For decades, the first (and only) place where many men and women could meet other gay, lesbian, or transgender people was at a bar, mostly in the shadows. The openly gay bar is a relatively new addition to the social space scene, and it became quite common quite quickly, perhaps, some say, too quickly.
Now, most straight folks have little fear of homosexuality, and gay bars become their joint du jour—to the horror of many men and women who wish they still had their sacred space free of bachelorette parties (read Drew Droege's take on this phenomenon). While we don't think the battle of the dance floor will be won anytime soon (and probably shouldn't even be fought), gay bars, even in the age of social integration and online communities, remain an integral space for LGBT communities the world over.
As with any list, it's impossible to be definitive. We've taken nominations, suggestions, polled friends and experts around the world, and even done a bit of on-the-ground research. We've also tried to arrive at a list that satisfies everyone from a pierced and leather-clad cub to a skinny, go-go boy wannabe. But we're sure that this will only stoke the fires of debate.
So what is the best gay bar in the world?
THE SQUARE: To be fair, Akron isn't known for its hopping gay scene, but The Square would shine even in a more populated city. Roomy without feeling empty, full of friendly folks without being crowded and hip without taking itself too seriously, it's square not to hit this spot when cruising through Akron.
MAD MYRNA'S: You can't see
Alaska Russia from it, but you can see a bevy of hot men at this Anchorage mega-club.
ATLANTA , Georgia
BLAKE'S ON THE PARK: This spot has been a neighborhood institution for decades and remains the hub of Atlanta gayest area, Midtown. Whether it's drag shows or boys in baseball caps, there's usually something for everyone at this watering hole.
CHURCH: Officially known as Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium, Grant Henry's unusual joint has transformed a corner of Edgewood (an underutilized neighborhood near downtown Atlanta) into a hip destination only a few blocks from the Martin Luther King Historic District. Although a straight-friendly hangout, the gay boys pack the place nightly.
HERETIC: After many of the others have come and gone, this remains one of the liveliest (and most scandalous) dance floors in the city—which makes it one of the easiest places to meet someone without having to use an app.
MARY'S : Located in hipsterish East Atlanta Village, Mary’s is well known for its karaoke nights and for attracting the cooler crowds. With strong drinks and a mini dance floor, the flirty bar’s theme nights range from outrageous to downright unsavory: Hanky Code Party, XXXMess, Get Stuffed, and the new drag night, Gurlfrandz.
TEN ATLANTA: A new addition to the scene, Ten Atlanta replaced a beloved hamburger joint downtown, spiffed up the joint with a chic makeover, and now serves up hot beef in food form by day and in go-go boy form by night.
OIL CAN HARRY'S : Open for nearly a quarter of a century, this hotspot hasn't lost its edge—recently attracting the women from RuPual’s Drag Race. In the Warehouse District, DJs spin quirky, creative sets while people swig drinks on patio, cowboys play pool, and University of Texas students go wild during Temptation Thursdays—with an all-male strip off.
HIPPO: No visit to Baltimore's gay scene is complete without Hippo, an institution since its founding in 1972 and for generations of ageless decades has kept the boys glued to their bar stools, gripping pool cues and transfixed by attractive and fun-loving Charm City citizens.
RAINBOW BAR: The name and neo-glo sign outside indicate flamboyant fun, but inside Rainbow Bar is nothing more than a small town saloon, and you've got to love it for that.
THE EAGLE: Think of this as the Cheers of the South End. Although the name may put off some who expect a hardcore leather bar experience, it's more about the friendly ambiance of Jack, the longtime proprietor, that keeps people coming here to tell (and make) stories.
FRITZ: Who is there for the game of pick-up or to be picked up? Sometimes it's difficult to tell, but It does make sense that one of the best gay sports bars is in a city that loves its teams (and has so many college boys trying to figure things out once they come out). Located in the ground floor of the Chandler Inn, it's a fave for all stripes.
RED SQUARE: You'll get an upclose and personal feel for the beat of this town on Red Square's dance floor, a space populated largely by college kids and the odd hippie, all of whom only enhance the experience.
(A flaming good time at Roscoe's in Chicago.)
ROSCOE'S : Visited by gays from all over the country, this low-key Boystown favorite celebrated its 26th birthday this year. With pumping pop beats, enjoy a taste of Midwestern man-candy while you cruise the dance floor or chat it up with friends by the fireplace, in the garden, or at its Sidewalk Cafe (depending on the season).
BIG CHICKS: A laid back atmosphere reins supreme, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of burly boys dancing and having a good time on the dance floor. But it also has cheap pitchers of beer and good bar grub.
THE CELL BLOCK: Unsurprisingly, bears and butch men dominate the scene at The Cell Block, but fun and games can be had by all at the club's dart boards and Wii stations.
HAMBURGER MARY'S: The main level hosts the first gay restaurant franchise of its kind, Hamburger Mary’s, serving sandwiches, burgers, mac and cheese, and meatloaf. But, above this Chicago staple is a cute purple attic laden with ample bar space for entertainment ranging from cabaret shows to weekend DJs and "MaryOke!" Next door is Mary’s Rec room to enjoy the game and drink Mary’s own microbrew with friends.
MINIBAR: Attentive and, more importantly, hot model-esque guys serve your every whim—from delicious cotton candy martinis to paninis. In the heart of the gay filled Halsted Street, walk upstairs and tilt your head back for a stunning light show in this attractive, modern lounge.
SPIN: Head here to dance the work-related stress away on two dance floors and mingle with a diverse crowd. You can play pool in the back room of the chic first floor or walk upstairs to watch TV with drink in hand. Make sure to check in on Wednesdays and Thursdays for $1 drinks.
SIDETRACK: Sidetrack is undoubtedly the best bar/club this side of Boystown (or in all of the Midwest), a massive venue with bars to suit any mood littered throughout (and an open terrace), Sidetrack offers delish alcoholic slurpees if you’re strapped for cash but crave a buzz. They don't make 'em like this anymore—and that's good, or we'd all get into a lot of trouble.
UNION CAFE : The former video bar is now a popular restaurant and lounge located in the heart of the Short North, and brings a mixed crowd (tourists, straights) for some local grubbing or perhaps for the outdoor patio with a bar that makes delicious drinks. Stop by any of the theme days during the week such as Showtunes Sundays, or Long Island Thursdays for the hot roaming shot boys.
THE ROUND-UP SALOON:
For over 30 years, this country gay bar boosts some of the best line dancers and hottest cowboys around the Lone Star State. Be prepared for strangers dragging you onto the dance floor for shirtless line-dancing and two-stepping. And don't forget your Stetsons and Wrangers. Yee haw!
