JR's Bar, Denver, Colorado (closed)
A guide and gallery to gay nightlife in Denver, Salt Lake City, and elsewhere in the Rockies, including Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming
Note: JR's in Denver has closed.
Denver's most popular gay video bar and after-work hangout, the bi-level JR's (777 E. 17th Ave.) is part of a little nightclub empire (the other JR's bars are in Dallas, Houston, and Washington, DC). The city's quintessential see-and-be-seen pick-up joint, favoring a largely 20- to 40-something professional crowd, is brightly lighted, handsomely decorated, and has an attractive patio and upstairs balcony. Theme nights include Tuesday and Sunday karaoke and a Thursday beer bust. It's a good bar to begin an evening of revelry, or to hang out with friends.
Club JAM, Salt Lake City, Utah
Ever since Club JAM (751 North 300 West, 801-891-1162) opened in the Marmalade District, just northwest of downtown and the Utah Capitol building, this attractive, clean, and smoke-free gay nightclub with a spacious patio has enjoyed a terrific following. With a full liquor license, a good selection of microbrews and wines, and very good food, this modern nightclub draws a good cross-section of SLC gay guys. The snazzy interior, with bamboo flooring and stone bars, is a big step up from any of the gay bars that have existed in Salt Lake over the years. Popular weekly events include the Sunday afternoon beer bust and barbecue, Tuesday college nights, and Wednesday karaoke. Weekend evenings the place is usually packed, with a DJ spinning well into the evening. The crowd varies but tends toward 20s and 30s, professional, and trendy.
The Underground, Colorado Springs, Colorado
The largest gay club in Colorado Springs, and one of the largest in the state, The Underground (110 N. Nevada Ave., 719-578-7771) occupies a historic building in the center of downtown and really comprises three distinct spaces in one. The main floor houses a friendly, laid-back pub with pool tables, darts, and games (different theme nights feature karaoke, poker, bingo, and pub trivia). A flight of stairs leads down to the impressive nightclub area, with a large dance floor and a first-rate sound system. And finally there's a rooftop bar and patio with great views of downtown. This impressive club with multiple spaces to hang out in also has a kitchen that turns out pub fare and Mexican specialties, from Thai chicken pizzas to spicy green chile stew to smoked turkey sandwiches. For whatever Colorado Springs lacks in its number of gay bars, this impressive and handsomely designed gay entertainment complex definitely makes up for it.
Other gay bars in Colorado Springs include Club Q, on the city's east side, and the Bijou Bar and Grill.
BoyzTown, Denver, Colorado
It's dive-y, cruise-y, slightly raunchy, and plenty of fun: BoyzTown (117 Broadway, 303-722-7373) is a highly popular part of the gruff but lovable South Broadway gay scene, a neighbor of such standbys as [link url=http://gaytravel.about.com/od/gaydestinationgalleries/ig/Photos-of-Gay-Denver/Compound-and-Basix.htm]the Compound/Basix[/link] and BJ's Carousel. Part of the excitement (or, at the very least, amusement) is that BoyzTown employs a sizable stable of gregarious strippers and go-go boys, who perform regularly to the delight of sauced and saucy patrons. As gay strip bars go, the crowd is remarkably age-diverse and friendly.
Try-Angles, Salt Lake City, Utah
Popular with all ages and styles, centrally located Club Try-Angles (251 West 900 South, 801-364-3203) is on the southwestern edge of downtown. The large dance club offers a little something for all kinds: pool tables, dancing to DJs on weekends, an expansive patio, free WiFi, Sunday barbecues during the warmer months, and $1 drafts on Tuesday nights. As is common in SLC, Try-Angles functions as a private club (guests from outside the area can visit by paying a fee for a temporary membership). Next door you'll find the gay coffeehouse and Internet cafe, Off Trax (801-364-4307), which is open for breakfast and lunch as well as from 1 am until 3 am on Friday and Saturday nights, a full hour after Try-Angles closes.
Tracks, Denver, Colorado
The definitive Denver gay dance club, Tracks (3500 Walnut St., 303-863-7326) is a huge, eclectic, and enormously fun spot in an industrial area northeast of downtown (it's safe, but a bit of a haul - best to take a cab or drive there). The club is open every Thursday (18-and-over), the first Friday of each month for the city's hottest lesbian party, and every Saturday, when revelers of all types pile in for pulsing music in two different dance areas (one current stuff, the other more retro).
Quincy Bar, Grand Junction, Colorado
Although it caters to a mixed crowd, the GLBT-friendly Quincy Bar (609 Main St., 970-243-1044) is the closest thing you'll find to gay nightlife in western Colorado. This convivial bar on the main drag in Grand Junction is known for its old-fashioned decor, including pressed-tin ceilings, detailed molding, and colorful murals depicting scenes of the area. There's a good selection of beer on tap, and most nights you'll find more than a few gays and lesbians here, along with a mix of other locals. It's nothing fancy or elaborate, but Quincy Bar is a genuinely welcoming place and worth a visit if you're touring the area.
Charlie's, Denver, Colorado
Part of a popular brand of gay country-western bars with additional branches in Chicago, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, Charlie's Denver (900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-839-8890) opened in 1981 on the site of what is now Ms. C's lesbian bar, and has been at its current location since 1989. Home bar of the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association and a great place for country-line dancing and two-stepping, Charlie's also has a standard disco (Club Charlie's) playing current techno, hip-hop, and dance tunes. The crowd is mostly male, most of the time, although Charlie's is definitely quite welcoming of everybody.
