Time to Impress the Door Guy
If you actually want to understand just how good-looking you are, go to Paul’s Casablanca, Paul Sevigny’s Moroccan-themed, model-filled, hard-to-get-into club with a popular Sunday Morissey night; a tough door guy named Ludwig looks over Sevigny’s other spot in Tribeca, Paul’s Baby Grand (2 6th Ave.). If you can’t get into the latter, there’s a new, beautifully decorated spot with a slightly older crowd around the corner called the Palace (380 Canal St.). A quick walk away (with a couple of slice shops in between) is the Blond (11 Howard St.) at the 11 Howard hotel, which is a bit more swanky; Gitano (76 Varick St.), a faux-Tulum bar where Amanda Lepore is often hosting; and Socialista (376 W Broadway), a Cuban-inspired lounge above Cipriani Downtown.
Meanwhile, at the Standard, High Line hotel is Le Bain, a rooftop club home to some of the city’s most talked-about events (their hot tub is closed, but if you’re looking for a summertime pool, risk the crowd at Somewhere Nowhere (112 W. 25th St.)). Further down in Greenwich Village is the Jane Hotel’s ballroom (113 Jane St.), where you can dance on the coffee tables and feel like you’re an NYU student.
Members-only clubs are suddenly a thing again, so if you’re not into Soho House, there’s also Zero Bond (0 Bond St.), a private members-only club favored by Mayor Eric Adams and Pete Davidson alike; if you’re younger and a bit more Gossip Girl, Fotografiska’s members-only Chapel Bar (275 Park Ave. S.) is housed in a church.
For When You End Up Near Bushwick (You’ll End Up in Bushwick)
The Myrtle Avenue bar strip reigns supreme for the neighborhood’s young, queer, and stylish who just moved to New York. Drink zodiac-themed cocktails and dance in a very dark room with mulleted pals at Mood Ring (1260 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn). If it’s too busy, stumble down the street to Birdy’s (1215 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn), the neighborhood dive, or HappyFun Hideaway (1211 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn), a tiki bar whose backyard is an essential warm-weather hangout. Bossa Nova Civic Club (1271 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn), is temporarily closed, but was, and I think will again be, the place to be. In the meantime, head to the promising new club Rash (941 Willoughby Ave., Brooklyn).
A woozy Citibike ride away is Mood Ring’s sister bar, Heaven or Las Vegas (4 Irving Ave., Brooklyn), named after the Cocteau Twins song, which has periodic karaoke nights, and Jupiter Disco (1237 Flushing Ave., Brooklyn) an outer-space-themed spot. If you’d rather fight straight boys for a pool table, go to Carmelo’s (1544 Dekalb Ave., Brooklyn). The House of Yes is a burner-fueled Brooklyn institution. Keep an eye out for the cool kid events at Honey’s (93 Scott Ave., Brooklyn), which, on normal days, still has hot pot. It might be in East Williamsburg, but the strip club Pumps (1089 Grand St., Brooklyn) is full of Bushwick girls.
The Real Party’s in Ridgewood
If you like to take a fair amount of drugs and shake it, go to Nowadays (56-06 Cooper Ave., Queens), one of the city’s very best clubs, with 24-hour dance parties, a massive backyard (with fire pits in the winter, and an outdoor dance floor in the summer), and a whole safe-space spiel at the entrance. Trans-Pecos (915 Wyckoff Ave., Ridgewood) is the nearby, more DIY “neighborhood meeting place,” or there’s the club and bar TV Eye (1647 Weirfield St., Ridgewood) around the corner. Plenty happens at H0L0 (1090 Wyckoff Ave., Ridgewood), most notably the popular, hyperpop rave sksksks.
So You Wanna Grind With the Gays?
If Gaga and Nicki and Truvada are your thing, start yourself out by following the DJ Ty Sunderland, who you can find elsewhere but most often at 3 Dollar Bill (260 Meserole St., Brooklyn). Not too far away is the Rosemont (63 Montrose Ave., Brooklyn), one of the city’s most accessible gay bars and a drag mecca, or C’mon Everybody (325 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn), whose occasional Kate Bush night is a special, special time. Papi Juice is a party in Brooklyn known for centering queer and trans people of color, whose tickets always sell out. Similarly, there’s Dick Appointment, “the hottest dance party for medium ghetto queer blacks, POC, and allies,” and Bubble T, a queer Asian community. Follow TrappyHourHarlem for queer Black parties uptown.