THE TIN ROOM: It's all about the go-go boys and their poles at this Dallas hotspot, which allows anyone 18 and over, which means plenty of young guns can be found roaming the expansive, dimply lit space.
CLUB MASQUE: Gays, girls, straights, bis, and drag queens aplenty dance the night away under one roof. Strippers, drag shows, reasonably priced drinks, and theme nights hosted by talented DJs. The ‘Masque wrestling team’ performs every Friday night.
THE DENVER WRANGLER: A friendly crowd, the Wrangler has been serving up cold ones for 15 years and continues to pack 'em in for the Sunday beer blast. But it really comes down to the staff, and the locals love these barmen. Expect furry men and the guys who love them—no matter what night you show up on their doorstep.
DBAR: This gay-friendly restaurant bar serves eclectic, to-die-for food, but the mellow and welcoming ambiance set by color-changing lights, music, and nouveau decor makes for an all around great evening. The only peeve is the lack of a maitre d’ and the oh-so-few male waiters.
FT. LAUDERDALE, Florida
THE MANOR: Modeled after West Hollywood's The Abbey, so of course the huge dance floor is always full of sweaty men.
THE LODGE: The Lodge is the place to go dancing in Frederick, Maryland -- on weekends, at least. Though they do occasionally open Monday for special holiday events, time at The Lodge is restricted to Thursday-Saturdays, which is alright, because you can pack a lifetime into one evening spent here.
BROWNSTONE LOUNGE: Tucked between row houses and behind an unassuming exterior, the Brownstone's more than a standby. Divey, amiable and inclusive, the Brownstone is a staple, one that makes visiting Harrisburg that much more worth it.
HULA'S BAR AND LEI STAND: You haven't partied until you've partied a block away from Mamala Bay, with the Pacific breezes waving through the palm trees and amongst the bevy of beautiful men who cruise through this Hawaiian must-see.
METEOR: It's all about banquets, go-go boys and wild dance moves at this warehouse-sized space that proves every thing is bigger in Texas.
MONTROSE MINING COMPANY: Rather than the hip factor, this is the down-homey place—wood barrels, floors—to be. You'll probably be more comfortable wearing your leather and Levis, but we're sure everyone is invited to this party. As long as you keep it unpretentious. And don't mind a bit of sweaty back hair near your beer.
SOUTH BEACH: Don't be confused, this Houston club is located in the heart of the city's uber-gay Montrose district and it channels the thump-thump beat you'd expect for a place named after a Miami getaway. Expect packed dance floors and college boys aplenty (and straight guys and gals looking for their own sort of action).
PARTNER'S: An amalgamation of modern design, traditional Texas chow and low down dirty drag queens, Partner's is a guilty pleasure through and through, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, honey.
KEY WEST, Florida
BOURBON STREET PUB: Have you ever been allowed to swim naked while at a bar? We didn't think so. But that's one of the many things allowed in the clothing-optional garden bar. Its other claim to fame is being the host of the annual New Year's Eve "high-heeled shoe" drop from the building's second floor, featuring the glamorous Miss Sushi!
BOBBY'S MONKEY BAR: This no-frills spot is where the locals go to enjoy their karaoke, maybe a game of pool (or Wii these days) or just sit and hear stories. Looking to find one fo the local gay luminaries? Look not further, they're probably sidled up to the bar next to you enjoying a stiff one.
BOLT: Classier than many dance clubs, Bolt in Lafayette, Louisiana, is anything but pretentious. Don't let exposed brick and velveteen curtains fool you, Bolt's open to all, and would love to have you.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada
KRAVE MASSIVE: Calling itself the “world’s largest gay bar,” and featuring Ibiza-sized danced floors, five themed dance rooms, three bars, two stages, a VIP lounge, a martini lounge, a gift shop (it’s Vegas remember) and a theater, and more go-go boys than you can shake your stick at, Krave Massive may be the biggest homo pleasure place on Earth.
THE BAR COMPLEX : The gay crown jewel of historic downtown Lexington, this converted speakeasy radiates faded glamour and genteel manners with its three bars, huge upstairs dance floor, and plenty of dark nooks to enjoy gentleman callers or a mint julep. Bonus: When a Kentucky boy asks for your number, he always says please.
LONG BEACH, California
MINE SHAFT: The name may conjure images of steel and steam, and while you may find some of that here, the wooden exterior is closer to lumberjack than leather daddy, and is essential for the well-rounded Long Beach experience.
PARADISE: A piano bar with a well-rounded and thoughtful menu, Paradise is more than a great bar, it's a philanthropic vehicle and regularly hosts auctions and dinners for AIDS charities as well as the local food bank.
(The Abbey, uncharacteristically empty.)
LOS ANGELES, California
THE ABBEY : Orignally a gay coffeehouse, the legendary West Hollywood champ has over 16,000 square feet of party space that attracts celebs aplenty (mostly queers and straight ladies, but the occasional straight boy makes his appearance). Famous for creative cocktails (mmm, creamsicle!) and the perfect patio, this is where many a gay brings his or her out-of-town pals to see and experience the heart of WeHo.
AKBAR: Perhaps the social epicenter of hard-partying Alterna-Wood, Akbar is the go-to spot in the middle of Los Angeles's antigloss neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park. Great indie music on the jukebox, strong drinks, hot guys, good times have gays (and straights) pack the joint regularly. A lounge with a large bar and dance floor with another bar are available here. Club goers flooded in on Thursdays through the weekend, having the crowd get pretty diverse—the more racially mixed vibe is a welcome change in the often-segregated L.A. nightscape.
FAULTLINE: One of LA’s premiere bear bars, Faultline is a raunchy little spot certain to please if you like your men of the burly and hirsute variety. With an extensive craft beer selection, a “strictly enforced”(emphasis on the quotation marks) no sex policy, and a very friendly leather clad clientele, this is your place if you want a brew and qucikie.
FUBAR: Into alternative dudes? Twinks? Bears? Muscle Queens? They’ll all be at LA staple Fubar if you get the night right. There’s also a stable of go-go boys eager to shove you face first into their junk, so be sure to bring a jock full of singles.
THE CONNECTION: Sip a few drinks, dance, and get some air on the second floor open-air patio, but don't leave early. Stay until 2:30 A.M. for one of the best drag shows around. While you wait, enjoy the video, leather, or shower bar.
TRYANGLES: Worn down but not worn out, this uncomplicated saloon has all the trappings of a local haunt, including some patrons who look like they've been there for decades, but offers visitors pool, a cold drink and a relaxed space to just hang out with friends -- there's nothing more needed.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire
BREEZEWAY PUB: Uncomplicated fun and dalliances can be found at the aptly named Breezeway Pub in Manchester.
