Gay bars – where should I go?
It’s question that we always ask when we are in a new city. Here’s some help for when you visit Sydney.
There’s probably 4 distinct categories we should talk about: gay bars, pubs, nightclubs and straight but cool, gay-friendly bars.
Here’s what you need to know. Click on the their names for more details:
Midnight Shift (downstairs)
One of the oldest gay bars on the strip, it has recently has a major makeover and is looking good. It is most popular on weekend evenings and nights including Sundays. It attracts a slightly older crowd and is also popular with the Asian community.
Once a beautiful Art Deco funeral parlour, Kinsela’s biggest night of the week is Fridays. That’s when the Harbour City Bears take over, and the place is pumping full of bears after 9pm.
This one was once a bank. It’s popular during the week for pre-dinner and post-dinner drinks and gets busy on weekends when the top floor is open as well.
Pubs, or ‘public bars’ for the uninitiated, are everywhere, and they all offer something different.
A good crowd here all week. On Sunday afternoons and evenings it gets very busy with a more “blokey” crowd.
This is theoretically a mixed venue, and it certainly is during the week and on Saturday nights. But on Sunday afternoon and evening the gay crowd descends on it and it becomes a crowded but fun way to end the weekend. A little later in the evening the upstairs bar is opened and it pretty much becomes a nightclub.
Another place that was once another bank, that attracts a younger crowd over three floors. There’s something on every night of the week. Try Malebox on Wednesday night for something different. Everyone gets a number on entry. If you like someone, write a message to their number. If your number comes up on the screen, you’ve got male!
A place for a quieter drink with friends. It has a nice deck from where you can look over Taylor Square.
In the suburb of Erskineville, this pub has been a gay venue for a long time, and is featured in the opening and closing scenes of ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert‘. It has just been purchased, so what the new owners do with it remains to be seen., but the feedback I’ve just had is that it is promising to be a very queer, alternative venue.
On the main strip of the very gay suburb of Newtown (next to Erskineville), this is a popular local venue and is big with the girls as well.
In the suburb of Enmore (next to Newtown), here’s one for the girls. Possibly the premiere lesbian pub in Sydney.
Once one of the world’s superclubs, it is a shadow of its former self and is pretty much a mixed venue these days. But give it a try if you feel like a big night out on the dance floor.
Midnight Shift (upstairs)
Separate to the downstairs area, and also recently upgraded like the downstairs bar, this is the place to go for a top quality sound system and lighting when you want a night out dancing.
This place is always fun. Everybody has permission to be very silly and dance the night away to all the classic gay anthems. Get there early to avoid the queues.
The bars I’ve listed below are all what I like to call ‘Clover bars’ in honour of Clover Moore, Sydney’s Lord Mayor, who managed to push through the NSW state parliament a new form of liquor license that was much cheaper to purchase and allowed smaller, quirkier bars to establish themselves. There are now many around the city and are often hidden away in the most unlikely places. Here’s just 4 of them that are worth a visit. Few if any are actually gay bars. They are ostensibly straight bars but because of their locations they attract a mixed clientele.
Behind the most unassuming door in a laneway off Oxford Street, this was one of the original Clover bars, and is famous for its wacky decor – everything from cactii to moose heads.
Cool, funky, good service.
With a 50’s feel and friendly service.
Interesting ceilings made of old light bulbs and a great outside area upstairs out the back.
Cosy, friendly, with cocktails a speciality. Their Espresso Martini is fantastic. But not too many if you don’t plan on staying up all night!
It’s worth pointing out that things change all the time, so while correct at the time of posting it’s best to check with us when you arrive in Sydney for the latest updates.
Do you have a favourite Sydney watering hole? How about in other places in Australia?