Simply placing a Pride flag in your window doesn’t make an LGBTQ bar, but it’s at least heartening to see rainbows creeping into more and more mainstream establishments.
For queer bars, Denver residents often have to look a little closer, as the city’s LGBTQ cultural scene doesn’t always match the size or number of our clubs. We’ve lost promising spots like Sir and seemingly stable places like Pride and Swagger in recent months, so the remaining names are all the more important.
We’ve also seen plenty of spots snag during unimaginable pandemic-related challenges. Some, like the Denver Eagle on West Colfax Avenue, have even reopened after a six-year closure. With that in mind, here’s a quick roundup of Pride Month and before Denver PrideFest (June 25 and 26), including legacy bars and a few new names, so you don’t have to do all the work. yourself.
Arguably Denver’s largest and most prominent LGBTQ club, the current incarnation of what is now the RiNo Art District has made a name for itself over the past 17 years with national-grade drag performances, touring artists and loud theme parties. In addition to feeding Denver-based “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winners such as Yvie Oddly and most recent season’s champion Willow Pill, there are open mics and hip-hop nights (18+! ) and three of the best dance floors and DJ setups in town. The gold standard. 3500 Walnut St., 303-863-7326 or tracksdenver.com
Within walking distance of downtown Denver as well as Capitol Hill’s many venues and bars, X Bar is a powerful magnet with its expansive patios and palpable camaraderie. The dance-friendly, one-story space remains busy with karaoke, DJ nights and a wild weekend vibe, but Pride Month will bring even bigger queues to the neighborhood. Arrive early, or not, and be prepared to sweat (especially if it’s at one of their underwear or leather parties). Search Instagram for #partyyoncolfax for some of the costume revelers and event flyers, brunches and sing-alongs at queer balls. 629 E. Colfax Ave., 303-832-2687 or xbardenver.com
A long, late-night layover on the bustling length of Broadway in the Baker neighborhood, Boyztown bills itself as Denver’s hottest men’s revue (RIP the former Compound Basix nearby). And you know what? Most nights they get it right, with supple, cut dancers, skilled DJs, and a generally high-energy atmosphere that lasts until the last call. It’s the only male-only strip club in this area (or the entire metro area, last time I checked), so you might have to put up with bachelorette parties and birthday parties. , even if the bar remains real with its loyal staff and clientele. 117 Broadway, 303-722-7373 or boyztowndenver.com
See also: The discreet Little devils lounge on South Broadway. It doesn’t identify itself as an explicitly gay bar, but it’s a popular hangout for older gay men who occupy the former Barker Lounge space. facebook.com/lildevilslounge
Queer sports bars might seem niche, but they certainly aren’t, which is why it’s odd that Denver only boasts of the sports-focused Tight End. Still, the City Park West bar — which opened last year in gritty punk bar Streets Denver — offers great people-watching activities on its terrace, big-screen playoff parties, trivia, drinking games , karaoke and more. As other guidebooks are quick to point out, it’s just across a bustling stretch of East Colfax Avenue from Blush & Blu, a lesbian, queer, trans-centric space with programming galore (see below). 1501 E. Colfax Ave. 303-861-9103 or tightdbar.com
Blush and blue
This lively space has helped fill the void of the Detour, a long-closed former lesbian bar, and has developed some of the city’s best drag queens, poets, singer-songwriters and comedians on its small stage (see also the Mercury Coffee ). It’s socially conscious and has a solid menu, with the aforementioned, and nationally rare, focus on lesbian, queer, and transgender clientele. Yes, there are curious tourists and pedestrians, given its proximity to cannabis dispensaries and Denver’s first Voodoo Donut location, but they’re also welcome. It’s also great for coffee and chai, as it was once home to LGBTQ space tHERe, which had a similar menu. 1526 E. Colfax Ave., 303-484-8548 or blushbludenver.com
Like Tracks Denver, Capitol Hill bar Charlie’s – part of a country western-themed chain with locations in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Chicago – predates Denver’s population and building boom by decades, proudly holding court on East Colfax Avenue with indoor and outdoor events ranging from beer busts to drag shows, line dancing lessons and sexy go-go boy performances. Cowboy hats and leather chaps are always welcome, but certainly not necessary, and the falafel-and-gyros menu can be surprisingly welcome after a night of themed cocktails and dancing. 900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-839-8890 or charliesdenver.com
Fusion Bar & Grill
This RiNo Art District watering hole is where you go when you want fried noodles and serious drinks, including an estimable Mongolian grill menu and an impressive focus on tropical cocktails (with plenty more to come, owners say) . It bravely opened during the pandemic and has held its own with a dog-friendly patio and an amazing, ever-changing beer selection. An excellent stopover or a destination in itself. 3053 Brighton Blvd., 303-862-7376 or fusionsdenver.com
Classic in appearance, with gorgeous vintage signage and a cozy interior, the R&R is nestled along a busy stretch of East Colfax Avenue. Its owners claimed it was the oldest gay bar in town, opening in the 1950s and becoming openly gay in the 1970s, according to Westword, with its instantly recognizable rainbow-painted door. Think happy hours, darts and Broncos games. 4958 E. Colfax Ave. #1208, 303-320-9337 or yelp.com/biz/r-and-r-lounge-denver-denver (the bar does not have its own website).