JAMBOREE LOUNGE: A wonderful boozy dive bar where the drinks are strong and so is the sleaze, this is a perfect antidote to the overwhelming to the technicolor displays seen at other Miami clubs.
TWIST: The ideal gay frat house, a plethora of rooms to play in await here in this South Beach must. Seven themed bars with different tunes play everything from meringue to house as strippers fill dollar bills into their tight shorts. Head to the back "Bungalow Room" for lap dances from the hottest strippers.
THE PALACE BAR: The first (and only) gay bar on Ocean Drive, come for the cocktails (unlimited mimosas and Bloody Marys during Sunday brunch), stay for the sidewalk drag shows. Just be warned: It gets a little out of control here. We mean, crazy.
19 BAR: If you're in Minneapolis and looking for a cheap, quick good time, then saddle up to once-clandestine 19 Bar, where the drinks are cold, the men are hot, and judgements are nil.
JETSET BAR: Industrial design meets chic modernism at this boutique bar in Minneapolis' North Loop. But don't be intimidated: the DJs spin dance-happy tunes and the bartenders welcome everyone with open arms.
PLAY & TRIBE: The two most popular spots in town are voted right next door to one another. Pregame at the more relaxed watering hole Tribe, and then head over to Play for the drag shows or dance floor. Since its Nashville's ONLY true nightclub, you'll get a mix of boys in buttondowns and girls wanting to whoop-whoop. But everyone seems to get along.
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana
BOURBON PUB/PARADE: The most popular joint in the French Quarter, it's where both tourists and locals mingle. If you hang around long enough, someone will probably buy you a drink. And ask please before they cop a squeeze.
CAFE LAFITTE IN EXILE: The oldest gay bar in the United States, it's a great friendly hangout even if it does feel like a dingy dive for the most part, with video screens and crummy furniture.
GOOD FRIENDS: In the heart of New Orleans's French Quarter, you're sure to make some new pals over pool, shuffleboard, and cheap drinks at Good Friends.
THE OZ: The most popular dance club in the French Quarter. No matter where you start out in the evening, this is usually where you end up.
(The wall at Julius', via Bowery Boys.)
NEW YORK, New York
BOXERS, CHELSEA: The leading gay sports bar in New York City, this Flatiron/Chelsea favorite packs in the men, shows all the games, plays all the tunes, has pool and darts and offers a wide selection of elaborate bar food. All the bases are covered here.
THE COCK: Locals griped when iconic bar The Cock moved from Avenue A into the old Hole bar on Second Avenue, but when you get down to it, the essential ingredients remain the same: sleaze and sweat and scandalous nights out.
CUBBY HOLE : Notorious for decor that looks like a party supply store turned upside down and shaken out, the Cubby Hole is a closet-size West Village lesbian mainstay. The bar draws neighborhood professionals (like Bravo’s Andy Cohen) for a well-priced happy hour and a mixed crowd for nightly drink specials and a jukebox heavy on current pop favorites and lesbian standards from k.d. lang and Melissa Etheridge.
THE EAGLE: Chelsea continues to gentrify, especially since the hugely popular High Line Park, but this leather and fetish bar remains committed to its mission, without becoming haughty or exclusive. The most special attribute? The large rooftop that becomes a hip hangout for one and all on sunny Sunday afternoons.
EASTERN BLOC: Tricked out like a haute Communist-era bunker, this tiny East Village space doesn't shy from taxidermy (just check out the stuffed zebra head) or faux embellishments. But it can get a little too close for comfort on a sweaty Saturday night.
INDUSTRY: As Hell's Kitchen has overtaken Chelsea as the gayborhood of the moment, Industry (from the same people who brought you Elmo and Barracuda) outshines as the stand-and-model masterpiece where the boys (and girls) are pretty and the nights stretch until morning.
JULIUS': The grande dame of New York City's gay bars, Julius' is the oldest, most continuously popular and popping gay bar in town. The boys are wonderful, the music lively, the vintage photos compelling and the burgers and tater tots are a must-have during late night visits.
MARIE'S CRISIS: Another oldie but goodie in the Big Apple, Marie's Crisis has been on the scene for almost four decades and prior to that this basement space was a pre-prohibition gay bar and before that it was a brothel. There's a lot of sexual history here, and perhaps Thomas Paine's ghost: the political philosopher died in the same building.
METROPOLITAN: This Williamsburg joint has no (official) attitude, and a friendly crew to boot. Fireplaces in the winter are fantastic, the multi-level backyard (and barbecue) rules in the summer. A perfect meeting spot for you your Grindr "date" before committing to the hot and heavy. For a different kind of vibe than you’d expect at a gay bar, take advantage of the photo booth or Skee-Ball machines.
XL: The newest (and one of the few) gay-centric dance clubs in the city has weekly themed parties, special guest DJs, and some of the hottest boys from around the world looking for a night of sweaty dancing. Don't miss the regular "Hot Mess" drag revue.
WHITE HORSE INN : Celebrating “80 Years of Fabulous”, the Ho (as it is cheekily referred to) has an English pub atmosphere with muskets on the wall and a wooden interior, but it’s American classic shines shuffle board and offers of free munchies to early birds (mainly just popcorn and hotdog, and a selection of beer on tap. The Ho's comfy aesthetic provides a welcome break from the high-gloss bars across the bay in the Castro.
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma
THE BOOM: The Boom's resident drag star Renee Hilton and her drag queen sisters are some of the best in the city, but you can only go to one event here, make sure it's this restaurant/bar's gospel Sunday brunch.
DC SALOON: There's not an ounce of pretense and just the right amount of sleaze in this bar or among its clientele, primarily a mix of local bears and leather daddies.
THE MAX: The Max describes itself as "the best gay dance club in America." The jury's out on that, but this strobe-lit hot spot and host to the Mr. Gay Omaha competition is definitely in the running for most spirit.
PARLIAMENT HOUSE: This is less a bar and more an entertainment complex. Seven bars on ten acres provide visitors to The Parliament House almost any experience they want, be it sporty, campy, grimy or glam.
PALM SPRINGS, California
TROPICALE: Gay bars with good food are hard to find, but you'll find it at all, and an inclusive, welcoming crowd, at this Palm Springs favorite.
THE BIKE STOP: It's all right if you're not a musclebound leather daddy; the only requirement at The Bike Stop is loving rock-and-roll. And, yes, the men rock, too.
TAVERN ON CAMAC: A piano bar downstairs and a night club upstairs, this staple in the City of Brotherly Love is lively and refreshing exercise in high and low, and consistently leaves patrons feeling like a million bucks.
WOODY'S BAR : The City of Brotherly Love's best gay bar is arguably its skankiest. Woody's slutty bartenders sling flavored Stolis in plastic cups to barely legal students and lifer townies. Wednesday college nights are the best, when the bar is filled by kids from U. Penn., Drexel, and Thomas Jefferson University. Woody’s had some recent work done, the bar now has red brick wall and a wooden floor and the dance area has a glamorized with deco style finish.
