X Bar is a staple for Denver LGBTQ folks. Known for its inclusivity towards both the queer and straight communities, X Bar has been around for seven years and has been an important staple of Denver Pride for just as long.
“X Bar is well known for the pink flamingos during pride, and they are everywhere,” explained Cindy Alix, general manager at X Bar. “We also give them away and have the biggest pink flamingo around on our float. We have a very special float this year, so we are looking forward to the parade on June 18.”
The bar boasts nightly specials and drink deals, as well as two dance floors for the weekends and a large patio section. People flock to the bar to dance and get down or just to drink and relax, and many in the LGBTQ community have made it their regular hangout.
“In addition to our weekly events like Karaoke (Tuesdays), Lip Sync (Thursdays), and Latin Night (Fridays in O Lounge) we have had some really fun events, including a Hillary Clinton promotion where America Ferrara and Lena Dunham came to the bar to speak,” she said. “Pride is the most intense and fun weekend of the year because we get to meet so many people from all over the country. Also, my favorite event of the year is Fairytopia, and it is coming up Saturday August 12.”
If you haven’t already, check out X Bar for Pride festivities or just generally to get down with the LGBTQ community.
Lipstick Nightclub, Denver’s resident gay Latinx club, has a lot of great things planned for Pride. With two dancefloors, one that plays top 40 and another that plays Latinx music, it’s also one of the best places in town to have a drink or cut loose.
“For Pride, we have our kickoff on Thursday, the 15th,” Brenden Neeave, who sets up events and manages the bar, said. “We’ll have official after-parties for some of the Latin singers coming to town, as well as some dancers from L.A. On Friday, the 16th, we have a Latino singer coming; on the 17th we have our Pride Party with go-go dancers, and on the 18th we will be opening the bar early, at 4 p.m.”
In addition to the Pride festivities, Lipstick Nightclub is known in the LGBTQ community as one of the bars with the most going on. They stay open until 4 a.m. and host birthday parties and celebrations of all kinds. With two hosts to lead their dual dance floors, Lipstick is booked up almost every night of the week for an event.
“We have different people renting every single week,” Neeave said. “We host several different groups. We have six organizations that do their shows here.”
If you are looking for some awesome entertainment and non-stop dancing, check out Lipstick Nightclub. Even if you aren’t a member of the Latinx or LGBTQ communities, the dual dance floors and constant entertainment will make you feel right at home.
Denver’s oldest gay bar, R&R Bar is a Denver staple. Nestled snugly on Colfax, R&R Bar was a cozy and becoming hole-in-the-wall before dive bars and the grimy charm of Colfax were hip. While unassuming and small, R&R Bar proudly serves the LGBTQ community and is going to be participating in Pride again this year.
“We open the Sunday of Pride Week at 7:30 a.m.,” explained Rich Illgen, owner of the bar. “We do complimentary breakfast burritos before the parade, so that’s always a big thing, and people get a couple of cocktails in ‘em before the festivities start.”
R&R bar is fun, friendly, and “not cliquey,” according to Illgen. The atmosphere is light-hearted and the clientele is always eclectic. The small space screams acceptance. Think of all those dive bars in the movies where everyone is smiling and a little drunk. They laugh, the play darts, they’ll read you in the most flattering way. The bartenders are nice and often pour with a heavy hand. Oh yeah, the drinks are pretty cheap too.
A Denver must-visit spot for over 50 years, R&R Bar is still going strong and not calling it quits anytime soon.
Hamburger Mary’s, at 1336 E 17th Ave, is, dare I say it, one of the more important cultural institutions in modern Denver history.
Its website begins its introduction in such fashion, stating, “Hamburger Mary’s is an open-air bar & grille for open-minded people…” When I brought up the fact to some people in my family and group of friends and colleagues that Hamburger Mary’s was indeed one of many franchises across the country, they did not believe me, which I believe lends itself to how well this specific Hamburger Mary’s has been able to ingrain itself into the very specific and very niche culture of modern Denverites. I am a fan of Hamburger Mary’s and have been for some time.
