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Best Gay And Lesbian Bars In Cape Town
Our selection of some of the best Mother City hotspots for a queen's night out!
Last Updated: 12 January 2017
Being described as South Africa’s (and Africa’s) gay capital, Cape Town no doubt has a sort of je ne sais quoi quality attracting all members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community to its pretty pink inclusive shores. In fact, South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Not to mention, South Africa was also the fifth country in the world, and the first country in Africa, to legalise same-sex marriages. Today, Cape Town is one of the most popular destinations in South Africa for local and international LGBT members.
The Mother City’s ‘gay village’, with its guesthouses, pubs, clubs and steam baths is concentrated in and around the CBD, particularly in Green Point’s chic De Waterkant. It is here that the hedonists, the diverse, the multi-cultural and the multi-sexual come out to play. We scour the popular ‘gaybourhood’ to find out where exactly Cape Town’s gay and lesbian crowd hang out.
If you haven’t already met, allow us to introduce you to Barcode, the one-of-a-kind spot where every night is a themed night. The gay man’s leather bar invites you to get up to some weekly fun with their dress-coded themed nights. Inside you’ll find sexy barmen, slings, a maze and an accessory store, not to mention – lots of naughty fun! Each night is themed with dress codes such as naked pork, underwear only, stark naked, fetish leather, rubber and uniform to all out sleazy.
Note: This is a Men’s ONLY venue.
Opening Hours: Wed - Mon: 10pm - 2am
18 Cobern Street | De Waterkant | +27 (0)21 421 5305
Complete with gorgeous bartenders (wearing very little attire), two dance floors and some of the best tunes in the Mother City, the Crew Bar is very popular (but not exclusive) among the gay community in Cape Town. Boasting an upstairs and downstairs dance floor, party-goers can expect the latest pop and dance anthems downstairs. Whilst upstairs – which is usually only open on the weekends – the bass is dropped to give dancers a more eclectic vibe. What’s more, the De Waterkant haunt with its front and back open verandas, stylish VIP areas and balcony can be hired out for functions. Don’t forget to check out their themed events!
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 7pm until late
30 Napier Street | De Waterkant | +27 (0) 21 418 0118 | +27 (0)73 204 3706
The Alexander Bar is filled with the charm of yesteryear. The swanky spot is home to an ancient functioning rotary telephone, encouraging you to converse with people all over the bar. The best bit? You need to simply dial nine to ring the bartender! The steps leading up to the second floor of the establishment takes you to an intimate theatre showcasing various dramas, cabaret, comedy performances, acoustic sessions and much more. You are also invited to enjoy good wine, fresh martini’s and some of the best whiskies while listening to jazz, soul or world music.
Opening Hours: Mon - Sat: 11am - 1am, Sun: 3pm - 12am
76 Strand Street | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 300 1088
Shimmy on over to Stargayzer in the Northern Suburbs to see where the party is at. The Parow haunt is seen as one of Cape Town’s most iconic gay night clubs. The hotspot hosts various DJ’s, a great dance floor, a lounge area and two bars (to quench your thirsts after a good few hours of breaking it down on the dance floor) and brings together amazing people for night’s you won’t soon forget.
Opening Hours: Fri - Sun: 9pm - 4am
Caxton Street | Parow | Cape Town | +27 (0)72 343 0494
This American 50s diner-style burger joint is a wildly entertaining eatery with a touch of madness and a lot of man-ness! Inviting anyone and everyone to experience drag dining at its finest, Beefcakes offers guests frivolous (and raucous) performances, beefy (topless) waiters and legendary (mouth-watering) burgers. On any given night, the drag-tastic restaurant has a variety of live entertainment acts, themed nights and fabulous events on offer which is in addition to their gourmet burger menu. If you are not keen on the bun and patty option (although we highly recommend you try them), there are other meal options available, including salads, chilli poppers and nachos. Whether you are there for the actual beef patties, beefy waiters or beefing awesome performances, Beefcakes will ensure that you get the “full Beefcakes experience from the plate to the stage”!