BUDDIES ON ADAMS: It won't take out-of-towners long to make new friends at this fun-loving and quaint but never precious local gay bar.
CHARLIE'S: After work or after hours, the unabashed crowd at Charlie's, a glammy dive bar on an industrial strop, always keeps things lively for Phoenix residents and visitors alike.
KARAMBA : Definitely the best Latin discoteca in the area, Karamba makes a point of embracing elements of Latin American culture with dance jams like salsa, merengue, reggaeton, and Latin pop. Friendly and colorful, it's the kind of place where you're as likely to run into a papi chulo as you are a Celia Cruz look-alike.
LIBERTY BAR: Most gay bars have theme nights, but how many have evenings dedicated of Euchre foursomes? Probably not many, and certainly none in Pontiac so next time you're near Motor City, drive on over to check out this charming space and its charming men.
CC SLAUGHTERS: While you may think that Portland is a bit tame compared to other larger metropolises, that doesn't mean it doesn't have a queer homebase: CC Slaughters, a go-to since 1981.
HOBO'S: Carefully exposed brick, piano leather booths and well-rounded dinner menu tell you right away Hobo's doesn't live up to its name. It's a midscale restaurant and bar that courts a more refined, casual crowd. Perfect for a casual drink.
SILVERADO BAR: A haven for Portland hipsters, bears, twinks and femmes, Silverado's will feel like your favorite neighborhood gay bar within minutes, and it may be enough to lure you to Porlandia.
GIFFORD HOUSE BAR: Located at the tip of Cape Cod, this hetero friendly bed and breakfast appears quaint to first timers. But, being a gay couple’s destination, they know what it means to have fun. Stop by the Lobby Piano Bar for drinks and then head over to Club Purgatory to complete your night of debauchery.
REHOBOTH BEACH, Delaware
BLUE MOON: Blue Moon is probably one of the more common bar names around, but there's nothing common about the Blue Moon in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. For over 30 years this family-run operation, once a Sears Craftsman house, has served up fine dining, fine drag queens, fine tunes, and even finer drinks.
SAIPAN, North Mariana Islands
GODFATHER'S: Much like Rick's Café Américain in Casablanca, this is the spot that everybody comes to in this American commonwealth, one of the most naturally beautiful islands in the world, the international crowd is friendly and very lively. Try the catch of the day, or, if you’re feeling a bit homesick for the mainland, opt for the pizza and tacos.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas
HEAT: Featuring a front room bar, video lounge, dance floor, and back patio, Heat’s the type of place where you could easily start and end your night without having to bar hop. Heat stays open till 3 am or later most nights, so the club makes for a nice after hours spot—that is if you haven’t already left with Mr. Right Now.
PEGASUS: Known for a nightly karaoke and frequent drag acts, Pegasus is a mainstay of the San Antonio gay scene. As straight-friendly as they come, it’s a good place to bring straight pals when you’re out with a mixed group. Come early for the $2 well drinks to start your night right.
SPARKY'S: This English-style pub is frequented by a mixed crowd and features a robust wine list and extensive bill of fare. Come early for a late lunch or stop by later for the happy hour specials. Located on the San Antonio Strip, it’s the perfect place to pre-game before heading over to Heat or Pegasus.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico
CIRCO: This small spot in Santurce, the hub for gay nightlife, packs 'em in—for the drag queens, for the dancing—and, even better, no matter how crowded it gets, there's always a great vibe.
BATUCADA: Enjoy a night of unabashed karaoke fun at this unassuming and awesome San Juan hot spot.
SAN DIEGO, California
RICH'S SAN DIEGO: Especially bumping on the weekends, Rich’s is where everybody ends up. Steamy, slightly sleazy, and always something good to cruise here while you dance to pop beats.
SAN FRANCISCO, California
BADLANDS: The video dance bar Badlands compensates for its small size with 2-for-1 happy hour Monday—Saturday, and a lively crowd. A time-tested dance soundtrack fills the bar each night.
HOLE IN THE WALL SALOON: Walk through the dark doors of this seemingly intimidating bar and you'll find a friendly staff serving cold, cheap, and strong drinks. No pomp and circumstance here. Hole in the Wall is exactly what it says it is.
MOBY DICKS: Divey, dirty, and the drinks are cheap: what else could you expect from a place called “Moby Dicks”? While always a good time, the tantalizing and mysterious “Dick@Nite” and “Drink and Draw” art class are events to be marked in red on your calendar.
THE LOOK OUT: Known for a balcony that offers exquisite views of the Castro, The Lookout is the perfect place to survey the City by bay. Though happening any night of the week, the mix your own margarita bar on Saturdays and the “ultimate happy hour” on Fridays are the big draws here. Much like the men of San Francisco, views of the city look even better through beer googles.
SANTA FE, New Mexico
ROUGE CAT: Leopard wall-to-wall carpeting sets the tone at this two-level "nightclub" bar where you can't help but let loose on a scarcely populated dance floor as locals sip and gossip in banquets on the side.
CLUB ONE: The hot spot became famous for the performances of The Lady Chablis after Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil put it (and her) on the map. But it's been a popular favorite for college kids, locals, and out of towners for generations (been voted the city's best dance club since 1991).
BS WEST: This hotspot gay bar is for both the Scottsdale and out-of-town crowd. A laid-back, flip-flop and shorts dive bar with gorgeous guys, its 2-for-1 Wednesdays and Saturdays runs all day until close.
CC ATTLE'S: Serving generous pours and never charging a cover, CC Attle's is a relaxed “come as you are” spot catering to a bearish crowd. The food’s good—by restaurant standards, even—and the friendly but not overly cruisy atmosphere makes CC Attle's a good place to kick back and unwind
THE CUFF: Don’t let the name fool you, The Cuff isn’t exclusively a bear/leather bar. The crowd’s become more diverse over the years, so whatever your type, you’ll be able to find and grind up on him in the din of The Cuff’s techno charged DJ sets.
PONY: We can tell you about the great party music and the fun go-go boys. But this place is really popular because it harkens back to a sexy the '70s vibe. Yeah, we mean sex. No need to worry about bachelorette parties here. This place is for the gayest of the gays.
PURR: Where the drinks are strong, the Whitney is blaring, and the boys are waxed to a T. This Capital Hill cocktail lounge gets pretty cruisy on the weekends, but during the week the laid-back atmosphere makes it the perfect place to unwind after work.
