When it comes to gay-oriented nightclubs, bars and businesses, Las Vegas doesn’t come close to having all the offerings found in places like San Francisco and New York City. That being said, there is still a vibrant LGBT community here – one that’s ready and waiting to welcome you.
This past weekend the city played host to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Time to Thrive, which included a moving speech from actress Ellen Page, who came out as gay, and closing remarks from Chelsea Clinton. Held at Bally’s, this inaugural national conference focused on promoting safety and inclusion for the LGBT community.
In terms of gay social life, Vegas’ most popular neighborhood, dubbed the “Fruit Loop,” is located on Paradise Road, just south of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Easily accessible from the Las Vegas Strip, its epicenter is at the corner of Naples Drive. There you’ll find Get Booked, Piranha nightclub and FreeZone as well as the venerable Gipsy, which is currently in the midst of a major renovation that will transform it into a day club and ultra lounge.
The Commercial Center, near Sahara Avenue and Maryland Parkway, is another hub. It’s home to a handful of LGBT bars and businesses including Spotlight Lounge, Badlands Saloon and the recently launched Association Tavern. Plus, you’ll discover several gay hangouts dotting the Strip, downtown and outlying neighborhoods.
If you’re searching for a place to drink and dance the night away or if you’re looking to book a room or a show, here’s a more detailed rundown of Vegas’ LGBT-friendly scene.
Places to dance
There are at least three nightclubs in Las Vegas that cater to the LGBT crowd: Piranha in the Fruit Loop, Krave on the Strip across from Monte Carlo, and Share, which is located a few blocks west of Las Vegas Boulevard on Wynn Road.
The building that houses Piranha doesn’t look remarkable from the outside, but inside are all the ingredients for an evening you’ll never forget. Spread across two stories, there’s a patio with fireplaces, a stylish lounge, a pool table and a fish tank. The nightclub also has two dance floors complemented by a state-of-the-art sound system. A wonderful array of theme nights with DJs and live entertainment are offered each week at Piranha. This includes Thrash Thursdays with drag queen bingo, F*ck It Fridays with a drag show hosted by Coca Vega, and Piranha 54 Saturdays with the “India Ferrah Goddess Show.” You can take advantage of killer specials like two-for-one well drinks on Hot Mess Mondays and Wild Wednesdays. And what’s more, Piranha now boasts having no cover charge.
No matter what your persuasion, you won’t want to miss getting your groove on at Krave. Occupying the former Empire Ballroom, this live-and-let-dance nightclub is only open on weekends. In addition to its huge dance floor, Krave’s multilevel space includes a balcony, a patio and several bars. There are hot go-go dancers, and VIP bottle service is offered as well. DJs like Morningstar, Lightknife and Michael Graves are usually at the helm of themed events on Friday and Saturday nights. Also, be sure to check out Krave’s new afterhours party, fittingly called “After,” which runs on Saturday nights (or rather Sunday mornings) between 3:30 and 8 a.m.
When you enter Share, you’ll hit upon a chic bar, ultra lounge and nightclub that spans two levels. Often packed with sweaty bodies (including muscle-bound go-go dancers and hot shot boys), the dance floor is on the bottom level while private tables are on the upper level offering a full view of all the action. Among Share’s sexy weekly events are Foreplay Thursdays and Stripper Circus Fridays.
A sports bar
Winning over locals and visitors alike, The Garage at 1487 E. Flamingo Road, just a block east of Maryland Parkway, has an attitude-free aura. Open 24/7, you can watch sports on one of several flat-screen TVs or play pool, darts, shuffleboard and video poker. The friendly bartenders are dressed as mechanics. Nibble on free pretzels with your drinks. Swing in for The Garage’s popular beer busts every Monday and Wednesday from 9 p.m. – midnight and Sunday from 5 – 9 p.m., where you can guzzle Bud Light and Miller Lite for $5 or Sam Adams, Stella Artois, Blue Moon and Newcastle for $8.
A country bar
Located a few minutes west of the Strip at 5012 Arville St. between Tropicana and Reno avenues, Charlie’s Las Vegas is a trailblazer as the only gay country bar in Sin City. There’s no better place to corral yourself a cowboy – or at least let one pour you a strong and affordable drink. Every Thursday Charlie’s holds free line dance lessons from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. There’s other entertainment as well. On Monday nights enjoy karaoke, on Tuesday nights join in bingo (and get a free shot every time the bingo calling drag queen screws up), and on Sunday nights watch “Charlie’s Amazing Drag Revue” with JewDi Vine and Michelle Holliday.
Funhog Ranch is a small leather and Levis bar. Situated about two blocks east of the Strip at 495 Twain Ave., the crowd consists of a mix of tourists and locals. The bartenders are friendly, the atmosphere is laid back, and the drinks are inexpensive. Open 24 hours, you’re guaranteed never to hear the words “Last call!” The party will be hopping for as long as you can keep going.
