I can picture it now: you’re slipping on your tank top, jean shorts and high tops, getting ready to go out on the town for the first time in Montreal. Ok, maybe you are thinking more conservatively, maybe a button-up and sensible sneakers. Or maybe you’re in full drag, heels and all! Either way, you’ll fit in. Montreal is truly an anything-goes kind of nightlife scene – you won’t feel uncomfortable wearing your Sunday best, or your Sunday morning walk-of-shame best.
Strolling down St. Catherine St., in the heart of Montreal’s Gay Village, you’ll notice a few things that you won’t find in a typical city in North America. First of all, if it’s the summertime, there will be no cars – the city of Montreal closes St. Catherine St. to vehicular traffic all summer long. Secondly, you’ll see various bathhouses (which are legal in Montreal). Thirdly, you’ll see male strip bars (which are also legal in Montreal). This combined with a plethora of rainbow flags and pumping dance music will slip you the hint that you are in a city that values sex and fun.
One thing to note while you are in Montreal – the bartenders must measure their shots (exactly 1 ounce), so mixed drinks will be a little less strong than you are perhaps used to. If you’re a cocktail drinker like myself, this may make things expensive. Instead, try a local beer, or wine!
There are a few bars and clubs that you must hit up in this gay section of the city. Complexe Sky / Sky Club is one of them. The first floor has a few bars, tables, and a small dance floor – get a pitcher of Sangria and practice your French! The upstairs of Sky is a club – two large dance rooms on the second floor, and another on the third. I’ve even heard rumors of a hot tub on the roof, but it was closed whenever I was up there. Montrealers seem to love their fake fog – the dance floors are foggy and HOT – although that’s pretty standard for any gay club worth its salt!
Down the street a bit is another fun dance club – Unity. Unity also has a few floors of dancing (I love the pop room on the second floor), as well as a nice roof where you can cool off and enjoy nice views of the city. The clubs in Montreal all seem to be multi-floored – lucky you, you’ll have nice calves before the night is up!
Down the street a bit more is Le Drugstore, this bar is a bit more catered to the younger and more female set. I lost count of how many floors there are, but it has a really cool atrium where there are shows and performances that you can watch from a balcony. Oh, there are also gambling slot machines and poker machines on the ground level if you want to try your luck.
If you want to check out the strip bars or bathhouses lining the street, I’m sure those venues will provide you with titillating entertainment. I can’t personally attest to it, ahem, but I hear that some of the male strip bars offer lapdances (if you ask nicely), and often porn stars will make cameos at places like Stock Bar or Campus.
The good thing about the Gay Village is that everything is close to each other. Everything seems to be in walking distance, including late night pizza joints where you’ll probably attempt to order 3am pizza in French. (Is 3am pizza ever a good idea? It is when you’ve earned it by ordering in French!)