There is something about being surrounded by other queer people that is just relaxing and reassuring. Whether you’re in Uptown, Downtown, Northeast or anywhere else in Minneapolis, there are some incredible options for nightlife spots that are also LGBTQ+ friendly. There are spots for everyone from bars with dimly lit booths, classic arcade games or roaring entertainment and dancing. Be sure to plan ahead, drink responsibility and ensure you have a ride home or by using Lyft, the official Meet Minneapolis ride sharing partner.
Known for their giant block parties during Pride, the Saloon has been proudly serving the Twin Cities community for more than 35 years. Located off the Hennepin avenue and only a few blocks away from the historic First Avenue, this queer space is the best for dancing in the Twin Cities due to their spacious dance floor, fun lighting and amazing DJ’s. You can bet your favorite new pop song is already being spun there with the best new remix.
What I personally have always enjoyed about the Saloon is they have numerous bars throughout the entire space. Since they have this, as well as a combination of friendly bar staff, I rarely feel like I have to wait long for a drink. If dancing isn’t your thing, no worries because they often host drag, comedy nights, contents, and brunch!
Up-down: Minneapolis’ Arcade Bar
Whether you admit it or not, video games are inherently queer and have been for decades. Up-down hosts Gay Monday’s is a queer takeover and safe space for the LGBTQ+ community at Up-down bar. Voted Best LGBTQ Event by City Pages, it originally started in 2018. Whether it’s Gay Monday or not, Updown is perfect for a night out with friends. All the games cost only 25 cents and they have everything from your favorites like Smash Brothers, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong and even four lanes of Skee-Ball!
Up-down serves a selection of craft beer and house made pizza that has saved me multiple times over the years. They are huge slices and so delicious.
LOCAL TIP: If you’re a social media guru, Up-down is a great spot for your next Instagram pic. Just be sure not to get in too many people’s way as it can get crowded sometimes!
Flip Phone Events
Flip Phone Events have solidified themselves as one of the queer entertainment businesses in the Twin Cities the last few years. Named after the flip phone era where boy bands topped the charts and Destiny’s Child was still together, they originally started as a dance event in the basement of Honey. It was the perfect place to meet other queer people and just have the time of your life, dancing the night away.
Due to demand, they rapidly grew and expanded their services into drag brunches, Halloween events, annual Golden Girls bar crawl and even dance parties at First Ave from time to time. The unique thing about Flip Phone is that they don’t own a specific space so their events are around the city. They are at places like Crave, the Muse Event Center, Union Rooftop, and even Rosedale Mall. What is more 90’s than a drag show in a mall? Many events are centered around a specific artist from Beyonce to Lizzo to Lady Gaga. They also can be themed around specific popular cultural moments like Schitt’s Creek, the holidays or even the Super Bowl.
Black Hart of St. Paul
The Black Hart of St. Paul is a relatively newer queer space that just reopened in 2018 in the former Town House bar. It’s located only a thousand feet away from Minnesota’s new soccer stadium, Allianz Field, which makes it the first place to go before and after a game. They even call themselves a “spiritual home for soccer in the Twin Cities.” Black Hart also has drag shows, burlesque, Bingo and karaoke.
The Gay 90’s
When people think of a gay bar in the cities, most Minnesotans automatically go to The Gay 90’s and for good reason. It’s been around for ages and has provided a safe space for queer people across the state. They have a large variety of events and performances including the Infamous LaFemme Drag Show and So You Think You Can Drag talent show for newcomers. The Gay 90’s also is the home to RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 contestant Mercedes Iman Diamond. The performance space here is great because of the large and circular stage, allowing many people to see the glitz and glamor of these talented queens.
If you’re feeling hungry, The Gay 90’s also offers a full service menu Wednesdays through Saturday! Not 21? Don’t worry! They have an 18+ night that younger people can attend.
Maybe the loud music, bright lights and bumping dancing bodies isn’t quite your scene which is why Norseman Distillery is on this list. This is one of my favorite places to take out of town friends when they are visiting. There is a real sense of luxury and serenity when I’m here without being too bouje. Norseman offers over 60 house made spirits and liqueurs that are expertly crafted into delectable cocktails. They offer a seasonal menu and often have food trucks outside too.
When you go here, it’s not just a drink at a bar. It really is an experience with drinks getting their own presentation almost when they arrive. I can’t wait for summer and fall each year because of their outdoor seating. Norseman Distillery is high up on my list of recommendations, always.
The EagleBOLT Bar
Just a few blocks away from the historic Guthrie Theater, the EagleBOLT bar walks the line of being a friendly neighborhood bar & grill along with a fun gay nightclub. They have an outdoor patio which is great for summer and fall nights along with bar food for an enjoyable late night snack. I enjoy a club as much as the next however sometimes I just need air and to be outside which is why I enjoy the spacious patio that the Eagle has.
LOCAL TIP: The Eagle also hosts Show Tunes Sunday’s starting at 4 p.m. You know that you want to go and belt your heart out to “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from EVITA, don’t you? Don’t lie. I know you want to.