Los Angeles

The Best LGBTQ Bars for Drinking and Dancing in Long Beach

From neighborhood haunts to karaoke bars and dance clubs, Long Beach's queer nightlife is flush with options.

Hamburger Mary's
Hamburger Mary’s
Hamburger Mary’s

If you need a break from WeHo and Palm Springs is too far, not to worry, because just 25 miles south of LA lies the port city of Long Beach, a long-standing bastion of LGBTQ culture. Since the 1950s, gay bars like The Patch and Oceania (which reopened in 1972 as the now-closed Club Ripples) offered safety and community during a time when anti-LGBTQ police raids were still common. There’s also long-running and former lesbian bar Que Sera, where Melissa Etheridge took the stage in the 1980s. Today, the city has blossomed into a destination that celebrates all members of the community. The current mayor, Robert Garcia, is an out and proud gay man and also the first Latino to hold office in Long Beach.

The heart of Long Beach’s gayborhood is along Broadway, stretching from Cherry to Alamitos Avenues, but we encourage you to spread your wings and venture into the city’s other neighbourhoods such as Downtown, Belmont Shore, and Retro Row, which is home to Long Beach’s LGBTQ Community Center. The city’s dedication to diversity is evident at Harvey Milk Promenade Park and Equality Plaza, the first park in the country to be named after the gay civil rights leader. And, of course, you can’t miss the rainbow crosswalks that run along Broadway in Alamitos Beach.

The first Long Beach Pride took place in 1984, and it’s now the third largest Pride festival and parade in California. After a two-year hiatus, the city’s 2022 Pride celebration is scheduled for July 8 through 10 along Shoreline Drive in the downtown area. So whether you’re looking for a spot to hang out during Pride weekend or just a new place to check out any other time of year, we’ve put together a list of 10 of the best LGBTQ bars and dance clubs to help you celebrate in style.

Sweetwater Saloon
Sweetwater Saloon
Sweetwater Saloon

Sweetwater Saloon

Alamitos Beach
Although this spot welcomes everyone, Sweetwater has the most lesbian-centric clientele of all of the bars on Broadway. That could be partly due to Long Beach’s favourite bartender, Melissa Almeraz, who also co-owns Let’s Yolk About It, a popular brunch spot in Belmont Shore. Step through the saloon doors and sidle up to the wraparound bar, play a game of pool, or select a song from the jukebox. Enjoy daily happy hour specials until 8 pm, but be sure to bring a wad of bills as Sweetwater is cash only.

The Falcon

Alamitos Beach
A friendly neighborhood bar in the heart of Alamitos Beach, The Falcon recently celebrated their 25th anniversary. It may be tiny inside, but there’s plenty of room to cozy up to new friends. While the charming bartenders serve up a heavy pour every day of the week, the Sunday beer busts are legendary with beer specials and a happy hour that lasts until 7 pm. Patrons of all ages and genders pack the makeshift dance floor on weekends, so if you’re in a more mellow mood, plan to arrive early and sit at the bar where you can sing along to video classics.

Hamburger Mary's
Hamburger Mary’s
Hamburger Mary’s

Hamburger Mary’s

Downtown
With multiple locations across the country, Hamburger Mary’s has become known for its drag shows that sparkle with sarcasm and sass. Performances are offered almost every day of the week, ranging from karaoke to weekly viewing parties for RuPaul’s Drag Race. Tear up the dance floor on the weekend, and admire go-go dancers in all of their hunky glory. If you sit near the front during a drag show, prepare to be heckled. It’s all part of the fun!

Beach Garden Social House

Alamitos Beach
The newest kid on the block, Beach Garden Social House is the only bar and restaurant in the neighbourhood that is owned and operated by a member of the LGBTQ community. Owner Ben Gutierrez partnered with chef Andy Figueroa to create a concept that pairs New Latin American cuisine and a social calendar filled with events like a Trivia Night on Wednesdays and RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties on Fridays. Don’t miss their Taco Tuesday specials, with $3 tacos and $8 margaritas from 4 to 10 pm. Beach Garden also recently started an Open Mic night on Thursdays at 6 pm, so bring your own guitars and gear.

The Silver Fox
The Silver Fox
The Silver Fox

The Silver Fox

4th Street Corridor
In business since 1981, The Silver Fox has the distinction of being Southern California’s first video bar. With an Art Deco facade and a recent renovation on the interior with enhanced visual projections, this is a lively spot for party goers who are into karaoke and a mix of music. On Friday and Saturday nights, you can groove alongside go-go dancers. Post up on the spacious outdoor patio or hang out inside, but be sure to enjoy one of their strong cocktails. Just like its namesake, this place gets better with age.