For me, food and culture blend well at Hamburger Mary’s, and the chill nature was one of the first exposures to queer culture some of my friends ever had, which I believe made it easier for them to accept me coming out years later. Many of their events are centered around drag competitions and feature elements of drag culture. These were some of the first times I was ever exposed to that community, and I am grateful for that. Those events take place most prominently at Bingo on Mondays at 8 p.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. They also have a scrumptious mimosa brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
During PrideFest, Hamburger Mary’s will be continuing its calendar of regularly-scheduled events, so stop by for a delicious mimosa brunch over the weekend!
Tracks Nightclub is a haven for LGBTQ people and allies, bottom line.
Tracks continually delivers fun themed nights, great music, and some of the best drag queens Denver has to offer on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, usually starting at 9 p.m. The establishment and the event space next door have cemented Track’s legacy as a premiere cultural center for LGBTQ and drag culture in the Denver community.
For young people, Tracks is a place to go for a fun time in a relatively safe space, and it has been providing that kind of atmosphere for nearly 40 years. The pride Tracks has for its place in the Denver community is evident from how it tells its history on its website,.
“It all started in 1980 on Fox St. Tracks opened as an after-hours bar, serving no alcohol. After that, a full service nightclub was followed by one in Washington, D.C., Tampa, and NYC, but alas, they’re all gone now. Condos and office buildings stand where we once partied the night away. All that remains is our pride and joy Tracks Denver and we’re confident it lives up to its predecessors.”
It has lived up to its predecessors and then some.
Once, during a wistful phone conversation a few months before I moved to Denver, my Nashville-native, long-distance girlfriend told me something crazy: she had found a gay country bar in Denver. This lead me to wonder: what goes on in Denver, and how soon can I get there?
It wasn’t until several months later, when I had finally moved to colorful Colorado, that I found myself at Charlie’s Nightclub.
Warm, slightly damp air hit me as soon as I walked in, followed by a blast of music. A bouncer took my five dollars, and a ripped, topless dude in a cowboy hat handed me a shot in a test tube. It’s always a party at Charlie’s. With its mythical two-step lessons early in the evening (though I cannot personally attest that these actually happen…), go-go boys, cheap sloshy beer, and an entire room for its frequent drag shows, this staple of the Denver gay scene has something for everyone.
But more than the drag queens, the sassy MCs, and the ready presence of some bananas bulging out of their hammocks (tbh, dick’s not really my thing, but if it’s yours, this could be one of Charlie’s best features…), the thing that partygoers seem to like best about Charlie’s is its attitude. And trust me, there is plenty.
Frequent Charlie’s-goer Sean Doyle cited the “be-yourself vibe” as one of the things that keeps him coming back. Louisa Silverman, another Charlie’s regular, gushed over the fact that people who like Charlie’s are kind of like their own club. You find out that someone else likes Charlie’s, she explained, and the excitement and love of the club bounce back and forth between you. Doyle also explained that, as Denver doesn’t have a concentrated gayborhood the way, say, Chicago or San Fran do, Charlie’s is one of the “few places that the gay community can own as one of theirs.”
An absolute must if you like: fierce and fabulous drag queens, cheap drinks handed out by topless cowboys, watching go-go boys hang from the ceiling, or having a good time while wearing and doing just about whatever (and whomever) you want.
Blush & Blu
A black facade with two simple stripes and a black awning, the Colfax storefront of Blush & Blu is unassuming. I managed to walk by it about a million times before I ever paid attention to it. But inside is an unbeatable vibe: think coffee shop/bar/pool hall/open mic/over all good time.
This local hub, proudly owned and operated by lesbians, thank you very much, boasts a bar downstairs and a lounge upstairs, complete with books and coziness. The downstairs is ideal for the casual partier, while the upstairs is perfect for those who want to be part of the crowd but not actually have to talk to anyone. A recent expansion also added on a room with a small stage, perfect for the occasional weeknight open-mics.