RE-BAR : Off the beaten path in the Belltown neighborhood, Re-Bar is full of surprises. Patrons compete in spelling bees, play bingo, or have video game tournaments, but the biggest events take place on Re-Bar's stage, ranging from comedy to Shakespeare to drag shows to a cappella performances—it's like being in college on speed. On Saturday nights the DJs play pop and hip-hop, which is the major draw.
ST. LOUIS, Missouri:
JUST JOHN'S: A prime example of Southern hospitality, this St. Louis bar has some of the friendliest staff and patrons around. Make new friends on a warm summer night at the patio bar or the climate controlled Florida Room. On Wednesdays, Just John’s hosts Jane, a “lady friendly event” where live female fronted bands perform at John’s. If you’ve ever been curious what a woman fronted Queen tribute band would sound like, wonder no more.
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida:
GEORGIE'S ALIBI: A low key place to play pool, have a beer, and just chill with a $3 Long Island Georgie’s Alibi is the heart of St. Petersburg’s gay scene. If the daily drink specials and a weekly drag show aren’t enough of a draw, they’ve just christened STUD, Georgie’s Sunday Levi and leather party.
SYRACUSE, New York:
RAIN: Syracuse lounge Rain caters to a diverse crowed of college kids, lesbians, drag queens, and other queers which ‘defy categorization.'
R-HOUSE: A staple of Toledo gay nightlife—it kind of is Toledo’s gay nightlife—this neighborhood watering hole is relaxed, unpretentious, and delightfully high camp. Whether you’re here to unwind or take in a drag act, it’s always a good time.
VENICE BEACH, California:
ROOSTERFISH: Pay your respects to history at Venice Beach's Rooster Fish, an institution since its 1979 founding.
DUPLEX DINER: D.C.'s gay A-list assemble here every Thursday night to gawk and squawk. Though the lobbyists and Supreme Court clerks that gather there are a highly compensated bunch, it seems like no one pays to play, since they've all slept with the hunky bartenders. Don't miss the naughty bathrooms, where postcards of gay resorts and Madonna propaganda serve as wallpaper. A popular cocktail is the lemon-squeeze—careful, its deadly.
JR'S BAR: Just a stone’s throw away from Dupont Circle, JR’s Bar is a perennial favorite in D.C.s gay community. Open for 25 years, JR’s home to a stellar college night and the always popular Retro vs. Top 40 dance party. If that doesn’t seem like your scene, their Monday show tunes night might be more your speed.
ROYAL PHOENIX: You can be reborn in any incarnation you'd like at this open, airy venue where Montreal's downtown set come to see and be seen, all with a tongue-in-cheek, of course.
LE STUD: Francophile tough guys who like a bit of leather and bulk will fit right in at Le Stud.
UNITY: Open Fridays and Saturdays, three floors of music play Top 40 tunes and French dance hits, while a drag queen will pour a shot straight into your mouth for two bucks. Enjoy the large terrace on the roof during the summer months.
THE LOOKOUT BAR: If you're in Ottawa and looking for fresh Canadian action and full drinks you'll find them at The Lookout Bar, eh.
REMINGTON'S: Drinks? Nah, it's all about two floors of more than 80 hot male exotic dancers. As Toronto’s only all-male strip club for 20 years, the naked ‘men of steel’ go-go dance and grind all about two floors. If one tickles your fancy, it's lap-dance time! 'Nuff said, eh?
WOODY'S: In Toronto’s Boystown next to its brother bar Sailor, man-on-man porn waits you on the TVs as soon as you walk into this hotspot. There isn't a place to dance per say, but events from drag shows to contests of "Best Chest" on Thursdays and “Best Ass” on Fridays and Saturdays will keep you entertained.
KARAMBA: This is far enough away from the hordes of Spring Breakers that you'll feel like you're getting a taste of the local culture. But be warned: it's a locals place, so knowing a little Spanish will help. The drag shows can be stellar—or suck. Depends on the evening and the season. Remember, we're talking resort town here.
LUJURIA: Lujuria translates to "lust" or "lustfulness," so it's no surprise this recent addition to the scene describes itself as a "dark mind bar." It deals in all things skin and fetishistic, though with a touch of burlesque class. Think Dita Von Teese with an accent.
CLUB LIVING : The grand facade of this colonial-style church belies the sensory overload that waits inside, where in addition to fine men and bumping tunes, there's an in-house bodega that serves up hot tacos and lavish fruit cocktails. Make sure to check out the beautiful terrace that looks like the adult Neverland.
CLUB MAÑANA: An attractive and romantic pool sits in the center of Club Manana, but a word of advice: don’t swim. The largest club in gay Puerto Vallarta, it offers a bar and stage at each ends of the pool and an indoor lounge with go-go dancers galore.
ARCO IRIS : When the other more touristy bars close at midnight or 1, the disco at Arco Iris starts jumping and doesn't stop until 5, attracting locals and only the more adventurous visitors. Anything goes in this down-home, decidedly rustic dance club, where men and women, gays and straights, professionals and prostitutes mix and mingle, language barrier be damned.
CLUB OH: Costa Rica’s largest gay club, Club Oh appeals to the young, fashionable, and pretty. Sprawling over two dance floors, the house and techno heavy space is also hosts weekly drag shows and features some of the most gorgeous go-go boys on the continent.
(There's a multiplicity of trouble to be had at Club 69.)
CLUB 69 AT THE ROXY: Held every Thursday at the Roxy, Club 69 reeks of rabbit-hole mischief, where burlesque meets ninja turtles, and trannies and showgirls show off. Performances include break-dancers, trapeze artists, and magic shows, and electro-infused beats tickle the ears of the straight, gay, and straight-up pijos in the crowd.
THE WEEK: At the heart of the "second Carnival" that is Brazil’s Gay Pride Weekend lies a São Paulo nightlife giant, The Week. You’ll find that the venue is more than a nightclub—it’s host to a lifestyle.
RIO DE JANEIRO
LE BOY: If Le Boy’s packed disco floor grooving to South American techno doesn’t intimidate you, its total package size might. At one end, a balcony overlooks a stage prominently situated at the front. The bar nestled at the center of the dance floor requires not money, but drink tickets that can be purchased at the door. If in town, make sure not to miss out on strip night Tuesdays.
CONCORDE CLUB: Ever been on a dance floor that moves? Yeah, it's not what you typically expect, but here the massive dance floor is composed of two rotating discs so, when you start to see the world spin, don't worry, it's not you: It really is spinning! A great place to meet the local guys or other tourists looking for a great night on the town. Probably the first thing you need to learn about club culture: You pay for drinks first, get a wrist band with a bar code, and money is deducted as you go.
DIONISIO: In addition to being the first gay bar in the Bellavista neighborhood, Dionisio has the charm and character of an off-the-beaten path nightclub, complete with small candlelit tables and a stageful of bawdy broads.