Tucked away in the arts district near Theatre7, Snick’s Place is the only gay bar in downtown as well as the oldest gay bar in Las Vegas. It’s been around since 1976. Located on Third Street and open 24 hours, in this little joint you can play video poker and partake of happy hour specials every Monday – Friday from 2 – 4 p.m. and 2 – 4 a.m.
A leather and Levis bar, Las Vegas Eagle is found at 3420 E. Tropicana Ave. and open 24 hours. Famous for its “underwear parties” on Wednesday and Saturday nights, you can also partake in karaoke contests on Tuesday or Thursday evenings or indulge in bagels, bloody Marys, mimosas and other treats on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The 24-hour Goodtimes Bar & Nightclub is also located on Tropicana Avenue, in the same plaza that formerly housed the Liberace Museum. Under new ownership now, it boasts a neighborhood atmosphere in the afternoons and a club vibe on weekends, with DJs regularly spinning on Friday and Saturday nights. For buy-one-get-one-free drinks, don’t miss happy hour at Goodtimes, which runs daily from 3 – 7 p.m.
In the above-mentioned Commercial Center on East Sahara Avenue, check out the Spotlight Lounge and Badlands Saloon. Both places are open 24 hours. The Spotlight Lounge is one of the friendliest gay bars in town. Make the most of its extended happy hours (stretching from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.) to knock back buy-one-get-one-free bottled beers and well drinks. Badlands Saloon is another bar with a great happy hour promotion: two-for-one well drinks or domestic beers from 2 – 7 p.m. nightly. Plus, Badlands Saloon presents an amusing drag show on Friday nights and sizzling go-go boys on Saturday nights.
New bars on the scene
In early January, The Phoenix Bar & Lounge rose from the metaphorical ashes of the Escape Lounge. Located at 4213 W. Sahara Ave., this relaxed 4,800-square-foot bar has a patio, pool tables and darts. It also offers two daily happy hours (in the early and late-night hours) and features Thursday night karaoke with Sheila Del Monte.
Just over a week ago, Club Metro in the Commercial Center announced it is converting into the Association Tavern. Expect the same two-for-one happy hour drinks and cool blues/jazz music scene – but in digs that have undergone a stylish facelift.
Luxor’s Temptation Sunday is the reigning queen of the LGBT day club scene in Vegas. This weekly event will be returning for its sixth season on May 18 with host J.Son of MrGayVegas.com and NakedBoyNews.com. Debuting this spring is a pool party called Xposed! at the new Tropicana Beach Club on Saturday afternoons. Amid two crystal blue pools and white sand beach areas, it will showcase an assortment of DJs, celebrity guest performers and, of course, tan go-go dancers.
As you would expect, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is popular among LGBT visitors because of its proximity to the Fruit Loop. Alexis Park and Rumor Boutique Resort, which has a chic white and purple color scheme, are good choices for the same reason.
Likewise, Luxor is perfect if you plan to attend Temptation Sundays this summer, and The Cosmopolitan makes for a good pick if you’re interested in going to Confidential, a weekly LGBT party presented by Eduardo Cordova and held Wednesday nights in the resort’s funky Bond bar.
Tropicana Las Vegas, which is launching the above-mentioned Xposed! pool party this spring, has gone to great strides to welcome the LGBT community. This resort has even had a presence at several national Pride events.
In addition, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore are dedicated to providing LGBT travelers with special attention and amenities. These properties have even set up a dedicated “Pride Concierge” to answer any questions about Vegas you may have.
There is entertainment in Las Vegas to suit all persuasions and occasions.
If you’re a lover of musicals, you’ll be pleased to know that there are permanent productions of “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas and “Rock of Ages” at The Venetian. The hit musical “Mamma Mia!” will return to Sin City for an indefinite engagement at the Tropicana Theater on May 8. Thanks to its Caberet Jazz room and Broadway Las Vegas series, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts tends to be a big draw for the LGBT crowd as well.
Of course, edgier shows like “Zumanity” (hailed as “the sensual side of Cirque du Soleil”) at New York-New York, “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace and “Vegas Nocturne” at Rose.Rabbit.Lie. in The Cosmopolitan attract adults of all orientations.
More interested in checking out some hot bods? Men, due to its “gentlemen welcome” policy, you can have a gander at the good-looking Chippendales troupe at Rio. Ladies, you too can see a bevy of topless beauties in “Crazy Girls” at Riviera, “X Burlesque” at Flamingo and “Fantasy” at Luxor.
And when it comes to drag, no one does it better than Frank Marino and his talented cast of female impersonators in “Divas” at The Quad.
Ready to make a commitment? If you’ve come to Las Vegas with your partner or met someone special here, get “hitched” at one of the city’s numerous chapels. Although gay marriage isn’t legal at this time in the state of Nevada, the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel and the Mon Bel Ami Wedding Chapel are still glad to conduct a ceremony during which you can formally express your love for each other. Both of them offer traditional settings as well as fun and whimsical Elvis packages.