Article by Maya Vukovska

You’ve heard them say, “See Rome and die”, right? Actually, it’s a misquote of what Goethe once said about another city. When the German poet and playwright traveled to Southern Italy in 1787, he was so impressed by the capital of the then Kingdom of Naples that he wrote in his travelog: “Vedi Napoli e muori.” The contemporary meaning of the proverb is that only after you’ve seen Naples (or Rome) you’ve seen everything, and you’re safe to die. Or something close to that. The same is a valid statement also about these 8 epic gay bars around the globe. Let’s go check them together.

The Stonewall Inn, New York City, USA

I’d probably get stoned if I don’t start my list with this particular gay bar - after all, the Stonewall Inn is considered the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, and for all the pride gay people out there it’s like what MOMA, or the Louvre is for the art aficionados. Apart from being a historic landmark, the bar offers a solid variety of entertainment - drag shows, trivia nights, karaoke, artist performances. Besides, you can book it for your own private party.

Centralhjørnet (The Central Corner), Copenhagen, Denmark

That’s another gay bar with huge historical significance that’s not to be missed. The bar itself is nothing special, really - a former shoe store, this smoke-filled, midgety, dump-like bar, situated on the very corner of two central streets is the favorite meeting point of mainly elderly “bøsser” (Danish for "gays"), some of which are so old that they move around with walkers, dragging along portable oxygen tanks. But I’ll give you one excellent reason why you should visit it - Centralhjørnet is officially the oldest gay bar in the world. Gentlemen, I rest my case.

COX, Paris, France

You can hardly find a bad bar in the gayish Parisian neighborhood Le Marais, but I picked this one mainly because it’s old school, which is already a criterion of its own. The bar tends to attract a butch-type crowd with their T-shirts, short haircuts, and jeans, but you can go there with gay and straight friends, colleagues, and even gender fluid giraffes if you feel like it. On a warm summer night, the crow’s spilling on to the sidewalk, and one gets this amazing, run-down feeling that the world’s in love with you, and you’re gonna live forever. COX has a looooong happy hour which is just another reason why you shouldn’t miss this bar on Rue des Archives.

Der Boiler, Berlin, Germany

I was very torn between this one and SchwuZ, because the latter is the oldest queer bar in Germany, (established in 1977), but I picked Der Boiler because… well, everyone who’s ever visited it would say that “it’s the shit, man!” The bar, which is situated in Kreuzberg, offers you all on a plate: from relaxing spa and sauna to re-hydrating drinks at the bar and naughty darkroom experience of a super modern type. It’s definitely worth the $26 entry fee.

SX The Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico

If you’re into beautiful boys stripping their clothes and restraints onstage you should definitely add SX to your bucket list. Proclaimed the “hottest gay club in the Caribbean”, at SX you can enjoy the best go-go dancers. On the premises, there are two dance floors, two bars, and a dark room. Although you are going to meet many cool, friendly people there, do not drop your guard - always keep an eye on your valuables, especially in the dark room.

The Stranger Bar, Bangkok, Thailand

Any gay bar in a city that ends in “kok” must be cool, yes? But this one sticks out. It’s situated on the notorious gay street, Si Lom Road, and there is NO entrance fee! What helped this bar make it to this prestigious list is the super sassy drag shows they throw every night - that's why the bar is also called “The House of Drag Queens”. When there are no shows, the visitors just sit outside ogling the people going by. Truly great atmosphere!

The Imperial Erskineville, Sydney, Australia

The reason why I chose this particular bar among the many gay establishments in Australia is because of its legendary status - it’s the pub where the three drag performers (Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Terence Stamp) set off on their journey at the beginning of the movie “Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”. 30 years after the release of this iconic movie, The Imperial is still one of the most famous gay bars in Sydney.

Coming Out, Rome, Italy

We finish our bar-hopping journey where we started it - in Rome. The bar is an institution in the city’s gay scene, but what impresses its foreign visitors the most is that it’s literally next door to one of the Colosseum, and just across the road, there is Ludus Magnus - the 2,000-year-old gladiator school. You’re sipping on your cocktail and you’re thinking: Damn, that’s the perfect spot for a gay bar - just steps away from the world’s most famous homoerotic fantasy scene in human history!…
September 27, 2023 — Andrew Christian
Tags: Listicles