Denver's LGBTQ+ community has come a long way in the last fifty years. The extent of queer nightlife in Colorado used to be little more than a few underground nightclubs for gay men, but now the scene has expanded to include options for just about everyone. So, which establishment is right for you? You don't want to accidentally take Grandma to an underground fetish bar or end up in a food coma when you're dressed for a night out dancing.
Each venue occupies its own little niche in queer entertainment, so here's a guide to some of the best, and what they do best. Whether you're in the mood for a late-night boogie session, an after-work happy hour or Sunday brunch, these five LGBTQ bars in Denver are here to provide whatever you're craving.
3500 Walnut Street
If you're wondering what the difference is between a queer bar and a queer club, go to Tracks and find out. Open Thursday through Saturday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., Tracks is not exactly a place where you go to grab a casual beer with friends. However, it's been a staple of queer nightlife in Denver since opening in 1980, and is still your best bet for big events with national or international headliners. From circuit parties to balls, theme nights, watch parties and monthly roller discos, Tracks has the space to offer it all (this venue is huge). With multiple rooms —
each with its own theme, DJ and dance floor —
it's almost like a three-ring circus, which is great for folks who are easily bored, or for friend groups with diverse music tastes. Tracks is also one of the few queer bars that hosts 18+ nights, allowing LGBTQ+ folks under 21 a space to find community. Once a lone nightlife spot in the industrial part of RiNo, Tracks is now within walking distance of many other Denver hot spots, making it the perfect final destination on a RiNo bar crawl.
XBar has also served as the set for several of local queen turned international drag superstar Yvie Oddly's music videos.
629 East Colfax Avenue
Established in 2010, XBar is a tried-and-true favorite welcoming all members of the LGBTQ+ community. It's fun, it's affordable, and it's got a little something for everyone. XBar is a favorite spot for drag shows (of all different styles) in Denver. The venue interior is smaller and more intimate than a club like Tracks, but with a large, newly renovated outdoor patio that can accommodate a crowd. Which is good, because with different events and drink specials every night of the week, there is almost always a crowd. Open 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday (with an extended happy hour from 3 to 8 p.m.), and noon to 2 a.m. on weekends, XBar is the rare queer bar that caters to both day drinkers and night owls. Its brunch shows (with $15 bottomless mimosas available) are a rollicking good time, but be warned: Gay bars do not water down their mimosas. For the late-night crowd, XBar also has a new after-hours sister spot, Glow Lounge
, located next door at 631 East Colfax Avenue. It's open from 10 p.m. till 2 a.m., and sometimes even until 4 a.m. for special "Afterglow" events (though last call for alcohol is still 1:30 am).
Mile High Hamburger Mary's
Drag queen Felony Misdemeanor turns the party at Hamburger Mary's.
1336 East 17th Avenue
Hamburger Mary's is for the queers who love to eat (insert crude bottom joke here). Unlike many bars that were forced to start offering food during the pandemic, Mary's is a food-first type of place. A national chain serving comfort-food staples like cheese curds, mac and cheese and, of course, mouth-watering burgers, Hamburger Mary's is much more low-key than the other places on this list. But it still has plenty of strong signature cocktails and live entertainment, making it an ideal spot for people who want to have a gay old time outside of a nightclub environment. With several drag brunches every weekend, weekly bingo nights and "Dinner With a Side of Drag," Mary's is a great place to enjoy drag shows while staying comfortably seated and well fed. Notably, several local drag performers have said that it's their favorite place to perform, because patrons are usually more focused on the show than the party aspect. This is where you should take your straight friends, your bachelorette party or your mom. Check Hamburger Mary's Facebook
page for show schedules and current hours.
600 East Colfax Avenue
LUCID is the hip new kid on the block, located on East Colfax in the heart of Denver's Gayborhood. Advertised as "Denver's Disco Lounge," the bar started as the owners' "COVID project," and first opened its doors in August 2020. It lives up to the lounge feel, with huddled sections of couches situated between high-top tables for two, while disco balls and neon lights lend the small space a bright yet cozy atmosphere. LUCID is also located on the second floor of Kyu Ramen
, making it another option for queer foodies who want something different from bar food fare. Plus, its kitchen is open until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, in case you need some late-night dumplings to soak up the fun signature cocktails, made by some of the nicest bartenders in Denver. LUCID quickly established itself with a strong schedule of weekly events, including open-mic nights, karaoke nights, open-stage nights and speed-dating nights, many of which benefit local queer charitable organizations. It's a great venue for up-and-coming performers of all kinds to sharpen their stage presence, which means it's also the place to be if you like to stay on top of new performers entering the scene. LUCID is open Monday and Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Follow its Facebook page
for event schedules and announcements.
475 Santa Fe Drive
Trade is kind of a throwback to when the gay nightlife scene was mostly underground, before it became widely commercialized to draw in a straight audience. (Translation: This is not the spot for your sorority sister's bachelorette party.) It's an LGBTQ+ fetish and kink bar, and acts as a gathering spot for the kink and leather communities. Trade's Facebook page explains, "While we are a gay men's bar, we are welcoming to all in the queer and kink community." Located in the Santa Fe Art District, Trade prides itself as being a place where queer sexuality can be embraced and explored. Underground house music is the mainstay here, but Juicebox nights, featuring queer hip-hop and R&B spun by JuicyFruit, are not to be missed. Other regular events include karaoke, beer busts, movie nights, underwear nights and show tune sing-alongs.
Have a favorite queer spot that didn't make the list? Let us know!