Modern, sophisticated, and somewhat sprawling, the city of Dallas is looking better than ever these days, with a swanky new hotel, retail, and entertainment developments, one of the most energetic gay nightlife scenes in the country, and an infusion of noteworthy cultural attractions. Attractions span several lively neighborhoods around the city, from gay-popular Oak Lawn to ritzy Highland Park Village to the funky Bishop Arts District. Here's a gallery of the Gay Dallas scene.
Station 4 (aka S4) Nightclub
The largest and most impressive gay club in Dallas, Station 4 (aka S4) is part of the huge entertainment complex along Oak Lawn's famed "gay nightlife strip" that includes JR's video bar and Sue Ellen's lesbian bar. The club encompasses a cavernous downstairs space with a dance floor and a roomy and inviting outdoor patio on two levels. Upstairs, the Rose Room Theatre and Lounge presents some of the funniest and wildest drag shows in the country. For serious revelers, dancers, cruisers, and fans of gay clubbing, S4 is a must. The club is closed Monday and Tuesday; open to the 18-and-over set Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday; and 21-and-over Friday and Saturday nights.
Legacy of Love Monument
Unveiled in 2006, the Legacy of Love Monument stands in the Oak Lawn Triangle, at the junction of Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road. The 27-foot-tall column and small surrounding garden were constructed in honor of Friedhelm Schnitzler, who died of AIDS, although its creators point out that the monument is a tribute to all of Oak Lawn's citizens, gay and straight, those who have passed on, and those who are very much alive. The nearby Melrose Hotel overlooks the monument.
In the wake of the Orlando Pulse nightclub tragedy, the monument has become a rallying point for those wishing to voice their support and memorialize the victims.
Bishop Arts District
Oak Lawn may be the most famously gay-identified neighborhood in Dallas, but on the south side of the city, in the relatively modest but historic residential neighborhood of Oak Cliff, the Bishop Arts District has gained cachet in recent years as a dynamic little clutch of gay-popular galleries, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. The neighborhood's epicenter is West Davis Street and North Bishop Avenue and includes such gay faves as Hunky's, Artisan's Collective, Tillman's, and Alchemy Salon.
One of the several very popular gay bars that are part of Oak Lawn's famed "Crossroads" district, Havana welcomes a diverse bunch and has an especially strong following among Dallas's GLBT Latin community. Inexpensive drinks, a good music system, and some pretty fun drag acts are part of the fun.
Hotel St. Germain
Set in a dapper white mansion in the city's Uptown neighborhood, the gay-friendly Hotel St. Germain is a charming old-world inn and restaurant. The inn's seven suites are done with lavish New Orleans and Parisian antiques, bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs, canopied feather beds, Bulgari bath amenities, fireplaces, and plenty of other luxe touches. This is a wonderful place to stay if you're planning a romantic special occasion.
Overnight guests are treated to a substantial Continental breakfast, and dinner is available to the general public in the opulent William Dining Room, which serves over-the-top prix-fixe dinners - reservations (and jacket-and-tie for men) are required.
Cathedral of Hope
With a building designed by openly gay architectural icon Philip Johnson, the Cathedral of Hope which was accepted into the United Church of Christ in 2006, is considered the world's largest gay and lesbian church. This 22,000-square-foot building is the home of a congregation that's been serving Dallas GLBT residents and visitors since 1970.
There may not be a more extensive, impressive, and popular gay underwear shop in America than this massive emporium of g-strings, jockstraps, briefs, boxer-briefs, and skimpy club-gear and wear. Skivvies is owned by the same team behind the smart-casual clothier Out Lines, which is just around the corner, and it carries just about every trendy and popular underwear brand, from Unico to AssieBum to Ginch Gonch. It's a must for gay Dallas shopping mavens and anyone with an underwear fetish.
The infamous Grassy Knoll, at Dealey Plaza, through which John F. Kennedy's motorcade passed when he was assassinated. It's often alleged that a second gunman fired from the grassy knoll. The link here takes you to the Dealey Plaza Cam, which broadcasts a live view of the plaza and grassy knoll from the exact perch at the Sixth Floor Museum from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired at President Kennedy.
Dallas Rapid Area Transit
A clean and efficient way to get around this city that's otherwise largely oriented toward automobiles, Dallas Rapid Area Transit (D.A.R.T.) is the city's "light rail" system. There are two lines (red and blue), which from downtown Dallas to the Trinity Railway Express commuter rail (which connects the city to Fort Worth). The Red Line connects downtown to such popular areas as the West End, Cityplace, and Mockingbird. You can use the Blue Line to reach White Rock Lake.
At the uber-gay intersection of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton, the Oak Lawn branch of Hunky's Oak Lawn ranks among the most likely spots in town to find queens noshing on fast-food - meaning hefty burgers (the chili-cheeseburger is a favorite), barbecue chicken sandwiches, "hunky dog" frankfurters, french fries, and even a few relatively healthful items, such as grilled-chicken salads and veggie Swiss burgers. Blue Bell ice cream milkshakes are another popular feature. Hunky's has another quite gay-popular branch in the Bishop Arts District in the Oak Cliff section of town.
