News & Opinion | March 13, 2018 10:05 am

25 Years Later, Women Still Run the Coyote Ugly Saloon

The dive that inspired the 2000 cult film has stayed true to its principle: women can tend bar, too.

The Coyote Ugly Saloon, the East Village bar that became famous after an early 2000s cult film, celebrated its 25th anniversary with a party that included appearances from a contortionist, Times Square Naked Cowboy and a performance from the rapper Justina Valentine. The owner, Liliana Lovell, was there catching up with the customers who frequented the saloon 25 years ago, when she was the one dancing on the bar, reports The New York Times. In an industry that is notoriously male-dominated, the Coyote Ugly Saloon has stayed true to their original founding principle: that women can tend bar too. At the party, women were on the stage, dancing, having fun, “living their best life,” Valentine told The Times. “They’re embracing their sexuality, their womanhood. I’m so looking forward to getting on the bar and experiencing this.”

Valentine opened Coyote Ugly in 1993, after a year on Wall Street and three years of bartending full-time. It got famous for women dancing on the bar, but also, because it is a bar where the customer is not always right. At Coyote Ugly, the customer “is wrong if a Coyote thinks they are wrong.” There are not many rules at the bar, but an important one is that men aren’t allowed on the bar. Why? Valentine told The Times that “dudes look stupid on a bar dancing.” But maybe more importantly than that, men aren’t allowed up because it gives women freedom. It allows them to feel comfortable “letting their hair down.” Paula Dinoris, Coyote Ugly’s general manager of two years, told The Times that at the bar, “We love women. We take care of them. We are women.” Safety is a top priority. Bartenders are walked to a car at the end of the night and there is a strict no-touch policy. Bouncers are quick to enforce boundaries and help create a safe space for both employees and patrons.