Having Fun at a Gay Bar 101: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Before I started going to girl bars and dyke nights I thought they would basically be the best thing ever. I sort of imagined it would be like the fairy scenes on True Blood. Like we’d be dancing around in clean linen and falling in love with each other. Except with more Lady Gaga and more booze and I’d be wearing a hot Nicole Miller dress. Sort of like The Sims meets Gossip Girl meets Brittana.

And at first, it seemed like I was having fun. For a while. The girls night I went to is the largest in New England so it was always packed, had a great DJ and usually promised a night of awesome dancing. At some point, between the night where my friend walked to her ex’s house with my keys, phone and money in her boot, the night where I sobbed to strangers about losing my credit card in the bathroom and the one where I held my friend’s hair as she vomited onto the street, I realized “Oh shit, this sucks.”

Somehow what worked for going out normally wasn’t working when I went to girls nights. So I made a plan. A plan to have fun at gay bars. A plan which I absolutely promise totally totally works (most of the time).


Low Expectations

Have really low expectations leading up the going out. I don’t mean right before you leave, I mean all week. All month if you don’t go out too much. Really really really low.

Sometimes going out can seem like an overpriced and overdressed game of Hide-and-Go-Seek — you arrive at the bar with your friends, wrestle crowds to get a drink, lose track of your friends, find your friends, and then go to Pancheros. I’m often tempted to suggest that we fast forward past the part where we “go out” to the part where we go get pizza afterwards.

via jet4ime.tumblr.com

Real talk: it’s highly unlikely that you will meet the girl of your dreams at a girl bar. To be honest, it’s unlikely you’ll meet any girls at a girl bar, but it’s definitely possible that you’ll see every ex you’ve ever had dancing with their hot new girlfriends. Your expectations should be similar to those you might have in anticipation of your mother’s 65th birthday party: a lot of couples will be there, you probably won’t get hit on and there’s a good chance you might see your cousin. With this mindset, anything even marginally okay that happens, even if it’s just drinks being $6.50 instead of $7, will make your entire night!

But be excited! I mean, you’ve already decided you’re going to have fun. Remember how much fun your mom’s 65th was? You drank all those Shirley Temples and danced to The Black Eyed Peas with your cousin!


Start Early

Starting early doesn’t mean you should start pre-gaming at lunch, it’s about having a plan and getting somewhere on time. If you’re gonna drop $9 on a beer and spend significant time fixing your eyeliner, make your outing worth it!

Coordinating with lots of lesbians to get from point A to Point Q, especially if you live in different places all around your town/city, is a disaster waiting to happen. Really you should just plan on going with one or two other friends and tell the rest you’ll see them there — but be fully prepared for that couple who always ditches at the last minute to ditch at the last minute because they aren’t “feeling well” or because they “heard about a better party.”

Ideally coordinate for everyone to meet up and pre-game at one person’s apartment/dorm/house before heading out. Meet up early like at 5 pm. That seems early when you’re not aiming to arrive ’til 11 pm, but believe me, by the time you all get completely ready to go, eat some pizza and drink a little booze it’ll be 11. Also figure out all the minutes it’ll take you to get to the bar — 10 minutes in your car? 15 to catch a cab? 45 waiting for the subway?

Aim for 10pm so you can avoid the epic line that dampens everybody’s spirits. You might be some of the first few people in the bar but that’s okay. Besides, realistically you won’t end up there on time anyways.


Look Hot, Wear Pants

Make sure ahead of time you’ve got clean socks, the right bra, and the top you wanna wear. You’ll feel epically uncomfortable if your favorite shirt is dirty and you have to wear your second-favorite shirt, and you’ll have more fun if you look hot. The key to looking hot is comfort. If you feel good, you’ll look good, and generally have a better time. If you need your friends’ help to pick something, get that taken care of between one week to five hours pre-party. Oh, and wear pants.

Wearing pants isn’t really about gender presentation, it’s about convenience. Wearing a dress/skirt and therefore having to bring a purse is a terrible idea. You’ll put it down at the bar/in the bathroom/in a corner and either worry about it incessantly, forget it, or have it get stolen, which is heartbreaking because then you know that one of your fellow lesbian sisters stole your purse. Also, dancing with a purse is annoying.

Giving your cash/keys/cellphone to a pants-wearing friend/girlfriend/acquaintance is an equally terrible idea. If that someone meets another someone and they go off somewhere to do something, you can’t even access your cash to buy another drink while you wait for them to, erm, finish up. If you and that someone have a fight, and they have your stuff, you’re stuck having that fight until they decide to let you leave. Wear pants and put your cash, cards and cellphone in your pocket and attach your keys to your belt loop with a carabiner.

I went through a phase where I was always wearing dresses to girls night and sticking my cars and cash in my bra and my cell phone and keys in my boots. I learned the boot trick from Alex on Wizards of Waverly Place (that’s where she keeps her wand). This worked really well except my cell phone would drop to the bottom of my boot causing me to repeatedly step on it. Also it meant I had to always wear boots with dresses which was a bummer because it gets hot and sweaty on the dance floor. But if you must wear a skirt, stick it in the boot.

