The 50 Best Gay Bars in America?

Last June, I sent out a request to an esteemed collection of travel writers, media pros, party people and just super-social gay folks to find out which were their favorite bars in the U.S. I encouraged them to judge with their hearts (and the wrecked livers) when making their picks; I didn’t necessarily want a list of the nicest, glossiest, most high-tech or slickest or “coolest” gay bars. I wanted the places where the booze flows freely, where the crowd is crazily unpredictable, where there’s always the opportunity for anything to happen. Because When I think of the “Best Gay Bars,” I think of places where raucous theme nights are the norm, where the locals are crazy and possibly hot, and where fun, unpredictable, bad behavior abounds.

The results that poured in are personal, rather than scientific. And the surprising common theme which evolved was the soft-spot people have in their hearts for kistchy, dive-y, messy bars where a sketchy queen might be found lip-synching to Crystal Waters ’til the wee hours. And interestingly, most of the places tend to draw a mix of people: Old and young, rich and not-so-rich, men and women, high-class and trashy, gay and lesbian and trans and then some. After all, the more things get mixed up, the wilder things get, right?

To add a bit of pomp and circumstance, I’ve got the Top 3 bars picked. They’re the ones that people chimed in about the most. And after the Top 3, read on for a state-by-state round-up of what scored raves from our contributors. And yes, your favorite bar may be left out, so write me at John.Polly@logostaff.com and let me know your thoughts.

And next month, I think it’s time to revisit this list, take new suggestions, and see which watering holes people are loving now. Til then…

Thanks to my esteemed contributors for their input. And Happy Drinking!!!

–with contributions from Calpernia Addams, Jesse Archer (Out Magazine), Iggie Benardo, Dorian Berger, Charlie Carter, Inge Colsen, David Edison (GayGamer.net), Japhy Grant (Queerty), Beth Greenfield (Time Out New York), Paul Hagen (MetroSource), Derek Hartley (Sirius Radio), Jason Heidemann (Time Out Chicago), Jimmy Im, Eric Leven, Michael Lumpkin, Matthew Link, Jonathan Mallow (LogoOnline), Brian Moylan (Next Magazine), Daniel Nardicio (DList.com) Justin Ocean (Out Traveler), Courtney Powell (Logo), T. Cole Rachel (V Magazine, The Fader), Steve Schmersal, Cator Sparks and James Withers (365Gay.com)

The Best Gay Bars in America are…

1. Mary’s – Atlanta, Georgia
1287 Glenwood Avenue; Atlanta, GA; tel. 404-624-4411; http://www.marysatlanta.com; http://www.myspace.com/marysbar

Mary’s, the colorful kitschy East Atlanta watering hole, got the most nods from our contributors. Cator Sparks, the Southern-raised gentleman who contributes to the NY Times and works in fashion PR praised the sassy spot for three reasons: “First, a midget hosts ‘Karaoke Saturdays.’ Second, they have underwear twister nights. And third, the stuffed deer head on the wall sings along to karaoke.” Point well taken. Travel writer Jimmy Im, chimed in: “Mary’s is unpretentious, has a great diverse crowd, and the clientele (and the staff) is a little wacky. Basically, it’s really just always super fun!”

To find out more, I quizzed owner Mike Dover about the bar, its crowd, and why it rocks:

What’s the ethos behind Mary’s? If you guys had a mission statement with this bar, what would it be?
“We want to be your crazy neighbors down the street who never give up the opportunity for a theme party. We want to be the place you just go because you know all your friends are going to be there, but that you are still are not quite sure what to expect. We want to be in business forever, but if we aren’t, we want to be the place that people still talk about 20 years later to make the next generation of gay kids jealous.”

In a couple of sentences, tell me what went down on the wildest night you can remember?
Gee… This is like Sophie’s Choice! So many of our regulars are so good at cookin’ up a good time we could never pick just one! Let’s just say snow bunnies, fortune tellers, a makeshift jail, and twister have all crossed paths in one night.

Why do you think Atlanta is a great city for a bar like Mary’s?
Atlanta’s a growing city with relatively low cost of living and people are movng here from all over the country. Throw that into the mix with the inherent crazy and eccentric characters that the South is known to breed and you’ve got a hell of a melting pot. Mary’s is something of a home base for both natives and new arrivals to the city. When a new person comes to the bar, they add something to it, and keeps it fresh and interesting. All the ne’er do wells need a place to drink, after all.

