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Drag queen on stage at Sircuit
Photograph: Dean Acuri

The best gay bars in Melbourne

From the rough and ready Collingwood scene to the thrills and sparkles of Commercial Road, here is your guide to the queer party scene. By Dean Acuri

Written by
Dean Acuri

Over the past decade, the northside has become the queer social epicentre as venues in St Kilda and Prahran close their doors. Of course, there are plenty of monthly parties and weekly nights in inclusive venues that cater towards queer communities, but we’re celebrating the bricks and mortar buildings and businesses run by members of the LGBT community that do so much more than just infiltrate a space.

Here’s our guide to the Melbourne’s gay venues, our home ground where communities not only come together, but where the can relax and enjoy themselves.

After you're all partied out (for tonight), up your 'extra-curricular' game by visiting our top five sex shops. Or maybe you love a regular queer party? We've got loads.

Recommended: The 50 best bars in Melbourne

Melbourne's top gay bars

  • Gay and lesbian
  • Abbotsford

Do gay bars where men hang out in leather chaps still exist? They do in Collingwood at the Laird, a safe welcoming pub for same-sex attracted cisgender and transgender males. This is a friendly watering hole with accommodation and nightly events from pool comps and trivia to dance parties and fetish nights. There is a strict fetish dress code for the back bar on Thursdays for Spit n Polish, but you don’t have to gear up to see what the fuss is about, you can hang out in the beer garden and enjoy the social side of the scene. Don’t be intimidated by its whips and chains reputation, come for Trivial Hirsute on a Wednesday or a relaxed Sunday session, and be sure to check out their website for monthly ticketed parties and special events.

  • Gay and lesbian
  • Richmond

This is where every colour of the rainbow is welcome to come and have a drink. Richmond’s DTs may be small in size, but has a whole lot of heart with weekly trivia, karaoke, and drag from Tuesday to Sunday. This is the kind of venue where after a few visits everybody knows your name. Happily, the recent facelift maintains DTs flare and flavour. It’s a home to Melbourne drag and a welcoming space for the cross-dressing community. Don’t forget about DJ Daz on a Friday and Spin and Win Sundays filled with drink specials. Every year DTs hosts Pride March Bake Off, raising funds for the annual street parade.

  • Bars
  • Fitzroy

This cabaret and cocktail bar is home to a fabulous array of queer events and performers, taking Fitzroy’s creativity and community to new heights. Honcho Disko transforms the 86 into an inclusive hub of queer expression on Thursdays and drag performers take to the stage on Friday in a night of comedy, spot numbers and games. Granny Bingo on the first Monday of the month always sells out, with the award-winning Edith Vale and Maureen McGillicuddy taking ball play to a whole new level of fun. It’s also home to Equal Love Melbourne where you’ll find community members who spent years fighting for equal marriage rights hanging out with a well-earned drink at the bar.

  • Bars
  • Gay bars
  • Footscray

There’s a smorgasbord of events at this community venue, with live music and entertainment, drag shows, bingo, and sports screenings – there’s even space for karaoke rooms and art exhibitions. It’s not just about drag either. Dykes on Bikes Melbourne host drinks each month and women focused events and community forums. Pride of Our Footscray Community Bar is an inclusive melting pot of entertainment, expression and acceptance, proving that variety is the spice of life out West. If you’ve got krypto currency piling up in your digital wallet, then this is the place to come and spend it, with the team at Pride of our Footscray happily accepting bitcoin behind the bar.

  • Gay and lesbian
  • Fitzroy

Sircuit in Fitzroy has become one of Melbourne’s most popular LGBT clubs. There’s free entry from Wednesday to Sunday, and you’ll catch plenty of dragtastic entertainment with different production shows on Thursday, Friday and Sunday nights. Plus you can play some pool and eat free chicken nuggets on a Wednesday night between 10pm and 11pm. Recent renovations have made even more room for dancing the night away in a safe and welcoming environment. Being such a great space, ticketed parties often hire out Sircuit, but you can always head upstairs to Mollies and continue your night. ADAM takes over Sircuit on a Monday and Tuesday hosting a ticketed nude social night with men comfortably having a drink and playing pool in the buff.

  • Gay and lesbian
  • Collingwood

The Peel is a late-night club open on Friday and Saturdays in Collingwood, which makes it quite literally the last man standing due to its license. Catch Paris performing Friday nights before you dance the night away or hang out in the huge, sheltered courtyard. The male elephant in the room when it comes to the venue is that the Peel is billed as a club for gay men. While you’ll find all genders and sexualities there, if you identify as something else please be aware of your behaviour and venue policies. The one thing you can count on is that you’ll always find someone you know there by nights end. As the promo says, all roads lead to the Peel!

Want to party?

  • Nightlife

Looking for somewhere to dance the night away with your LGBTQIA community? We danced till dawn at clubs all over the city (it's a rough life, we know) to find out the best places to put on your boogie shoes.  Some of Melbourne's best queer parties move around, and some have fixed nights at one venue. Here are our favourite parties.  Recommended: The 50 best bars in Melbourne  

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