Finally, and this is a touchy subject, I think wearing pants can really calm some of those “Everyone here thinks I’m someone else’s straight friend” feelings. I think having possession of your own stuff is a much more important factor in terms of having fun and being safe, but I know for some femme queers (i.e. me) just wearing pants can ease a lot of anxiety. Plus then you’ll be warmer waiting in line and know you won’t accidentally flash anyone!


Don’t Drink Too Much

If you don’t drink, that’s great! You’ve already mastered this rule! For everyone else, this can be a bit tricky. Liquid courage is a thing, but falling down, getting lost, crying to your ex, kissing your ex, kissing your friend, kissing your friend’s ex, losing your money or vomiting is embarrassing and not fun. It’s easy to overdo it without realizing it. Hell is getting kicked out of the club for falling too many times. Getting puking shitfaced in public (or having a friend who does) is not fun. It is the most not fun you can possibly have at any sort of drinking and dancing establishment. It is worse than 100 crying kittens in the rain.

But there’s an easy solution. Measure out your drinks. Count your drinks. Also, maybe this is implied, but make and buy your own drinks! I’m not gonna lie, if I’m having dinner with a few friends or going to a dive bar to sit around for a while I don’t always count my drinks. But when I go to a girl party? I absolutely have to.

One easy way to keep track is to wear a ring on your ring finger on your right hand and move that ring over a finger every time you have a drink. Mark the finger where you decide ahead of time you want to stop. Usually I have one less than as many drinks as I’m planning to before I leave and then one when I get there, therefore leaving more sober than I arrived.

If you’re one of those people who will put an unknown amount of booze into a water bottle with an unknown amount of Kool-Aid/Vitamin Water/Coke and drink it all the way there, then there’s a really good chance that something fucked up will happen. (Although it is way cheaper than buying drinks at the bar, and I cannot argue with you there.)  If you insist upon this, please please please prepare yourself by having three solid meals that day, and ideally also snacks.

Have Fun With Your Friends

Every now and then, you’ll make a new friend or meet a new activity partner at a bar. But one of the most disappointing aspects of girls nights is how insular some cliques of girls seem to be. If you’re used to getting hit on at straight bars, you might feel like nobody likes you at a girl bar and have all kinds of inadequacy issues. DON’T. They’re all just as nervous as you are, weirdo!

So just have fun with who you came with, and sometimes you’ll attract newcomers. Don’t huddle in an exclusionary group, and if you see someone looking alone and awkward, go talk to them! What’s the worst thing that can happen? A total stranger will be weird to you?

Leave When You Want To

Come prepared to leave when you want to. Stick an extra $20 in a separate pocket/bra/shoe just for cab fare or have a sober friend who you know will pick you up whenever you want them to. It’s okay to leave the bar before it closes. It’s okay to even leave at 10:30pm if you feel like it. A really great night can get completely ruined by waiting around for an extra two hours of shittiness.

I brought up these guidelines to a friend, and she pointed out to me that she would probably get nervous and “Leave When You Want To” could turn in to leave immediately. I was in London during Pride a few years ago and went by myself to this girl bar Candy Bar. I was so terrified and nervous (and only 20 so I had never been to a gay bar in the US) that I almost left about eight times before even ordering a drink. I’m so glad I didn’t because I ended up making friends and having a great night! With that in mind, I would say an important caveat is to leave when you want to because you’re tired, you’ve had plenty of fun already, or the DJ is really bad. Don’t leave because you’re nervous, intimidated, scared, shy, embarrassed or you spot your ex on the other side of the room. Find your friends (or make new ones) and party until you’re done. Then get the hell out before things get sloppy.

You deserve to have some fun, and going out to a gay bar should be a wholly joyous occasion. There are pitfalls to be sure and any given night can unaffectedly take a turn for the worst, but if you stick to some basic rules you should be just fine and have a great time. Good luck out there.

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Lizz is a consumer, lover and writer of all things pop culture and the Fashion/Style Editor at Autostraddle.com. She is also full time medical student at Brown University in Providence, RI. You can find her on the twitter, the tumblr or even on the instagram.

Lizz has written 261 articles for us.


  1. could this be posted in large print inside all queer bars and parties? like right next to the entrance, in the bathroom stalls and in dark corners of the dance floor? like just to make sure that everyone sees it…

    love this.

  2. gay bars!!!! i feel so bad cuz i don’t even have one in my city……always have to hang out with straight friends in a straight club, FUCKING BORING :( :(

    • Don’t feel bad. I live in nyc and I go to bars/clubs like once every three months. The scene is totally overrated.

      • Oh noes :( second time I’ve heard nyc’s queer scene isn’t all that awesome.. and here I was, rainbow belt slipped on and ready to go party my ass off in gay NYC.

  3. I don’t have any queer friends in the city where I live, but I’m totally desperate to at least be around queer people more, so I’ve been pestering my straight friends to come with me to a girl’s night for weeks. At this point, if we ever actually go, I think tip #1 (“low expectations”) is the key to me having a good time.