For #2, #3 and the rest keep reading!!!

2. Akbar – Los Angeles, California
4356 Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake; tel. 323-665-6810; http://akbarsilverlake.com/

Out at the eastern edge of Sunset Boulevard where Hollywood meets Silver Lake, Akbar has been charming gay boys, girls, and all flavors of queer kids for years now. Rock meets gay pop meets alterna-boys and girls, twinks and daddies—and there are always some Hollywood types slinking around, too. The vibe is mixed and merry and friendly to all. Cator Sparks commends the joint of its ‘”durty, durty disco and a great juke box in the other room,” and Time Out Chicago’s Jason Heidemann says: “Akbar is the low-key, totally fun Silverlake hangout. Great music, drinks and a dance floor, and gay, lez and trans are all welcome. Plus, it’s a great place to make out with someone—or just chill.”

3. Metropolitan – Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
559 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg; tel. 718-559-4444; http://www.myspace.com/metropolitan11211

An unlikely contender (I can say that; I live three blocks away), but Metropolitan was named Best Gay Bar in NYC [http://nymag.com/bestofny/fun/2008/gaybar/] by New York Magazine this year, and it scored raves from recipients to this poll. Granted, it draws in men and women, has fun music nightly, and if you live in NYC (and more specifically, Brooklyn) you’re likely to run in to all of the people you’ve slept with and don’t wanna see—which certainly keeps things interesting. Their Sunday-afternoon/evening BBQs are legendary, too.

As Paul Hagen of New York’s MetroSource mag puts it: “Metropolitan has a great come-as-you-are attitude — a place where you can wander in with a big bunch of friends like it was your living room or overhear somebody else’s conversation and genuinely join in to make some new friends. There’s a real sense of community that you usually only see in one-gay-bar towns: lesbians and gay men sharing the same space, bartenders who know your name and drink of choice, and regulars welcoming strangers.” And trust, the locals can be very welcoming. If you’ve not gone home with someone from here at least once, the world is indeed against you. Plus, bartender Garry is possibly the most chipper drink-pourer on the planet. Troy’s bad drag for Tuesday-night karaoke is legendary, and when Wednesday’s female DJ’s Inge and Bianca spin the music its as good as it gets. Go Brooklyn!!!

And for the best (and worst!) of the rest (which are probably just as fab or as crazy or as raucous as the top three, but someone has to win, right???), here’s a state-by-state rundown. Get out there! See some drag! Hit those happy hours! Meet the locals!

Arizona

IBT’s – Tucson, AZ
616 North 4th Avenue, Tucson; tel. 520-882-3053; http://www.myspace.com/ibtstucson; http://www.ibts.net

Who even knew Tucson was a city let alone had a gay bar? IBT’s is where the drags to the bears to the gay cowboys saddle up to the bar and drink everything from beers to IBT’s famous Judy Garland special (which honestly, I think is just a vodka-cranberry, but that’s “exotic” in Tucson so it deserves a name). A must-see if going to Tucson!
–Eric Leven

California

The Blacklite – Los Angeles, CA
1159 North Western Avenue, Los Angeles; tel. 213-469-0211; http://www.yelp.com/biz/blacklite-los-angeles

Arguably the longest running queer bar in LA, The Blacklite is not so much a gay bar, as a bar for tranny working gals and the men that love them. The Christmas decorations will probably stay up at least until June. “Private Dancer” will be played on the jukebox more than onc nightly, and impromptu danceoffs will happen before the girls go back out to work the strip. The drinks are cheap and strong, and the bartenders and ladies (though not all of the weird, pseudo-”straight” gents) are incredibly friendly.
–Courtney Powell

The Eagle – Los Angeles, CA
4219 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles; tel. 323-669-9472; http://www.eaglela.com/

In the location formerly known as the Gauntlet II, this mostly male leather bar gets points for its hipster lady’s night called Shotgun on Wednesdays that is consistently fantastic.
–Courtney Powell

The Abbey – West Hollywood, CA
692 North Robertson Boulevard, West Hollywood; tel. 310-855-9977; http://www.abbeyfoodandbar.com/; http://www.myspace.com/theabbeywesthollywood

