the same drinks and same camaraderie, but with more people and even at a table over dinner."
Wine events also seem to appeal to women. According to Godfrey, Wine Lovers' Wednesday at Trocadero brings in a 75 percent female base in bar traffic.
Amanda Hamilton goes out two or three nights a week and says she feels she and her female friends are usually outnumbered by male drinkers. She says they often pick places that are more casual than the club scene because they don't get hit on as often that way.
"I wish there were more women in bars some nights. My friends and I just want to dance and have fun, and depending on where we go, we have to swat 'em away like flies some nights," says Hamilton.
However, Hamilton also says she often attends bars if there is a drink special for ladies because she is trying to save money to travel.
Diane Dowland, owner of Monkey Bar, 1619 S. 1st St., says the number of women in the bar depends on the day of the week.
"During the week it seems like it's mostly men – and I'm not complaining – but Friday and Saturdays it seems the opposite," says Dowland.
Technically, it's illegal in the state of Wisconsin to give someone a discount based on gender. According to Judge Derek Mosley, in 1994 the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled that ladies' night promotions violated the State's Public Accommodation Law which states that a public place cannot practice preferential treatment based on race, color, creed, sexual orientation and gender.
Mosley says the case that put this law into action involved two males who sued a Madison bar that was giving only women free drink tickets. The court said the promotion violated state law and sent the case back down to the circuit court in Madison to issue a disposition which awarded the men $50. The Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
State courts in California, Pennsylvania and Maryland have also found such promotions to be unlawful. Some bars occasionally offer a "skirt night" to get around the law, but therefore must offer the same discount or promotion to either gender wearing a skirt.
For the most part, however, it's an unenforced law.
"So, technically, 'ladies night violates law, but no one seems to care. The promotion attracts women, straight men love to meet lots of women, so no one feels aggrieved," says Mosley. "The guy who sues to end the practice may have to move out of the state though for fear of reprisals."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.