If you meant “gay” as in Midtown, the new multi-level megaclub the Q (795 8th Ave.) has been the talk of Hell’s Kitchen since it opened in 2021. Nearby are other neighborhood staples, like Hardware (697 10th Ave.), Industry (355 W. 52nd St.), and the cruisy-daddy leather bar the Eagle (554 W 28th St.). Back downtown, there’s the West Village gay bar Pieces (8 Christopher St.), which seems like the gay bar every city has, and the East Village’s storied, go-go-boy and sex-stained bar fittingly called the Cock (93 2nd Ave.). If you’re seeking fashion and high-production, be sure to follow nightlife doyennes like Ladyfag and Susanne Bartsch.
And for the Girls
There are only 21 queer-women-oriented bars left in the U.S., and New York has three. Henrietta Hudson (438 Hudson St.) claims to be the longest standing, though it was recently revamped, it’s high-design return including more charcuterie and cocktails. Within walking distance is the stickier Cubbyhole (281 W. 12th St.), and out in Park Slope is Ginger’s (363 5th Ave., Brooklyn), open again after an extended pandemic shuttering. The Woods (48 S. 4th St., Brooklyn) has a weekly queer party on Wednesday called MISSTER, but GUSH is probably the best of queer Brooklyn and advertises itself as “NYC’S SEXIEST SOFT & SOFTCORE PARTY.”
Between the Villages
Sweetie (85 Avenue A) can be a hot and scene-y place to dance on the right night, as can Nublu (151 Losaida Ave.) and Nublu Classic (62 Losaida Ave.) (no hard booze), depending on the party. Also on Avenue A: St. Dymphna’s (117 Avenue A), which will make you feel like a student again. KGB Bar (85 E. 4th St.) is Soviet-themed and a popular place to go listen to a literary reading; Anyway Cafe (34 E. 2nd St.) is actually a Russian restaurant, but go to drink vodka and Borscht martinis and listen to the live music. Alan Cumming’s gay bar, Club Cumming (505 E. 6th St.), is a good place to go see a comedy or burlesque show. Dingaling (116 Losaida Ave.) is always full of hot, creative-type East Villagers (also check out its sister bar, Kind Regards (152 Ludlow St.), on the Lower East Side, which is more of a club). On the other side of Manhattan, Art Bar (52 8th Ave.) is consistent, with good, affordable martinis great for a pregame. Bandits (44 Bedford St.) is a kitschy new spot with cocktails and burgers; the gay bar Julius’ (159 W. 10th St.) also has a killer burger, for much less.
Okay, Sure. So You’re in Williamsburg.
There’s Black Flamingo (168 Borinquen Pl., Brooklyn), which is a very straight attempt at a Miami club in Brooklyn. The people will be better looking at Nightmoves (295 Grand St., Brooklyn), where there’s sparkling cosmopolitans and where a friend once spotted Alison Roman partying. If you’d rather a dive, hit Rocka Rolla (486 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn) or Skinny Dennis (152 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn). The former plays classic rock, the latter plays country, and they both have frozen boozy coffee. Metropolitan (559 Lorimer St., Brooklyn) is the gay bar, and the people-watching at Queeraoke on Tuesday is excellent. If everything fails to pleasure, make the walk to Greenpoint, either to Twins Lounge (732 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn), a chic two-level bar full of strangely attractive Brooklynites from the owners of Carmelo’s, or the Lot Radio (17 Nassau Ave., Brooklyn), an outdoor drinking area ideal for a Sunday hair of the dog or for sitting around a fire on a chilly evening.
