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Gay party bars

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Photograph: Nikola Tamindzic

Rush
Most of the revelers at Rush were probably still in junior high back when this three-floor dance bar was called Heaven. But it’s remarkable how little it’s changed since the Clinton years. It’s still dark, it’s still full of twinks, and the DJ is still playing the Spice Girls. But if you want to dance, and you don’t want to deal with the snobby door policies of the Chelsea megaclubs, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better place.
TIP: There’s often a cover charge, so call ahead to see how much you’ll need to put out up front. And don’t be discouraged by the packed street-level dance floor. An easy-to-miss stairway leads to a frequently empty second floor where you and your gang can take over a sizable dance space. Average drink: $7. 579 Sixth Ave between 16th and 17th Sts (212-243-6100).

167 Eighth Ave between 18th and 19th Sts (212-337-2439).

Therapy
The Cosmo may have been the It drink of the ’90s, but the young, trendy boys (and straight Carrie Bradshaw wanna-bes) who frequent this midtown bôite still think it’s great: Therapy is awash with the pink cocktail. Wednesday is drag queen Peppermint’s talent show, “Cattle Call,” where you get to decide, via applause, who is the city’s most talented 45-year-old gay man. That is, if you can concentrate, what with all the cute staff and spunky future Broadway stars gossiping about who’s screwing whom.
TIP: There’s a big after-theater rush, so getthere around 10pm and have a few before the regular crowd turns up. Average drink: $9. 348 W 52nd St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-397-1700).

Sugarland
Managed by Metropolitan co-owner Troy Carson, Williamsburg’s newest queer hangout is still getting its footing on weekdays. But come Saturday night, the dimly lit, sparsely decorated joint that’s risen from the ashes of Capone’s is jumping with B-burg queens, Manhattan scensteratti, working stiffs, hags and breeder boys—all dancing to DJ MJ’s heady mix of pop, disco, rock and electronica. Not to mention getting sloshed on $5 drafts and $8 top-shelf cocktails.
TIP: Get there by midnight if you want to nab a seat in one of the subterranean banquettes—it’s the perfect spot for scanning the competition. Average drink: $6.50. 221 North 9th St between Driggs Ave and Roebling St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (myspace.com/sugarlandbklyn).

The Duplex
Aggressive cheer is always in the air at this bi-level Village cabaret and bar. Downstairs you and your pals can duet to show tunes with live piano accompaniment (NB: save your atonal “I Will Survive” for the karaoke bar; the singers here tend to bring it), while the upstairs offers a mellow drinking spot with plenty of seating and mingling room: Perfect for chatting with old friends and making new ones—including the superfriendly bartenders. The jukebox is stocked with a fun mix of Broadway classics and pop hits; don’t be afraid to sing along.
TIP: Like that bartender you met? Many of the staff are actors and/or singers. Check out the bar’s website for more info, then stalk them when they play at venues around town—including the Duplex’s own cabaret space. Average drink: $6.61 Christopher St at Seventh Ave South (212-255-5438; theduplex.com).

Metropolitan
The cold air settling over Billyburg means this sprawling homo bar loses its lovely outdoor space, but no matter: The two fireplaces more than make up for it. Gather around the warm glow with pals and watch the cute neighborhood boys and girls mingle around the pool table and video games. Cheap drinks will keep your gang well lubricated, and the noncruisey feel of the place means even your hetero friends will feel at home here.
TIP: Various nights are heavy on either boys or girls. While you’ll always find a friendly crowd, call ahead to be sure you don’t bring an army of Chelsea boys on dyke night. Average drink: $6.559 Lorimer St between Devoe St and Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-4444).

The Ritz
Is it strange for a bar that looks and feels like a beachfront Miami lounge to be named after something that evokes glamorous Parisian couture? Maybe, but who cares when you’re showcasing your best moves to the house tunes being pumped out by the DJ in the back? Not to mention the fact that the mix of hot young club kids, hot young dancers and hot young actors is enough to keep a hot young, well, anything, “entertained” all night.
TIP: Don’t be fooled by the laid-back beachy decor, you’ll want to dress it up to mingle with the crowd here. Average drink: $9. 369 W 46th St Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-333-2554).

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