The best of Beijing's LGBT nights

Our roundup of the capital’s coolest queer nightlife

We're here, we're queer and we're ready to party. If this sounds like you or someone you'd like to boogie with, read on for our roundup of the best LGBT nights in Beijing.

Bars and clubs

Adam's

adams


From its larger-than-life owner Mondo Wong to its garish interior, Adam’s is the gay bar Beijing has always needed, replete with strippers’ pole, twink barmen, ropily muscled dancers and outrageous drag queens. How this flaming watering hole has endured amid the cutthroat competition in Sanlitun remains a secret that Wong ain’t telling, but, if you don’t take yourself too seriously, this is the kind of place you can wander into any day of the week and make a friend.


Destination

destination


Into its second decade, the only dedicated gay club in town continues to lead the pack and is even muscling in on the pre-club drinking action with its slick tie-in bar Des Link. Entry is still free after 3am, the owners still discreetly support good gay social causes, and the place still heaves after midnight on weekends. Floor shows range from international gogo line-ups to celebrity DJs (Nina Flowers, of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame, was a recent headliner). The BOGOF happy hour from 9-10 PM on Sundays and Thursdays makes this one of the few clubs in town that gets a decent midweek showing. Gay clubs come and go in Beijing, but there’s only one Destination.


Kai Bar

Rumours of Kai’s demise, another victim of the April bulldozing of Bar Street, were, it turns out, exaggerated. Insider sources claim that Kai’s doors will remain open, news that will no doubt be deafening music to the ears of this institution’s legion of longtime fans. A shadowy interior, bargain prices (10RMB beers and shots) and a tinnitus-inducing sound system hearken back to a simpler time, welcoming all comers from underage embassy twinks to venerable old-timers. We hope it can hang on, even as our beloved dives surrounding it fall beneath the sanitising scythe of Beijing’s latest urban regeneration drive. Keep up to date with all the bricking-up nonsense at our blog page.


Red Dog

Queer Picture Resized


The most recent addition to the capital’s LGBT drinking circuit, Red Dog isn’t a gay bar per se, but tall, immaculately dressed Wuhan-born manager Kangyin – Jack to his friends – is going all out to guarantee a safe, friendly space for queer patrons. This boho hangout, tucked beneath a flight of stairs in Sanlitun Soho, attracts a discreet late-night crowd of serious drinkers. Aiming high in terms of quality and service, Red Dog warrants a splurge – expertly mixed classic and seasonal cocktails average 70RMB a pop. Consequently, this is less a pre-club charging station and more a place to treat your besties to an indulgent, languorous evening’s repartee.


The Rabbit

Situated just across from Q Mex in Sanlitun’s Courtyard 4 complex, this upstart, neon-illuminated partnership with gay dating app Aloha is a new kid on a well-populated block. Designed with old-school punters in mind – a lot of tables for groups, low music – there are a few nods to innovation: the ironclad smoking ban and all-gender toilets are a welcome addition, as is the Monday to Thursday 8-10pm happy hour, when cocktails can be had for 40RMB.


Theme nights

Glam

glam


Once the new kid on the block, GLAM (Good-looking Asian Male), held every Thursday night in the slick Long Jing cocktail bar, is now one of the capital’s longest-running gay socials. Pitched at the young professional crowd (cocktails average 70RMB), the two-for-one offer on all drinks helps pull in ’mos from all walks of life. Host Marlon Ma reliably draws in a sharp-looking crowd of LGBT embassy workers, financiers, hoteliers and college professors, who have turned GLAM into the rhinestone-bedecked queen of Thursday nights.


Long Jing. Glam open 9pm-2am Thursdays only.


GLIFAA Happy Hour

Long ago broadened out to include more than just diplomats and their partners, GLIFAA, led by US Embassy power couple Ravi and Claudiu Buck, runs a popular monthly get-together at a new, gay-friendly venue each month, allowing the capital’s queers to identify likely new drinking holes while also meeting new people in an informal setting the second Thursday of every month. Hob-nobbing is fuelled by BOGOF deals on suitably high-end beverages. Determined LGBT networker? Look no further!


GLIFAA Happy Hour, locations vary. Open 7pm-late, second Thursday of every month. For details, and to join the WeChat group, email glifaabeijing@gmail.com.


Les Booze

les booze


Diversity, thy name is Les Booze! This night is still the go-to social for les, bi and trans ladies looking to mingle every first Friday and third Saturday of the month. The cosy courtyard location is perfect in all weathers, and in the summer the party regularly spills out into the park opposite. Tsingtao and Tiger are 15RMB, margaritas 30RMB and mojitos 40RMB, enthusiastically served by Chill Bar’s delightful crew of bartenders.


Chill Bar. Les Booze open 9am-late, first Friday and third Saturday of every month.


Café

Two Cities

Beijing’s day scene may not be as fecund as its nightlife, but Two Cities, a delightfully cosy café and exhibition space in Fangjia Hutong has, for half a decade, offered a welcome, secluded corner to write that feminist treatise or take that shy new date. An afternoon vanishes when one sinks into a low-slung sofa with a cup of something organic and spellbindingly fragrant – some of the finest, purest Chinese teas in the city can be found here, at reassuringly expensive prices (starting from 60RMB a pot).


The Taiwanese owners have filled their venue with mementoes of their homeland, and a small shop also sells a variety of responsibly sourced delicacies and knick-knacks from the island, including trinkets made by LGBT social organisations and sealed foil bags of the house teas. Drip-brewed Taiwanese and Southeast Asian coffees were also recently added to the menu, though our top recommendation is still the homemade cheesecake.

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