Sydney is responsible for one of the largest LGBTQ+ scenes in the world. The annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is just one reason why this is the case, with many other amazing venues adding to the rainbow that is the Sydney gay nightlife.
From clubs that have the dancefloor raging until the wee hours of the morning to a chilled recovery beer garden the next day, there is no shortage of options. We’ve compiled the best gay clubs Sydney has to offer in this helpful list, so you can find the one that suits the vibe you’re looking for!
When it comes to gay nightlife, Sydney has plenty of options spread out all over the city and surrounding suburbs. However, the hub of most gay activity in Sydney belongs to the western section of Oxford Street, in the suburb of Darlinghurst.
Considered as Sydney’s central gay district, Oxford Street is the location that is closed to traffic in March once a year to hold the spectacular that is the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
“The Gay Golden Mile” is a nickname given to Oxford Street in Darlinghurst, a spot that has a large gay community and is the epicentre of gay nightlife. While the best gay club Sydney can offer is somewhat subjective (based on individual preference), you’ll likely find the answer for you in this area!
We’ll begin our list with the gay club Sydney-siders love. The Stonewall Hotel supports Sydney’s gay community through entertainment, fashion, music, and genuinely wild parties. Stonewall promotes the spirit of unity and love with a ground-level that features drag shows and various themed events throughout the week, then shifts gears and hosts the city’s best DJs on the weekends via the top floors.
The Stonewall Hotel is named after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, which was the beginning of Gay Liberation as we know it. This stunning, heritage-listed building features three levels and four bars known as the Public Bar, Cocktail Bar, VIP Bar and DIVA bar.
Wednesday night is always a popular affair with ‘Malebox’, and we recommend swinging down on a Sunday to catch the petulant Polly Petrie. Stonewall is right in the middle of Oxford Street and also supports a range of LGBTQ charities and organisations.
You may recognise this setting made famous by the movie ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.’ The Imperial Hotel (also known as the Impy) rules Sydney gay nightlife thanks to its array of drag shows, parties, themed nights, and more. Tuesday night is particularly popular due to drag trivia, as is the Felicity and Friends performance every Friday night from 9pm.
The ground-floor restaurant is a homage to the legendary Aussie film that brought this venue its fame, and the rooftop bar ‘Imperial Up’ is the spot for lovers of a good cocktail. You can also head down to the Basement, a safe space for expressive dance and other live performances.
The menu is mainly vegan and vegetarian cuisine, with the crab-less jackfruit fritters stealing the show. Also, check out the Espresso Martini Club, which is open from 10pm, making The Imperial the perfect spot for dinner and disco.
The gay and lesbian club Sydney offers with no cover charge and a huge line to get in (meaning it’s really good) is the Palm on Oxford. This underground venue loves to spin tracks from the 80s and 90s and pulls in a diverse crowd of all ages.
There is zero judgement here (as a rule) as the DJs spin disco tunes, take song requests, and let an unpretentious crowd do whatever they feel like (within reason). The queue can get quite large on a Friday and Saturday night, so we recommend arriving early.
We love this spot for its dive bar vibes that lean into daggy disco ambience, and purposefully kitsch faded tropical palm tree mural. It is also important to note that one of the few positives to come out of COVID is Palms installing EFTPOS facilities (the spot was previously notoriously and unhygienically cash-only).
Originally a bank, this prominent building on an Oxford Street corner has become the Colombian, a well-known Sydney gay club with plenty to offer. The street-level bar is the perfect spot for a drink and a people-watch of everyone who strolls up the “Gay Golden Mile.”
The panoramic views of Oxford Street also happen to make this spot the prime location if you are in town for Mardi Gras and want perfect parade viewing. There is a huge screen in the video bar downstairs and a dance club on level two that is always high-energy.
You can join the big after-work drinks crowd that frequents the venue most days or strap in for some wild Friday and Saturday nights. The rooftop bar is always a popular spot, or you can make a private group booking in the recently refurbed cocktail lounge. Pick a vibe; the Colombian will have it!
What was once one of the premier gay bars in Sydney, The Beresford has become a neighbourhood pub that remains a staple of Sydney’s gay scene.
The Sunday sessions are the drawcard, as you can spend the recovery part of your weekend in the leafy, sunny courtyard. When you are sufficiently re-energised, pop upstairs to see the weekend off on the dance floor again until late in the evening.
The vibe here is more of a glamorous young after-work drinks crowd that is ultimately hip. Some may even say the hippest? The courtyard, in particular, is the standout area of the venue, complete with cobblestones, Japanese maples, and lanterns. Aussie beer garden this is not. The upstairs has also been known to host some live music at times as well.
Have you ever wanted to drink a cocktail with a rubber duck in it? Maybe you’ve never thought about it until reading that last line, and now it’s a must? Either way, Universal has your ducky drink needs covered while also offering drag performances five nights a week.
Formally known as the very popular Midnight Shift, the new owners call Universal “an evolution of the Midnight Shift, rather than a revolution.” Fear not; however, these same owners ran a public survey to see what people wanted them to do with the venue before taking it over. The result was ensuring they maintained the role the venue has played for the LGBTIQA+ community, maintaining a long-held legacy of inclusivity.
Clubs nights often run until 4am, with the themes changing weekly. You never quite know what to expect, but that is half the fun.
You can see up and coming amateur drag to professional performers that are the best of the best. The upstairs section is a sparkling dinner theatre restaurant with the downstairs area offering a delicious Greek and Italian menu complete with screenings of RuPaul’s Drag Race when the live shows are on a break.
Redfern throws its hat into the ring for gay clubs Sydney can offer with a neighbourhood art bar called The Bearded Tit. Filled with plenty of sexy art and taxidermy, the friendly bar staff and eclectic playlist encourage the crowd to be weird and wonderful.
Try a triple-hot-sauce Bloody Mary and order food from the many local restaurants nearby to eat in the bar (allowed and encouraged). The Bearded Tit is without its own kitchen, but it pulls in food from local spots like Lorentto Pizzeria and Wah Fung. This means you have easy access to great pizza and authentic Chinese food along with plenty of salty bar snack options (try Kitty’s Jumping Beans for your deep-fried fix).
If you want to have a weird time in Sydney that is beyond fun, The Bearded Tit is your spot.
You now have a sampling of the best gay nightlife Sydney has to offer. Try them all out, feel the love, and you’ll quickly realise why Sydney is known for being one of the best LGBTQ+ scenes in the world.
Before you hit the clubs, we recommend checking out our article on the best Yum Cha Spots Sydney has to offer. This way, you can find a meeting point for a delicious meal before you paint the town rainbow.