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Gay City Guide

Destination Sydney Australia

Sydney has a well deserved reputation as a must see gay hotspot.  Boasting the world famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras when half a million revelers pack into the Golden Mile to see fifty thousand gays and lesbians celebrate in the world's largest gay pride parade.  Sydney is a great destination for gay travelers with a rich and extremely mixed gay scene.  Whether you prefer the laid back gay pub scene or high energy dance parties, Sydney has something to offer all types.

Much of the gay village is around Oxford Street Darlinghurst just 5 minutes walk from the center of the Sydney City.  Known locally as the "Golden Mile" Oxford Street has been the gay Mecca for international visitors for many years and is the route of the Mardi Gras Parade held every March.  Although the Gay Scene went through a major "down size" in the last nineties, there has been a significant re-emergence of the community in the last few years. 

When you get to Sydney there is simply so much to do and see other than the gay lifestyle, but this is a gay guide so here goes!

Going Out on the Scene

ARQ nightclub is a high energy dance club over two fantastic levels.  Open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.  Fridays and Sundays are the best nights for visiting ARQ if you want a totally Gay night, with Saturday night being more straight than Gay
It is wise to visit the website first to find out whether the night is a ticketed event, or you may find yourself queuing up for several hours to get in.  This is definitely where the "pretty" gym boys hang out, and you can almost be guaranteed of seeing lots of attractive sweaty flesh here.

16 Flinders Street Darlinghurst

Gilligans is a groovy cocktail bar above The Oxford Hotel famous for it's celebrity clientele and a great place to sip a frozen margarita.  Although Gilligans has lost a lot of it's clientele to The Colombian Hotel just down the road, it's still a place to go have a cocktail before heading out to one of the many other clubs and pubs.

Taylor Square 134 Oxford Street Darlinghurst

Manacle is as it's name suggest a leather bar that is a hot recovery spot on Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings.  Manacle is the "re-launched" name of the old Barracks and a leather bar has been operating in the same spot for years.

19 Palmers Lane Darlinghurst

Middle Bar
Middle Bar is a hot lounge bar right above Taylor square in Darlinghurst.  A place to go and drink on the outdoor balcony as you watch the people going by on the square.  Middlebar is upstairs from Kinselas, a mainly straight pub.

Taylor Square Darlinghurst

The Stonewall Hotel has become a gay institution on the strip attracting a young very gay crowd.  Stonewall took over from the very popular Albury Hotel with drag shows almost every night of the week.  Three levels with the pub type crowd downstairs, the middle level is groovy dance music and the top level is more hard core dance.  Beware that the place gets very packed and queues are expected on Friday to Sunday nights. 

175 Oxford Street Darlinghurst

The Midnight Shift
The Midnight Shift has undergone many transformations over the last ten years and it now boasts two different venues, the downstairs bar area, and upstairs nightclub.  Downstairs at the Shift is mainly an older crowd with lots of retro music, pool tables and a grungy pub feel.  Whilst upstairs is the hottest night club on the strip.  If you are looking for an alternative to ARQ and want a more well rounded gay friendly crowd, upstairs at the Shift is perfect!  Most weekend nights are themed dance parties and tickets are on sale before hand.  If you don't have a ticket for a night, expect to queue for several hours before you can get in!

85 Oxford Street Darlinghurst

The Colombian
The Colombian Hotel is the grooviest nightspot on the strip and a must go for a beer or cocktail.  On the corner of Crown and Oxford Streets, the Colombian is a retro meets grove bar and cocktail lounge.  A very mixed crowd of all ages and sexualities its open seven days a week from early morning till late into the wee hours!

117-123 Oxford Street

The Oxford
The Oxford Hotel is a mainstay of the gay and lesbian scene of Sydney, having been on the corner of Oxford and Bourke streets for decades.  A definitely older clientele bar with a more mature leather crowd. 

Oxford Hotel - 134 Oxford St, Darlinghurst

The Newtown Hotel
The Newtown Hotel is on the other side of town in Newtown about 15 minute cab ride from Oxford street.  The Hotel attracts an older grungier crowd that is more drinking than dancing.  This is a totally different type of crow, a more laid back crowd age group mix from young to old.

174 King Street Newtown

The Imperial
The Imperial Hotel has been made world famous by the film, Priscilla Queen of the Desert.  Three parts of this hotel, the front bar which attracts a rough laid back pub crowd, the back bar which have some of the longest running drag shows in Australia and the bottom dance bar.  The hotel is quite grungy and seems to attract a more in your face gay and lesbian crowd.

35 Erskineville Road Erskineville

Major Events & Dance Parties

Sydney hosts two of the largest dance parties (circuit parties) in the world every year!  The Mardi Gras Bal and Sleaze are must do events at least once for anyone into the dance scene.

Mardi Gras

The world famous Mardi Gras dance party boasts up to five different dance halls with anywhere between 20 - 25,000 sweaty dancing gays, lesbians and their friends.  The dance party is a must go to event with many of the revelers dressing in the theme of the year.  International headline acts perform shows throughout the night in the Royal Hall of Industries (RHI).

The party is the crowning event of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival and is held after the Parade in early March of every year.

You must have a ticket to attend this event and tickets often sell out weeks in advance!


The Sleaze ball is the second largest dance party in Sydney's exciting dance party calendar.  A more intense smaller dance party than Mardi Gras boasting between 10, 15,000 revelers. 

Sleaze Ball is always a more colorful and queer event than Mardi Gras with a more sexual theme.  Tickets must be purchased before the event and can be purchased online through Mardi Gras.