The Dallas Fort Worth area has a vibrant gay and lesbian nightlife scene. Here’s a helpful guide to the best LGBT bars and clubs for all interests.
It’s sort of an unwritten rule that any club whose name consists merely of initials is probably trouble, but BJs (3215 N. Fitzhugh Ave., 214/526-9510, Tues.–Sat. 6 p.m.–2 a.m., Sun.–Mon. 4 p.m.–2 a.m.) is the good kind of trouble. With its preponderance of waifish male dancers, chiseled bartenders, and special appearances by, er, certain types of film stars, this place is about as subtle as a disco ball, but continues to up the ante with big-name guest DJs and the occasional pop star. Former Pussycat Doll Kaya Jones gave a live performance in the fall of 2012, and of all the bars in Dallas, Adam Lambert made BJs his stop when his tour swung through in 2010.
The Brick (2525 Wycliff Ave., 214/521-3154, Sun. 2–10 p.m., Mon. 4–10 p.m., Tues.–Thurs. 4 p.m.–2 a.m., Fri. 4 p.m.–4 a.m., Sat. 2 p.m.–4 a.m.) is a former leather ’n’ Levi’s bar that has reinvented itself as a dance club popular with the African American community, as well as a prime go-to spot for special event fundraisers. Hip-hop Fridays and Sensual Saturdays are big nights, as are nights when female DJ C Wade spins (Dallas is a bit behind the times when it comes DJ diversity). Joe’s is the smaller bar attached to the main club that features dancers and karaoke nights as well as a quieter place to drink.
It looks dark and dive-y from the outside, but inside, Club Reflection (604 Jennings Ave., 817/870-8867, daily 2 p.m.–2 a.m.) is a friendly, cute GLBT country-and-western establishment, replete with rustic decor and aw-shucks bartenders who smile sweetly under their Stetsons. While the Rainbow Lounge across the street pumps it up with beat-heavy dance music, here the dance floor is filled with two-steppers and line-dancers sashaying to the likes of George Strait and Randy Travis. Drinks are fairly priced and often on special, so it remains affordable to down a couple longnecks before embarking on a beginners line dance lesson (held weekly).
As Dallas’s favorite bear club, Dallas Eagle (2515 Inwood Rd., 214/357-4375, Sun.–Thurs. 4 p.m.–2 a.m., Fri.–Sat. 4 p.m.–4 a.m.) isn’t for everyone (hint: If you don’t know what a “bear” is, you probably don’t want to go). It’s definitely a specific scene, catering to an older crowd and those who celebrate the old-school queer aesthetic. Perhaps the club’s theme nights say it all: “Shirtless Tuesdays” lead to “Underwear Wednesdays” and beyond.
Dallas Woody’s Sports & Video Bar
This bar on the main drag of Cedar Springs is the chief supporter of Dallas’s large contingent of queer athletes, lending its name and sponsorship to rugby, softball, and basketball teams in the community. Woody’s (4011 Cedar Springs Rd., 214/520-6629, Mon.–Sun. 2 p.m.–2 a.m.) has built a strong and consistent rep with the gay sports scene of Dallas, and the teams pay it back in full by calling Woody’s home. But it has a lot more going on than just ball action. Non-sporties need love, too, and Woody’s delivers it with live music on the back patio, show tunes every Tuesday, and karaoke with drag queens at various points during the week. Ample and clever patio space on both floors works for those who prefer the outdoors for their people-watching (read: cruising) while lighting up a ciggie or catching an autumnal breeze.
JR’s Bar and Grill
Once one of the only gay bars on what’s known as “The Strip,” JR’s (3923 Cedar Springs Rd., 214/528-1004, Tues.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2 a.m., Sun.–Mon. noon–2 a.m.) is now the flagship in Caven Enterprise’s fleet of queer-oriented nightspots. Even as a number of gay hangouts have cropped up around it, this lively, boy-friendly spot is still the place to go in the Cedar Springs neighborhood—a night out usually involves it in one way or another. The crowd is flirty, friendly, and mixed—folks of all stripes are welcome.
And, yes, it is named after the character from the TV show Dallas.
You’re likely to get frisked with an electric wand before paying cover and entering this Latino gay nightspot, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing the energy of this place. Men and women mix well here while the DJ pumps out dance, reggaeton, rock en español, cumbia, and tejano jams. It’s the rough edges that give this popular spot its character. Drag queens fill the calendar practically every night of the month when the DJ isn’t filling the dance floor on the weekends. Kaliente (4350 Maple Ave., 214/520-6676, daily 9 p.m.–2 a.m.) also hosts the majority of the Latino-based pageants, as well as the occasional live music club act.
The Rainbow Lounge
Stepping into the Rainbow Lounge (651 S. Jennings Ave., 817/744-7723, Mon. 3 p.m.–2 a.m., Tues.–Thurs. noon–2 a.m., Fri.–Sat. noon–3 a.m.) is like taking a time portal to the 1990s—in a good way. On busy nights, scantily clad fellas glide by carrying trays of fluorescent Jell-O shots as DJ’ed house music thumps away, and while the bar caters mostly to men, plenty of lesbians and straight folks frequent the place. Expect plenty of sweaty dancing, go-go boys, and the more than occasional drag queen show.
The Round-Up Saloon
Before there was Brokeback Mountain, there was the Round-Up (3912 Cedar Springs Rd., 214/522-9611, daily 3 p.m.–2 a.m.), where that singular Dallas inhabitant, the gay cowboy, can go to two-step, shuffle, and waltz. Since 1980, the Round-Up has corralled thousands of patrons sporting checked shirts, tight jeans, and giant belt buckles, patrons who’ve spent many an evening dancing to the 24-7 C&W played by live DJs. The musical mix sashays from classic country to nouveau-Nashville, making a fine backdrop for chatty patrons at any of the six different themed bars. Even if you’re not much of a country fan, don’t worry—the crowd here is friendly and fun, and most folks will even teach you to dance if you ask.
It’s a good thing Station 4 (3911 Cedar Springs Rd., 214/526-7171, daily 9 p.m.–4 a.m.) is the size of a Wal-Mart, because it’s the only real dance club in the middle of Dallas’s gay district. This spot is exactly what a classic gay dance club should be—enormous, with different stations to keep the attention-deficient crowd pleased and an absolutely killer lighting system. The latter makes up for a lack of imagination in the music department—think bass-heavy oomph-oomphoomph house—but the energy here flows as freely as the vodka and Red Bull.
For years the girl bar Sue Ellen’s (3014 Throckmorton St., 214/559-0707, daily 4 p.m.–2 a.m.) played little sister to its always-hopping brother bar, JR’s, up the street, but in 2007 Sue Ellen’s moved to different digs and finally found her own identity. The new Sue Ellen’s is a bi-level club straight out of The L-Word. The massive first floor opens to a glassed-in dance floor flanked by two bars, pool tables, and a car-size video monitor. Upstairs, the DJ lords over her kingdom from the second-story DJ booth. Up here, the glass soundproofing keeps the cacophony to a minimum, allowing for lower-key acoustic and rock acts to keep the crowd that buzzes around the two bars occupied.
Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Dallas & Fort Worth.