Drag Shows, Patios, Cocktails: Denver’s Must-Hit LGBTQ+ Bars
We’re refreshing the list of Denver’s best gay bars at the kickoff of Pride Month, but obviously following bars are a good time all year long. Some have that familiar dive bar appeal that you know and love, featuring bartenders you’re now on a first-name basis with, others bring something else to the table, whether it’s a killer patio, refreshing craft cocktails, or a food menu that far surpasses any other bar you’ve been to.
Denver has a long, complicated history when it comes to gay rights and the queer community, but it’s made a lot of incredible progress over the years to become a city that welcomes and celebrates everyone. And the wonderful thing about all of the bars listed below is that they’re safe, inclusive spaces that don’t sacrifice anything else—the drinks are cold (and good), the music is electric, and each atmosphere elicits its own brand of fun. Celebrate Pride this month and every month at Denver’s best LGBTQIA+ bars.
Come for the drag shows, stay for the late-night dancing. While it does have all the charm of a typical dive bar—like no-frills seating and cheap drinks—rest assured those drinks are damn good and poured up by famously friendly and attentive bartenders (seriously, the reviews about the staff and management are glowing). Live music can be expected on weekends and there’s always special programming happening (like the upcoming summer parties), and if you’re looking for a cool, welcoming place outside of the typical Broadway bustle, this is the spot.
Self-proclaimed as “Denver’s premiere LGBTQIA+ nightclub,” Tracks is one of Denver’s most popular dance spots, residing in the beating heart of RiNo. The club is not only friendly to all walks of life and people of all kinds but also to those with varying tastes in music. Feel the blood pumping through you via EDM on one dance floor, or the heavy bass of rap and hip-hop on another, and carefree pop hits on yet another. With three massive dance floors, multiple bars, live dancers, frequent events, and the largest LED screens around, there's plenty to keep you busy.
City Park West
If we told you there were roughly 20 lesbian bars left in the country, you maybe wouldn't believe us. But it’s true, and Denver is lucky to have one still in operation. Blush & Blu sits in the midst of all the energy of East Colfax and in addition to being one of the few lesbian bars left in the country, also survived a global pandemic and continues to thrive on community support. Every night has a theme and food or drink special so it’s always a good time to pop in, especially with its new and improved happy hour.
Ever find street parking at the southern tip of the Santa Fe art district and notice a cool, gray building with rainbow flags in the windows? That’s Trade Bar and it’s worth a stop next time you’re over that way. The innocuous building houses an LGBTQIA+-friendly fetish and kink bar offering strong drinks and sexy underground house music. Trade serves as a place of community where like-minded people can connect and not only feel safe but also totally welcomed and unjudged.
Driving down Lincoln—especially during the busy hours—can have you missing a lot of interesting hidden gems. Luckily, Denver Sweet isn’t so hidden; you’ve probably seen the rainbow flag and large mural on the side of the building and if you haven’t, you might need to get out more. The bar is a “Bear Inspired” spot, with a rooftop featuring killer views, tasty apps, sandwiches, and pizzas, and pretty much every liquor under the sun. Enjoy two levels of fun, rotating DJs, and being right in the thick of Downtown Denver.
Triangle knows what a good time looks like. A chic interior with plush leather booths and sexy lighting plus a massive outdoor patio means tons of space to dance, drink, and have fun. The bar is located within the historic Triangle Lounge building and has a menu comprising craft cocktails, farm-to-table bar bites, and even Starbucks coffee for night owls looking for a caffeine kick, and Fridays are for tacos and tequilas. Plus, Triangle is especially dedicated to the environment, serving as the most eco-friendly LGBTQIA+ bar in Denver by sourcing locally and using sustainable and compostable products when available. Triangle alone practices composting and sustainability enough to keep a full truck load of waste out of landfills every month.
Grab your 10-gallon hat and your spurs and mosey on over to Charlie’s, which is basically a Denver institution at this point. Operating for the last 40 years and remaining one of the default LGBTQIA+ bars for a weekend (or weeknight) on the town, you can snack on Mediterranean-centric food like gyros, falafel, and baklava as well as tacos, burritos, bowls, quesadillas, and more while keeping an eye on the snacks out on the dance floor. There’s also a wide selection of libations, from generous beer and spirits lists to thoughtfully crafted Cowboy Cocktails.
North Capitol Hill
While some of the bars on this list are primo, laid-back, casual beer kind of places, X Bar is definitely where you want to go to let loose and dance your assless chaps off. Also an East Colfax destination, this place has it all: weekend brunch, a constant influx of themed events, live performances, karaoke, DJs, and so much energy. The drink specials are abundant, and the hashtag is #partyoncolfax so do your hair tall, check your nails, and feel good as hell strutting into some of the most fun Denver has to offer.
We love a name that’s straight to the point. This bar features some seriously impressive, acrobatic pole dancing and encore-worthy performances, and purchasing lap dances is highly encouraged. The venue might not be the biggest out there, though what it lacks in size it makes up for in character, premium entertainment, and a guaranteed good time.
The bar that claims to be Denver’s oldest gay bar is also the most laid-back of the bunch. Operating as a bar since the 1950s, this spot has definitely seen its fair share of history—good and bad. In that light, the name comes from a shift in the ‘70s to being an openly gay bar, which included a name change. To many folks’ surprise, R&R doesn’t stand for “rest and relaxation” but rather for the bar’s owners at the time of the change, Rick and Roger. It might not be the place to go to get your dance on, but it’s got comfortable seating, cold drinks, and a safe space to be yourself and enjoy good company.
Li’l Devils describes itself more as a watering hole for creative types than a flashy, sexy dance venue. In fact, it’s actually a tavern/lounge serving mostly on-tap beers, many of which are local to Colorado, as well as seasonally rotating drink menus. Any time spent on the spacious, colorful deck or patio is time well spent indeed, and the place is known to host events that support local organizations. Fun times and giving back to the community? Count us in.
City Park West
A catchy play on words always hooks us, though of course the fact that this place is Denver’s “only gay sports bar” is primarily why we had to have it on our list. Oh and it’s literally across the street from Blush & Blu if you’re doing a gay bar hop. No matter what your favorite sport—yes, even cricket—there’s a really solid chance Tight End will have the game up on one of the big screens. Enjoy yourself, root for your team, and sip on a cocktail or one of the many beers on tap knowing you’re in a safe space where discrimination of any kind is not tolerated.
Be on the lookout for Denver’s newest gay bar, SIR, arriving sometime this November from father-and-son duo Tyler and Trey Stewart. It will reside in the former Vesta space on Blake Street.