Though it kills me to say this, I think The Abbey is America’s best gay bar. It’s consistently rated the best bar (straight, gay or otherwise) in L.A. It keeps growing in seize and now plans on going national. The drinks are pricey, but great, the atmosphere is elegant if banal. I’m fascinated by the way it’s successful by being the anti-gay bar. Where gay bars of old had regulars and anchored themselves as neighborhood institutions, the Abbey is gleefully corporate, wouldn’t give a drag queen a P.A. system if they had a gun pointed at their head and offers the trappings of taste and style to anyone willing to fork over 13 bucks for a martini. No wonder the A&F Flagship stores are modeled to look just like it.
–Japhy Grant

Fubar – West Hollywood, CA
7994 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles; tel. 323-654-0396; http://www.myspace.com/fantasticfu; http://www.fubarla.com/

I hate west hollywood, but Fubar is dirty, East-Villagey and crazy with the hottest go-go dancers i’ve ever seen putting on the best shows i’ve seen in my life.
–Jimmy Im

The Eagle Tavern – San Francisco, CA
398 12th Street, San Francisco; tel. 415-626-0880; http://www.sfeagle.com/

The Eagle’s got a great mix of people: Men, women, gay, straight, bi, trans, young, old, bears and leather.Plus, a big patio for BBQ and cigars, live music on Thursday, and the best beer bust in the city Sunday afternoons.
–Michael Lumpkin

The Stud – San Francisco, CA
339 9th Street; San Francisco; tel. 415-863-6623; http://www.studsf.com/; http://www.myspace.com/thestudbarsf

A SF institution and home to Heklina’s legendary Tuesday-night drag-den Trannyshack, The Stud is full of character. It’s a great bar that is packed almost every night. Last time I was there they still had a woman reading your tarot in the corner!
–Daniel Nardicio

Pecs – San Diego, CA
2046 University Avenue; San Diego; tel. 619-296-0889; http://www.pecsbar.com/

Pecs might be my favorite gay bar in the USA. A group of gay-game industry folk led us out there at San Diego Comic-Con last year, and I was absolutely floored to find myself having a great time. There’s a great mix of eye candy (or any other body part that enjoys candy, for that matter) and general acceptance in regards to non-conformity as well as a really sexy, raucous, but still sane atmosphere.

On the surface Pecs isn’t that different from The Eagle on Sundays – lots of muscle, beef, and meat in general – but there’s an almost frat-house sensibility to the place that really makes it a welcoming, randomly awesome place. Think “Girls Gone Wild” only with a variety of sexy gay types and a seriously laid-back West Coast vibe. Between musclebears and don’t-ask-don’t-tell young army/marines kids, or between local daddies playing pool and young sun-bronzed Cali boys playing each other, Pecs definitely earns a spot on my map of North American queer hangouts.
–David Edison

Colorado

The Bunkhouse – Breckenridge CO
13203 Highway 9, Breckenridge; tel. 970-453-6475; http://bunkhouselodge.com/

This place is like a Brokeback Mountain dream, and while not technically a bar (it’s more of a lounge and guesthouse), it’s wonderfullly spooky and tragic, and of a dying breed, really.
–Daniel Nardicio

Tracks - Denver, CO
3500 Walnut St., Denver; tel. 303-863-7326; http://www.tracksdenver.com/

Fierce young guys live in Denver, and this hot club boast a great design. It’s better than anything NYC has had in years.
–Daniel Nardicio

D.C.

Remington’s – Washington, D.C.
639 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington; tel. 202-543-3113; http://www.remingtonswdc.com/

Why there is a line-dancing bar in the Mid-Atlantic is beyond me, but Remington’s, D.C.’s gay/country bar is always packed with the cutest, nicest guys. To top it off, it’s right near the Capitol building so it’s a nice counterpoint to the cowboy who is in control of the government. It also gets bonus points for being around the corner from the Capitol Hill Marine barracks and attracts the hottest boys who dare to not ask or tell…
–Brian Moylan

Florida

Laundry Bar – Miami, FL
721 North Lincoln Lane, Miami; tel. 305-531-7700; http://www.myspace.com/laundrybar;
http://www.thelaundrybar.com/

Where else can you do a few loads while getting loaded — *and* cruising? Washing your gym clothes has never been such a blast as it is in this cutesy South Beach spot.
–Beth Greenfield

