By: Michael Cob
It is often said that you either love Boston or New York, but never both. This is not the case for me, however, especially considering to the two cities’ gay scenes. It is important to note that I am a New Yorker at heart, and my praise for Boston is offered sparingly. Still, while New York is considered to have the ultimate gay nightlife scene of any city in the country (followed by San Francisco), Boston is not far behind.
Instead of generalizing about the vibrant gay community in Boston and all that the city has to offer by way of gay bars and nightclubs, I have decided to highlight the spots that I enjoy most. Readers beware: if you’re not into young, glam gays, you probably won’t like the places listed below as much as my friends and I do. These places are all worth trying, if only for the experience, and because Boston is a relatively small city you won’t have to trek very far to find someplace that suits you.
209 Columbus Ave., Boston, (617) 536-0966, www.clubcafe.com
This centrally located bar was just remodeled after 27 years of wear and tear by gays from Boston and beyond. The place is divided into three sections: a main bar and lounge, a back room with a bar and dance area, and the Napoleon Room piano bar. The crowd is mostly men, particularly those of a more glamorous aspect, but sometimes the average age is higher here than at the larger clubs listed below. It is sometimes said that Club Café is Boston’s S&M bar. Sneakers and Mascara. (or better yet: Stand and Model). Whereas most gay clubs are only gay one night per week, Club Café is gay every day, so it is the best weeknight option. Go early on Thursdays for a drink (or three) before heading to Estate for Glamlife.
PROS: Attractive men (both employees and customers), classy environment, good DJ, pregame-friendly
CONS: $5 cover on weekends, expensive drinks. older crowd. Best to
Epic Saturdays @ House of Blues
15 Lansdowne St., Boston, (888) 693-2583 www.chrisharrisrepresents.com
Promoter Chris Harris hosts this event at a commercial (read: chain) straight venue directly across the street from Fenway Park. The space is huge and has plenty of space for dancing the night away. There is a stage up front littered with scantily-clad male dancers who will gladly accept stripper-style “donations.” Because of its touristy location, H.O.B. feels a bit commercial, but it makes up for this in atmosphere. This is a great place to bring a big crowd for a birthday or any other special occasion.
PROS: No cover before 11 p.m., numerous bars, good DJs, geographically mixed crowd
CONS: $15 cover after 11 p.m,, need a group, gets crowded late, and closes early (2 a.m.)
Glamlife Thursdays @ Estate
1 Boylston Pl., Boston, (617) 351-7000, www.chrisharrispresents.com
This weekly event, also produced by Chris Harris, attracts what appears to be the entire gay population in Boston. The venue, which is straight every other night, lives by the motto: “carpe noctum” (“seize the night”). It never disappoints. The club is centrally located at the Commons near numerous universities, so the crowd is typically young. If you get there before 11 p.m. to beat the cover and the place seems empty, don’t be discouraged. For some unknown reason, the crowds arrive en masse right after 11 p.m., just in time to pay the $10 cover.
PROS: No cover before 11 p.m., good music, young crowd, classy atmosphere
CONS: $10 cover after 11 p.m.
Hot Mess! Sundays @ UnderBar (275 Tremont St., Boston, (617) 292-0080, www.underbarsuperlounge.com)
Promoters Rafael Sanchez and Chris Harris bring us Hot Mess! Sundays, where the music is a mashup of hit songs from the ’80s to the present. The DJ rotates, so the vibe is different every Sunday. The venue is typically frequented by the straight mainstream, but it has a whole different vibe at the end of every weekend when the gays take the place by storm.
PROS: No cover before 11 p.m., great bartenders, unusual underground venue
CONS: $10 cover after 11 p.m., sometimes cruise-y, awkward lighting, lacks typical “gay club” identity
These are just some of the many gay options out there. While these are some of the most popular, they are not necessarily the best. There are a host of other gay bars and clubs that cater to the many different gay crowds out there (i.e. “bears,” drag queens, lesbians, etc.). The bars and clubs listed above are my personal favorites, but for a more general overview of gay nightlife in Boston, check out http://boston.gaycities.com/ or http://www.edgeboston.com/.