CLUB PRINCIPE: See how Chileans do theme night at this always raucus bar and club, home to many of the city's best drag queens.
EUROPE + MEDITERRANEAN
BLUE ORANGE: One of the more popular restaurant chains in Vienna, Blue Orange offers some of the best breakfast fare in the capital. Reasonably priced and delicious, it’s a nice reprieve from flakey pastries and wurst.
LE BELGICA: A traditional Belgian cafe experience with a touch of grunge and a whole lot of love, Le Belgica became a local and tourist favorite almost immediately after its 1987 opening and has entertained the likes of Björk, Aiden Shaw and countless attractive men looking for one thing: a good time.
THE DUQUESNOY: There's no covering up the fact that The Duquesnoy s all about skin and sex: the Brussels bar hosts weekly naked parties that are wonderful for gawkers and seekers alike.
HESSENHUIS: The fact that this bar is spread over two floors in a gorgeously restored 16th-century stone building certainly helps its cause. Stick around long enough to watch the quiet daytime cafe transform into a frisky hotspot as the night progresses.
POPI CAFE: A favorite with an age-spanning LGBT crowd for its affordable drinks, relaxed vibe, summer terrace, and special whisky menu. This centrally located bar is the top spot before hitting the clubs.
RED AND BLUE: Belgium’s largest gay nightclub hosts a sexy mix of events, from men-only Saturdays to lesbian Café De Love party every second Sunday of the month.
STELLA CLUB : Maybe the last gay bar in Prague that still has a buzzer. This minor irritation is quickly forgotten once you step inside (you'll be reminded when you have to leave and the door won't open). Intimate basement, youngish crowd, few tourists. Never uncomfortably full or uncomfortably empty.
CLUB TERMIX: Half a vintage car overhangs from an orange wall in this atmospheric hot spot. Club Termix must be doing something right to keep parties kindled till dawn. Filled with a mix of young locals and tourists, club offers a weekly karaoke party on Thursday nights.
COSY BAR: A haven for late-night clubbers, Cosy Bar is just that, cosy. The cramped space is home to a young crowd and an accompanying cadre of drag queens. The place can get pretty messy, due to it’s late hours, but it’s all in good fun. Dance till dawn and then go for a herring heavy breakfast to help you recover.
CLUB CHRISTOPHER: Named for the street that runs through New York’s gay village, the club attracts a younger crowd. The big draw here is the open bar. Just pay the entry fee and it’s all you can drink—which is not a challenge by the way. If things get to hectic for you, head to the open air courtyard where you can enjoy a cocktail al fresco. Be warned, Christopher shares the space with K3, a straight club. The crowd’s friendly but maybe think twice before grabbing someone’s ass.
REVENGE: Located in what’s known as the Gay Capital of Britain, Revenge has for over two decades reigned supreme over Brighton’s gay scene. The nightlife juggernaut lights up the seaside town along with it’s sister bar, Bar Revenge. Spread out over 3 floors—including a roof top terrace where you can soak up the sea air— and host to every theme party imaginable, Revenge is glittering, glamorous bastion of fun, plain and simple.
DALSTON SUPERSTORE: Nestled in London’s hippest neighborhoods (Shoreditch is so lame now!), Dalston Superstore is where all the cool kids hang out these days. A little out of the way due to the lack of a tube station, the narrow club is host to a plethora of mixed artsy eccentrics.
FIRE: More hardcore than anything in Soho, Fire is one of the few places in London that goes all night into the wee hours of the morning. The cavernous multi-room club plays throbbing house and electro while a sea of muscle daddies and the twinks who love them undulate and play grab ass. If you’re the type who calls it a night around 3 am, this place isn’t for you.
HEAVEN: Heaven came out in 1979, a pioneer in the formerly underground gay nightlife of London, and continues to flourish despite its age. The venue caters to a young gay crowd jumping to the latest house music and boasts diva performances by Cher, Kylie Minogue, and Madonna—before she was famous.
THE JOINERS ARMS: Club kids and fashionistas, who frequent nearby bars and clubs such as the George & Dragon, drink alongside a mix of rougher, readier, and quite possibly sexier customers, whose outfit of choice often consists of tracksuit bottoms and Reeboks—and not much else. Busy enough during the week, Joiners is packed on weekends and is more club than pub like, especially on Saturdays.
ROYAL VAUXHALL TAVERN : There has been a pub on the site of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern since 1893. It was erected on the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, one of the most decadent cruising grounds in the Victorian era. Even then it was a focus for performance, camp, and drag—which remains central to the pub to this day. From its cabaret and comedy nights through its bingo and live-music evenings, the RVT is an institution attracting a wide range of gay locals and visitors from across London and beyond.
CANAL STREET: Already a gay paradise long before it was featured on television, it became world famous after the original, UK version of Queer as Folk used it as a central setting for much of its homo drama. So yes, we're cheating by not picking one bar—try QUEER, Via, nearby Churchill's, or any number of the nabe's others—but remember it's really the lively, friendly atmosphere at so many of these quaint and cozy locations that makes it so special. So do like the locals, who will surely share a pint no matter where you end up, and enjoy a bar crawl.
THE STEAM PACKET : The only gay bar party in the Lake District, the Steam Packet (known, affectionately we assume, as the Fag Packet) is a truly exotic place where male-to-female transgenders do cabaret dressed as Nazi frauleins, snort Ovaltine like cocaine, and spit it into the audience's hair. It's wild!
HERCULES: One of the most popular gay bars in Northern Europe, Hercules appeals to a more mature crowd; in fact the club is mostly 30+, and has a strict 24 and older policy on the weekends. While this may seem a bit fascistic, the clientele of leather daddies and bears is very friendly and the live acts are legendary across the city.
CUD: This basement bar has great music: It's open every day and is good for picking up guys. Although it can get very crowded—best for the 18-30 age range. Oh, and Katy Perry was spotted there recently.
LE TANGO (LA BOITE A FRISSONS): Literally translated as the "thrill box" (aka the accordion), this eclectic dance club is actually most fun is earlier in the evening (well, relatively early: some time after 10:30), when there are couple dancing and you might actually catch someone doing the Tango or Cha-Cha!
LE QUETZAL: Recently renovated, this Marais bar has become a must of the 4th Arrondissement. Spacious and host to a stellar cocktail list, the night might start out classy, but the vibe turns cruisy as the night goes on. It’s always busy and reliable to spot to start or end your night.
LE RAIDD: Le Raidd is an enduring favorite in the cruisy Marais. Its most famous feature is the Plexiglas shower stall above the DJ booth, where naked boys rhythmically rinse all night long. A good evening starts during happy hour in the street side patio and ends downstairs on a couch in the dark lounge with a new Parisian friend.