Note: Be sure to order a body shot off the torso of one of the hunky barmen or waiters!
Opening Hours: Cape Town: Monday – Saturday: 7pm – 12am
Big Bay: Monday – Friday: 5pm – 11pm | Saturday and Sunday: 12pm – 11pm
34 Somerset Road | Green Point | +27 (0) 21 425 9019
Shop 14, Eden on the Bay | Big Bay | +27 (0) 21 554 2939
Amsterdam Action Bar
This men’s-only bar situated in the heart of Cape Town’s thrilling gay village combines all there is to love about its namesake, with a Mother City twist. The one-of-a-kind venue, where no rules apply and playful possibilities await around every corner, boasts an upstairs and downstairs section and has become a popular village-type pub catering to the local, national and international LGBT community. The upstairs venue, suited for the more private type events, offers guests an exclusive bar, video lounge and private cabin maze area. The downstairs bar is equipped with pool tables and a small seating area which is divided to cater for both smokers and non-smokers.
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 4pm – 2am
Amsterdam Action Bar | 10 – 12 Cobern Street | De Waterkant | +27 (0) 83 626 4615
Get your pulse racing at this stylish upmarket European-style bathhouse in the heart of the gay village. Dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle for men in a clean environment, Hot House provides leisure facilities for males, including luxurious double volume lounges, a fireplace, bar and a sundeck with spectacular views of the Mother City. Guests can also expect to find an enormous steam room and sauna – Hot House was rated the top sauna in the country – spa baths, video lounges, maze, showers and private rooms and cabins. In addition to the mentioned services, Hot House also has an adult store filled with playful goodies you will not find anywhere else in South Africa.
Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 12pm – 2am | Thursday: 12pm – 4am | Friday and Saturday: 24hrs | Sunday: Closes at 2am
18 Jarvis Street | De Waterkant |+27 (0)21 418 3888
Café Manhattan – a member of the Madame Zingara family – is as much a restaurant as it is a watering hole. The chic eatery, with a hint of the Wild West, is the longest standing venue in the heart of De Waterkant and is a firm crowd favourite. Guests can choose to indulge in their monstrous burgers (all served with double-dip fries and onion rings) and sumptuous desserts (try their delectable choc cameral brownie), chill out on the terrace with a cocktail or have a late-night rendezvous in the bar. Whatever the occasion Café Manhattan welcomes everyone and anyone – all you need to do is just saddle up and take a ride cowboy!
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10am – 11pm
74 Waterkant Street |De Waterkant | +27 (0) 21 421 6666
According to this chic and diverse Green Point haunt it is not about sexuality, personality or equality, but rather about being part of a movement – the drag movement! Offering great service, banging tunes and an inclusive community, Zer021 Lounge aims to bring people from all walks of life together to meet each other and enjoy the drag-ier things in life. The popular entertainment lounge, bar and eatery (they have a small finger foods menu available as well) hosts a wide variety of must-see drag shows and performances showcasing a variety of artists in various genres. Spectacular performers such as Manila von Teez, Maxine Wild and Dope St Jude (to name just a few) have been known to grace their stage.
Opening Hours: Thursday – Sunday: 6pm – 2am
29 Chiappini Street | Green Point | Cape Town | +27 (0) 83 476 9461
Head to the ultimate dress-up party at MCQP.
Find out all the details about the 2018 Miss Gay Western Cape pageant.
Raise the rainbow flag at the 2018 Rainbow Friendly Festival.
The Unofficial Pink Party is a monthly party for the LGBTQI community where all are welcome.
Would you like to lend a helping hand to the LGBTQI community? Check out our LGBTQI Counselling Centres and Shelters in Cape Town feature.
We highly recommend you check out this photo story: The Transformation of a Drag Queen.
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