The quirky capital of Texas is famous for its welcoming spirit, and its nightlife scene is no different. In 2016, it was even listed as one of the top 10 destinations in the entire world for LGBT travel. Whether you want to nurse local beers on a laid-back patio or join a serious karaoke party, these are six of the best gay bars and clubs in Austin, Texas.
For the 80s Fan: Elysium
Inside a 19th-century warehouse, Elysium has been a “haven from the everyday” since it opened in the city’s downtown Red River District in 2001. Affordable drinks and a rocking 80s night every Sunday make this alternative bar a favorite with locals. Expect to find yourself dancing along with music videos from bands straight out of the magical decade.
For the Hipster: Cheer Up Charlie’s
Two blocks north of Elysium, Cheer Up Charlie’s is a queer hipster heaven. Enjoy local beers, kombucha on tap, and organic juice cocktails in the parachute-shrouded back patio. Chances are, there will be some sort of event — storytelling, movie showing, live concert, or record release — during your visit, making it even easier to mingle.
For the Dance Club: Rain on 4th
Rain on 4th is Austin’s take on the quintessential gay club. But better. DJs blast pop remixes while the city’s in-crowd moves to the beat on a light-up dance floor with disco balls shimmering overhead. Outside, patrons can chill and chat on the back patio, where two additional bars serve decently-priced cocktails and beer.
For the Friendliest Staff: Oil Can Harry’s
Two doors down from Rain on 4th is Oil Can Harry’s, another popular dance spot but without the “scene” factor. Extremely friendly service here would border on creepy in other cities, but the staff at Oil Can Harry’s everyone is actually just that nice. Depending on the night, you might walk in on a drag show, a strip show, or something more tame, like bingo.
For the Cocktails: Sellers Underground
Opened in 2016, Sellers Underground isn’t technically a gay bar, but don’t tell that to its patrons. Directly in between Oil Can Harry’s and Rain, the velvety cocktail lounge is a natural meeting point between the two dance clubs. Order one of the signature drinks, like the Cajun Cucumber: a refreshing mixture of cucumber vodka, fresh-squeezed lime juice, jalapeño-infused simple syrup, and mineral water.
For the Karaoke: The Iron Bear
Beefy men (and the men who admire them) are the main clientele at The Iron Bear, a drama-free downtown bar that throws a hilarious, judgment free Sunday karaoke party. Watch as newbies and regulars belt out their favorite songs at the mic, or give it a try yourself.