    • right… same here… Just like everything else in here, it only applies to people with friends, or queer friends at least… =(…. =P So, we’re just left with the hope that one day we’ll be able to put all this knowledge autostraddle has gave us into action. hehe!

    • do you have any lgbt centers where you live? or maybe you should try to look up lgbt groups or events where you can meet other likeminded lgbts with similar interests. when i first came out i went to my lgbt center and joined and participated in groups that pertained to my interests and that’s how i met my core group of queer friends.

  4. About the dress thing, I just want to say that purse dramas can easily be avoided by wearing a dress with pockets :)

    • ALL OF THE POCKETS. once, i saw this belt with a pouch and i was like ‘YES NOW I CAN BUY DRESSES WITHOUT POCKETS AND NOT HAVE A PURSE OR A FANNY PACK!’

      i really love pockets; dislike purses

  5. p.s. the ‘leave when you want to’ advice is spot on. I felt a lot more comfortable going out once I wasn’t committing to being stuck in shitty bars until one of my friends inevitably threw up in a gutter and / or started crying somewhere between 3 – 5 in the morning. I’ve had more fun since I decided to stay within my own boundaries and also be honest with myself about whether I am really having fun.

    • YES. THIS. You have to get over the “awww but but sstayyyyyy” and then you realize, no, i REALLY should be going.

  6. Re: Going home when you want to go home – make sure you know how to get home if you’re going with friends and leaving alone! I tried to leave a gay bar early in Brisbane once, and I took the wrong night bus, ended up an hour in the wrong direction out of the city and the last person on the bus at 3 a.m. It also didn’t help that I was “that” American who couldn’t figure out the right bus.
    Fortunately, the bus driver was super nice and had a pink mohawk and she took me back into the city, where my friends happened to be walking out of the club at that moment and they gave me a ride home. They all couldn’t believe I’d ended up where I ended up after a 90 minute bus loop.

      • This particular event was after The Beat in the valley. SO MANY night buses to choose from! So many drunken club goers to wade through to get to the right bus!

        • Oh yeah, the Valley can get a bit confusing at night trying to get back to the city esp because of the one-way roads. Are you still in town? Let’s hang out :)

  7. I hardly go out with my friends because they are either too busy or just not into it. I try to go to bars alone, like maybe i’ll meet some new people but I chicken out as the evening approaches. I want a group of queer girls to hang with it’s just not happening fast enough! And i’m also kind of shy!

    • I hear you. I sometimes think I should try going to bars alone because people on this site talk about it like it’s a thing that people actually do… but then when the moment presents itself, I chicken out because I can just feel that it’s going to be super awkward.

    • i’ve been to gay bars and parties by myself, almost every time someone ended up approaching me and i just hung out with the group of people they were with and had a good time. i think you guys should just try it and if you REALLY aren’t having a good time, you can always go home. at least you will have tried and put yourself out there. and maybe you should try craigslist if you really don’t want to go alone, or maybe this website or other queer sites to find people in your area.

      • I too have done it. I was visiting Chicago and just picked a little random bar for a drink and cos it was a Sunday there were literally two people there when I arrived. We got talking and they adopted me for the evening, we went on to another bar and we all had a brilliant night. (Go Chicagoans!)

  8. EXACTLY!!! It has been a while since I had my own mind spoken so well by another.
    Low expectations are what I base all my social exploits around. Aim low and you can’t be disappointed, right??
    In the next few weeks I will go to my local youth group. I will be happy if two other people attend. An LGBT Fair Day?? To talk to someone would be nice. A dance? Well, if someone smiled at me, that’d be cool.
    Is that depressing? Anyway, thanks for the article, very accurate reading.

  9. RE: pregaming. Don’t pregame with a bong rip or four if it’s your first time smoking a significant amount of weed and/or your first time in a gay bar. Learned that one the hard way. Other than that, a small bowl is an excellent pregamer, as long as you take it about ten minutes before you hop in the bus/cab/car etc. Then it hits just about the time that the party is getting good, and you gradually get more sober as the night goes on. Don’t drink till you’ve already come down a fair bit though, being super high and also drunk is a good recipe for your head in the toilet. (Also learned the hard way: Shrooms + weed + loud, bright, unfamiliar bar = awful,awful trip)

  10. all this advice is spot on! i’m taking it and my bad self to a gay bar in this weird little city.

  11. Also, if you manage to give yourself a concussion by impacting your head with concrete on the way to the gay bar, do not continue to drink. It will not end well.


  12. I feel like keeping your expectations of yourself low is good too. I get nervous so sometimes just showing up is good enough. Or if you get too stoned then you watch sex in the city for 2 hours on the couch that’s in the corner. Closed captions got me through it lol.

  13. I agree with this wholeheartedly! Specially the dressing bit, for a while I didn’t really know what to wear and would change styles too often and never leave home happy until my best friend was like “you know, if you feel comfortable wearing black tight jeans, t shirt and Converse, why don’t you? It suits you”. BAM.