Georgia

Swinging Richard’s – Atlanta, GA
1400 Northside Drive, Atlanta; tel. 404-352-0532; http://www.swingingrichards.com/

With a new batch of hunky Georgia hicks and sexy ATL thugs performing every 20 minutes, there’s more hotness at Swinging Richard’s, Hotlanta’s best all-male strip club, than you can swing a sausage at. The drinks are cheap and strong—and the dancing dudes are too (if more than half of them are likely to be straight)! If you go, don’t miss out on the fruity test-tube shot, administered very sexily by a very talented bar-go boy. Oh, and bring your girlfriends (male or female)!
–Charlie Carter

Hawaii

Hula’s Bar & Lei Stand – Waikiki Hawaii
134 Kapahulu Avenue, 2nd Floor, Waikiki Grand Hotel, Waikiki; tel. 808-923-0699; http://www.hulas.com/; http://www.myspace.com/hulasbar

Why? Because it’s a tiki-themed gay bar in Waikiki overlooking the ocean! Aloha!
–Dorian Berger

Illinois

p>Berlin – Chicago, IL
954 West Belmont Avenue, Chicago; tel. 773-348-4975; http://www.berlinchicago.com/; http://www.myspace.com/berlinnightclub

This place has been around forever. It’s a thrilling, trashy, randy, packed club where gays, lesbians, trannies, straights on the DL and just about everybody else go to get hot and nasty on the dance floor. Seriously, anything goes at Berlin. I’ve seen some crazy sh*t here.
–Jason Heidemann

The Closet – Chicago, IL
3325 North Broadway Avenue, Chicago; tel. 773-477-8533

An ancient, divey dyke bar. It’s an after-hours joint so when the 2am bars let out, neighborhood and hipster boys storm the place and hang out with the lesbians. It’s the best mix of guy/girls in the city and is totally unpretentious and fun.
–Jason Heidemann

Editor’s Note: Opinions on The Closet vary wildly. Some love it for its grungy flavor; others not so much… (http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-closet-chicago) Sounds like you’d better find out for yourself.

Kansas

Our Fantasy -Wichita, KS
3201 South Hillside, Wichita; tel. 316-682-5494; http://wichitagayclubs.com/OurFantasy.html

Two bars in one big location, plus a restaurant! It’s weird and sort of tragic, but it’s always packed. People drive from far and wide to get here.
–T. Cole Rachel

Maryland

The Drinkery – Baltimore, MD
205 West Read Street, Baltimore; tel. 410-225-3100; http://baltimore.gaycities.com/bars/103-drinkery

If you are looking to live a John Waters movie, this is the gay bar to do it, and it’s in Baltimore! The first time I ever went there were like 20 queens sitting around the bar and the Whitney Houston National Anthem was playing on the jukebox for no reason whatsoever. There’s nowhere like it.
–Brian Moylan

Massachusetts

The A-House – Provincetown, MA
6 Masonic Place; Provincetown; tel. 508-487-3821; http://www.ahouse.com/

Officially known as The Atlantic House, the A-House sits down a shy little alley and houses endless little bars and sexy crevices in its rambling, 1798 quarters. You can feel the ghosts of gaydom past—Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams among them—in every atmospheric corner.
–Beth Greenfield

Michigan

The Douglas Dunes – Douglas, MI
333 Blue Star Highway, Douglas; tel. 269-857-1401; http://www.douglasdunes.com/; http://www.myspace.com/dune

The Dunes has long been the one-stop-shopping nightspot (with bar, club and motel all in one) for gays visiting Douglas and Saugatuck, the Fire Island of the Midwest. Themes vary, bringing vibes from old-school Midwest to Circuit Party (with big-name DJs like David Knapp and Chi Chi La Rue) — but never any ‘tude — to the space at different times.
–Beth Greenfield

Minnesota

The Saloon – Minneapolis, MN
830 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis; tel. 612-332-0835; http://www.saloonmn.com/; http://www.myspace.com/saloonmpls

The Saloon is pretty wild. Fully nude shower shows in a plexiglass box where go-gos pick up dollar bills with their butt (which you stick in through a slot). Hello!
–Justin Ocean

