Simply placing a pride flag in one’s window doesn’t make for an LGBTQ bar, but it’s at least a joy to see a rainbow rolling its way into more and more mainstream establishments.
For queer bars, Denverites often have to look a little closer, as the city’s LGBTQ cultural scene doesn’t always match the prominence or volume of our clubs. We’ve lost promising spots like Sir and stable spots like Pride and Swagger in recent months, so the rest of the names are all the more important.
We have seen too many spots hanging around during unimaginable, pandemic-related challenges. Some, such as the Denver Eagles on West Colfax Avenue, even reopened after six years of closure. In that spirit, here’s a quick roundup for Pride month and for Denver Pridefest (June 25 and 26), featuring legacy bars and some new(er) names, so you don’t have to do all the work yourself.
Undisputedly Denver’s biggest and most important LGBTQ club in what is now the Rino Art District, the current incarnation has made a name for itself over the past 17 years with national-quality drag performances, touring artists, and raucous, themed parties . In addition to nurturing Denver-based “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winners such as Yvie Oddly and the winner of the most recent season, Willow Pill, it features open mix and hip-hop nights (18 and up!) and three great dance floors and DJ setup. in city. gold standard. 3500 Walnut St., 303-863-7326 or trackdenver.com
Within walking distance of downtown Denver as well as many locations and bars on Capitol Hill, X Bar is a strong magnet with its huge patio parties and outspoken camaraderie. The one-story, dance-friendly venue keeps busy with karaoke, DJ nights, and a wild weekend atmosphere, but Pride Month will generate even bigger lines down the block. Get there early, or not, and be prepared to sweat (especially if it’s at one of their leather parties). From brunches and sing-along nights to queer proms, check out #partyyoncolfax on Instagram for some costumed revelers and event flyers. 629 E. Colfax Ave., 303-832-2687 or xbardenver.com
A late-night stop-off on the bustling length of Broadway in the Baker neighborhood, Boystown bills itself as Denver’s Hottest Male Revue (RIP to the nearby former Compound Basics). and you know what? Most nights they’re not wrong, with organs, shredded dancers, skilled DJs, and a generally high-energy atmosphere that lasts until last call. It’s the only men’s strip club in that area (or the entire metro area, last time I checked), so you might have to endure straight-up bachelorettes and birthday parties, even if the bar does it for real with its loyal staff and customers. keeps . 117 Broadway, 303-722-7373 or boyztowndenver.com
See all: less important Little Devils Lounge on South Broadway. It doesn’t explicitly identify itself as a gay bar, but it is a popular hangout for older gay men occupying the former Barker Lounge space. facebook.com/lildevilslounge
Queer sports bars may sound distinctive, but they certainly aren’t, which is why it’s odd that Denver only boasts sports-focused tight ends. Still, City Park West Bar — which opened last year in a gritty street Denver punk bar — offers excellent people playoff nights, trivia, drinking games, karaoke and more on its patio, big screens. As other guides quickly point out, it’s in a busy section of East Colfax Avenue across from Blush & Blue, a gay, queer and trans-focused spot with programming galore (see below). 1501 E. Colfax Ave. 303-861-9103 or tight bar.com
blush and blue
This busy venue has helped fill the gap in Denver’s long-shuttered Detour, a former gay bar, and developed some of the city’s best drag queens, poets, singer-songwriters, and stand-up comics on its own little stage. It’s socially conscious and has a solid menu, focusing on gay, queer and transgender clientele, both above and beyond, and nationally rare. Yes, given its proximity to cannabis dispensaries and Denver’s first Voodoo Donut location, there are tourists and curious hikers, but they are also welcome. It’s also great for coffee and tea, as it previously hosted an LGBTQ space, which had a similar menu. 1526 E. Colfax Ave., 303-484-8548 or blushbluedenver.com
Like Trax Denver, Capitol Hill Bar Charl’s—part of a country western-themed chain with locations in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Chicago—decades before Denver’s population and construction boom, proudly sits indoor and outdoor on East Colfax Avenue. Organizes Court with events. Beer busts for drag shows, line-dancing lessons and sexy go-go boy performances. Cowboy hats and leather chaps are always welcome, but certainly not necessary, and the falafel-and-gyros menu can be a wonderfully welcome treat after a night of themed cocktails and dancing. 900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-839-8890 or charliesdenver.com
Fusion Bar & Grill
This Rino Art District watering hole is where you go when you crave stir-fried noodles and serious drinks, with a predictable Mongolian grill menu and impressive focus on tropical cocktails (with more to come, owners say). It has bravely maintained itself during the pandemic with an open and dog-friendly patio and incredible, evocative beer selection. A great stop, or destination, in itself. 3053 Brighton Blvd., 303-862-7376 or fusionsdenver.com
Classic in look and feel, with gorgeous vintage signage and a casual interior, R&R East is tucked away along a vibrant stretch of Colfax Avenue. Its owners have claimed that it is the city’s oldest gay bar, opening in the 1950s and becoming openly gay in the 1970s, according to Westward, with its instantly recognizable, rainbow-colored doors . Think happy hours, darts, and Broncos games. 4958 E. Colfax Ave. #1208, 303-320-9337 or yelp.com/biz/r-and-r-lounge-denver-denver (the bar doesn’t have its own website).
