Locate your favorite pair of dancing shoes and get your singles ready, because your guide to metro Phoenix's best gay bars is here. From lively DJ sets, drunken karaoke singalongs, and the soundtrack to just about any drag show in town, the score to most LGBTQ hangouts is pretty impressive.
From the Melrose District to Old Town Scottsdale, here are 10 of the best gay bars in the Valley.
The Anvil Bar
2424 East Thomas Road
You can’t really name another place in town with themed nights like High Heels & Harnesses, Pup Night, and Gear Night. The Anvil Bar in the west Arcadia area has a daily happy hour, and drink specials like $2 Tuesdays, Beer Bust Sundays, and Undie Night – when you get $1 off if you're drinking in undies. This well-known leather bar also features karaoke on Thursday and the Dirty Daddy Dancers on Friday. The Anvil Bar is open daily from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m.
BS West Scottsdale
7125 East Fifth Avenue, Scottsdale
Since 1988, BS West Scottsdale has been an Old Town Scottsdale staple for its LGBTQ patrons, and the general drinking and dancing crowd. BS West is known for its lively calendar of weeknight specials (think 2-4-1 Wicked Wednesdays and Drunk Karaoke), and the weekly Element: Drag Show held each Friday night – usually featuring local queens like May McKenzie and Savannah Stevens, plus DJ Lezbien. Catch your favorite drag stars moving it to everything from Selena and Gloria Estefan to Madonna, Britney, and Whitney. Other BS West events include Dancing with the Bars and Drag Wars. This place is a mecca for bachelor and bachelorette parties, and open daily from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.
727 West Camelback Road
The quintessential gay night club in the Valley, Charlie’s Phoenix has it all: go-go boys, dance lessons, nightly DJs, karaoke battles, and raucous drag shows like High Heels & Halos and Saturday Under the Stars. Find high-energy dance music during Splash, which is hosted by Coco St. James and DJ Mode, and offers all the neon body painting you could want, and WET Fridays with Nevaeh McKenzie and DJ Image. Dance classes include free lessons in salsa, two-step, and line dancing (also with beginner classes). There are also foam parties, touring drag stars, and of course, the neighboring Taqueria Los Yaquis taco stand. Charlie’s parties from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Friday, noon to 4 a.m. on Saturday, and noon to 2 a.m. on Sunday.
3108 East McDowell Road
The recently opened Club VOLT (formerly the Twisted Peacock and Ice Pics) features event like the 4Some Revue every Friday night (including local drag starts Miley Mitchells and Gia DeMilo), as well as touring drag celebs like RuPaul's Drag Race season 9 frontrunner Shea Couleé and winner Sasha Velour. Club VOLT also hosts High Voltage Saturdays, which offers go-go boys and high-energy dance music. This new gay nightclub is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, and noon to 2 a.m. on Sunday.
Cruisin’ 7th Show Bar & Lounge
3702 North Seventh Street
Marked by the iconic sign along Seventh Street (duh), Cruisin’ 7th features the Cruisin Show Bar and the C7 Lounge – yet both play well with weekly events like drag shows, dance numbers, happy hour specials, karaoke, comedy nights, and live music. This classic central Phoenix gay club has been around since 1977, and is open daily from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Read on for more of Phoenix's best gay nightlife spots.
1724 East McDowell Road
High-energy DJs like Jesus Vega and Stixx are often found at the Coronado Historic District's Karamba Nightclub. There are two large indoor areas and a patio, so you can easily take advantage of Cumbia Tuesdays, Salsa Wednesdays, Tejano Thursdays, and Top 40 Saturday and Sundays, and know you have a place to take a break. There are also karaoke nights and drag shows, because of course. This danceteria is breaking a sweat from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. Friday through Sunday.
3110 North Central Avenue, #125
If your preferred genre of music can easily be found in a karaoke songbook, Kobalt Bar is the place to hear your old and new favorites sung by strangers with a few cocktails in them. This Park Central gay bar has karaoke on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as well as showtunes karaoke on Thursday starting at 11 p.m. And here’s a pro tip: The songbook is on the website in case you’d like to come prepared with a request for the Kobalt staff member manning the machine. There are also variety-style drag shows and RuPaul’s Drag Race watch parties. This happy hour spot is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
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1560 East Osborn Road
There aren’t many hotter shows in town than Celia Putty's Freaky Friday at Plazma Bar in the Coronado District. Celia and the gang (opening queens include Coco St. James and Egypt) invite the 21-and-over crowd to hear costumed queens lip-sync everything from Britney to CSS and even some remixes of YouTube video sensations. Plazma Bar parties every day, and operates from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday and Tuesday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday through Friday, noon to 2 a.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday.
Stacy's @ Melrose
4343 North Seventh Avenue
You know that churchy-looking place along the Seventh Avenue curve in the Melrose District? That’s Stacy's @ Melrose, which hosts weekly events like Songo! (music trivia bingo) on Tuesday nights and Karaoke Mondays. Wednesday night means Lilith with well-known Robert Poe (DJ Tristan/Iseult), where you’ll hear dark indie, post-punk, triphop, and more, while Thursday features Melrose House – a night of house, tech, and progressive DJ sets. Drink specials are pretty prominent, and the party goes from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. to a.m. on Sunday.
4129 North Seventh Avenue
Comedy and cabaret make up most of the schedule at The Rock in the Melrose District. There are also weekly karaoke nights, drag shows, jukebox, music videos, and dance parties on a monthly basis like the Black Out Party. Popular local queens put on constant shows like the Lady Christian Trailer Trash Review Show, Diva’s Show, the Savannah Stevens Show, and more. The Rock runs from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version, which first appeared in June 2011. Lauren Cusimano and Bryan Scott Dugan contributed to this article.