  14. I love gay bars! And I agree with the blogger. Just don’t expect to meet anyone. Take good company. Maintain a good buzz (if youre not driving). Dance A LOT & Be friendly to everyone!

  15. i agree about lesbian bars being cliquish. that’s the worst part. you would think that nobody likes you and that you’re not going to meet anyone new until people start getting a few drinks in them and start dancing. then the girl who you thought wasn’t giving you the time of day starts dancing with you and gives you her number, lol.

    as for the pants thing, i rarely wear them and i would never feel comfortable having money or my cards in my pocket in case they should fall out (or in case someone should pick my pocket). i also like to have makeup in my bag for touch ups, and i don’t wear boots unless it’s winter, so the boot trick doesn’t work for me. the best solution for me has been to wear a bag with a shoulder strap and wear it across my body if need be.

  16. thankyouthankyouthankyou. I’ve been having less than great experiences lately, and it’s good to read advice in a clean cut format.

    “Sort of like The Sims meets Gossip Girl meets Brittana.”
    On another note, where does this exist? ^

  17. I should print this out and read it every time before I go out. And amen to wearing pants, carrying a purse around all night sucks.

  18. It took about 3 times before I figured out I FUCKING HATE BARS. Bars of any sort, but especially the one lonely little dyke bar here in Salt Lake City. It’s crowded, noisy, populated by straight girls and their music selection sucks donkey balls. The only bar I go to now is the one I attend pub quiz at.

      • I once met a girl at a lesbian party in Sydney who spent much of the night working on her Sudoku book. LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.

  19. Instead of pants, I stick with a dress with pockets and a super tiny cross-body satchel bag. If you shorten the strap it hangs near your ribs, is super safe and hardly moves when you dance.

    • I love super tiny bags/purses, but should probably start thinking about shortening the strap on mine.
      those bags are like tinytiny black holes of awesomeness. sometimes I feel like I could fit my pyjamas, breakfast and a book in there, too, if I really wanted.

  20. omg autostraddle you are basically 30 minutes late tonight i went out to a girls night alone, got blind drunk, stumbled about making a fool of myself, everyone there took pity on me and i and felt awkward and shameful as fuck


    (still drunk)


    • Did you fall down the stairs? The first time I went to a gay bar I was alone, got really quite tipsy and fell down the stairs on my way out. It was still good though because I learnt the important lesson that one must maintain a level of sobriety while alone in foreign cities and the next weekend I went to another bar and had an awesome time.

  21. Never had a girls’ night out (okay I did go out for karaoke with my then-college classmates that I wasn’t really close with and I didn’t enjoy it so THAT DOESN’T COUNT). How long shall I pine for the day that I’ll finally hang and mingle with good people at a bar?

  22. The timing of this article is PERFECT! I’m just stewing over going to my local girl bar alone. Tried it before, but it was dead and clique-ish (damn it!). Reading this
    is kinda pushing me out of the door to just go….

  23. this is stellar advice
    im a slave to the night/party-aholic and end up at ‘the bar’ (what everyone i know calls our favourite gay club….) a solid 3 nights week, and i usually go out 4-5 nights on any given week….

    i always wear dresses. i always drink way too much. i also kiss people i shouldnt kiss/fall down and sustain massive bruising/keep drinking till 7:30 am when i work at 8/yell and cry at my sister who is also always there/wake up next to someone’s girlfriend/lose my shirt/find myself in a different city or on a farm (this happened recently)/forget everything

    FORTUNATELY almost all of my friends are also as horrible as managing their shit as i am so its not just me being a dysfunctional adult/functional alcohol all alone…….

    dear baby gays: follow this advice. this is good advice. do not follow me. my excessive gaybar-ing is a trainwreck AND EVENTUALLY THAT TRAIN CRASHES YOU GUYS TRUST ME.

    im done.

        • my last sentence of that post was going to say “oh well, i learned my lesson”
          but i deleted it because really, who am i kidding

        • Yeah..That whole “it’s a small world” thing pretty much goes out the window when you have to walk home from..a farm..

    • i just want to add:

      i don’t even go out as much as you (ami) do, or haven’t even ended up in the craziest situations that you have, and i’m always the sad drinks-too-much trainwreck. i tend to hurt myself (like break some glass and manage to cut myself with it and get weird bruises from hitting things, roll around on the ground, and making a general total ass of myself) and get way too emotional (mostly the sad kind).

      it sucks when you’re the too drunk person and you start to worry about your friends who might be totally embarrassed of you (if they are ashamed of your too drunkenness, maybe it is time to get new friends) and then you start hitting on people you’re not supposed to (like the friend i’ve liked for so long who also happened to recently get a significant other) and then everything sucks. don’t go home sad / confused / sad after a night out. it will just make you want to cry.

      this isn’t even gaybar hopping. it’s just going out with friends. sigh. this is good advice. thanks, AS.

