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The 16 best gay clubs in America

Here are the best gay clubs in America—from drag bars to fetish bars, leather bars and dives—to dance the night away

By Tolly Wright |
Piranha Nightclub
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Piranha Nightclub

A beacon of democracy and equality globally, the United States is home to some of the coolest and most important LGBT establishments in the world. From the best cities to celebrate gay pride to the most fabulous gay pride shirts, the country clearly doesn’t shy away from supporting the gay community. It’s no surprise, then, that the best gay clubs in America happen to be some of the best worldwide. From drag bars to fetish bars, leather bars, dives and cabaret lounges, head to these venues when searching for guaranteed fun while dancing and drinking the night away listening to the best new songs out right now.

Best gay clubs in America

Bars, Dive bars

The Cock in New York City, NY

East Village

A self-described “rock and sleaze fag bar,” the Cock is just the sort of dark, sketchy dive where you can unleash your inner sexy beast. The dearth of uptown attitude (or any apparent concern for cleanliness) pulls artists, musicians, writers, fashionistos, tourists and closeted rebels in stiff polos, all of whom can appreciate a little dirty fun. Homeskool Mondays feature DJ extraordinaire Jon Jon Battles. Weekends get so crowded (midnight to 3am) that there’s often a cover charge. Stuff your pockets before coming here; it’s cash only.

Piranha Nightclub in Las Vegas
Photograph: Courtesy Piranha Nightclub

Piranha Nightclub in Las Vegas, NV

East of the strip

New York might officially hold the "city that never sleeps” title, but don’t tell that to Sin City’s 24-hour (!) dance club Piranha. With multiple rooms blasting music on a sound system worthy of the Strip, the shaking, thrusting and thumping never stops here. Considered by many to be the crown gem of the “Fruit Loop” (a cluster of several high-profile LGBT spots), Piranha attracts a fair number of queer celebrities like Adore Delano and other RuPaul’s Drag Race alums for performances and free meet-and-greets. Bonus points: There’s usually no cover. 

Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand in Waikiki, HA
Photograph: Courtesy Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand

Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand in Waikiki, HI

Hula’s always welcomes a heavy flow of fun-loving gay, lesbian, queer and transgender visitors from all over the world, as well as straight folks who just want to grab a drink with a view of the waterfront and Waikiki beach. Stop by all day for specialty frozen cocktails with a tropical flair and bites like tacos and sliders. Come nighttime, DJs, drag shows and themed events bring the party to this bar—a local favorite for four decades.

Club Café, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Jen Grygiel

Club Café in Boston, MA

Back Bay

Club Café—Boston’s long-standing restaurant, piano bar, cabaret space and dance club—will satisfy whatever nightlife craving you’re dealing with. As an institution of the city’s LGBT scene—it was founded in 1983—its glossy interior has become a place where friends old and new gather weekly. Regulars spring for a special club membership ($50 annually) to waive cover fees on club nights and get discounts on meals. 

The Atlanta Eagle in Atlanta
Photograph: Courtesy The Atlanta Eagle
Nightlife, Clubs

The Atlanta Eagle in Atlanta, GA

Bedford Pine

The city’s favorite leather bar, Atlanta Eagle brings a friendly, often sweaty, community together for dancing in a fun environment. On weeknights, you might notice a more relaxed crowd gathering for rounds of pool or singing their hearts out during karaoke sessions. Winter brings with it frequent underwear parties and other frisky themed nights.

Darcelle XV
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Mike Krzeszak

Darcelle XV in Portland, OR

Old Town

A mainstay of the gay community and a favorite among bachelorette parties, Darcelle XV hosts nightly performances by “female impersonators.” The seasoned drag performers put on a raunchy cabaret well worth the $20 cover. For visitors looking for less singing and joking and more rock-hard abs, the Friday and Saturday “male centerfold show” is the ideal destination.

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