1517 Church St.
Boasting New York swagger for the Nashville budget, Tribe has been repeatedly voted Nashville's best place to meet single men in our Best of Nashville poll. The bartenders are easy on the eyes and serve up tasty cocktails (their martinis are the bomb) as well as bites from sister establishment Suzy Wong's House of Yum — in slick surroundings that are fancy fun without being too froufrou. Showtunes Sunday and Welfare Wednesday are two popular weekly staples when cheap drinks and general gaiety abound.
Our advice: Be as polished as their marble bar tops. Leave your tennis shoes at home.
Play Dance Bar
1519 Church St.
If you want to sweat it out on the dance floor and throw money at some fierce (and we mean seriously amazing) drag queens, get your ass to Play. A recent remodel raised the bar, bringing the aesthetics up to the level of their killer DJs, laser light shows and talented playmates, who perform two shows each night at a caliber otherwise hard to find in the South. Wednesdays are college night, and include a rowdy student hot-body contest featuring cash prizes. Thursday shows are dominated by swagged-out drag kings.
Our advice: Put on your party pants. Drag queens and skinny dancing things run this chicken coop.
529 Fourth Ave. S.
Come as you are to Stirrup, a low-frill bar that's perfect for enjoying a cigarette and a beer straight from the office, in your most casual clothes — or even your leather accoutrement, if the urge strikes you. This laid-back spot often hosts events for LGBT groups and serves as home base for the mucho-macho Nashville Grizzlies gay rugby team, who know how to throw down some postgame rowdiness on the covered back patio.
Our advice: Bring your leather if you want, but check your sorrows at the door.
1501 Ensley Blvd.
Trax feels like a sports bar that's been taken over by friendly gay men, drag queens and the occasional lesbian ... and we love that. If it's unassuming fun you're looking for, roll in to Trax, where TVs abound, gleaming with sports and music videos. A spacious deck and patio are great for summertime fun and for the occasional special event, drag show or fundraiser. Smoke, drink and challenge your buddies to darts and a game of pool. You're likely to make some new pals in no time at this quirky neighborhood favorite, which will leave the light on for you, or at least get you lit.
Our advice: Embrace the buddy system. Be prepared to make new friends.
1707 Church St.
The newest arrival on Nashville gay scene, Canvas Lounge brings a fresh new ambiance to Church Street, with arresting lighting and decor that changes frequently and gives your senses a nice smack as soon as you walk through the door. From original local artwork, quirky charms and cool furniture throughout (think Elton John estate sale), this bar is an ideal spot for a date, but also wild nights — especially on warm summer evenings, when they hike up a huge door and transform the space into an open-air venue where you can drink, dine and dance to the DJ's tunes.
Our advice: Clear your schedule. You'll want to sit and stay awhile.
1715 Church St.
"Don't I know you?" isn't just a pickup line at Blue Genes, a pub-style bar with an everybody-knows-your-name feel. This ultra-casual joint is perfect for winding down for the evening or winding up for the weekend. The friendly staff will remember what you drink and how you got that scar ... after all, we know you get chatty when you drink. A small stage is front and center for cool acoustical sets and comedic karaoke in this smoker-friendly setting. Pool tables and arcade games make for good times at the back.
Our advice: Play the name game. Introduce yourself once and you're set for life, or at least until shift change.
1400 Woodland St.
It's Nashville's only lesbian bar, but everyone is welcome, as long as you can hold your liquor and know how to have a good time. Lipstick offers up stiff drinks and regular live music from the popular band Hydrogen Blonde. There's room for dancing inside if the feeling strikes you, darts and arcade games upstairs and plenty of seating on the patio. Come for karaoke or trivia night and you're likely to catch the owners up in the action at this one-of-a-kind family bar.
Our advice: Gird your loins and drink your juice, Shelby. These girls mean business.
1401 Fourth Ave. S.
Looking to lie low? Purple Heys is your spot. Previously TCs Triangle, this hardly known hangout is hard to miss in a purple, triangular building on Fourth Avenue South, yet its patrons are mostly a handful of regulars who get down on some serious happy hour specials and belt out impressive karaoke tunes. This gem hides in plain sight and is perfect for people who prefer to keep a low profile on the Nashville gay scene.
Our advice: Have a good time, but don't be a whistleblower. Respect this low-profile space.
The 5 Spot
1006 Forrest Ave.
(615) 650 – 9333
It isn't out of the closet, but The 5 Spot still pukes rainbows once a month for Queer Dance Party, when the proverbial glitter grenades go bing-bang-boom. Just across the river in the Five Points area of East Nashville, this cozy space gets packed full of dance-aholics (some in costume, some in party clothes you could mistake for costumes) once a month as the cute-and-sweaties bounce around for hours at a party that just won't quit. The 5 Spot is typically a live music venue with tasty eats and tons of drinkage, but QDP has become the favorite not-gay gay way to get off the beaten path.
Our advice: Keep East Nashville cool. Don't schmuck this one up.
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