I asked Blush and Blu enthusiast Danny Henningsen what makes the place so special. He said that it’s “a local watering hole,” where people know regulars’ names and care about their stories. Henningsen shared with me his favorite Blush memory. He had gone one night after some difficult events in his personal life. None of the bartenders that he knows where there, but the owner was. When she saw him looking blue, she told the bartender to give him anything he wanted. For Henningsen, that story exemplifies the community atmosphere that he loves about Blush. He also mentioned that, amidst the recent explosion of the Denver gay scene, he hopes that this tried-and-true won’t change.
Head over to Blush & Blu if you like coffee, coffee drinks, pool, books, and a cozy (but still crazy) vibe.
Located on Sante Fe Avenue and West 5th Street, Trade has done more than just survive its first year in Denver — it has thrived. Opening in April of 2016, Trade quickly made a name for itself as the Levi’s and Leather bar in town, making it a go-to spot for queer nightlife in Denver. Hosting popular weekly events that range from fetish to hilarious, it’s providing a space beyond the niche that caters to a wide net of Denver’s queers. And it’s doing it with open arms, thanks to some of the most personal bartenders the city has to offer and its dedicated owners Ray Hurtado and Chris Newell.
“We want everyone to feel comfortable here,” Ray said.
“We want to harbor a gay community not just for gay men,” Chris said.
The party at Trade starts on Thursday when they host their weekly Skivvy Strip Down, an underwear night. Throughout the weekend they host rotating themed nights on both Friday and Saturday night. The themes include Hanky Code, Rough Play, and Harness Happy Hour. One Saturday a month they partner with the queer dance party Blow Pony, which brings queer artists to Denver from all over the nation.
During weekend days, they open their doors to gaymers, ladies who brunch, and drag bingo enthusiasts. On Saturday evening they host a weekly beer bust where $8 gets you bottomless Bud Light from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Seriously, if you’re in town visiting or have been sleeping under a rock, get over to Trade.
Last year, not long after its epic Pride Beer Bust, The Wrangler strapped up its boots and headed north out of the Uptown Neighborhood and into the RiNo District. Now comfortably nestled on the corner of Downing Street and 31st, the Wrangler boasts three full floors of a fun, sexy time.
The Wrangler’s move hasn’t stopped its customers from getting out for its weekly and monthly events — especially Beer Bust. On any given Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., both full-sized patios, the dance floor, and the main bar area are packed. The only spare space is that surrounding the pool tables, which is only out of courtesy to the guests who want to play. It’s a Denver staple for a reason, and gives Sunday Funday a whole new meaning.
Throughout the week, you can grab lunch at Hungry Bear Kitchen during the day, or hit the weekday events like Trivia hosted by Geeks Who Drink.
Get ready for another huge Beer Bust this Pride with special guest Cazwell.
Nestled snugly on a quiet corner of South Broadway, Li’l Devils may not be the go-to spot for rowdy dancing or wild nightlife, but it offers a welcome, cozy change from the fast pace of most LGBTQ hotspots. This year, Li’l Devils wants to give you a place to relax and reboot with some food and drinks in between Pride festivities.
“We don’t get too, too excited,” stated Tony Fleith, bar owner. “We are going to keep it kind of low-key since we are on South Broadway; we will do a barbeque, some food and drink specials, but as far anything over and out of the ordinary of what we normally do, there isn’t really anything planned. We kind of get the overflow; people hang out, relax, and get away from the crowd here.”
Li’l Devils is used to being the go-to spot for relaxing and taking it easy after or before a long night of dancing.
“We are kind of a neighborhood hangout, a relaxed place where you can have a conversation,” explained Fleith. “We do barbeques Friday and Saturday and have a huge patio.”
This Pride, take a break at Li’l Devils for some grilled food and cheap drinks. Their barbeques will take place Friday, June 16 at 5:00 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.