Sydney’s gay scene is renowned around the world, and a colourful collection of LGBTQ venues adds a splash of rainbow across this huge, progressive, cosmopolitan city.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet beer garden on a Sunday afternoon or a pulsing dance floor at three o’clock in the morning, there are no shortage of fabulous LGBTQ watering holes located across Sydney. Grab a drink at these 10 bars around the Harbour City that guarantee a warm welcome for the queer community.
Located just a couple of metres from Taylor Square’s rainbow flag, Stonewall is the beating heart of Sydney’s gay scene smack-bang in the middle of Oxford St. Named after the New York City original, Sydney’s Stonewall supplies three levels of bars and live entertainment, including popular drag shows on Friday and Saturday nights. The bar also does its bit for the community, supporting a number of LGBTQ charities and organisations over the past 20 years.
The pub where Mitzi Del Bra, Bernadette Bassenger and Felicia Jollygoodfellow set off on their journey into the outback at the start of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is still one of Sydney’s most famous gay bars. The ground-floor restaurant Priscillas pays homage to the legendary Aussie film, rooftop bar Imperial Up serves delicious cocktails, and the Basement is a safe space for expressive dance and live performance, all making the ‘Impy’ an icon of Sydney’s bohemian Inner-West.
Occupying a former bank on a well-positioned Oxford St corner, the Colombian is a fixture of Sydney’s gay scene. Grab a stool in the airy street-level bar and sip on a drink as you cast your eye over the colourful characters that stroll up and down the so-called Golden Mile – there’s always a good crowd for after-work drinks before things get wilder on Friday and Saturday nights.
This Enmore favourite attracts a diverse crowd but Sly Fox remains especially popular among the queer community thanks to Birdcage, Sydney’s favourite lesbian night, serving great-value drinks specials and local DJs until 3am every Wednesday. A 2015 revamp gave the place a retro 1970s vibe but didn’t change Sly Fox’s commitment to quality live music Wednesday to Saturday.
Party animals pack out this Darlinghurst mega-club every weekend, open until 5am Saturday and Sunday nights. Sitting just off Oxford St, the cocktail bar, resident entertainers, deluxe lighting and sound system, and dual dance floors – upstairs for house and trance, downstairs for more poppy tunes – make Arq an institution of Sydney’s nightlife.
This attitude-free Oxford St bar reminds you of a loose wedding reception… in a good way, of course. We’re talking daggy disco tunes, song requests, a well populated dance floor, and drinks flowing as steadily as the good vibes among the groups of friends who flock to Palms on Oxford for an unpretentious night out. Get there early on Friday and Saturday nights to avoid the queue.
This venue used to be one of the city’s premier gay bars, and although it’s now a neighbourhood pub offering something for everyone, Sundays at the Beresford are still a staple of Sydney’s gay scene. Huge crowds flock from nearby Oxford St to the Sunday sessions in the leafy, sun-dappled courtyard before the party heads to the Upstairs Beresford dance floor later in the evening.
The four distinct spaces inside the Oxford are as diverse as its clientele. There’s the ground-floor bistro and terrace of the Oxford Bar, the booming subterranean Underground, and the sophisticated top-floor Polo Lounge – but the star of the show is found on the first floor. Ginger’s is a New York-style cocktail bar lined with intimate booths and mezzanine seating, providing a stage for cabaret and live music every weekend.
Sitting inside an old Art Deco building at the Hyde Park end of Oxford St, Slide is one of Sydney’s most glamorous queer-friendly venues. Enjoy dinner and a cocktail as you watch one of Slide’s cabaret shows, live performances or themed events – the venue is home to circus degustation El’ Circo, and has hosted a long list of well-known artists to accompany the refined food and drink menu since it opened in 2005.
Situated halfway between Oxford St and Kings Cross, this elegant inner-city pub isn’t strictly a gay bar, but it does attract a crowd that accurately reflects the rainbow-coloured diversity of the Darlinghurst neighbourhood. The super-friendly staff are key to the welcoming vibe everyone enjoys at this old-school yet very modern hotel.