Elevation Restaurant & Bar, Aspen, Colorado
Although the tony ski resort community of Aspen is without any full-time gay bars, the town's quite visible GLBT community maintains a significant presence at several lounges and restaurants around town, with Elevation (304 E. Hopkins Ave., 970-544-5166) one of the most likely places where you'll encounter "family." This trendy eatery and bar has a very mixed gay-straight crowd. And the food here is excellent, with a menu specializing in creative regional American fare, from sea scallops with brie and truffle honey to pan-seared duck breast and duck confit with an orange-blackberry sauce) as well as colorful cocktails and a great wine list. During Aspen Gay Ski Week, this is one place to see and be seen.
Compound and Basix, Denver, Colorado
A favorite gay hangout for more than a decade, Compound/Basix (145 Broadway, 773-327-2060) is a fixture along South Broadway, with its several GBLT nightspots and businesses. The bar draws a mostly male, fairly cruise-y bunch of all ages and styles, from collegiate twinks to gruff leather-and-Levi's types. It's especially popular on Sunday afternoons, when the $5 beer busts draw big crowds.
Club Q, Colorado Springs, Colorado
The central Rockies city of Colorado Springs has earned a reputation for far-right conservative politics over the years, and to be sure, it's not the gay-friendliest city in the state (try Denver, an hour north). But the gay scene here is improving steadily. You'll find a couple of gay bars in town, one of the better known being Club Q (3430 N. Academy Blvd., 719-570-1429), a "come one, come all", zero-attitude place that's equally popular among lesbians and gay men. It's nothing fancy, and you'll find it tucked behind a shopping center in a suburban neighborhood on the northeast side of town.
Ms C's, Denver, Colorado
Although it's woefully far from downtown (about 5 miles east via ticky-tacky, slow-as-molasses Colfax Avenue), Ms C's lesbian bar (7900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-322-4436) deserves kudos as a low-frills, no-nonsense lesbian bar (and a bit of a dive) that has managed to remain popular for decades. It draws a mostly lesbian crowd (in fact, men - gay or otherwise - tend to be very much the exception). There's a nice big patio, super-cheap drinks, a rocking juke box, and the usual bar games (pool, darts, and such). It ain't fancy, but the crowd here sure knows how to party.
The Trapp, Salt Lake City, Utah
Not to be confused with the defunct Trapp Door, which is just around the corner, The Trapp (102 South 600 West, 801-531-8727) is what remains of the formerly significant gay scene that used to thrive in Salt Lake City's Warehouse District, west of downtown (although just around the corner, you'll find the relatively new Studio 27 gay nightclub as well as the city's biggest gay Saturday night party, at the The Temple). This rollicking and friendly neighborhood hangout has stood the test of time, as several others have closed over the years, and the city's gay nightlife scene has spread geographically in all directions. The Trapp is known for its juke box of country-western standards, its inexpensive drinks, and its genial staff - there's also a pleasant patio out back. Guys over 40 will feel most at home here, although the mood is quite welcoming toward everyone.
Wazee Supper Club, Denver, Colorado
For more than 30 years, LoDo's convivial and gay-popular Wazee Supper Club (1600 15th St., 303-623-9518) has been pleasing hungry diners as well as being a convivial spot for cocktails and socializing. Although it draws a very mixed crowd, this is one of the better gay nightlife options in LoDo. It's located inside a dramatic 1910 warehouse, just around the corner from the famed Tattered Cover Bookstore. The menu is casual and affordable - exceptionally good pizzas, plus hefty burgers, grilled smoked-turkey melts, blackened-salmon salad, and the like.
Hamburger Mary's, Denver, Colorado
The Mile High City branch of the campy and gay-popular restaurant chain Hamburger Mary's (700 E. 17th St., 303-832-1333) is set along East 17th Avenue, nearly across the street from one of Denver's most popular gay bars, JR's. This festive spot whose floor-to-ceiling windows open fully in warm weather is noted for its cheery happy hours, great cocktail specials, festive Sunday brunch, dishy servers (and patrons, for that matter), and extensive menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and finger foods - many with amusingly suggestive or drag-queen-inspired names (Skew-Hers, Cala-Mary, Threesome Caesar Salads, the LGBT - with bacon, tomato, lettuce, and guacamole, and the Spicy Mary Buffalo Burger).
Radio City Lounge, Salt Lake City, Utah (closed 2009)
Although downtown Salt Lake's Radio City Lounge closed in August 2009, it's worth commemorating this venerable, if quirky, gay neighborhood bar that opened its doors in 1948. It had been known as the oldest gay bar west of the Mississippi at the time of its sad demise.
Trapp Door, Salt Lake City, Utah (closed 2009)
NOTE: The Trapp Door closed in 2009
Salt Lake City only has a handful of gay bars, but what it lacks in sheer number it makes up for in energy and friendliness. Arguably the hottest hangout among the bunch is the Trapp Door a decent-size disco with an also sizable side patio in the city's Warehouse District, just west of downtown. The club has SLC's best theme nights, include Latin-oriented Bachanga on Sundays, hip-hop on Tuesdays, and pulsing dance music other evenings.
MoDiggity's, Salt Lake City, Utah (closed)
Note: Modiggity's has closed.
One of two lesbian bars in Salt Lake City (the other being Paper Moon Nightclub, which is just a few blocks farther south), MoDiggity's (3424 S. State St., 801-832-9000) is in a drab strip mall on the south side of the city, about a 10-minute drive southwest of the hip Sugar House neighborhood. This no-attitude, easygoing women's sports bar airs games (and movies) on TV screens, and has dancing on weekends, karaoke on Wednesdays, and Texas Hold 'Em poker nights on Tuesdays.