The Broadway Bar

Alamitos Beach
The first stop on the semi-regular Pride Bar Crawl, The Broadway Bar is another staple along Long Beach’s queer corridor that is often filled with locals. Visit on the weekends between 3 and 7 pm, and you can order well drinks for $2.50. Karaoke is also a big hit here, as the bar was voted the #1 best karaoke bar in Long Beach. The drinks are also cheap and well-crafted, and the bartenders are laidback-the perfect combination. This place is cash-only, so be sure to hit up an ATM ahead of time.

Mineshaft
Mineshaft
Mineshaft

Mineshaft

Alamitos Beach
Family-owned and operated since 1974, Mineshaft is a neighbourhood bar that aims to “provide a space where anyone can be seen, be themselves, and move to the groove of the beat.” This is apparent the moment you walk through the door, with the bar’s welcoming vibe and lack of pretentiousness. Of course, the cheap cocktails and friendly bartenders also help. Mineshaft is active with many local organizations and supports several causes that affect the LGBTQ community.

Falcon North

Cherry Manor
Located in the old Eagle 562 space, Falcon North is a sibling establishment to The Falcon. With a large indoor space and pool table area, it is also well-known for its beer busts on Sunday Fundays. The nightclub will also host two DILF parties this summer on June 18 and July 8, which aim to connect older and younger men. Falcon North claims to have Southern California’s largest outdoor patio and dance floor, and it is frequented by all-star DJs and entertainers.

The Executive Suites LB
The Executive Suites LB
The Executive Suites LB

Executive Suite

Zaferia
The largest LGBTQ nightclub in Long Beach, Executive Suite sprawls over three levels. Every Wednesday is Transtastic, the place for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals to feel safe and be seen. Drag shows and dancing dominate on other nights of the week, with Lipstick Diva Drag Shows hosted by Morgan McMichaels on Thursday nights. Saturdays are designated as Ladies Night, with a Sugar Saturday dance party on the upper level.

The Crest

North Long Beach
The Crest is a watering hole in north Long Beach that prides itself on being all-inclusive. The Sunday beer busts start at noon and go all day long until 2 am, where you can take advantage of $8 domestic draft pitchers and $15 import draft pitchers. Come for the beer, and stay for the libations by the well-equipped bartenders. And be sure to make friends with the regulars, who have quite a few stories to tell about Long Beach and its Pride-tinged history.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Danielle Bauter¬†is a Southern California-based freelance writer who focuses on travel, LGBTQ, and culinary topics. Her writing has appeared in a variety of print and digital publications including Cond√© Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet, and Fodor’s Travel. Follow her travels on Instagram¬†and read more of her work at daniellebauter.com.

Los Angeles

8 LA Fundraisers that Support Abortion Rights and Reproductive Justice

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision, LA businesses and organizations are stepping up to raise money and support reproductive justice for all.

Matt Gush/Shutterstock
Matt Gush/Shutterstock
Matt Gush/Shutterstock

As Beyonc√©’s talented sister Solange once sang, “I got a lot to be mad about.” At the top of that growing list is the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, clearing the way for states to regulate abortion. Since the ruling, abortion is now illegal in states like Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, while others like Utah, Idaho, and Missouri, have signaled plans to ban or create significant barriers to accessing abortion services.

Many are outraged by this decision, which is certain to disproportionately impact low-income and BIPOC communities. Protests have erupted in cities across the country and legal battles are already underway in attempts to counteract the ruling. Many are calling for the Supreme Court to be reformed, calling into question other recent decisions, including a ruling that limited the federal government’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions at existing power plants.

Those in California are lucky to be protected by a state constitution where abortion is recognized as an individual right, with Governor Newsom recently vowing to continue to safeguard these rights, as well as women who travel west for reproductive care. But just because we don’t currently have to worry about our reproductive rights being stripped doesn’t mean that we can’t step up and provide support for those who are in the thick of these struggles. From donating to on-the-ground activism, there are plenty of ways to get involved in the national fight to protect abortion care and access for all.

LA’s hospitality industry is doing just that, providing plenty of delicious and fun opportunities to stand up for reproductive rights and abortion care, including food pop-ups, bake sales, wine and mezcal tastings, shopping deals, and more.