L'INSOLITE : Like a French speakeasy, this hush-hush place requires skill to find, but is worth it once you get there. The crowd is so decidedly unanything (not queeny, beefy, or hipster), except hot. Although not particularly fashionable, it's always crowded in a good way, with lots of nooks for snogging.
OPEN CAFE: Most of the action takes place on the sidewalk at see-and-be-seen-bar, where handsome French gents take cruising to the next level, and look oh-so-chic doing so.
OKAWA: Charming and cozy, with staff that will go out of their way to engage you, Okawa stands out on Rue Vieille-du-Temple, a street punctuated with the gay bars of the Marais, the gayest part of gay Paris. It's mixed and relaxed, with a fair standard of food and a varied clientele of local and tourists.
PANORAMA BAR/BERGHAIN : An enormous Ferris wheel inside sets the stage for Berghain, the ultimate ringmaster's den of iniquity: myriad caves, dens, dance floors, locker rooms, and bathtubs, while Panorama Bar, a world-class dance club with an unrivaled lineup of international DJs, occupies the upper level.
TOM'S BAR: The crowd is young, rugged (think T-shirts, flannel, and leather), and 'ber-naughty at Berlin's classic gay den for “successful cruising”. It's so notorious that a German tabloid reported the city's flamboyant mayor, Klaus Wowereit, knew the exact date the doors of its dark, shadowy back room opened.
SCHAMPANJA: The so-called Bermuda Triangle of Cologne has plenty of spots to duck into for an inexpensive glass of Kölsch. But for a truly local vibe, try Schampanja (Mauritiuswall 43), a divey spot near Rudolfplatz that feels like the decor hasn’t changed since the ’80s—and neither have the gents holding up the bar.
BAU: Bau means "building" in German, but in BAU's case, it stands for Butch Adventure Unlimited. 'Nuff said.
JEANS BAR: Anyone who loved New York's late, great Rawhide will feel nostalgic at Jeans Bar, a no nonsense place where you'll find plenty Levi-wearing cowpokes and burly bikers, or a close facsimile, at least.
BIG: They do bear big in Greece, and those bears can be found at Big, the first watering hole for hirsute men in Athens. In today times, at least.
LAMBDA: It's a dance club in the birthplace of democracy. There's something poetic about that, and certainly something poetic about the classically beautiful Grecian locals who cruise through this two-level go-to.
EVITA: Located off the city's biggest thoroughfare, Rothschild Boulevard, Evita is Tel Aviv's oldest gay bar, but it's always fresh inside, where a small dance floor and a stage and plenty of men are always ready for some fun.
SHPAGAT: The lanky boys in skinny jeans and tank tops sip drinks out front. But venture inside, where a bar greets visitors and stadium seating sprawls behind it, like an overgrown staircase. While roving circuit parties tend to dominate the scene, Shpagat calls to mind the best hometown hangout (with plenty of cute boys to cruise).
(A sign at De Trut informs patrons of a strict "no fag hags" policy.)
CHURCH: Church boasts a calendar of nonstop kink that includes Wednesday night’s Naked Bar (dress code: buck naked), Friday’s underwear party, and Sex on Sunday every other week (free condoms and, um, coat check). You won’t go home feeling dirty, though; there are showers downstairs for that after-party scrub-down.
DE TRUT: An antidote to the cruisier scene, this queer Sunday night underground dance party (doors open at 11, but the line forms early) is fittingly held in a former basement squat and offers the best flashbacks to Amsterdam’s flower-power glory days. That means the city’s artiest insider crowd, an eclectic playlist (indie to incomprehensible), and the most altruistic bar tab in town, since all profits go to worthy gay causes.
GLAM: One of Warsaw’s premiere dance clubs, Glam has a 300 meter dance floor which is invariably packed and blares dance, house, and Europop on a steady rotation. If that’s too much for you, take a seat in the club’s chill out lounge and make a friend for the night.
AIOLI: Though more of a restaurant than a bar, Aioli is the perfect place to unwind after seeing the polish capital. Though Aioli boasts a satisfying menu with specializing in burgers and Italian offerings, its impressive List of wines and spirits is the real star.
SETIMO CEU: No European neighborhood embodies decayed decadence like Lisbon's Bairro Alto'so it's no surprise that the seaport's most fabulous gay bar is nestled among its cobbled hills. Packed on the weekend with dark-haired Portuguese demigods, the old-school hangout is best on weeknights just before a long evening stumbling around town.
12 VOLT: A mixed crowd of younger and decidedly, intentionally hip Moscowites help give poppy, colorful 12 Volt a rush of authentic, unedited Russian flair.
SHARM: Russia's government and public at large railing against "homosexual propaganda," but you wouldn't know it by looking at Sharm's dance floor, where men and drag queens let loose to Russian and Europop.
AXEL SKY BAR: Perched atop the Axel Hotel, which bills itself as hetero-friendly, Sky Bar commands stunning views over the Catalan city, and it's also handily situated by the hotel's pool and Jacuzzi. The bar opens up in May, with weekly parties to kickoff summer. Located in the Eixample, the heart of the gay quarter of Barcelona, Sky Bar is perfect for kicking off an evening or hanging out all night.
DIETRICH: The easiest place to pull a boy (probably a tourist) in the Gaixample, this is the spot where people meet up with pals before moving on to some place better. A little careworn, it's a perennial fave—partly to the cute bartenders who speak English (and a few other languages).
METRO: While so many of the discos come and go, Metro remains. It's the big, fun dancefloor as well as the clandestine backrooms. And no matter what your taste, you'll find plenty of others looking for a good time time with the resident DJs.
MUSEO CHICOTE : Keep your eye on the back booth at this Franco-era speakeasy on Madrid's pulsing Gran Via, director Pedro Almod'var and his posse hang out here. Anyone fashionable is welcome among the mostly gay crowd here, where handsome bartenders can hand-crack ice for your mojito or serve you at your art deco banquette.
ITACA: While this gay club’s décor leaves something to be desired, its Thursday-Saturday parties pack in the hot locals to cruise. Stick around for the 2 a.m. curtain call with the city’s finest drag acts.
HERCULES MITICO: This hole-in-the-wall bar is located in the heart of the city’s thriving gay strip, La Alameda de Hercules. With its tinted classic Spanish décor (Damascus wallpaper and sultry red lights), its perfect for dancing to hard techno beats.
THE POLO LOUNGE: Glasgow, like its sister city Edinburgh, has a small gay scene in proportion to its size. This is because its bars overall tend to be mixed. Of the five or six gay bars or clubs in the city, the Polo is probably the most popular. Polo is stylish downstairs, with a warren of dance floors and seating areas.
