With the popularity and demand for drag spreading like wildfire, drag bars and venues from all across the country are tooting their own drag revues like never before. From brunch and bingo to fundraiser fiestas, you can be sure to find a drag queen hosting any kind of party you could wish for.
But there are some bars who are genuine staples of their respective gay communities, establishments that have been in the game for decades and provide both a stage as well as a safe haven for the country’s most beloved queens.
We’re sounding off the best places to catch the queens in your town or when you go a’traveling. Of course there are countless venues that stand out in these communities, but these are the ones that we feel have a heel up on the rest.
1. Stonewall Inn – New York City, NY
One of the most iconic gay bars in history, the Stonewall Inn in the West Village was the catalyst for the the LGBT liberation movement and the continued fight for gay and lesbian rights. First opened in 1967, it has housed some of the most fabulous and notorious queens to walk the streets of New York City.
Whether you’re seeing Lady Bunny‘s legendary irreverence, raging at Ari Kiki‘s monthly RIOT or coming to party at one of their famous Stonewall Invasions, the lineup of drag talent that has taken the stage at Stonewall continues the legacy that this landmark is known for: living out loud and loving who you are.
2. Play – Louisville, KY
It’s always a party down at Play, where the queens lead the charge on pumping party nights and fantastic drag shows. Since 2013, Play has been the place to go see a drag show in Butchertown. Their rotating roster of both local and nationally known queens keeps it fresh and the crowds coming.
Play has been the starting place for a number of queens, like The Princess from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Miss Kentucky National Aubrey Jolie and even our own reigning Miss Bio-WERRRK 2016, Monroe Fitzgerald. They’re already set up to be receiving some serious drag royalty this year, like Alaska, Bob The Drag Queen, Katya and Jinkx Monsoon.
3. Parliament House – Orlando, FL
Originally advertised as the “world’s largest gay entertainment complex,” Parliament House is a bar that doesn’t pull any punches, especially when it comes to its drag queens. Strong drinks lower the buffer for even stronger performers. If you can handle the heat, you’re more than welcome to stay.
A vibrant member of the Gay Orlando community, the queens here turn it out, whether it’s boozy Monday nights with Addison Taylor (and free Long Islands from 10:30-11 p.m.), Mas Caliente Thursdays with Lisa Lane and Shantell D’Marco or weekends with the House’s exceptionally entertaining Footlight Players.
4. Micky’s West Hollywood – Los Angeles, CA
In the glittering tiara that is West Hollywood, Micky’s is one of the biggest jewels to be found. This bi-level behemoth of a bar has been serving stiff drinks, fierce queens and great eye candy since it’s opening in 1989. And with all of the competition that L.A. is known for, they are sure to stay ahead of the curve.
The big drag show there has to be on Monday nights for Showgirls hosted by Drag Race royal, Raven. Each week she and her guest queens tear it up in a hysterical and dazzling drag revue. This month you can catch the likes of Morgan McMichaels, Naysha Lopez, Ongina and Mariah Balenciaga.
5. The Rose Room – Dallas, TX
Located on the upper level of the Dallas mega-club Station 4 sits The Rose Room, the Southwest’s “premiere show bar for gender illusion.” Full to the brim of the crème de la crème of drag in the country, this showstopping spectacular is the stuff drag legends are made of and was even once home to the legendary Erica Andrews!
In the resident cast is the gorgeous Krystal Summers, the high-kicking Layla LaRue, the goddess of glamour Valerie Lohr, the hysterical Cassie Nova and former Miss Gay USofA Jenna Skyy. Full of massive talent and even larger personalities, they lead the charge in keeping everything bigger in Texas.
6. The Baton Show Lounge – Chicago, IL
With the Baton celebrating 48 years of entertaining the masses with the art of drag, this River North institution is a beloved Chi-Town staple that doesn’t disappoint when it comes to putting on a show. Gaining most of their popularity by hosting all sorts of bachelorette parties, there’s never a dull moment to be found.
With regular shows Wednesdays through Sundays, they keep is fresh by constantly adding new numbers and inviting special guest performers. Longtime host and emcee Ginger Grant starts off with campy antics, followed by the talents of queens like Chili Pepper, Maya Douglas and Victoria La Page.
Sometimes, you just want to go to a bar where everybody knows your name. That’s definitely the vibe that the longstanding Tenderloin dive bar Aunt Charlie’s gives, along with some fantastic drag queen antics. Opened during the flocking of gay men to San Fran in 1987, it remains a place of both fun and acceptance.
Aunt Charlie has hosted some of the city’s most beloved drag queens, like the late Vicki Marlane, for whom the 100 block of Turk Street is now named. She was part of the legendary Hot Boxxx Girls troupe who still party the house down on Friday and Saturday nights with hostess Gina La Divina.
Drag by the beach anyone? That’s what Palace has been serving us for 28 years. It’s also the first gay restaurant and bar on Ocean Drive, located in the heart of the Art Deco District. Their notorious “Brunchic” is the place to be at on Sundays in South Beach.
Drag Race favorite Latrice Royale calls Palace her home, as well as a slew of other talented queens like Tlo Ivy, Tiffany Taylor Fantasia, Melissa Hilton, Noel Leon and Daisy Deadpetals. There’s something going on every night by the beach and the Palace is ready for newcomers and regulars alike to dive right in.
True to its name, Paradise in Asbury Park is both an entertainment complex as well as a beach side destination with a decent history of drag. First opened in 1998, the club has been a go-to for locals and visitors alike, and the drag there doesn’t disappoint.
They recently just crowned their new Miss Paradise, Victoria Courtez, who will be sashaying into her grand debut show on March 17th. Pop in on a Monday for Drag Wars with Cee Mour Cox or on Fridays for Miss Paradise 2014 Lea Sky‘s Flashback Friday.
Rounding off our list is Rain Lounge, an upstate New York favorite that serves up some serious community along with its drag shows. People from all walks of life can be found here mingling and drinking to just create a fun night out. You know, how like certain bars used to be.
Out Magazine named it one of the top 200 gay bars in the world, and it’s easy to see why. From hosting Drag Race royalty like Naomi Smalls and Darienne Lake to regular shows featuring local and out of town queens alike, there’s always a sparkling spectacle to behold at Rain.
Article by Isaiah Cruz