La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita.JPG


La Dolce Vita


La Dolce Vita Italian restaurant in Summertown was an unassuming safe haven for some local Trans* people in the late 1980s and 90s. The upstairs room was used as a social space for a local Trans* support group. This member recalls what it was like:

“Fifty, sixty people, once a month on a Saturday night used to all meet there. If you didn’t feel comfortable dressing in public you could go with a little case with your frock in it and change there and they got loos upstairs where you could put your lippy on.

It was upstairs, open with chairs round the outside, benches, and they had a bar there, and they supplied free tea and coffee. As you went in the door of the Dolce Vita you either turn left into the restaurant or you carry straight on upstairs and it was a very private space. The normal punters, the odd one would forget to turn left to go in the restaurant and end up in the wrong place, go “oops, sorry!” and disappear downstairs.

Come half past ten, everybody in the restaurant had gone home, so we could go and sit downstairs and have a meal. It was a safe place and the Italian owners treated us like any other customers. Of course the only person that hated it was the chef because he had to stay on for a bit longer. I remember the first time I ever wore a frock in a restaurant, it was so liberating, that I can actually be in a public building. Absolutely liberating, and thank God for it, and the owner of that restaurant – it’s closed down now – he wants a medal, because he didn’t care a jot.”

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