The 12 Best LGBTQ Bars in Los Angeles
Bars in Los Angeles may announce “last call” at 2am, hours earlier than some of the country’s other big-city hot spots, but LA knows how to party. With multiple LGBTQ gayborhoods and “scenes,” there’s a local gay bar to satisfy any type of night on the town these days -- and while LA’s lesbian bar scene is practically nonexistent as of 2019, the result of exorbitant rents and declining patronage, many gay bars actively appeal to the ladies on given nights with female-centric parties.
Looking for a night of pop divas and pretty boys and girls? Get your ass to West Hollywood, stat! Hairy hipsters make you weak in the knees? Silver Lake is probably more your speed. Maybe you want a little bit of both -- and thanks to Uber those dreams can come true, too.
A city built on the shoulders of creative “industry types” needs unparalleled party playgrounds once the sun goes down, and LA’s legacy of liquor and licentiousness speaks for itself. While the spots where LA’s queer population parties and plays may have changed over the decades (like Studio One and Jewel’s Catch One), the ability to have a gay ol’ time any day of the week in this city is ever-present.
Downtown’s home base for drag and dancing
Only a few years ago, Downtown Los Angeles was practically a no man’s land for queer people. These days the neighborhood’s steel and concrete acts as the setting for a thriving scene of LGBTQ tastemakers and young professionals, and this bar is that scene’s home base. Featuring some of the city’s most diverse party programming -- the Boulet Brothers’ weekly drag show Queen Kong, international bear bacchanal Bearracuda, a showcase of Latin music (and boys) called Putería -- this sprawling, multi-room space packs people in and also keeps them fed with a full menu of bar eats.
A Latinx dive bar for nights of drag and dancing
This longstanding Downtown bar has always been a divey refuge for local Latinx gays, who saunter through the door seeking stiff cocktails and even stiffer go-go dancers. Just don’t be surprised if the dancers’ makeshift stage is a couple tables pushed together. It’s a no-frills, no-attitude option for drinking, dancing, and drag, not to mention an important space for a community that put DTLA on the map.
The world’s most famous gay bar is bigger and better than ever
More than a bar or nightclub for WeHo locals and visitors, The Abbey has always been a community center of sorts -- albeit one offering an assorted array of flavored martinis, mojitos and a beat. On any given day and at any given time, guys and girls of all persuasions gather inside this open-air courtyard to cut loose and catch up. In 2016, The Abbey expanded by a cool 5,000 square feet when owner David Cooley purchased the next-door bar and opened The Chapel, a two-room, patio-abundant space with a decidedly more “loungey” vibe (and which caters to the ladies on Wednesday nights for a party dubbed “Altar Girl”).
WeHo meets NYC’s East Village at this raunchy little spot
Maybe you’ve heard stories about what goes on inside Fubar, a hole-in-the-wall spot that welcomes some much-needed “raunch ‘n’ roll” to WeHo’s otherwise buttoned-up demeanor. It’s where LA’s longest-running weekly gay party -- Mario Diaz’s BFD (Big Fat D*ck) -- happens every Thursday, a guaranteed gathering of the city’s sexiest guys dancing and gawking at the city’s sexiest go-go dancers. Plan ahead for a brutal hangover.
The stiffest drinks in town, enjoyed by a friendly crowd
This WeHo mainstay got a little less divey due to a recent facelift, but it didn’t lose an ounce of charm in the process. Known for doling out the stiffest drinks in town and for employing the city’s friendliest bar staff, it’s understandable why the crowd at Mother Lode is fun-loving and perpetually friendly. The perfect spot for kicking off or winding down a night of bar-hopping in Boystown.
Where dancing queens and Drag Race queens converge
Located in the heart of WeHo, this nightclub offers up a dance floor every night of the week, regularly blasting Top 40, hip-hop and a Latin soundtrack for the crowd. Micky’s is also the unofficial headquarters for the city’s plethora of RuPaul’s Drag Race alumna, hosting star-studded viewing parties while the show is in season, plus the weekly drag event Showgirls every Monday, which sees a mix of “Ru girls” and local queens ready to snatch your dollar bills.
An old-school video bar with a modern twist
This lively spot, named for the revolving door at its entrance, was a favorite among WeHo’s LGBTQ bar-hoppers before it shuttered and re-opened in 2011. A contemporary version of the “video bar” of yesteryear, the Revolver of today has upped its game by adding go-go dancers to the mix, along with drag, karaoke and happy hour specials that round out its slate of diverse party calendar.
LA’s version of the seedy leather bar
Those who aren’t formally initiated into leather and kink culture may be too intimidated to pay this indoor-outdoor bar a visit, and that’s really too bad. On weekdays, Eagle LA is simply a casual neighborhood watering hole for those who prefer draft beer, rock music and porn on the TVs to other bars’ cosmos, Top 40 and music videos. Weekends are typically when the kinksters come out to play, showing up in droves for “gear nights” dedicated to leather, rubber and other kinky scenes.
The ultimate hipster hangout for LA’s queer cool kids
Another bar that’s more “neighborhood watering hole” than fog-filled nightclub, Akbar has long been a refuge for the city’s queer community (and our allies) who seek nothing more than stiff drinks and a jukebox. The bar’s backroom gets a bit more inventive, hosting weekly stand-up comedy (Tuesdays) and a craft night (Wednesdays) for boozy DIY fun.
Proof that, yes, you can line dance to Madonna
There’s no LGBTQ bar in Los Angeles quite like this. Decked out with both a hardwood floor and a disco ball, nowhere else but Oil Can Harry’s will you hear a mix of high-energy country, pop, and R&B, let alone spy a crowd line dancing to such a varied soundtrack. For more than 50 years, this spot in The Valley has welcomed anyone and everyone through its doors, with no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Where The Valley’s bad boys belly up to the bar
A popular spot for weekday happy hours and weekend evenings, The Bullet Bar draws a decidedly casual crowd made up mostly of guys who prefer a drink at the bar and a smoke on the patio to the dance floors and long lines of the city’s other nightlife offerings. That said, if it happens at a gay bar -- think Drag Race screenings, BINGO, beer busts, disco Sundays -- you’ll find it here.
The beachside bar perfect for a post-surf-and-sand cocktail
What’s a queer person to do when they find themself by the beach and in need of a cocktail? Well, there’s really only one option: This far-west spot, mere steps from the water, has been a queer haven since 1979. It disappeared for a few years in 2016, but the new owners have raised it from the dead, ushering in a new era of a cleaned-up but still perfectly beachy bar for a flip-flops-wearing, swimsuit-sporting crowd.
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