If you’re looking for glitz, glamour and maybe a celebrity sighting here and there, look no further—Los Angeles is calling your name.
From the shops of Beverly Hills to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame to a hipper-by-the-minute Downtown, with all that glitter and gold it’s no surprise that L.A.’s gay scene is just as fabulous (and surprisingly diverse).
West Hollywood, aka WeHo, is one of three gay centers of Los Angeles, and it dates all the way back to the early ’80s. Often in WeHo, ‘to see and be seen’ is the mentality, and this city-within-a-city’s gay bars and clubs are typically packed every weekend, if not on weekdays, too.
Looking for a cheap margarita? How about two? Fiesta Cantina, one of the Boystown strip’s most popular bars, has an amazing two-for-one happy hour special every day from 4-8 p.m. and then again from 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.! Order a couple margs or large-size Coronas with some tex-mex bites.
If you’re looking to dance the night away, Rage and Micky’s are popular options, both in spitting distance of each other along Santa Monica Boulevard. Rage, typically catering to younger guys, loves to pack the dance floor with pop and other themed music nights, while Micky’s delivers more of a diverse crowd and a popular Top 40 soundtrack. Both clubs have popular drag nights, too.
The Abbey is West Hollywood’s—if not the world’s—most popular gay bar. A huge indoor-outdoor spot with large (and strong) cocktails, a thumping dance floor, sexy bar staff and a well-rounded slate of weekly parties, it often draws a line on weekends. If you’re in the mood to splurge, opt for bottle service at an on-the-dance-floor booth or a more secluded bungalow in the back. Celebrities as wide-ranging as Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Lance Bass and Adam Lambert are regularly spotted sharing a drink with fans and friends, so have your smartphone ready.
There are at least a dozen other bars along the WeHo strip to lure you inside for a drink or a dance, so head out and explore!
The edgier, sometimes seedier side of “gay L.A.” is also referred to as “The East Side.” As opposed to the polished and plucked guys of West Hollywood, the men of Silver Lake prefer facial hair, leather and cheap draft beer. Here’s where you’ll find the city’s bear bars, leather nights and dive bar parties.
Eagle L.A. is ground zero for the city’s leather aficionados, with parties like Cub Scout, which draws a crowd of furry guys in their 30s and 40s, and Grunt, a vaguely military-themed party that draws some of the city’s sexiest men to indulge in cheap drinks and cruise each other. Unlike in West Hollywood, Silver Lake’s most fun parties happen on a monthly—not weekly—basis.
Faultline and Akbar are Silver Lake’s other gay bar options, the former particularly popular for its Thursday night underwear party and Sunday beer bust. The latter is commonly referred to as one of L.A.’s most ‘hip’ neighborhood bars, featuring a wide swath of weekly and monthly parties and a mixed crowd of queer patrons and allies.
Downtown has in the past couple years become a huge draw for L.A. residents and visitors alike. There are now more hotels, restaurants and gay bars in the area than ever before, and a lot of LGBTs have begun to call the neighborhood home. Do yourself a favor and spend at least one night in DTLA during your next L.A. stay, as the options for eating, drinking and dancing are nearly limitless.
If you’re looking for an upscale nightlife experience, stop into Bar Mattachine, which offers up a creative drinks program of craft cocktails. Some of the city’s best queer DJ talent rotate nights here, making it the perfect first stop of the night or a place to get comfortable and while the night away.
Those looking to cut loose in a contemporary bar setting can head to Redline, where the occasional drag show and local DJ set takes place.
Precinct, the crown jewel of gay DTLA, is a huge second-story bar space that hosts all sorts of gay debauchery. From rock ‘n’ roll drag shows to parties featuring house music and Latin tracks, it brings out record crowds every weekend and also for some of its weekday events. Many partiers love to hang out on the bar’s wrap-around smoking patio, which looks onto the streets of Downtown below.