Montana

Snookums – Butte, Montana
3541 Harrison Avenue, Butte; tel. 406-533-0919

An abandoned motel that serves as a truckstop diner by day and a gay bar by night. Creepy? Yes. But delightful all the same. The life stories told by the regulars are beyond belief.
–Matt Flanders

AmVets – Missoula, Montana
225 Ryman Street; Missoula; tel. 406-543-9174; http://www.geocities.com/amvets3mt/

Yes, another part-time gay bar in Montana. Maybe the fags only show their faces by cover of night in the Big Sky State? (Editor’s note: And this from a Montana native?) This one is a actual U.S. veterans club by day. Really. Cheap beers, a helluva jukebox, and the friendliest lesbians around make this joint a charmer.
–Matt Flanders

New Jersey

West Side Bar – Atlantic City, NJ
511 North Arkansas Avenue, Atlantic City; tel. 609-344-0883; http://www.westsideac.com/; http://www.myspace.com/twksatellite;

Wood paneling, trannies who carry knives, and you have to push a buzzer to get in. When I was there taping a show for Dlist.com, a stabbing occurred. And they have daycare! ’Nuff said?? But seriously… It’s the hottest spot in the A.C.
–Daniel Nardicio

Paradise – Asbury Park, NJ
101 Asbury Avenue, Asbury Park; tel. 732-988-6663; http://www.paradisenj.com/; http://www.myspace.com/paradisenj

A multi-scene resort owned by DJ and music-producing mogul Shep Pettibone, this is ground zero for LGBT nightlife in way-queer Asbury Park. Hang in the lounge, dance your ass off, drape yourself around the pool and then stay the night, in cool hotel rooms with ocean views.
–Beth Greenfield

Feathers – River Edge, NJ
77 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge; tel. 201-342-6410; http://www.clubfeathers.com/

Looks like a mafia restaurant from the outside, but from the inside it’s a log cabin—except for the disco floor. There are Wednesday-night drag shows, that on the tragedy-to-comedy spectrum fall squarely in 100% tragedy (in the best possible way). Tuesday ’80′s nights use to advertise with “Cheap drinks and cheap boys!” (Dollar drinks!) The clientele ranges from hefty suburbanites and lots of mall-styled overwrought-production values to the nice and unassuming. It’s a treasure. And it was where “I Love New York”-dancing boy 12-Pack famously crunked his junk for sweaty dollar bills.
–Iggie Benardo

New York

The Cock – NYC
29 2nd Avenue, New York City; tel. 212-777-6254; http://thecockbar.com; http://myspace.com/TheCockNyc

Even after moving from it’s legendary location on Avenue A (which defined 1990s East Village raunch) a couple years back, it’s still everything that a trashy New York gay bar should be. Very sex, drugs and rock n roll – or maybe house music. Even during the week they have fun events for the more arty/alty crowd.
–Brian Moylan

The Cubby Hole – NYC
281 West 12th Street, New York City; tel. 212-243-9041;
http://www.cubbyholebar.com/

Why do I love the Cubby Hole? The amazing hanging paper decorated under-the-sea-themed ceiling action. The rockin’ jukebox. The quintessential West Village location. The kick-ass lesbian crowd and their miscellaneous queer admirers. The fun scene outside when it’s warm and people are taking a cigarette break. The time I took my straight male friend there and totally successfully passed him off as my boyfriend. The time I ran into a friend and helped her hit on a hot older butch. The LA entertainment industry power lesbians I bonded with outside one night. The always relaxed staff. The fantastic drinks made by the relaxed staff. And barstools decorated with Tweety Bird and Daffy Duck. What’s not to love?
–Jonathan Mallow

Eastern Bloc – NYC
505 East 6th Street, New York City; tel. 212-777-2555; http://www.easternblocnyc.com/

Housed in the home of the former, legendary East Village staple Wonder Bar, Eastern Bloc is operated by handsome guys who used to work at Chelsea’s Barracuda and who know how to please the men. Crazy music (Wednesday’s Good Times party rocks!), hottie go-gos, and a relaxed and random crowd.
–John Polly

Gym Bar, NYC
167 8th Avenue, New York City; tel. 212-337-2439; http://www.gymsportsbar.com/

Gym Bar does not have the requisite go-go boys in jockstraps dancing on the bar, but it’s a place where the closet queen sports fan can go and watch everything from the Super Bowl to ice-skating.
–James Withers