While it’s not an openly bear bar—the owners describe it as Denver’s queer, underground fetish bar—it’s a favorite of the muscle-bound class of bearded, often gay men who describe themselves as such. (especially in the absence of the late Denver Wrangler). The business helps fill a blank in Denver’s gay scene in that particular area, a perch along Santa Fe Drive and diverse programming that ranges from drag shows and DJ nights to leather nights and beer busts. 475 Santa Fe Drive, 720-627-5905 or facebook.com/tradedenver
Is Denver Sweet the equivalent of Minnesota Nice? In a way, maybe, but it’s also the city’s only open bear-bar and one of the metro area’s best rooftop spots, LGBTQ or otherwise. Delicious bar food and brunch, mellow clientele and DJs mix for afternoons and airy nights on a pair of party floors in the former Funky Buddha Space, which never found its place until Denver Sweets took over in May 2019. The owners — both former DJs at Wrangler — told Out Front Magazine that they aim to make it a welcome example of the big bear-bar scene, which doesn’t have a reputation for always being friendly toward women and trans people. Fortunately, they seem to be reaching that goal. 776 Lincoln St. 720-598-5648 or denversweet.com
Just this week, Tasting Table named this stylish downtown spot as one of the best LGBTQ bars in the country, open in its current incarnation since early 2018. The name stretches back to the 1970s when the slender brick building hosted a gay club called Triangle, and after the original Triangle closed in the early 2000s an attempted site for various, unsuccessful bars and craft restaurants. was. Its resurgence has brought back queer stand-up, big-name drag queens, “Real Housewives”-themed brunches, and a safe LGBTQ venue all in one central and sleek location. 2036 n. Broadway, 303-658-0913 or thetriangleenver.com
Hamburger Mary’s Denvero
Long a longtime foodie, this North American chain’s Denver outlet is also LGBTQ plus plenty of gender diversity (and cis-hat allies), reliably colorful programming for casual stop-ins and parties, and a casual atmosphere. provides. After patrons moved to a smaller, more scenic spot a little earlier to the west on 17th Avenue, it’s often filled with wild parties at drag-queens and other show nights. And yet, it is always friendly and accessible. 1136 E. 17th Ave., 303-993-5812 or milehighmarys.com
Barely a year old, Lucid is another upstart that has managed to tackle nightmare challenges for the services industry. With a neon-edgy profile amidst the usual programming (trivia, lip-sync battles, drag shows, etc.), it’s a welcome addition to the scene. It also offers speed dating, and a remarkable lineup of racially diverse artists that are often hard to find at other LGBTQ bars (Latinx couture? Yes, please). Look for this “disco bar” above Que Ramen, as it’s a second-story space. 600 E. Colfax Ave., NO PHONE NUMBER AVAILABLE. luciddenver.com
Like Lucid, #Vybe has a bit more variety than many gay bars, with drag queens of color and top touring queens like Adore Delano swinging regularly, in addition to stand-up comedy, game nights, Denver Broncos parties ( The cheerleaders also stopped by) for a recent show) and much more. It’s arguably the only explicitly LGBTQ spot in the gallery-heavy Golden Triangle neighborhood, though it does line the same public-transportation corridors as Denver Suite, Lil’ Devils, Boystown, and others. 1027 N. Broadway, 720-573-8886 or 303vybe.com
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