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I don’t know if there were saloons or halls that catered to gays back before prohibition, but I do know that in the police records there was one or two arrests per year for ‘impersonating a female”.
Unfortunately the records don’t list particulars for those cases.
I do suspect, and this is just speculation, that the levee was a place of assignation, a cruising spot.
I say this because the levee was the cruising spot in modern times, but not actually on the levee, which makes me think that this is a name carried down from an earlier location that’s long gone.
Another thing that leads me to think this was the orginal Levee is that nearby Robert Boulevard was a place of residence for gay men.Older gay men tell me their first sexual encounters were sometimes in these old houses, by then turned into apartments The Levee was a long-lasting institution for those wanting male/male sex.It even made it to the internet era in the 1990s as there was the Levee BBS as an early online meeting & hook-up place for Datyon gay men Another cruising spot was Cooper Park.No supposition here as there is documenation of tis as a place of assignation.
Cooper Park appeared in a collection of coming-out stories, where one of his authors mentioned his first encounter was arranged here, with a local educator (either a principle or school board member).The landscaping in these pix is somewhat sparse, but by the 1920s and 30s it was probably much more lush Cooper Park might have been equivilant to Bughouse Square and Pershing Square as it (and the levee) was in an area of rooming houses and small apartments and cheap hotels, the other side of downtown Dayton.Unattached men of whatever sexual orientation where considered deviant, as discussed in Todd De Pastino’s “Citizen Hobo (which discusses the moralistic tut-tutting about “Hotel Society” as well as the intinerant world).The book also has a section on “Hobosexuality”, discussing how this single society gave some cover for homosexuals.