Out on the tiles in Brisbane on a Saturday night? Here’s our guide to navigating some of the city’s most popular LGBTI establishments. Buckle up and Bundy on down for a quality Queensland adventure.
It’s Saturday night in Brisbane. Expect to encounter a melting pot of people and personalities as rampant and diverse as the lush foliage that decorates this modern concrete jungle. In contrast to its larger interstate counterparts, what Brisbane does exceptionally well is enabling inclusive intermingling in its venues. All sexualities and genders get stuck in together to make it one hell of a fun night out.
We’re not sure if it’s the humid subtropical climate that encourages us to get frisky here. Perhaps we’re simply absorbing Queensland’s freewheeling, free-spirited and low pretension attitude. Either way, whether you’re an established Brisbanite or a visiting queen in Queensland, buckle up and brace yourself for a butt load of antics with some of the most fun locals you’ll find anywhere.
Here’s a suggested way to navigate the city, and maybe even bag a hottie (or more!). And remember, tonight’s a marathon not a race. We don’t know where you’ll end up, but stick a condom in your pocket and grab some extra PrEP, or HIV medication if you’re living with HIV, just in case you don’t wake up in your own bed. Trust us, in Brissy we often don’t either!
First stop: The Wickham
Nestled snugly in Fortitude Valley’s nightlife district sits The Wickham Hotel. Now a heritage listed building, The Wickham has made a name for itself as an iconic LGBTI landmark throughout the years. Despite gossip over the owners’ commitment to continuing its identity as a dedicated queer space, you’ll still find a mixed and relaxed crowd frequenting it on a Saturday evening. The venue also has a proud tradition of hosting the annual Big Gay Day street party event in March.
The spacious, renovated courtyard deservedly picked up the winning spot for Best Outdoor / Non-Enclosed Facility in the 2016 Queensland Hotels Association Awards. Music from live bands helps sustain an upbeat and chatty atmosphere, and for those finding themselves a tad peckish after a few beers, food is served until late. If you’re looking to pick up early, it’s a great place to start your quest. Otherwise, it’s off to Spring Hill for our next stop.
Second stop: The Sportsman Hotel
More typically referred to as “Sporties” by locals, The Sportsman Hotel is the only completely gay owned and operated hotel in Brisbane, now in its 26th year of service. Much like a variety of beloved ball sports, the venue could be described as a game of two halves. Enter on the left and you’ll find a classic pub bar with pool tables and room to lounge around with a pint. Meanwhile on the right, expect to take things up a notch with dance music and a late night double feature drag show. Wander effortlessly between the two for contrast and a change of pace at your leisure.
Besides Saturday night’s antics, Sporties finds various ways to keep the community united and entertained throughout the week. ‘Balls Out Bingo’ every Friday night is a hoot, especially if you join in with the smutty bingo calls. Saturdays play occasional host to special events downstairs in Nellie’s Bunker too. Keep an eye out for upcoming ones on its website. And if you made it this far into the evening without even a hint of a disco pash, fear not! All roads lead to The Beat.
Last stop: The Beat Megaclub
If you’ve yet to experience the joys of five rooms, six bars and three courtyards all pumping out tunes for a variety of musical tastes, then you’ve clearly not been to The Beat Megaclub! Once you’ve wandered back to Fortitude Valley, let your disco trip begin at the Cockatoo Club upstairs for a gay old time, then venture through the maze to find Crystals over the bridge. Trashy pop and dance numbers from the eighties, nineties, naughties and beyond pound you from all angles, with a few cheeky dance floor surprises thrown in for good measure.
There’s plenty to explore, and you won’t be short of people to interact with. If you’re anything like us, you might even find yourself chatting up a handsome straight guy. As a mixed venue, you’ll encounter a delightful assortment of folk all with one thing in common: a strong desire to make the most of a boisterous night out. Our recommendation is to let your hair down and get among it! You never know when someone might catch your eye across the bar while you’re waiting for another Bundy.