Julius – NYC
159 West 10th Street, New York City; tel. 212-929-9672; http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/dutch184/juliusbar.html

Arguably the oldest gay bar in NYC (with the oldest clientele), Julius is classic West Village gayness. Stonewall survivors play Bette on the jukebox and the in-house grill serves up awesome burgers and onion rings. The opening shots of the legendary film The Boys in the Band were shot here and it’s not changed a bit. These days John Cameron Mitchell and his pals hosts a monthly party (the last Thursday of each month) called Mattachine, an homage to this place’s storied past.
–John Polly

Marie’s Crisis – NYC
59 Grove Street, New York City; tel. 212-243-9323

Yes, you have died and gone to showtune heaven. Or hell. In the basement of an ancient West Village townhouse (Thomas Paine and Bette Midler both lived here long ago), theater queens from age 21 to 91 belt out songs from Sondheim on a nightly basis.
–John Polly

Nowhere – NYC
322 East 14th Street, New York City; tel. 212-477-4744; http://www.myspace.com/nowherenyc

Rocking a similar vibe as Metropolitan (see above), Nowhere is a malleable spot where men and women, gay and straight and lesbian and trans (Thursday night’s bring in the men in heels—it’s amazing) all fit in. Low-key but often crazy… Nowhere is NYC’s best no-pressure good time waiting to happen.
–John Polly

Pieces – NYC
8 Christopher Street, New York City; tel. 212-929-9291; http://www.piecesbar.com/

If I was told I could only go to one gay bar before being shot by firing squad, I would have to pick (don’t laugh) Pieces. There’s nothing hip, edgy or stylish about Pieces. Even the name is a groaner. But it’s where I had my first shooter, and where my roommates in college would go every week to sing karaoke or watch Jimmy James do a Bette Davis version of “Feliz Navidad”. The crowd was always easy to get along with and easy to take home. And because it is sort of a “Twinkie’s First Gay Bar” playset, a lot of the attitudes, posturing and cattiness you find at most gay bars is rarely found here.
–Japhy Grant

Snaxx – The Westside Tavern, NYC
Westside Tavern, 380 West 23rd Street, New York City; tel. 212-366-3738

A sweaty, burly den of beefy guys which heats up every other Friday night. Where else do you see cute cubs disco dancing?
–Cator Sparks

Townhouse – NYC
236 East 58th Street, New Yor City; tel. 212-754-4649; http://www.townhouseny.com/

A true gentleman’s bar on NYC’s Upper East Side. Carpeting, sweaters over the shoulder, discreet older types, cushy banquettes. It’s nice to know that when you reach a certain age, there’s a posh bar and a strong drink waiting for you. Cheers!
–John Polly

North Carolina

Scandals – Asheville, NC
11 Grove Street, Ashville; tel. 828-252-2838; http://www.clubscandals.net/

I saw my first drag shows here, and nothing beats the Southern drag queen circuit. Shows in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles have been a disappointment compared to the unstoppable realness of the performers here. There are several shows a week, and last time I went (in 2007, mind you) the last song of the night was “Unspeakable Joy” by Kim English. Amazing.

“Escandales” (as we called it in high school for no particular reason) is just wonderful. Krrrrrrazy southern drag queens, country boyfriends in matching ugly-striped Garth Brooks style shirts, baby dykes from the state university, and old, old house anthems. Also, it has a very exciting mid 90s aesthetic of corrugated metal and scaffolding like a “micro brewery.” Bliss!
–Courtney Powell

Ohio

Trade Winds II – Columbus, OH
117 East Chestnut Street, Columbus; tel. 614-461-4110; http://www.tradewindsii.com/

I have to be frank. Columbus has many thumping, busy, glossy, reputable gay bars. This is not one of them. This is a troll bar that happens to have a great dance floor. I never went there without getting goosed at least once. Everyone in Columbus goes there (or used to, but just try to get corraboration). It’s awesome!
–Steve Schmersal

Club Masque – Dayton, OH
34 North Jefferson Street, Dayton; tel. 937-228-CLUB; http://www.clubmasque.com/main.php; http://www.myspace.com/clubmasque