    • If we met the world would end because most of that has happened to me. I am really sad about this, but I’ve never actually meant anyone who could ruin things at a gay bar as nicely as I can. I’m like the terminator, except I just get way too drunk and then everyone becomes a target. I want to say I feel bad, but I don’t.

      Literally, I use to feel a liiittle bad about it, and I wasn’t even that much of a mess at the time, but then I realized that I have more fun when I am reckless, because I am just a messy messy girl and I WILL dance barefoot if I want to! Because it feels damn good

  24. ps if youre a dress and/or purse girl, get what i call a bar purse. like a tiny little over the shoulder bag that crosses your body (LIKE BETWEEN YOUR BOOBS) and hangs tight against your body against your back/ribs/side
    does that make sense
    do ya’ll know what kinda tiny purse i mean

    • see above comment about my love for tiny purses and cross-body straps. <3

      also, though you picture yourself as a slight case of a train wreck, somehow I would love to go out with you. I'm far too well behaved for the most part. boring!

  25. Thank you – this could not have come at a better time. I’m always wondering why people are so anti-social at these things and so I just leave after five minutes lol. Guess I’ll give it a bigger shot next time :x

  26. I wish the gay bars were closer to me. The only ones I know of are in Denver which is 1hr+ away from where I am. On the rare occasion I get to go to one I will keep this advice in mind especially the part about starting early and the part about sidling up to the loners.

  27. Oddly enough, went out yesterday. Semi-followed these rules (got drunk, but not as drunk as last time so yay!!!). Cant say the same for some of my friends :P

    Good times at ye old gay bar

  28. Under the “Low Expectations” & “Don’t expect to meet someone” category I’d just like to add don’t, under any circumstances, send a drink to the stranger across the room unless you enjoy wasting $$ on strangers. Women in bars have no problem accepting free alcohol from someone they have no intention of talking to, not even to say “thanks.” This might be different in a smaller city where people still have some manners, but don’t count on it.

    • I don’t know, that’s how I met my first girlfriend. A little lesbian eye contact and gin will go a long way with me. Plus, it made me feel super special. It made all my gay boy friends, who seem to get hit on every.damn.time we go out, jealous. So I say if you don’t mind gambling with a few dollars, go for it!
      That’s the best luck I’ve ever had in a gay bar, btw, not counting Pride. Because, let’s face it, anything goes at Pride. This article pretty much describes all the rest of my gay bar experiences, even in Colombia.

      • You were the recipient and you are nice & appreciative (seemingly). I’m guessing you are not in LA. There are almost no people like you in LA. read – nice, appreciative and I’ll throw in courteous for good measure.

  29. “If you’re one of those people who will put an unknown amount of booze into a water bottle with an unknown amount of Kool-Aid/Vitamin Water/Coke and drink it all the way there, then there’s a really good chance that something fucked up will happen.”

    THIS. I kept wondering how I was getting so drunk and then I remembered we’d always make a super strong drink to drink on the way and I’d insist on finishing it because I hate waste!

    • Thought they were writing about me in that paragraph, spot fucking on. Bad things happen and yet, I continued to do this many times after. Maybe though, juuust maybe I learned my lesson after beginning to sober up whilst finding myself making out with someone on a NYC porch as the morning sun was scorching down upon my well pickled body. Someone I prooobably…no, definitely wouldn’t have sensually made out with if I hadn’t ingested all that damn Svedka in my water bottle concoction. I felt even worse when she FB’ed me asking to hang out again. Ehhh… I also lost my damn $300 iPod. That was a bad night…

    • Drinks are ridiculously expensive in NYC and so the whole pregame with cheap vodka thing is incredibly tempting and can be smart. But I can honestly say never once have I had a conversation with friends or lovers about drinking with half the sense included in this paragraph.

      It can be fun to be a little stupid drunk on a night where it’s really just a friend night but if it’s 1) a night out with a partner 2)a party where you might wanna meet someone or 3) a party where you might see an ex it’s a pretty good recipe for NOT GOOD.

  30. I like this advice except for the wearing pants part. The whole “skirts are impractical” idea is a complete myth. Skirts can be every bit as practical/low maintenance as pants. Leggings exist to prevent flashing. Skirts with pockets exist, so do tiny purses the size of pockets. And just because you are wearing a skirt does not automatically mean you need to wear heels, put on makeup, give an extra crap about getting dirty, or refrain from “unfemmey” activities such as tree climbing.

    • tis true. I would say unpracticality of skirt depends more on the fit (obvs you can’t climb a tree in a skintight pencil skirt) and the footwear you pair it with. Right now I mostly am wearing a swing skirt, tights and ankle boots, and I can do whatever the fuck I want in them.

    • Mostly I just live in boston and get cold in skirts. I hate being cold. I probably should have included that.

  31. If you go to a mixed bar, where there naturally will be about 80% gay men, do not let them harass you!

    inevitably they will want to dance with you, which may seem like fun at first, but 2 seconds and 3 sandwiches later you will regret it..

    • Real Sandwiches? or Man-wiches? ‘Cause if guys making and giving out nice sandwiches (no pun intended) in a gay bar is a thing, I need to go out more. Bugger the end of night kebab!

