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The Top 7 Best Gay Bars in Austin Texas in 2023

Cheer Up Charlie's Austin

Austin gay bar’s official Pride may not be until August, but let's be real, it's ALWAYS a great time to raise a glass (or two) in support of our vibrant LGBTQIA+ fam. Seriously, folks, this red state is practically begging for your rainbow cash to be splashed at the bar, drizzled on the brunch table, or tucked into the sequined bras of our fabulous queens.

It's not just about lightening your wallets, though. Every penny you spend sends a high-five of love and appreciation to the queer community - and believe me, Austin is as queer as a three-dollar bill, and proudly so!

Don't forget, our city's slogan is "Keep Austin Weird" and we've even got Queer Eye's very own JVN staking a claim in our neck of the woods! Sure, things might be a bit shaky these days, but as the saying goes, why throw a tantrum when you can throw a party and even enjoy those SWEET dates with GLAAD? So grab your sparkles and prepare to make some fabulously flamboyant political statements - because, darling, nobody's waiting till August for a glitter explosion at Austin gay bars.

List of Best Austin Gay Bars

Our lovely LGBTQIA+ community and their allies are already rolling in the fun, and these killer bars and parties in town are beckoning all those seeking some saucy fun. Got your attention? Come and take a peek, you cheeky devils!

  1. Cheer Up Charlie's
  2. Rain on 4th
  3. Highland
  4. Barbarella
  5. Neon Grotto
  6. Oilcan Harry’s
  7. The Iron Bear

Get Your Cheer On at Cheer Up Charlie's

Alright, folks, buckle up, because we're about to dive into the heart of Austin gay bars LGBTQIA+ scene and music fanatics, you're coming along for the ride too. Welcome to Cheer Up Charlie's - the club that's been stealing the limelight since 2010.

Thanks to founders Tamara Hoover and booker extraordinaire Maggie Lea, Cheer Ups (as the cool kids call it) has firmly established itself as a crown jewel in the Red River Cultural District. Now, this isn't your typical run-of-the-mill bar. Oh no, my friends! This joint is always buzzing with nightly free (or "pay-what-you-can", for the generous-hearted) shows featuring the hottest local acts, touring talents, and drag spectacles that would make RuPaul proud.

"But I'm a foodie," you say. Well, Cheer Ups has got you covered. They've got delectable vegan eats served up right from a food truck parked out back. And what's a good meal without a drink? Their bar offers some seriously refreshing housemade juice cocktails to wash it all down.

Pro tip: Swing by between 4-6 pm to catch their happy hour deals. And do yourself a favor, don't leave without trying their signature Kale Lime Margarita. I know, I know, it sounds like a salad pretending to be a cocktail, but trust me, it's way tastier than it sounds. So get ready to eat, drink, and be very, very merry at Cheer Up Charlie's!

Make a Splash at Rain on 4th

Alright folks, get ready for some thunderclap applause in the heart of Austin gay bars bustling downtown for the one, the only - Rain on 4th! Rain's got a reputation that stretches wider than a Texas sunset. Why? Well, it’s got more pop tunes than a jukebox on steroids, and when it comes to mixing it up, it's like a celebrity hangout for both the local crowd and out-of-towners.

Are you an Ariana Grande groupie or a David Guetta devotee? Buckle up, buddy, 'cause you're in for a wild ride. Oh, and did I mention the local drag queens that strut their stuff? Yes indeed, stars like Vylette Ward and Nadine Hughes regularly light up the stage.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! From Thursdays to Saturdays, post 11 pm, the place is crawling with go-go boys who can make your heart go 'go-go.' Now, if you’re feeling particularly audacious, or just want to get an eyeful, Thursdays are for the brave hearts with an amateur strip contest. Yes, you heard that right. So, whether you fancy strutting your stuff or just 'observing' the, um, 'talent,' Rain is the place to be!

Reach New Heights at Highland

Well, hello there, party people! Ever heard of Highland in gay bars in Austin downtown? If not, fasten your seatbelts because you're in for a lavish ride! You see, Highland isn't just any ol' watering hole. Nope, it's a fancy-schmancy lounge that has VIP bottle service and is packed with the plushest of plush furnishings.

"But does this mean I need to be on my best behavior?" you might ask. Pfft! No way, Jose! You see, Highland, despite its swanky facade, is all about the fun times. Three floors of them, to be precise.

Got some killer twerking skills? Show 'em off every Thursday in our legendary twerk-offs! As for Fridays and weekends, things get all kinds of cray-cray with our drag queens and headline DJs. They know how to get a crowd pumping, trust me.

Now, if you're thinking, "But what about my Sunday chill time?" Don't you worry, we've got that covered too! Sundays are all about winding down with drag brunch, karaoke, and games. It's laid-back vibes all the way.

So, y'all fancy partying in style without compromising on fun? Well then, see you at Highland!

Dance the Night Away at Barbarella

Well, folks, prepare yourselves for a paradox of the party world: Barbarella. Nestled in Red River, Barbarella is best described as a wild gay club in Austin for the, well, dance-club loathers. Odd, right? But trust me, even the staunchest two-left-feet-sporting party-goer can't resist the rhythm once they cross the threshold.

Barbarella is not just your average Austin gay bar; it's a multi-level nightclub with a video bar thrown into the mix. This place is always bustling with life and rhythm. Fancy a bit of theme night action? Barbarella has got you covered with its tantalizingly popular Tuesgayz nights - a heady cocktail of indie, electro, and dance tunes that'll get even the stiffest of legs shaking.

