Gay Country Rank: 36/193
Home to its own version of Mardi Gras every year; Sydney is one destination that should be on every gay travelers list. Bars and cruising areas are in abundance, and there really is no bad time to visit Sydney. The weather is great, the guys are hot, and the parties are electric. As the capital city, travelers here benefit from not only a plethora of entertainment options, but cultural activities as well.
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Nightlife ignites on Friday, when the after-work crowd fills the bars along Oxford Street, and simmers on Saturday with numerous gay parties. But things really explode on Sunday, when the Green Park and Bank hotels are filled with boys engaged in afternoon debauchery.
Friday and Saturdays are the big nights out for “Sydneysiders”, although during hot summer months most gay bars attract a good crowd most nights of the week. A trip to Sydney would not be complete without exploring the gay nightlife.
The famous gay street is Oxford Street. Here you find popu
lar bars like Stonewall Hotel, The Colombian and The Midnight Shift. Note that the word Hotel is used for bars as well, you cannot actually sleep at these places. The city’s gay scene has undergone significant changes with the introduction of laws that were brought in to prevent drink fueled incidents late at night. This has forced many venues to close while encouraging other venues to be more creative to attract visitors earlier in the evening.
Out of town venues and afternoon events have sprung up as alternative places to party.
The most popular gay club in Sydney is the Arq on Oxford street. The biggest gay parties are held during the Mardi Gras festival.
ARQ in Darlinghurst continues to be the big dance nightspot in town. The club on two-and-a-half levels has great lights, sound, and mix of both straight and gay party people. Special and theme nights include FOMO foam parties. ARQ Sydney is open on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
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.
The Beauchamp Hotel & Velvet Cocktail Lounge in Darlinghurst offers spacious terrace bar, courtyard; canapes, platters and casual dining. The Beresford Hotel remains a big gay attraction, especially upstairs on Sunday nights, with men/women mix, live music and theme events. Free summer movies, Mondays in the courtyard. Chinese Laundry located below Slip Inn is a long running dance club, playing everything from House, Electro, Prog, Tech, Hip-Hop, D&B; and host occassionaly gay special events.
The Colombian is a slick, modern gay pub and lounge on very gay corner in Oxford street, straight friendly too. On two levels, boasting the largest rotation of DJs in Sydney, lively dance crowd, drag diva emcees. 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.
The Ivy describes itself as a glamorous urban oasis, ivy offers eight bars, including Sydneys only rooftop pool bar, 3 award winning restaurants and 4 unique meetings & events spaces. It is the home of famous gay summer pool parties, special events and irregular gay/lesbian-specific nights.
Kinselas on Bourke St was a funeral home in a previous life and plays host to Friday drag competitions, Wednesday Tranny Trivia nights has beautiful ornate art deco ceilings and attracts a mixed crowd from early evening.
The Oxford Hotel is a stunning location with four bars. The venue has been a gay destination for many years, but has become more mixed over the past few years. Gingers on the first floor is popular with gay visitors, especially on Monday nights With luxurious finishes, intimate booths, mezzanine level seating and a state of the art sound and lighting system; Gingers offers an alluring, contemporary and decadent experience. The Oxford is a proud supporter of the gay community; the club house of The Harbour City Bears, Sydney Leather Pride, and is the Official Sydney Mardi Gras Bar. 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.
Palms On Oxford is a basement level piano and drag entertainment nightclub, attitude free, draws many locals for “retro” evenings. Palms is open 8pm-3am (Thursday through to Sunday). 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.
Shift Club - guys of all kinds/ages video bar, drag cabaret Transisters shows, movie nights, karaoke, bingo, trivia games, “bun/bum boy” waiters serve pub menu food.
Slide is a nightclub, supper club, lounge, restaurant all-in-one and is open Tuesday through Sunday with cabaret shows. 10 years+ and still going strong. Slide remains one of the hippest gay venues, located in an art deco former bank building.
The Stonewall Hotel is a three-story entertainment complex, open daily from noon; top Sydney DJs and entertainers, big generally young crowds, weekend dancing and drag shows, Wednesday Male Box pickup night, karaoke, Thursday dancing boys on the bar. Great happy hours and always busy at weekends.
The Green Park hotel is not a gay bar but even early on a Saturday evening you’ll find the place heaving with the handsome boys of Darlinghurst sporting expensive shoes and imported denim.
This is where hotel guests mingle with locals, gays, straights and curious! If the bars and beaches aren’t your thing, don’t despair. Sydney has a thriving culture of indoor and outdoor sex-on-premise venues. There are saunas and sex clubs sprinkled all over the city. There’s the Kingsteam on Oxford Street and Bodyline in Taylor Square.
For a wilder time, there is Signal Men’s Sex Club and Headquarters, both promising a good time. There are numerous clothing stores, bookstores and adult merchandise (Tool Shed) shops. There is also some nice patio dining on street-side cafes, as well as very warm and cosy small restaurants all along Oxford St, which stay busy until late at night.