  32. I just went to Machine on Boylston in Boston and I was one of the couples mentioned, however, I also went to make friends. Lesbians do not want to make friends at a gay club.

    • this is very true. it’s been a while since i’ve been to a gay club but the reason i stopped is because i always went to make friends and it never happened. i just want some lesbros :(

  33. LA queers intimidate me…! Plus I’m dating a straight cisgender male so I very rarely get to queer it up (UUUUUGH). :/ The only gay bar I’ve been to since moving here is Akbar, because everyone there is super laid-back and unpretentious. I know there are many LA ladies here–where else do you guys go that isn’t full of shiny people?

    • I’ve been in LA a long time. Such a place does not exist afaik. It definitely will not be found anywhere with “west” in the location.

  34. “Liquid courage is a thing, but falling down, getting lost, crying to your ex, kissing your ex, kissing your friend, kissing your friend’s ex, losing your money or vomiting is embarrassing and not fun.”

    Apparently much-needed advice: unfortunately you have just described 3/4 of my nights out. Also, I am reading this in bed, hungover. Yes I am a spectacular failure of a human being.

  35. i feel like i should take this opportunity to apologize for number of times i have been Embarrassing Drunk Friend. at the same time, though, YOU’RE WELCOME for also being Pants-Wearing-Friend Who Carries Your Phone and Credit Card

  36. Oh, I thought it was only me with these problems lol ;p Good article

    Unfort the “don’t drink too much advice” is SO HARD when your exes are dancing with their hot new girlfriends and your (ex?) friends are hitting on girls they shouldn’t (i.e. your exes)

    Honestly this happens even when I don’t go out to gay bars. This is like, ‘hanging out with your ex or anyone that is gay’ problems?

    Even if I don’t drink too much I end up getting pissy/unreasonable/ridiculous

    It’s nice to see the topic dealt with with some humor, but damn, is humor the only answer? IT seems like getting new friends might not work -_- So maybe. I guess if you think it’s hilarious hard enough, it actually becomes so….? hah

  37. Portland people..help a baby gay out! I’m looking for some girl bars that have under 21 nights. Please, oh please, let something like that exist.

  38. I’ve been to gay bars alone and I have no idea what to do… besides drink until I feel okay being there alone. Perhaps someone could write an article about the do’s and don’ts of gaying it up solo?

    • Yes! I would read the shit out of that article. I’ve been trying to psych myself up for weeks to go to a gay bar alone and I just don’t know if it’s Not Done or whatever.

    • same! i went to my very first the other night, alone, and while i had fun for awhile once i was approached, it was awkward not knowing what to do at first.

  39. Ahaha, Candy Bar. Doubly intimidating due to the 12-pound(!!) cover and the STRIP CLUB IN THE BASEMENT. Jaysus.

    But it is specifically an awesome place to meet a bunch of Australians and get completely lost in London on your first night out of the country.

    This comment is wildly off-topic. All of the above advice is great.

      • I noticed it but was all together too overwhelmed to even pretend I was going to go in. Also I didn’t know enough at that point to realize how expensive the cover was. I was just a teeny tiny little American baby!

  40. ooh this is awesome. I would also love to read the do’s and don’t of going out solo to a gay bar, and the does and don’t of going out solo in a foreign country, anyone have any advice on that? Going to Tel Aviv, I hear it has a big gay scene, but I don’t want to be the awkward american sitting alone in the corner while all the cool pretty israelis speak hebrew around me :(

  41. I must say that I adore bars (gay, straight, swinger .. whatever) I always have a lot of fun and yeah drink to much do stupid things mess with people i dont have to and have a lot of problems but is like a lifestyle, yeah is messy, is awkward sometimes but you met amazing people, you’ve to be open to everything.

    I believe too that bars is not for everyone, some people just dont like to go to bars and i think is perfectly normal because really it can be really fun but also really fucked

  42. Gosh I remember my first gay bar, same result as the straight bars ive been too. Full of men lol :(

  43. I am way too scared to go to gay bars. I give off an aura of 100% straightness, and people always glare at me so I am afraid. I reckon I am just incapable of wearing pants out/anything else that undoes my straight aura.

    • I DO love the alcohol in water bottle technique though, anyone catching trams in Melbourne will probably one day see me with my friend vodka and coke.

    • same here – just be yourself! i tried dressing/acting gayer and it was really ridiculous. in fact, i got the most positive attention at a bar when i wound up there in a cocktail dress after a party. lol. i wouldn’t suggest doing that on a regular basis though.

    • I give off a pretty straight aura too, but if you’re in a gay bar…it’s pretty safe to assume that you’re gay. Just be yourself, and if people still think that you’re straight, try telling a cute girl that you’re not by flirting with her.

