Melbourne is a progressive and LGBTQ-friendly city. Besides annual events like Midsumma Festival and the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, the city is home to many gay bars, as well as clubs with nights geared towards the LGBTQ crowd. Here’s our guide to the best Melbourne gay bars and parties.
The Laird Hotel
The Laird Hotel opened in 1980, making it one of the longest-running gay owned and operated bars in Australia. It’s renowned in the gay community, both nationally and internationally. There’s a beer garden in the back, free pool tables inside, and regular themed nights during the week. This includes Trivial Hirsute, DJs on Fridays, and Spit and Polish every Thursday. With a dress code that includes at least one piece of leather clothing, this themed night comes complete with boot shine and free buzz cuts.
DT’s Hotel is the premier gay bar in Richmond. The laidback gay owned and operated pub hosts trivia on Tuesday nights, karaoke on Wednesday nights, a barbecue and raffle night on Fridays, drag shows on Saturday nights, and a notorious ‘spin and win’ wheel on Sunday afternoons. DT’s Hotel also has a back garden/oasis, with palm trees, ponds, and a lot of people every night.
The odd (but aptly) named Poof Doof’s slogan is brazenly straightforward: “a gay club for homos”. Held every Saturday night at Chasers Nightclub in South Yarra, Poof Doof has regular theme nights and a rotating lineup of the best DJs from Melbourne and Australia. It’s recommended that you visit the official Poof Doof website, as they often host special events on other nights of the week as well — particularly around public holidays.
Friyay at Francesca’s Bar
Francesca’s Bar says it’s not just any place, but your best mate’s place. Guests can expect good drinks, great food, and unforgettable moments. Every other Friday is Friyay at Francesca’s, which is Northcote’s longest-running queer night. There’s table tennis and drink specials until 9pm (including $5 glasses of house wine), cheap pizza all night, and DJs playing the best music until 3am. Don’t forget to visit the Facebook page for details on the secret entry password as well.
Sircuit Bar has two policies: no aggression and no cover charge. The industrial-chic nightclub (exposed brick walls included) fits perfectly into Fitzroy. Sircuit Bar has hip hop jams on Wednesdays, a drag show on Fridays, and rotating guest DJs on Saturdays. There’s also drag bingo and drag roulette, and a pop-up bar called Bar Kylie. Named after Australian gay icon, Kylie Minogue, guests can dance to her best hits all night long.
The Peel Hotel
The Peel Hotel is the self-proclaimed “gayest party in town”. It’s unique in that it only allows gay males on the premise. It has been proudly serving the gay men of Melbourne since 1988. Because of its late (or is it early?) closing times, there are always crowds dancing to top 40 and retro hits at The Peel Hotel until the early morning every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The Peel Hotel has three bars, and a covered heated courtyard.
Mother at Attik
Attik is the newest addition to the Chapel Street nightlife scene. The lounge, bar, and club has dedicated Friday nights to Mother parties, which are geared towards queer Melbourne girls. Attik says that Mother is about love, giving back, and letting your hair down. Girls can expect free entry, a free cloakroom, and free midnight pizza and popcorn. What more could you want from a night out?
Yah Yah’s is brought to you by the team behind the legendary Cherry Bar. Yah Yah’s is a beloved live music and nightlife venue, known for its local, national, and international music performances. But unbeknownst to some, Yah Yah’s also hosts a gay-friendly party every Thursday night. Named Thursgay, the weekly event includes free entry and rotating DJs.
Prince of Wales Hotel
A St Kilda stalwart in an art deco building, the Prince of Wales Hotel is one of the oldest gay-friendly pubs in Melbourne. The downstairs public bar has a relaxed vibe, with large open windows for people watching, an outside area, and cheap drinks and meals throughout the week. Upstairs, the Prince Bandroom is one of Melbourne’s best live music venues. P!nk, Coldplay, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, and Jack Johnson have all played in the Prince of Wales Hotel.
Closet Party was created “for homosexuals and those who love them”. They are known for being Melbourne’s most fun and welcoming gay parties, held at various venues across the city. Expect to dance to party hits from the 80s, 90s, and today. Past Closet Party events have included a Sex and the City theme night, a RuPaul Drag Ball, and even a night dedicated to Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. Visit their Facebook page for upcoming event details.