While it’s not an overtly bear bar — the owners describe it as Denver’s underground queer fetish bar — it’s a class favorite of bearded and often muscular gay men who describe themselves as such. (especially in the absence of the late Denver Wrangler). The business also helps fill a void in Denver’s gay scene, with a roost along Santa Fe Drive and a diverse lineup ranging from drag shows and DJ nights to leather parties and beer busts. 475 Santa Fe Drive, 720-627-5905 or facebook.com/tradedenver
Sweet from Denver
Is Denver Sweet the equivalent of Minnesota Nice? In a way, maybe, but it’s also the only bear bar in town and one of the best rooftop bars in the metro area, LGBTQ or otherwise. Tasty bar food and brunch, a slick clientele and DJs mix for sunny afternoons and breezy nights on two party floors in the former Funky Buddha space, which never seemed to fit in until Denver Sweet took over in May 2019. The owners – both former Wrangler DJs – told Out Front Magazine their goal was to make it a welcoming example of the larger bear bar scene. , which doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being always friendly to women and trans people. Fortunately, they seem to achieve this goal. 776 Lincoln St. 720-598-5648 or denversweet.com
The triangular bar
Just this week, Tasting Table named this stylish downtown spot one of the best LGBTQ bars in the country, open in its current incarnation since early 2018. The name dates back to the 1970s, when the slim brick building housed a gay club called Triangle, and was a testing ground for various unsuccessful craft bars and restaurants after the original Triangle closed in the early 2000s. Its resurrection brought back queer stand-up, famous drag queens, “Real Housewives” themed brunches and a safe LGBTQ space in a central and stylish location. 2036 N. Broadway, 303-658-0913 or thetriangledenver.com
Mary’s Denver Burger
Long a dining destination, this North American chain’s Denver outlet also offers colorful, reliable programming and a cozy atmosphere for casual stops and parties, with a wide variety of genres (and cis-het allies ) in addition to LGBTQ. patrons. After moving west on 17th Avenue for a while to a smaller, prettier space, it’s often packed with wild revelers at drag nights and other shows. And yet, it is always user-friendly and accessible. 1136 E. 17th Ave., 303-993-5812 or milehighmarys.com
Tavern of 3 kilts
Cheeseman Park’s criminally underrepresented LGBTQ community, at least this shiny oasis, which occupies the space of once-friendly Barricuda for dragsters in a cozy and bustling Capitol Hill/West Cheesman strip. 3 Kilts Tavern’s tasty, authentic Irish menu and drinks parallel its all-inclusive atmosphere and themed events (Pride drag shows, Pride specials, open-mic comedy, and more). Pull up the seat and plan to stay a minute, or 120! Located at 1076 N. Ogden Street. 720-866-9852 or 3kiltstavern.com
Just one year old, Lucid is another upstart who has successfully weathered nightmarish challenges to the service industry. It’s a welcome addition to the scene, with a neon-spiked profile amid the usual lineup (trivia, lip-sync battles, drag shows, and more). It also offers curiosities such as speed dating and a remarkable lineup of performers of various races that are often hard to find in other LGBTQ bars (Latinx Couture? Yes, please). Look for this “disco bar” above Kyu Ramen, as it is a second floor space. 600 E. Colfax Ave., no phone number available. luciddenver.com
Like Lucid, #Vybe features a bit more diversity than many gay bars, with drag queens of color and touring queens like Adore Delano dropping by regularly, in addition to stand-up comedy, game nights, parties Denver Broncos (the cheerleaders even stopped by a show recently) and much more. It’s arguably the only openly LGBTQ spot in the upscale, gallery-rich Golden Triangle neighborhood, though it borders the same transit corridor as Denver Sweet, Li’l Devils, Boyztown and others. 1027 N. Broadway, 720-573-8886 or 303vybe.com
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