    • all my friends always joke that i am the gayest straight girl they know. (as in, i look so ridiculously straight)
      i only wear short dresses with tiny purses, lipstick, long hair…
      the thing is to make your presence known in your cities gay scene.
      make queer friends. go to gay bars. go to lgbtq events, pride parades, dyke marches, etc. go to EVERYTHING and talk to EVERYONE.
      no matter how stereotypically “feminine” (and therefore “straight”) a girl looks, if she frequents lesbian places and events, NO ONE is going to have the assumption she is straight. trust me.
      also, making out with/hitting on girls at the gay bar (or just hanging around with your “visibly gay” friends) usually dispels the straight girl image pretty quickly too.

      and we all KNOW how gossip flies in the gay community. once a few people find out you are cute girl in a dress who likes other girls…… word will spread. :)

  44. I’m lucky enough to have a queer sister, and we are the best gay-bar duo ever. Lots of embarrassing, crazy dancing and no drama… so, my advice would be to get a queer sister?? (I am so, so lucky!).

    But I totally agree that the key is in low, low expectations, and to have no shame when you dance.

  45. Thanks for posting this the day I finally made it, for the first time to a bar in West Hollywood and dove into the bustling Abbey!
    Have to say, another good thing about if i had shown up a bit early though–being able to coat check. :( sweaty and then awkward dancing prop, my coat… Not so much. But I still love my coat.

  46. I wish I had this last weekend. I feel like I have learned all of these lessons, and it makes me appreciate the amount of shenanigans a gay bar night can entail. Thanks!

  47. I love baring!! xD Maybe too much… But i dont have that much options here! I have to go to Caracas which is like 4hours away from the city i live in, because they have like 5 gay bars there! Pathetic i know but i still have fun… I love dancing and the Los Expectations thing, TOTALLY WORKS!! Usually i go with my male gay friend… (there’s not such a thing here as Just Ladies Bar, only gay bars). Other than that i invite some friends to my place and if anyone get too drunk, its ok, they can sleepover… That’s the magic of living in a small town/country! ^^ *.*

  48. HEY WOW
    told myself i was gonna re-read this before i went out this weekend
    forgot to

  49. Re: the pockets/pants issue: I wear a garter wallet thing when I go out in dresses which is fucking awesome and basically the greatest thing ever invented. Also, girls dig it.

  50. “Wear pants and put your cash, cards and cellphone in your pocket and attach your keys to your belt loop with a carabiner.”

    So either we are the same person or…I fit the lesbian stereotype to a T because this is what I have been doing since I was a baby gay, sneaking into clubs before I was even legal!
    *note: I actually rock-climb so it’s okay for me to always have a carabiner on my person…this is what I tell myself at least :)

    • Yes rock climbing gay carabiner justification solidarity over here! (also before I started using one I used to lose my keys a lot)

  51. I went yesterday to my first gay night, but everyone just thought I was straight because I was with (male) gay friends. It’s not my fault if my best friend is male and he was the one who volonteered to accompany me, but that doesn’t make necessarily straight! I even wore a tank top instead of the usual dresses and a feather earring! I don’t know I just felt out of place like every girl had a group of lesbian friends and I didn’t and people will always assume I am straght and I’m going to die alone. (The last part might be a little overdramatic)

    • “I even wore a tank top instead of the usual drsses and a feather earring!” This made me laugh..Sweetie, you wear whatever makes you most comfortable..I wear dresses and mini’s all the time..Sure I get mistaken for “straight” sometimes, but more often..I don’t..Not to sound like an “It Gets Better” video, but..Well, it does get better! Circulate..Chat girls up..Make friends..My first gay bar, I went because my bestie (a straight guy) insisted it was time..He bought me a tshirt that he made me wear that said “Shh..Nobody knows I’m a lesbian”..It was hilarious and successful..In subsequent visits to the gay bar scene, that same guy would sometimes come and wear the shirt..Be willing to be there just to have fun..No expectations beyond that..Less stress on you = more fun..And everybody wants to hang with people who are having fun! But don’t alter yourself to be what you think will appeal to other lesbians..Ther isn’t a dresscode..Or a rulebook..Be you..Be real..Be good at it..Love you as you are..No ego attached, but you know you are amazing! They will too!

      • Thanks you a lot for your advices,you’re right! It’s just that you know I was a little bit anxious about this whole thing, like I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to fit in and I guess I just got a little bit stressed out! When I get into new social situations I’m always a lot worried about what would people think about me,what if I liked girls but they didn’t like me and that kind of things, that I forgot that I went out not to please people but to have some fun! I know it sounds stupid, but I was a little paranoid. I will definitely follow your advices and take it easier!
        Anyway now I totally want that shirt too!

      • Thank you a lot for your advices,you’re right! It’s just that you know I was a little bit anxious about this whole thing, like I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to fit in and I guess I just got a little bit stressed out! When I get into new social situations I’m always a lot worried about what would people think about me,what if I liked girls but they didn’t like me and that kind of things, that I forgot that I went out not to please people but to have some fun! I know it sounds stupid, but I was a little paranoid. I will definitely follow your advices and take it easier!
        Anyway now I totally want that shirt too!