American Airlines Center
The centerpiece of the city's ambitious Victory Park district, the American Airlines Center is the home of the Dallas Stars hockey team, Dallas Mavericks basketball team, Dallas Desperados Arena Football Leagues, and countless big-name concerts - performers who have graced this dazzling structure (nicknamed "The Hangar") over the years include Britney Spears, the Dixie Chicks, Barry Manilow, Foo Fighters, The Cure, George Michael, Janet Jackson, Celine Dion, and Tina Turner. Just down the street is the stunning W Hotel Dallas.
Often referred to as "The Strip" or "The Crossroads", Oaklawn's main gay commercial district lies right at the intersection of Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street, which is dominated by such popular businesses as JR's, Sue Ellen's, S4, TapeLenders Andrew Christian Boutique, Hunky's, and Skivvies. Several gay-popular businesses (Cafe Brazil, Black Eyed Pea) are set along Cedar Springs Road, as you head south (as shown in this photo) toward Oak Lawn Avenue and the Melrose Hotel. This is one of the busiest and most popular gay commercial districts in the country, especially on weekend evenings, when the several bars and restaurants along here buzz with revelers.
Open 24/7 and drawing sizable crowds of lesbian and gay revelers late on weekend nights, Cafe Brazil is the definitive queer coffeehouse for Oak Lawn, a hip and friendly spot right along the Cedar Springs Road "strip." Drop in for coffee and tea drinks, omelets, sandwiches, quesadillas, and more. There's another gay-popular locale in the Bishop Arts District, and several others throughout metro Dallas (most, however, don't keep quite as long hours).
Zaguan Bakery & Cafe
An Oak Lawn favorite for delicious Latin American meals - breakfast, lunch, and dinner - Zaguan Cafe and Bakery specializes in the vibrant and flavorful cuisine of Venezuela, Colombia, and Argentina. Specialties include beef and cheese empanadas; chopped marinated chicken with black beans, rice, and plantains; and a variety of pastries and baked goods. Cachapas are another favorite dish here - sweet-corn turnover stuffed with all sorts of delicious ingredients, from prosciutto to chicken-avocado.
Downtown Dallas Skyscrapers
A look at the downtown Dallas and its soaring skyscrapers, looking south. This is the downtown of the 9th-largest city in America.
Travis Walk is a snazzy compound in the hip Knox-Henderson neighborhood with several hip and gay-friendly restaurants, among them Ziziki's, Little Katana, L'Ancestral, and Chateau Wine Market and Bodega Bar. Within a short walk of this elegant building with its open-air courtyards are several other very nice restaurants. Knox-Henderson is near Southern Methodist Univeristy (SMU), and a short drive north of Oak Lawn.
White Rock Lake
A popular recreation area for residents of Dallas, and a favorite spot of gay and lesbian sunbathers, White Rock Lake lies several miles northeast of downtown and comprises a number of points of interest, including a dog park, boathouse, beaches and jogging trails, and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. There's not a gay section per se (and police are quite vigilant about public nudity and sexual activity - it's unwise to even think about it), but the lake just has something of a "family" following, and you'll often see gay folks walking and playing with dogs at the dog park at the north end of the lake. Note that there's no swimming or motorized craft permitted in the lake; however, kayaking and sailing are popular. And biking, in-line skating, jogging, and walking are popular activities along the lake's lovely shoreline.
An upscale dining and retail district near Southern Methodist University, Knox-Henderson District (where Knox and Henderson streets meet, just west of Central Expressway) is a short drive north of Oak Lawn and a popular spot among local gays and lesbians for shopping (Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware) and dining (Toulouse Cafe, MoMo's Pasta, Highland Park Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, Sangria Tapas Y Bar). The neighborhood was established in the 1920s and has enjoyed a steady revitalization in recent years. Several of the better restaurants in the neighborhood are in the hip Travis Walk complex.
The Dallas mecca for upscale retail, NorthPark Center is a short drive north of downtown and contains a bevy of great shops and boutiques, many of them on the swanky side - Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy's, Versace, Bulgari, Abercrombie & Fitch, Anthropologie, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Diesel, Giorgio Armani, J. Jill, Juicy Couture, L'Occitane, Origins, PUMA, Steve Madden, True Religion, TUMI, Urban Outfitters, and many others.
A raffish, low-attitude neighborhood bar that's known for its sizable stable of strippers and unquestionably strong drinks, Zippers is part of a small cluster of no-nonsense gay bars around Fitzhugh Avenue, just west of the North Central Expressway. Zippers tends to draw a somewhat older, and almost exclusively male crowd.
Flashy and fun Out Lines, which is run by the same folks who operate the uber-gay underwear shop Skivvies, is a fixture along Cedar Springs Road in Oak Lawn. When you're in need of a smart, hip outfit for clubbing in "the Crossroads," as this gay-popular section of Oak Lawn is known, Out Lines is an excellent bet. There's also somewhat dressier wear here - smart-casual attire that's perfect for your next date, and a great selection of shoes.
A satellite branch of the popular Oak Lawn gay hangout Hunky's, this cheerful little shop selling burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, and hot dogs is in Oak Cliff, in the heart of the Bishop Avenue Arts District.