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North Carolina Gay Guide

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Charlotte NC Gay Nightlife Guide
North Carolina Gay Guide

The friendly and fun gay sports bar Sidelines is one of Charlotte's favorite gay nightspots.

photo by Andrew Collins

Charlotte has about a dozen gay bars and clubs, which are distributed somewhat evenly around the city - a few are on the outskirts of the City Center, aka Uptown, and others are located in the trendy Plaza Midwood district, nearby NoDa (North Davidson), and the South End.

The South End is, in fact, the site of one of the most popular gay hangouts in the city, Sidelines Sports Bar and Billiards, which draws a mix of men and women to socialize, watch sports and other TV, play Wii games, and shoot pool and darts. (Note that next door to Sidelines, there used to be a gay leather bar, the Eagle, which has since closed.) In historic Dilworth, Bar at 316 is also extremely popular and fun - the easygoing, attractive space inside a vintage house draws a handsome bunch of guys and a fair share of women - if it's good-looking collegiate types and professionals you're keen on meeting, this is your best bet.

In Plaza Midwood, Chasers is your go-to to watch male strippers and frisky go-go boys - it's run by the same management that operates Charlotte's longest-running gay dance club, The Scorpio, which is renowned for presenting some of the best drag shows in the Southeast. Scorpio is open Wednesday through Sundays and tends to draw a big late-night crowd on weekends for dancing and those wild drag shows. The club also hosts a number of pageants, from Miss Gay NC America to the Pride Charlotte Pageant. It's a 10-minute drive (at the most) from Uptown to Scorpio.

The other fun spot in Plaza Midwood is the friendly, low-keyed gay piano bar and cabaret Petra's, a cozy hangout that's fun for trivia night, watching videos, karaoke, and hobnobbing after dinner at one of the many fine eateries in the neighborhood. While you're in the area, don't overlook the mostly hetero but very fun dive bar the Thirsty Beaver Saloon, which has a wonderfully weird mural of a big thirsty beaver painted on the side of its orange cinder-block exterior. A cheerful lounge with a sunny patio and a good beer selection and decent casual bar food, the Thomas Street Tavern is another social focal point of Plaza Midwood. Like Thirsty Beaver, this isn't by any means a gay bar, but you'll often see GLBT folks hanging out here.

Other good spots for mingling with "family" in Charlotte include Hartigans Irish Pub, a welcoming Uptown bar with a mostly gay and lesbian but hetero-welcoming crowd, a fun weekly Thursday night party called "Karaoke with Roxy C. Moorecox", drag brunch on weekends, and other fun theme events. One of the premier African-American gay bars in the Southeast, Nickel Bar is open Thursday through Sunday and is located a few minutes' drive northwest of the city center. It's a popular venue for dancing all evenings, and drag shows on Sunday evenings. Central Station is a a very laid-back gay neighborhood bar in Plaza Midwood, Marigny Dance Club is a New Orleans-inspired gay disco in Dilworth - a good spot to combine with partying at Sidelines or the Bar at 316.

Charlotte's gay leather, bear, and butch crowd favor The Woodshed Lounge, which is a 15-minute drive west of Uptown near the airport. This rough-and-tumble bar with a good-size patio steak cookouts on Sundays, Underwear Nights on Thursdays, and a particularly ribald cruise-fest called Frisky Fridays that's a hit with all kinds of guys.

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