REGENT: This is more a gay pub than a gay bar. No blaring Kylie, no vodka-heavy cocktails in martini glasses, no go-go boys. It’s a pub, so you’ve got a wide selection of ales, traditional décor, and a mixed crowd spanning all ages. The friendly atmosphere is conducive to conversation, that thing we did before Grindr.
PATRICIA: Housed on an old steam ship, Patricia regular lures hundreds of gay men for a rocking Sunday night dance party. She's a siren, but not the kind with a post-coital appetite.
SLM: SLM doesn't stand for slim-fit; it's an acronym for Scandinavian Leather Men. Check it out to at least see what a strapping Swede looks like in straps.
CRANBERRY BAR: Boasting two floors, Cranberry Bar attracts a young and old, gay and lesbian crowd while showcasing expert bartenders who offer novel and classic drink creations to satisfy any palette. Recently refurbished, there is now more space—including more private space in the upper floor bar to utilize however you choose. The cocktails are award-winning and, even better, we notice that people don't text/look at their smartphones while they're having a beverage in your company!
BAR BAHÇE : This cozy tavern is tucked away in a quaint alley in the bohemian Cihangir neighborhood. During the week it's perfect for intimate t'te-'-t'tes, though once Friday rolls around, bartenders shower the bar top with whiskey and set it afire to the delight of a mixed crowd of Turks and tourists'guys, girls, trannies'who usually get caught up in sing-alongs to golden oldies and international hits.
AMSTERDAM ACTION BAR: Located in Cape Town's very chic, very queer De Waterkant district, if you can’t get laid at the cruisy pleasure den, then we can’t help you. Besides the bar and video lounge there’s a labyrinthine complex of private cabins, a sling room, and a “glory hole maze.” If that’s not your speed, the downstairs area has an intimate outside deck to take in weather and pool table.
LION CORNER: A tavern that's more of a drinking establishment where you'll watch a rugby match rather than a hardcore club, you're most likely to find your bear friends frequenting, it was opened by gay guys and serves a weekly "braai," Afrikaans for grilled meat, an essential social custom.
ASIA + PACIFIC
THE IMPERIAL HOTEL: Walk in and discover a thriving icon of gay Australia. Nestled in the Sydney suburbs is the Imperial Hotel, which is home to a mixed community of gays and lesbians. After years of renovations, ‘The Impy’ boasts a show room, two main bars, an underground disco, and an upper level deck and courtyard to mingle or smoke. The final scenes from The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert were shot at the Imperial, and new drag stars in the making reenact Priscilla, and Abba, a few nights a week and on weekends.
DT's PUB: The pond and the palm trees in the back are enough to get you to this local favorite, but the assortment of men -- all sizes, all shapes -- and their welcoming attitude will make you want to spend the night.
THE LAIRD: Not all Aussies are blonde surfer dudes. There are plenty of bears, bikers, cowboys, nerds, and many more beefy, brooding and sensual men around, and they can be found at The Laird Hotel.
PSYCHIC JACK'S: A pop piano bar-cum-lounge that could only be found Hong Kong, Psychic Jack's is unlike you've ever seen, and there's no telling what kind of trouble you could get into here. [A very helpful and loyal reader informs us that Psychic Jack's shuttered one week before this list was published. We should have checked our crystal ball!]
SHANGHAI STUDIO: Head below street level to find this arty Shanghai watering hole where locals and expats mix freely. Shanghai Studio is a staple of gay life in the French Concession and the perfect place to get over your culture shock. The crowd is friendly and eager to help any new comer to the city learn the ropes.
ADVOCATES CAFE: With tiger stripped wallpaper and a front patio so brimming with patrons they spill into the street, it’s hard to miss Adovcates Café, one of Shinjuku Ni-chome’s most popular gay bars. Popular with expats, tourists, locals, and occasionally the odd go-go boy, Advocates is a hub of the Tokyo gay scene. Don’t worry about a language barrier, with a very friendly and international clientele, you’ll find somebody to strike up a conversation with.
ARCH: Offering up some of the best clubbing in Shinjuku, ArcH is staple of Tokyo’s gay nightlife. Theme nights are big here, so depending on the night you could be grinding up on a local to techno or dancing with a drag queen to the Sailor Moon themesong. But check the schedule before you go, as some nights are men or women only.
PEGS N PINTS:
Delhi’s queer chameleons get karma points for coming out of the closet on this Tuesday-only gay night (the only regular public gay venue outside the city’s cruisy parks). MTV India and Bollywood showstoppers play on a loungey level overlooking the small dance floor.
FUSION BAR AT DWARIKA'S HOTEL: Poolside at the two-level bar is the best spot for evening cocktails and live music. The crowd, though mostly straight, is almost exclusively expat, so if there's a well-heeled homo traveling through Kathmandu at the same time you are, chances are he'll swing through here.
BIG PAPA: One of many "macho dancer bars" in Manila, bars where the muscle-bound go-go bars dance artfully to moody music instead of gyrating to the bass, Big Papa's also one of the best.
DJ Station: At the end of a gay alleyway, just around the corner from the notorious pussy shows of Patpong, tourists and locals all converge at DJ Station. The space consists of three levels of industrial metallic, and the dance floor is always in full swing. Thai boys have the taste for a new face even when it's an old face. At DJ Station fresh meat is ageless, and there's so much body contact on the dance floor, one wonders if the sexy locals are looking to dance, find love, or pick a pocket.
G BANGKOK: Down a dark and gritty alley in Patpong, you’ll find G Bangkok (formerly G.O.D. - Guys on Display). Gets busy after 2 A.M., this three-level club packed with stages, cages, and zebra-patterned couches. G’s notorious drag shows don't really get going until after 5 A.M. but continue into the late hours of the morning.
VERTIGO AT BANYAN TREE : Situated 61 floors above the bustling streets of Bangkok, Vertigo restaurant's Moon Bar is the highest outdoor bar in the Asia-Pacific region. Settle in for stunning views, sumptuous cocktails, or an unexpectedly inventive barbecue menu. Don't let the setting sun distract you from finding visiting corporate executives flashing black Amex cards and suggestive smiles.
GC BAR: In Hanoi's French Quarter the solid-oak bar at GC (Golden Cock) greets you from the street while a huge pool table dominates a back room full of expats, transvestites, and hairless Hanoi hipsters. Farther back is a lovely open-air garden. A word of caution: GC not only closes early but is also often raided by local police, even if at last visit they seemed more interested in the pool stick, straddling transvestites than in pimping bribes.
HO CHI MINH CITY
APOCALYPSE NOW : One of the oldest clubs in the former Saigon, AN is the unofficial after-hours spot in the city. Amiable pimps and local prostitutes shoot pool as hordes of foreigners drink tequila and party until dawn. The best night for those looking for action is Tuesday.