Choosing the Greatest Gay Bars in the World
By Out.com Editors
102, Avenue des Champs Elysées 75008
Oui, you’ll probably end up shelling out a thick wad of euros at this heaving Paris megaclub, situated on the superchic Champs-Elysées. But once you get inside -- and we suggest arriving very, very late -- you’ll be greeted by bouncing fashionistas, muscular strippers, and, of course, sashaying drag queens. Resident DJs include heavyweights like Paul Van Dyk and Deep Dish, and the fete rages on until 6 or 7 A.M.
23, Rue Vielle du Temple
The Marais 75004
Le Raidd is an enduring favorite in the cruisy Marais district. 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 streetside patio and ends downstairs on a couch in the dark lounge with a new Parisian friend.
Le Bar Central
33 Rue Vielle du Temple 75004
Le Bar Central, the most famous gay men's bar in Paris, has an annex of six rooms in its archaic 300-year-old building.
The Polo Lounge
84 Wilson Street
Merchant City , Glasgow City Centre G1 1UZ
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, catering to an upmarket crowd—or at least as upmarket as Glasgow gets. Polo is stylish downstairs, with a warren of dance floors and seating areas.
Royal Vauxhall Tavern
372 Kennington Ln.
London, UK, SE11 5HY
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 remain central to the pub to this day. From cabaret and comedy nights and bingo and live-music evenings to its legendary Saturday night event, Duckie, and the last defiant gasp of the weekend on Sundays, the RVT is an institution attracting a wide range of gay locals and visitors from across London and beyond.
Under The Arches, Villiers Street
London, Wc2N 6NG
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 celebrity performances by Cher, Billie Ray Martin, and Grace Jones.
Hairy pink wallpaper cushions this sweaty packed depository for tourists and students. Roses is a must-stop where drinks are affordable, bartenders get slushy drunk, and partygoers will sell a little something to ensure a good time.
Motzstraße 19 10777
The crowd is young, rugged (think T-shirts, flannel, and leather), and über-naughty at Berlin’s classic gay den. 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. (He couldn’t, however, recall the year World War II ended.)
Kerkstraat 52 Amsterdam
The Cockring and Exit are two old Dutch masters of the thumping gay scene, but Church, which opened in 2008, is determined to shore up Amsterdam’s bad-to-the-bone status with a calendar of nonstop kink that includes Wednesday night’s Naked Bar (dress code: buck naked), Friday’s underwear party, and Sex on Sunday (free condoms and, um, coat check). You won’t go home feeling dirty, though; there are showers downstairs for that after-party scrub-down.
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.
Axel Sky Bar
Aribau 33 08011
Perched atop the Hotel Axel, which bills itself as homo-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 hosts a party every year to welcome the start of the summer, and although it has begun to show a bit of wear and tear, it’s still a hot place to cool down under the Spanish sun. 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.
Calle Amor de Dios 31
While this gay club’s décor leaves something to be desired, its thrice-weekly parties pack in the hot Andalusian locals. Stick around for the 2 a.m. curtain call with the city’s finest drag acts. Just don’t mention the Macarena.
Calle Alameda de Hercules 93
This hole-in-the-wall dance bar in the heart of the city’s thriving gay strip, La Alameda de Hercules, is tinted with classic Spanish décor—Damascus wallpaper and sultry red lights—perfect for dancing to hard techno beats.
7 Soganci Sokak (off Siraselviler Caddesi)
This cozy tavern is tucked away in a quaint alley in the bohemian Cihangir neighborhood. During the week it’s perfect for intimate tête-à-têtes, 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.
Metzgergasse 3 CH-8001
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 satiate any palette -- all the bartender requires is your favorite flavor (and money of course).
Třebízského 4a Praha
Half a vintage car protrudes from a hunger-inducing orange wall in this atmospheric hot-spot. Club Termix must be doing something right to keep parties kindled till dawn.