Concierge.com's insider take:
New York City gay nightlife is as much about the stereotyped scene as it is driven by novelty. For guys, at least, choices abound: East Village dive, or Hell's Kitchen young professional haunt? Chelsea jock, or Williamsburg hipster? Promoted night at a straight club, or a seven-day dose of gay?
The latest bars to draw and sustain a crowd are in Hell's Kitchen, a.k.a. Hellsea. At Industry, leather couches, faux-fur rugs, and mismatched settees set against resin screens and steel create a steampunky ode to the gay lounge. Think pop music, drag shows, and a busy any hour (355 W. 52nd St.). Bar-Tini Ultra Lounge heats up after 11 pm, particularly on weekends, with two chic whitewashed rooms and a tightly packed dance floor (642 Tenth Ave.). In Chelsea, Boxers draws otters, twinks, muscle bears, professionals, and men who like men who like sports, particularly at happy hour. Loud and capacious with cheap beer and mini pizzas, it's like any other sports bar you'd find in the 'burbs (37 W. 20th St.). Coming out of the closet in the post-frat wasteland of the East Side from the 40s to 14th Street, Vig 27 remains a popular beacon for the whole cocktail-lit family—gay, straight, girl, guy, bi, drag queen. The atmosphere is low-key, with cush seating, beaded curtain walls, and hot bartenders that know how to mix a drink (119 E. 27th St.).
Shamefully, NYC hasn't had a proper gay club since the Roxy shut down in 2007. The 11,000-square-foot XL Dance Bar (part of the Out NYC hotel, restaurant, and shopping gaygaplex) on far West 42nd Street is set to fill that void in summer 2011. But with delay rumors swirling, the best bets for thumping club nights are the slicked-up straight haunts.
Rockit Fridays lures Gay List lookers with an open vodka bar before 11 pm (Web site gives current location), while Sundays at Griffin in the Meatpacking District skew younger and fashion-forward (50 Gansevoort St.). The latter tapers off round midnight, at which point Vandam at Greenhouse is blowing up; it's a sweaty, tricked-out vestige of Manhattan's club kid heyday, with electro beats and hallucinogenic decor (50 Varick St.). To a lesser degree, with more deep Vs and chest hair, Spank melds Williamsburg hip with an infectious art-fag sensibility and super randy boys. What started as a queer art zine's series of release parties has morphed into more or less monthly dance fests.
For the ladies, choice is limited: two bars, or else the 40-plus gay-guy bars. In the West Village, petite Cubbyhole offers a chill choice for cocktails and chat amid a riot of overhead decorations (281 W. 12th St.), while Henrietta Hudson's trends busier, if rougher at times, with two small rooms and a dance floor with go-go cages (438 Hudson St.).
Of course, in the city that never sleeps (because everyone is out drinking), nightspots change quicker than Gaga's outfits. Pick up free bar rag Next Magazine for the most comprehensive and up-to-date listings, plus a handy tear-out map. Gayletter, an irreverent take on the week's more alternative offerings, is e-mailed every Tuesday.—Justin Ocean
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