One of the best places I’ve ever been was in (believe it or not) Dayton, Ohio! They have a great scene there, and a cool dance club. It’s multi-leveled, with hot Midwestern go-go boys, nightly events, and they sell T-shirts with funny slogans like: “I’d rather be masturbating!”–this is in small town O-H-I-O, mind you. Genius!
–Jesse Archer

Oklahoma

The Habana Inn – Oklahoma City, OK
2200 Northwest 39th Expressway, Oklahoma City; tel. 405-528-2221; http://www.habanainn.com/

The Habana Inn is a huge “gay resort hotel” with two pools, three gay bars inside (The Copa, The Ledo and the country/western bar, The Finish Line), a restaurant called Gusher’s (“the finest prime rib dinner in Oklahoma City”)—and a gift shop. Lots of people from surrounding states drive there to spend the weekend and party it up.
–T. Cole Rachel

Pennsylvania

The Silhouette Lounge – Scranton, PA
523 Linden Street, Scranton; tel. 570-344-4259; http://www.silhouettelounge.net/; http://www.myspace.com/scrantonsilhouette

Why? Because it’s a leather bar in Scranton (which is totally not a gay mecca), and the bar is right next to what used to be Senator Rick Santorum’s Office. Classic. [Editor’s Note: According to their website, the Silhouette is closed for the moment. But they’re working on reopening soon! Cross your fingers!]
–Dorian Berger

Puerto Rico

Atlantic Beach Hotel – San Juan, Puerto Rico
#1 Calle Vendig, San Juan; tel. 787-721-6900; http://www.atlanticbeachhotel.net/

The patio bar at the Atlantic Beach Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is gay central on the island. It overlooks the gay beach where locals and tourists converge, and the bar was once the place to be on Sundays, with crazy drag shows. Now it’s a bit more subdued, but still a lot of fun and very funky—plastic chairs, coasters hanging up at the bar with naughty drawings by customers on them, Latin music, cheap pina coladas ($3.50!), and awesome sunsets. It’s not a pretty bar, but very Caribbean and rough around the edges, in the best possible way.
–Matthew Link

Tennessee

PLAY – Nashville, TN
1519 Church Street, Nashville; tel. 615-322-9627; http://www.playdancebar.com/; http://www.myspace.com/playdancebar

PLAY in Nashville is always full of sexy Southern guys and girls, run by former bar managers and bartenders and has a cast of gorgeous regular and visiting drag queen and king performers. The bar is clean, cool and spacious, with regularly updated decor by skilled interior design artists like manager Oscar Rodriguez. It’s right next to other gay businesses and restaurants on Nashville’s historic Church Street, and all-night dining is right down the street for after-bar grazing. Play is a great example of the real Nashville: A cosmopolitan entertainment-business city with transplants from all over the country and all over the world, mixing with good-hearted country folk from all races and economic backgrounds.
–Calpernia Addams

Texas

Oil Can Harry’s – Austin, TX
211 West 4th Street, Austin; tel. 512-320-8823; http://www.oilcanharrys.com/; http://www.myspace.com/oilcanaustin

The best hideaway for gays during the big and crazy SXSW music festival every March. Fun, fun, fun with the best hits and jams to pump your fist to! Forget about all the live bands that are playing the festival Good times!
–Inge Colsen

Rainbow Cattle Company – Austin, TX
305 West 5th Street, Austin; tel. 512-472-5288; http://www.rainbowcattleco.com/

A pretty equally-mixed spot, men-and-women-wise, this hootenanny is home to queer country dancing like you’ve never seen before.Yee-haw!
–Beth Greenfield

The OP Nite Club – El Paso, TX
301 South Ochoa Street, El Paso; tel. 915-533-6055; http://www.theopniteclub.com/; http://www.myspace.com/opniteclubhttp://www.myspace.com/opniteclub
The O.P. stands for Old Plantation (though nobody calls it that). I’ve only been once. It was after getting sloshed across the border in Juarez. If Robert Rodriguez was ever going to do a gay nightclub film, he’d set it at the O.P. It’s an improbably large and regularly packed club that feels like another planet.
–Japhy Grant

The Round-Up Saloon – Dallas, TX
3912 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas; tel. 214-522-9611; http://www.roundupsaloon.com/
A fun and friendly country bar in the heart of Dallas’ great gay district that alternates dance tunes and modern country hits with classic late ’70s disco. For boot-scooting and “turning the beat around,” there’s no better place in town.
–Derek Hartley