Satisfy your munchies at a stoner food pop-up

Ongoing
Genever, Historic Filipinotown
One of our favourite bars in LA right now, women-owned Genever is hosting a weekly Friday pop-up with food from Bodega that they describe as Asian Stoner Food. Every pop-up donates 50% of proceeds to a rotating reproductive rights organization.
Cost: Varies

Photo courtesy of Local Angeles
Photo courtesy of Local Angeles
Photo courtesy of Local Angeles

Order a Westside Cocktail

Ongoing throughout July
Winston House, Venice Beach
Each month, the team at Winston House, a lively supper club off the Venice Boardwalk, donates $1 from every sale of their Westside Cocktail to a different charity. In June, they donated proceeds to The Trevor Project and for July, they’re donating to the National Network of Abortions Funds. The cocktail is made with butterfly pea- and cucumber-infused Future Gin, lime juice, and mint syrup.
Cost: $15

Photo courtesy of Madre
Photo courtesy of Madre
Photo courtesy of Madre

Sip on women-made mezcals at Madre Restaurant

Ongoing from July 11 for four weeks
West Hollywood, Torrance, and Palms
Get an education in mezcal while supporting women with a special mezcal flight curated by owner Ivan Vasquez, featuring women-owned or produced brands. Dubbed Her Mezcal, the flight includes a one-ounce pour of Real Minero, Agua Del Sol, and Rezpiral, available for $45 beginning Monday, July 11, with 10% of the net sales from each flight going to the National Network of Abortion Funds. And if you buy a bottle of one of the three featured brands, Madre will donate 10% of those sales, too.
Cost: $45

@vanillabeansanddaydreams
@vanillabeansanddaydreams
@vanillabeansanddaydreams

Bakers Against Racism: Bake Sale For Reproductive Justice

Saturday, July 17
These Hands Makers Collective, Culver City
Launched during April 2020 as a pop-up, Bakers Against Racism is a social community “connecting bakers and creatives all across the globe to fight against racism in all of its forms.” On Saturday, July 17 from 11 am to 3 pm, they’re firing up their ovens to raise money and awareness for reproductive justice, with all sorts of treats and desserts available for sale, including cookies, pies, cakes, pastries, traditional Southern desserts, gluten-free and vegan options, and more. All proceeds will be donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds. Bakers who are interested in joining the sale can reach out to LA lead @winterfatebakes on Instagram.
Cost: Free to participate, baked goods vary.

Photo by Jenny Caloca, courtesy of Vinovere
Photo by Jenny Caloca, courtesy of Vinovere
Photo by Jenny Caloca, courtesy of Vinovere

Taste natural, women-made wines with Vinovore

Saturday, July 23
Virtual tasting
Woman- and LGBTQ-owned Vinovore stocks predominantly small-batch, natural, and woman-produced labels in its Virgil Village and Eagle Rock wine shops. On Saturday, July 23 at 5 pm, they’ll host a WINEsplaining event over Zoom, which includes two bottles of natural, women-made wine that attendees can enjoy as they discuss tasting notes with owner Coly Den Haan. All proceeds will be donated to The National Network of Abortion Funds. Register online and wines will be ready for pick-up, shipping, or delivery the week before the tasting, with the Zoom link sent the day before.
Cost: $75

Join a community bake sale for reproductive rights

Saturday, July 23
The Oinkster, Eagle Rock
Over in East LA, chef Andre Guerrero is opening up the patio to local bakers for a massive community bake sale, with proceeds benefiting Planned Parenthood, Plan C Pills, and Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project. And since you’re there, you might as well grab a stacked Frito Pie burger, a house-cured Pastrami Sandwich, or some Chili Fries. For more info and to participate, reach out to chef Kristi Descher on Instagram.
Cost: Free to participate, baked goods vary.

Photo courtesy of Botanica
Photo courtesy of Botanica
Photo courtesy of Botanica

Snag a cute tee from Botanica

Ongoing
Purchase online
Women-owned restaurant and market Botanica is selling their five-year anniversary tee that’s made in collaboration by LA’s Lamero Studio. The shirt features a “vegetables in space” design created by bar manager and artist, Ryan Halie Gossett. All profits from the shirts benefit the National Network of Abortion Funds.
Cost: $45

Photo courtesy of Helen's Wines x The Goods Mart
Photo courtesy of Helen’s Wines x The Goods Mart
Photo courtesy of Helen’s Wines x The Goods Mart

Order a summer snack box filled with women-owned treats

Ongoing
Purchase online
Another one of our favourite women-owned natural wine shops in LA, Helen’s Wines teamed up with NYC’s The Goods Mart for a summer snack box featuring female-founded brands, including Azziah’s Herbal Green Popcorn, Magic Dates Salted Walnut Brownie, Moonshot Sourdough Crackers, and a bottle of natural ros√© from women producers, chosen by founder Helen Johannesen and her team, and rotating with each box. Even better, 50% of proceeds from the box will be donated to the Women’s Reproductive Right’s Assistance Project, the largest national, independent, nonprofit abortion fund providing urgently-needed financial assistance to individuals seeking abortion services or emergency contraception nationwide.
Cost: $75

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Danielle Dorsey is the West Coast Editor at Thrillist.

Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.