You’ve Heard the LES Is the Place to Be
Clandestino (35 Canal St.) is the Dimes Square spot you’ve been hearing about –– where you can spot Ella Emhoff or that model from Instagram or maybe Kristen Stewart or Caroline Calloway. When you arrive and there’s nowhere to sit, you can always go get a drink nearby, at Forgtmenot (138 Division St.) (pickle martini please), 169 Bar (169 East Broadway), or the grimy punk spot Clockwork (21 Essex St.). Though what you really want to do is try to get a table at Lucien (14 First Ave.) and drink a martini with a bowl of fries, your eyes peeled. Eating hokkaido at Dr. Clark (104 Bayard St.) or red sauce at Forlini’s (93 Baxter St.) can also always turn into a party. If you walk back past Delancey, and it’s after 1 a.m., go to the pin-up-themed bar Nurse Bettie (106 Norfolk St.), a good place to land late in the evening, or the sloppier Flower Shop (107 Eldridge St.), which will also be open and packed.
If you’re looking for something clubbier, catch a very quick cab to the PUBLIC Hotel’s rooftop (215 Chrystie St.), which is a reliable place to dance with a good view. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, just head downstairs to the House of X, the very Manhattan alter ego to Bushwick’s House of Yes. And okay, fine, if you’re above 14th Street, just go to the new 11,000-square-foot megaclub called Nebula (135 W. 41st), which is the kind of place you can go to see Diplo spin.
Ray’s (177 Chrystie St.) is a faux dive partially owned by Justin Theroux and Nicholas Braun, and trust me, the girls are there looking for mediocre men and Nick Braun. The same group who owns Ray’s just opened up the Georgia Room (23 Lexington Ave.), a Georgia O’Keefe–themed pretty-people place at the Freehand Hotel. A vaguely different, much more basic type of influencer is hanging out at ACME (9 Great Jones), where the door can be tough and there’s definitely ABBA (upstairs is the swanky new piano bar the Nines). On Bowery, there’s Short Stories (355 Bowery), where you’ll surely find a TikToker on the dance floor under a shark-shaped disco ball.
Maybe you have someone who can afford to buy you a pricey cocktail, or maybe you want to go searching for said person, and the Beekman (123 Nassau St.) is a great place to do so. The Bowery Hotel (335 Bowery) is also consistently not too packed, and a great place to sip on a cocktail late on a weekend night, before heading elsewhere. Way up on the Upper East Side, the Carlyle Hotel’s bar, Bemelmans, has become a Gen Z hotspot. In Noho, try to get past the legendary bouncer Disco at Temple Bar (332 Lafayette St.), which has to be one of the sexiest spots on the island and makes a killer olive-oil martini.
Back to Brooklyn
Greenpoint’s Good Room (98 Meserole St., Brooklyn) and Boerum Hill’s Public Records (233 Butler St., Brooklyn) are both popular Brooklyn dance clubs for those of you who are okay dancing to music with no words. If you’re into disco, just follow the DJ Eli Escobar, who plays all over the city. Another good follow is Antpuke, the founder of the trans party collective Club Carry. If you like the latter, check out Nosferatu Incorporated, a queer and POC-oriented, pandemic-times party group that threw a legendary baroque-themed rave last July. Moving closer to Queens is Elsewhere (599 Johnson Ave., Brooklyn), a fairly large club with an impressive rooftop (for Brooklyn) that’s home to a number of parties and concerts, especially in the summer. The same can be said for Baby’s All Right (146 Broadway, Brooklyn), near the Williamsburg Bridge, and the Sultan Room (234 Starr St., Brooklyn) in Bushwick. Actually in Queens is Basement at the Knockdown Center (52-19 Flushing Ave., Maspeth), a subterranean alcove and probably New York’s closest to Berghain.
Cafe Erzulie (894 Broadway, Brooklyn), a Haitian cafe inside of a flower shop, is where you can find the borough’s Black queer scene dancing into the late hours. Heading into Bed-Stuy, there’s no better summertime daytime hangout than Bed-Vyne Brew (370 Tompkins Ave., Brooklyn). In the winter, hit Dynaco (1112 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn), where there’s a log-stove-heated room in the back called the “Tinder Box” by employees because it’s great for a date. Tip Top Bar (432 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn) is a beyond perfect family-owned dive.