  52. I’ve found people are quite friendly in the queue for the ladies room. Maybe it’s that considerable amount liquor they’ve had… or the fact that they’re in the same painful predicament of waiting for the loo. Small talk seems to disappear too. You don’t need to say, Hey what’s up, because you already know what’s up. the loo is what’s up :P .

    Enough about the loo- back to the dance floor. People are so freaking clique-y. There’s the geeks, the jocks and even the plastics. There’s a lot of intense and wistful staring but little to no friendly interaction. Best thing to do is go like Glen Coco. Smile and raise your glass at someone you think seems friendly too. It works. People have never turned down a cheers signal.
    If you want to take it a step further, may the force be with you! ;) (because the force was on a gosh dang coffee break when I tried to follow up the “cheers” with an attempt at getting a girl to dance with me. She said “Sorry I’m here to dance with gay girls only”. Eh, b**. )

  53. Excellent, excellent post. This part:
    “I sort of imagined it would be like the fairy scenes on True Blood. Like we’d be dancing around in clean linen and falling in love with each other. Except with more Lady Gaga and more booze and I’d be wearing a hot Nicole Miller dress. Sort of like The Sims meets Gossip Girl meets Brittana.”
    Really made me laugh out loud.

    Aside from that, I know the feeling exactly, I recently went to a gay bar and I wish I had read this sooner. I had slightly higher expectations than I should have and I left before I could truly begin to enjoy my night, I was a wuss. I’m planning on going again this week with my sister, so having read this and making an effort to avoid being a wuss, I expect to have an agreeable night.

    Also, I’m trying to work up the courage to go to a gay bar by myself, I’d like to check out the scene in NY when I go this summer.

  54. is it a good idea to go out to gay bars alone…with a chance of meeting friends or not!?

  55. I think I have never gone out not wearing a skirt or dress, ha.

    About the purse problem:
    1) Why is this a problem again? I absolutely love purses, bags, etc. Yes, dancing can be difficult with some kinds, but choose the right one and you’ll have a place to put your things and a great fashion acessory.
    2) Most clothes do have pockets. Skirts, jackets (leather jackets are the best, usually the pockets even have zippers!), even some dresses.
    3) If you’re wearing boots that fit just right, it IS a great purse substitute, I promise your things won’t be slipping down under your feet.

    Now about people thinking you’re someone’s straight friend… This is just odd. So what if you ARE someone’s straight friend? So what if you’re NOT? If this issue would make you insecure because you are there to meet new people, get laid, etc, well… just make sure you tell them you are NOT straight. I think it’s just stupid to change the way you dress or act simply to please others. It’s almost as stupid as “dressing up straight”.

  56. oh..I live in Sweden, stockholm and I must say I feel sad when I read this. The queers in my town arrange the best parties in town. There fun, cheap, outgoing, firnedly, the DJ will play great music and she wll listen if you want to her a special song.

    I agree that a lot of the regular girl-clubs sucks… but the moore queer places. I kinda quit going to other parties this year. they are just to boring

    Come to stockholm! yeay!

  57. I don’t have any queer friends where I live so, I don’t have anyone to go to the clubs with. My straight friends are not comfortable in the gay scene.

  58. LOLOL how exciting. tl;dr skimmed through it but I sense a shitload of fun waiting to happen when I decide to frolic at a gay bar for the first time xD
    That, or blacking out in the streets somewhere. Idly sitting like a boss, and gagging like a mule ahahaha

  59. I’ve only been out fully for a month and am planning to go to my first girl night soon. This is awesome advice since I’ve never been much of a bar goer. Especially the tip about low expectations. I have this wonderful ability to imagine what could happen and be very disappointed when it inevitably doesn’t. This could be applied to life in general too. Thanks Lizz!

  60. Apologies in advance for the length of this comment.
    In a rural town in northern England,there was a gay bar that I practically lived in when I was 18, it’s where I made a lot of friends. It was the early ’00s and my closeted then gf and I were sick of travelling to local cities to have a night out, the taxi fare home was so expensive to our tiny teenage wallets and the fear of being id’d and sent packing at the door was high. Our friendly local Lesbian Barista suggested we come down to this new bar…and so it began. It was super quiet most nights, but crazy on weekends. I met so many people there that I am still friends with now even though we have all since moved away and around and back and away again and the club has long since burnt down. There is no gay bar, not even a gay night here any more. I have never had the same experience in big city clubs and have never seen a ladies only night advertised up north. I’m not saying I haven’t met girls and done ok, but the cliques and manwiches and on weekends the straight tourists (not my phrase but seriously there are gay bars with no queers at weekends) and folks thinking you’re dating the chick you’re out with because you’re having a conversation with her whilst everyone else is just silently hunting and ignoring their friends…kinda suck, also the pressure to drink in England is crazy…people look at me strangely for being sober…I’m 30 years old and my hard drinking youth is behind me!
    Maybe it was small town post 90s section 28 solidarity, we were all in it together, we were all young and finding each other and we had somewhere safe to be.
    Sometimes bars are great, depends on the bar, and the people. Low expectations are totally key.

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