But it doesn't stop there. For those who long for the nostalgia of neon, leg warmers, and classic boy bands, we have the '80s and '90s nights that will make you say "tubular" without any irony.

Still thirsty for more? The happy hours stretch till late-ish (whatever that means in party lingo), and the revelers often spill over into the neighboring Swan Dive. So, if you're up for a dancing escapade, Barbarella is your boogie wonderland.

Get Lit at Neon Grotto
Well, get ready to pucker up and perfect your pose, because we're stepping into the selfie-lovers paradise next - the Neon Grotto gay club in Austin. Imagine a psychedelic rabbit hole where everything's bathed in vibrant, fluorescent lights, with technicolor couches and strobe lights that could make a disco ball blush. It's one part Alice in Wonderland, one part futuristic dance club.

But hold onto your cocktails, folks, because the fun's just getting started. Make your way up to the rooftop for an unbeatable view of Fourth Street's rainbow-painted crossing. Then get your groove on to the cool beats spun by local DJs who keep the party going until the wee hours of the morning.

Oh, and did I mention the entertainment? Neon Grotto is also known for its killer drag shows, karaoke that's more "Star Search" than "drunken rendition of 'Sweet Caroline'", and their wildly fun viewing parties of RuPaul's Drag Race. So, get your best angles ready, you're going to want to remember your time at the Neon Grotto!

Grease Your Wheels at Oilcan Harry's
Our next stop is a place as smooth as its name suggests – Oilcan Harry's. Now, every town has one of the age-defying Austin gay bars, the one that has more stories than the patrons have years, and for Austin, it's Oilcan Harry’s. We’re talking vintage 1990, folks.

If you're up for some fierce, sassy, and unapologetically fabulous drag, this is your promised land. This joint is like a beacon to local talent, kind of like the Bat Signal, but with sequins.

On Saturdays, you'll get to witness ‘The Best Drag Show Ever’ (and that's not just a boastful name) - a rollercoaster of sass, led by the queen herself, Ritzy Bitz. Think comedy, lip-synching, and even the chance to strut your stuff on stage, because who wouldn't want a taste of the spotlight?

And let's not forget about the twice-monthly Sunday fiesta ‘Gay 4 Play,’ a queen-packed show hosted by the dazzling Celia Light and DeeGee Rey, where you can win some pretty nifty prizes. And did I mention that the stars of RuPaul drop in regularly? Yeah, this place is basically drag royalty. Grab your sequins and let's hit the stage!

Unleash Your Inner Beast at The Iron Bear

Well, strap in folks, because we're about to take a walk on the wild, or should I say, hairy side with our next stop – The Iron Bear gay club Austin. You got it, favorite bear den of Austin gay bars. This place is a no-judgment zone for folks who enjoy some fresh air on their bare chests (and by "fresh air," I mean the cooling AC).

Now, let me tell you about their Saturday underwear nights. What's that? Oh, you've already figured out the dress code? Well, aren't you sharp!

But fear not, my fully-clothed friends, The Iron Bear is far more than just a skin show. They've got killer drag shows, cutthroat competitions, and brunches to cure even the fiercest hangovers. Oh, and if you're a fan of a good bargain, you'll love Musical Mondays – the day when happy hour stretches its wings and flies from dusk till dawn.

And for the star in all of us, Wednesdays are karaoke nights. So warm up those vocal cords and pick your power ballad, because at The Iron Bear, every bear has a chance to roar!

Final Thoughts

Well, honey, there you have it – the ultimate guide to letting your fabulousness explode all over Austin! Whether you're as fresh as Cheer Up Charlie's or as seasoned as The Iron Bear's cast iron skillet, this list has something for everyone in our sparkly spectrum. And remember, in Austin, you don't need to wait for Pride Month to show your colors.

Why not start at Barbarella and end up at Oilcan Harry's for a gay ol' time? Austin is ready for your sass, your class, and yes, even that glitter you're still finding in places you never knew glitter could go. So get out there and paint the town every shade of the rainbow, because, darling, if you're not in Austin, you're just not keeping it weird enough. Now, sashay away to the party! 🏳️‍🌈🎉

Frequently Asked Questions on Gay Bars in Austin

What street in Austin has gay bars?

Oh, honey, let me tell you about the Fourth Street bar district! It's like a rainbow exploded and all the colors decided to set up shop in one fabulous neighborhood. If you're on the prowl for flag-flying establishments, this is where you'll want to plant those glittery boots. And if you feel like roaming? Saunter on over to Cheer Up Charlies, where LGBTQ folks are not just welcome, they're the stars of the show. It's like an all-day Pride parade but with better cocktails.

Is there a gay scene in Austin Texas?

Austin's gay nightlife seems to have a crush on 4th Street. It's like all the bars got together and said, "Fourth Street's where it's at, darling!" It's a veritable hotspot of fabulousness. And it's no coincidence either; the place is practically the HQ for fabulousness! Speaking of headquarters, did you know that Austin's also home to the LGBT activism superheroes Atticus Circle and Equality Texas? If 4th Street is where the party's at, then these folks are the behind-the-scenes glitter squad, fighting for love and sequins everywhere.

Where do queer people hang out in Austin?

Oh, honey, where do queer people hang out in Austin gay bars? The Downtown Warehouse District is like the VIP room for fabulous folks! Swing by Highland Lounge to feel like a star, or prance over to Oilcan Harry's if you're in the mood to twirl with drag queens (they've been doing it for over 25 years, darling!). Feel like something posh? Rain on 4th has those upscale vibes. But if you're craving something a little more rugged, The Iron Bear's got a cold beer with your name on it.

 

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