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Bars and clubs

Stalwarts of the scene – Classic gay venues to visit in Australia

Australia’s gay venues spread across every state and territory from Throb in Darwin and Fluffy in Brisbane, to Mars Bar in Adelaide and Flamingos in Hobart. If you’re travelling interstate and keen for a night of gay clubbing, give one of these tried and tested venues a visit.

As time goes on, gay and straight worlds are converging more and more. You may even start to believe that the once heralded “Gay Ghettos” are disappearing, and to some degree, you would be right. As some lament a time where the community scene was more pronounced , there are still a number of haunts across the country that you should visit at least once in your life.

Fluffy, Brisbane

Sunday night in Brisbane wouldn’t be Sunday night without Fluffy at Family nightclub. With resident DJ Harry K on the decks, there is plenty of fun to be had. If you’re a twink hunter, best you get in early to enjoy the smorgasbord of local Queensland talent on display.

Throb, Darwin

What kind of trip to the far north would be complete without dropping in at Throb? The infamous Throb Midnight Show presents wigs, heels and Darwin muscle boys aplenty. A steady stream of backpackers and happy locals ensures a fun time is in store for everyone, and it’s certainly a diverse and inclusive crowd you’ll be welcomed by. Most adventures in the NT tend to be hot and sticky with Throb’s carpet being no exception.

Arq and Stonewall, Sydney

In 1999, Arq opened its doors in Sydney. It still stands today holding a special place in our hearts . With the elevated DJ on the main floor, to the mezzanine overlooking the huddled masses on the dance floor, Arq is as mainstream gay as you can get. For a bit more of a darker scene, head downstairs. The music doesn’t get too much heavier, but the darkness of the space gives it a slightly sexier feel. Saturday night sees Arq at its busiest, if you want to avoid the cover charge, Friday is your go. Sunday night is also a winner. Whack some spare PrEP or if you’re HIV positive, HIV meds in your pocket, just in case Sunday rapidly turns into Monday!

If you’re feeling more in the mood to visit what can only be described as a true institution of the Sydney scene, we couldn’t possibly let the Stonewall Hotel go without a mention. Taking its name from the historic Stonewall Riots of 1969 and serving as a persistent reminder of the gay liberation movement, Stonewall stands out and proud on Sydney’s legendary Oxford Street. The doors are open seven days a week and the tunes are always pumping. A real Sydney drag queen doesn’t earn her stripes until she’s had a run performing here. For a classic night out, check out Malebox on a Wednesday evening. Now in its 19th year, finding out who sent you a secret message will always be a hoot.

The Peel and the Laird, Melbourne

The Peel has come a long way since its days looking like a bag full of smashed crabs on the corner of Peel and Wellington streets. In recent years, renovations have made it a much loved place for everyone. The dark room may be gone, but don’t worry, if it’s your inclination to find Mr Right Now near the bar instead of having to deal with them in the morning, the Peel is located between both Club 80 and Wet on Wellington.

And it wouldn’t really be fair to not put in a good word for Melbourne’s (and quite possibly Australia’s) most established, continuously operating men only gay bar. Since going gay in the September of 1980, The Laird is also host to one of the longest running weekly leather and fetish nights in the world— Spit N Polish! If the squeak of rubber and the musky scent of animal hide get you going, then check out any night of the week there – pub trivia on a Wednesday has never been more explicit! Grab a pack of free condoms and lube from inside the venue – you never know when you might get cruised.

Mars Bar, Adelaide

Mars Bar is Adelaide’s only true gay bar. Sure, other places have gay nights but Mars Bar is solely one of ours. When the drag show starts, be sure to take your place sitting on the floor. With two rooms of music, the smaller being slightly harder, there should be enough of what you’re looking for to keep you happy.

The Court and Connections, Perth

You could spend all night in Perth deliberating between two nightlife hotspots to choose from, or like we’ve usually found ourselves doing, you might as well double up and squeeze in both! They’re practically neighbours after all. A sociable drink and even a pizza in The Court’s beer garden will get you well lubricated ahead of the impressive rooftop views offered at Connections. There’s drag, dancing and weekly specials in abundance. The Court opens seven days a week, while Connections saves itself for Wednesday through to Saturday, with later opening times to keep you going well into the early hours.

Flamingos, Hobart

Ah, Tassie… the beautiful island state we know and love. Dress to suit a slightly cooler climate and you’ll be a lot more comfortable to appreciate the natural vistas, art scene and exceedingly high quality of local produce. Popping down to visit MONA over a weekend, you might find yourself wondering if you’re the only gay in the village. Dropping in to Flamingos in historical Hobart will prove you’re most certainly not. Watch out for the pole… no, not that kind! The fireman’s pole centre stage is prominently used by performers and punters alike, whatever the DJ is dropping.

Cube, Canberra

Deep in the heart of the nation’s capital lies Cube Nightclub. The Canberra crew are quite partial to a good doof and occasionally host a dance party with a harder sound. Who would have thought growing up around government would result in such rebellion? Grab your glow sticks, or whatever attire feels appropriate, for one of its various themed parties and dance the night away with our country’s finest future administration.

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