Home to America’s oldest continuously-operating gay bar, Oakland boasts a vibrant queer culture that can be by turns younger, more Black, more femme, and more family-oriented than its famously queer neighbor across the Bay. Local gay nightlife long took the form of itinerant, underground parties, but in recent years new community hotspots have enriched Downtown Oakland. Thanks to this cultural renaissance, visitors and natives alike can sample Oakland’s many dimensions of queerness in a single evening, through a bar crawl.
Start the adventure at popular Port Bar, an Uptown queer destination that’s an anchor of Oakland’s annual September Pride event. With shipping-container walls and porthole-sized bathroom mirrors, this happening spot stays true to its namesake. Find sure-to-please cocktails on the menu, but be warned - many of the house specials are named so an order sounds like asking for a sexual favor.
Port Bar is located next to the Paramount Theater at 2023 Broadway.
Just around the corner on 20th Street, Town Bar is a queer and mixed spot inside a stunning emerald stone façade originally constructed for a luxurious department store. Leaning into the glamor of its Art Deco home, this dark and shiny cocktail bar has dedicated areas for dancing, performances and DJs, as well as tables for enjoying delightfully-garnished beverages.
Town Bar is located at 2001 Broadway, entrance on 20th Street.
Continue down Broadway and cross the street to walk past streetwear-inspired marijuana retailer Cookies and streetwear boutique Dope Era. On the next block, below 17th Street, you can find two queer nightlife destinations next door to one another.
Refuel with hot bar snacks like truffle fries at Fluid510, a large event space owned by the proprietors of the Port Bar. The spacious, airy interior hosts queer parties and performances once scattered across town, and the seasonal cocktail menu often highlights bright and spicy concoctions.
Fluid510 is located at 1544 Broadway.
Feelmore Social Club
Occupying the same century-old warehouse as Fluid510, Feelmore Social Club is the brainchild of adult retailer Nenna Joiner. From a vintage adult bookstore sign at the entrance to sex-toy-printed bathroom wallpaper, this femme-oriented lounge celebrates intimacy while cultivating a sophisticated atmosphere. Many of the inventive cocktails are inspired by Nenna’s travels to Southeast Asia - try a Dragonfruit Whiskey Sour or, for the more adventurous, the Breast Milk.
Feelmore Social Club is located at 1542 Broadway.
For the last stop of the night, choose between two divergent experiences. For those who want to dance, Que Rico is a sometimes-raucous nightclub hosting Spanish-language drag shows, dance parties, and a mean spicy margarita, just a block away from Feelmore Social. The large streetside parklet is perfect on the rare warm evening.
Que Rico is located at 381 15th Street.
Alternatively, to end the night on a mellow note, visit Summer Bar, a femme-oriented lounge in Old Oakland. The owners host many musically-inclined events on their small stage, and the sparkly yet casual atmosphere suits a relaxed mood.
Summer Bar is located at 526 8th Street.
Oakland’s queer identity is defined by far more than its nightlife, but the recent concentration of queer bars downtown has made it easy to sample this famously diverse city’s varied queer scenes. Many of the bars listed here collect donations and stage fundraising events for the Oakland LGBTQ+ Center.
Find more queer bars and places to go in our Guide to Queer-Owned Businesses in Oakland.
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