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©Stephen Downes/Flickr
©Stephen Downes/Flickr
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The Best Gay Bars In Sydney, Australia

Picture of Alex MacKay
Updated: 9 February 2017
Sydney is known the world over for hosting one of the best gay and lesbian nightlife scenes on the planet. The majority of the city’s gay bars can be found concentrated around Oxford Street, though there are notable exceptions. From live music venues and all-night dance clubs to magnificent old icons etched into Sydney’s history, check out our list of some of the best venues this vibrant bar scene has to offer.
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The Midnight Shift

The Midnight Shift is one of the oldest, most majestic gay bars in Sydney. This double decker venue offers two different styles of nightlife, starting with a dance club at street level and leading up to a more relaxed bar on the second floor. You’ll find hot pink walls, glowing gold ceiling lamps and a sleek black island bar. To the side of the bar, one large wall is covered in photos of Midnight’s past and present party-goers – a tribute to the multiple generations of Sydney who helped make the Midnight Shift the icon it is today. The bar fills to capacity most weekend evenings and there are regularly scheduled weekly events such as talent competitions, drag shows and live vocalists and acoustic sessions.

85-91 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Australia, +61 2 9358 3848

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Palms On Oxford

For those looking for a venue playing classic gay dance anthems, look no further than Palms On Oxford. There is a complete lack of judgement out on the dance floor to go with the fun soundtrack here, as every patron is free to look their silliest, bust out their goofiest moves and go all out until closing time. Weekend crowds are predictably large.

124 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Australia, +61 2 9357 4166

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The Imperial Hotel

The Imperial Hotel (or ‘The Impy’ as it’s affectionately nicknamed) is a thriving icon of Australia’s LGBT community. Situated in the suburb of Erskineville, the Impy has recently surfaced in global pop-culture consciousness after serving as the setting for both the first and final scenes of The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. The bar management has lovingly acknowledged this association by christening one of its three bars ‘Priscilla’, while new drag stars in the making re-enact scenes from the film in Impy’s showroom. The venue houses an underground disco, as well as an upper level deck and courtyard.

35 Erskineville Rd, Erskineville, Australia, +61 2 9519 9899

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The Colombian Hotel

For those who like to go hard and dance until dawn, the Columbian Hotel is a straight-friendly gay bar housed within a beautifully renovated, triangular former bank building. A downstairs video bar and upstairs nightclub make this one of Oxford Street’s most versatile and popular hotspots, and when the rest of the city’s clubs are doing their last calls, the Columbian is just getting warmed up. During daylight hours, the large front windows lined with countertops and stools make for great Surry Hills people-watching over an afternoon drink.

117-125 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, Australia, +61 2 9360 2151

The Colombian Hotel, Mardi Gras 2016 #thecolombianhotel #mardigras #sydney #oxfordstreet #darlinghurst #happymardigras

A photo posted by Samantha Hanna (@samanthaskyehanna) on

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The Stonewall Hotel

‘The history is remembered, the future is here’: an apt slogan for Stonewall Hotel, a venue named in honor of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that sparked the gay rights movement as we know it today. With this passionate sense of heritage infusing the entire enterprise, it’s no wonder that the Stonewall is embraced as a Sydney institution and safe haven for the GLBTI community. This heritage listed building is comprised of three bars spread across three stories – the Public Bar, the Cocktail Bar and the VIP Bar. It hosts live onstage entertainment seven days a week, including karaoke competitions, drag shows, and go-go dancers. One of Sydney’s most popular pick-up events, Malebox is also held here every Wednesday night: everyone gets a number on entry, and if you like someone, you write a message to their number. If your number comes up on the screen, you’ve got male! The Stonewall Hotel also actively supports the community beyond its doors by participating in fundraising events for various charity organizations, such as ACON, twenty10, BGF, and the AIDS Trust.

175 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, Australia, +61 2 9360 1963

#Polly25

A photo posted by Michael (@michaelliffen) on

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Sly Fox

Often cited as the premier lesbian pub in Sydney, you’ll find Sly Fox Hotel right next to the Newtown area. Patrons here are treated to fresh band gigs, and the legendary Bad Deep doing a bi-monthly takeover night. You’ll find familiar events like Drag Bingo and various nightly drink specials remain on the docket, and a 6am weekend license.

199 Enmore Rd, Enmore, Australia, +61 2 9557 2917

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The Oxford Hotel

A staple of Sydney’s gay bars is the Oxford Hotel. Starting from the ground up, the basement level holds the iconic Underground bar, which doubles as a boutique club. The first floor at street level is the Oxford’s main bar, complete with an outdoor deck where you can look out across Taylor Square. Ascending further, on the third floor you’ll find Ginger’s, a performance space for showcasing cabarets and live music, and on the fourth and final floor you’ll hit the chi-chi Polo Lounge, a posh lounge decked out in marble and chesterfield sofas. This multifaceted venue lures in a diverse but decidedly attractive crowd. Best of all, the drink prices are low, so you can come back to explore the bar’s different levels again and again.

134 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, Australia, +61 2 9331 3467

Checking out #Darlinghurst and Oxford Street in the day. Awesome for people watching and rainbow flags it seems. #Sydney

A photo posted by Keith Gareth Richards (@keithgareth) on