Top 5 Cities for Gay Nightlife

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 17 2008 1:00 AM ET

You don’t
need to sashay south to keep warm this winter: just hit the
bars and dance floors at some of the hotspots in our Top 5
cities for gloriously gay nightlife and things will
heat up.

New York

Social stats: More than 50 gay bars,
outrageously good clubs, and a slew of thrilling social
options seven nights a week make New York the
undisputed gay party capital of the country. Whatever
your style, type, gender, or sound, it’s here. And
then some.

Hotspots: New York has an astounding number of
places to go out to play. Click here or here for our favorites. Hip spots
if you feel like changing things up a bit include the
het-homo indie dance parties at mr. Black (Rebel, 251 W. 30th St.) and
Brooklyn’s gritty hipster den Sugarland (221 N. Ninth St.,
Williamsburg; 718-599-4044).

San Francisco

Social stats: Few cities in the world offer
such a broad range of LGBT nightlife options. Choices change
literally on a daily basis.

Hotspots: The Bar On Castro (456 Castro St;
415-626-7220) offers floor-to-ceiling doors looking onto
Castro Street and velvet-covered lounging chairs and
sofas. It attracts an upbeat and mixed crowd. Mecca
(2029 Market St; 415-621-7000) is an elegant bar/restaurant
with a mostly dressed-up, stand-and-model crowd,
busiest on Friday nights. There's a Ladies' Night,
geared toward lesbians, on Thursday nights. Esta
Noche
(3079 16th St; 415-861-5757) is the
undisputed hub of Latino gay life in the city, with an
eye-popping array of go-go boys, hunky bartenders and, of
course, drag queens.

Los Angeles

Social stats: L.A.'s gay social life is
eclectic both in scenes and venues. In WeHo, the most
visible clubs cater to a young, muscular, and
good-looking crowd, making the city a contender for
attitude capital of the world, but even here ethnic and age
diversity runs the gamut. Silver Lake, meanwhile, now
attracts cute, young hipsters looking for an
alternative to the WeHo scene.

Hotspots: The Abbey (692 N. Robertson
Blvd; 310-289-8410) is a hybrid bar, restaurant and
coffeehouse, and it succeeds in each category. Hunky
bartenders serve dozens of martinis and mojitos at
this West Hollywood icon. The lesbian-centered Normandie Room (8737 Santa
Monica Blvd; 310-659-6204) is cruisy for the
late-night crowd. Funky Akbar (4356 Sunset Blvd;
323-665-6810) caters to Silver Lake's new bohemians, with
Moorish décor and the city's best jukebox. Factory (652 N. LaPeer Drive;
310-659-4551) and its neighbor Ultrasuede (661 N.
Robertson Blvd; 310-659-4551) form the largest venue
in West Hollywood; the design is futuristic and the
lighting and sound systems are state-of-the-art.

Toronto

Social stats: There’s a reason Toronto was
chosen for the role of body double for Queer As
Folk
. Hot bars, hot boys (and girls!), and no
shortage of social enthusiasm keep Canada’s hottest
gay city sizzling -- no matter how low temperatures
drop outside.

Hotspots: Woody's (465-467 Church St;
416-972-0887) is a labyrinthine complex of five bars
famed from Queer As Folk. It attracts the
after-work crowd and has nightly events such as the
"Best Chest Contest." Another famed QAF venue is the
throbbing Fly NiteClub (8 Gloucester St;
416-410-5426), the 10,000-square-foot dance emporium
that served as the original Babylon for the gay
series. Gay folks also frequent super-club Circa, a mixed
straight/gay venue in the predominantly hetero Entertainment
District.

Chicago

Social stats: Visitors will find Chicago's nightlife
scene refreshingly less aggressive and style-conscious
than New York's or L.A.'s. The majority of gay bars
are in Boystown (Lakeview) on North Halsted Street, or
farther north in Andersonville.

Hotspots: Sidetrack (3349 N. Halsted St.;
773-477-9189) is a video bar specializing in theme nights
('70s & '80s; show tunes; comedy night), and is
busy most every night of the week. It's by far the
most popular gay bar in Chicago. Roscoe's (3354 N. Halsted St.;
773-281-3355) is the stomping ground for a wide-eyed and
barely legal set of young gays. Circuit (3641 N. Halsted St.;
773-325-2233) is Boystown's largest dance space, with 3D
glitter-effect flooring and a young dance crowd. The
city’s freshest, hippest hotspots are
Scarlet (3320 N. Halsted St; 773-348-1053), a chic
red and exposed brick drinking den; and sleek Minibar (3341 N. Halsted St;
773-871-6227), home to the city’s stand and model
set.