Looking for a place to party and have a great time in the Gulf South? Use this guide to find the best gay bars, nightclubs, lounges, cabarets, and other nightlife options in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
Trax, Nashville, Tennessee
It takes a little effort finding, but Trax (1501 2nd Ave. S) is a friendly and fun neighborhood bar in a rather desolate industrial area south of downtown. Trax pulls in a diverse bunch of regular joes, working stiffs, and no-nonsense types. It's unpretentious, the drinks are cheap, and the bartenders are quite welcoming. If you're not a regular, you may stand out a bit here, which isn't necessarily a bad thing—it's pretty easy to strike up a conversation in here. There's a bar and some tables and chairs in the front room, and a pool table in the adjacent, larger room. The lighting is a bit harsh, and the linoleum floor and particle-board ceiling impart a, well, let's say minimalist ambiance.
Just Us Lounge, Biloxi, Mississippi
The only gay nightlife option along the Gulf Coast between Mobile and the New Orleans area, the popular Just Us Lounge (906 Division St., Biloxi) is handily located just off I-110, midway between the Back Bay of Biloxi (and the IP Casino Resort) and the Gulf of Mexico (and Beau Rivage Casino Resort). The festive hangout with an exterior painted with an elaborate landscape of Southern mansions and landscapes is a good spot to meet locals and tourists in the area. It's open 24-7 on weekends, offers dancing to local DJs, and stages fun drag shows. The crowd varies depending on the night but generally includes a mix of men and women across a broad age range.
Lipstick Lounge, Nashville, Tennessee
On the main drag of the city's endearingly offbeat and historic East Nashville neighborhood, the homey Lipstick Lounge (1400 Woodland St) is not only the city's most popular lesbian bars but one of the most popular lesbian bars in the South. This very cool little spot draws a primarily Sapphic crowd, but that's not to say the friendly management doesn't welcome everyone. As the owners say on the bar's website, "If you're human, you'll fit right in."
This bustling two-story bar opened in 2002, and it's become a fixture of this wonderful, counter-cultural neighborhood ever since - some gay-popular neighbors include Marche cafe and fine food store and Margot Cafe. The entire place is done in bright and bold colors, and you'll find an upstairs area with video games, cafe tables, lounge-y chairs, a plasma-screen TV, darts, and plenty of other diversions. Lipstick's kitchen serves tasty burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, BLT salads, baked Brie, hot wings, and particularly tasty breakfast fare (at night—it's not open for breakfast, so don't knock on their door at 10 in the morning), including well-regarded French toast. On the main level there's a bar with an itty-bitty dance floor, occasional live music acts, and legendary karaoke on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights (hey, in this town, people know how to sing). If you're new in town, visiting for a few days, or just trying to meet new friends and get a sense of the community, don't miss this place.
Gabriel's, Mobile, Alabama
The oldest gay bar in Alabama and the most consistently popular one in Mobile, Gabriel's (55 S. Joachim St) opened in 1992 in the downtown historic district, just a couple of blocks off of leafy Bienville Square, steps from several notable restaurants and major hotels, and steps from the busy Government Street corridor. It's on the same block as two of the city's other gay hangouts, B-Bob's and Bacchus (there's one other gay bar in Mobile, the Midtown Pub, which though quite popular lies about 3 miles west of downtown). The small downtown gay quarter is easy to navigate on foot and quite safe, giving the Mobile a particularly inviting LGBT nightlife scene, especially for a relatively small city in a conservative part of the country.
Gabriel's occupies a historic building with exposed-brick walls and several spots to mingle and chat with fellow patrons—there's a pool table in one section. Off the bar, Gabriel's Outback is a lushly landscaped deck with tables and chairs that's open Saturday nights and for special events. It's a friendly, neighborhood-driven bar - a quiet enough spot to carry on a conversation, and there's karaoke a couple of nights a week.
Bonus points for the bar having two very cute mascots, a couple of little cats (Gabriel and Tillie Ann) that were rescued by the staff.
Play Nightclub, Nashville, Tennessee
It welcomes everyone and, indeed, draws a mix of straights and gays, but Play (1519 Church St.) is very much Nashville's—one of the South's—hottest gay discos, having been one red-hot destination club since it opened in 2004. Along with Tribe, next door, it's the see-and-be-seen gay hangout in town, with a decidedly youthful, attractive, well-coiffed, and stylishly clad crowd. Expect a ripping sound system, great dancing, fun drag shows on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and other cool theme nights—live music on Thursdays, and great DJs on weekends (it's closed Mon. and Tues.).
Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, New Orleans, Louisiana
Faubourg Marigny, which borders the French Quarter just downriver, is one of the most colorful and eclectic of New Orleans's many historic neighborhoods, and it's along bustling Frenchmen Street that you'll find one of the city's great music institutions, Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro (626 Frenchmen St). This intimate, gay-friendly restaurant and music club fills up each evening with a mix of local and tourists (it's wise to buy tickets and book dinner reservations in advance—this place is justly popular!).
Within the Snug Harbor's exposed-brick walls, which are hung with local artwork, you'll hear some of the most illustrious jazz, blues, soul, and Cajun performers in the city—members of the Marsalis and Neville families, the Thelonious Monk Institute, Deacon John, Dr. Michael White, and many others. It's a great way to truly get a sense of this city's long and impressive music lineage.
Tribe Nightclub, Nashville, Tennessee
With several different areas—all of them attractively decorated and lighted—a full-service restaurant, a lovely outdoor back patio, great music, and a friendly staff, the Church Street District's convivial Tribe (1517 Church St) nightclub is one of the most polished and appealing gay night spots in the South. It's right next to the popular dance club Play. Tribe's main bar has a small dance area in the back and a large central bar; to the left there's a video bar with cozy leather sofas and chairs; and to the left of that you'll find the casual restaurant, Red, serving dinner nightly (except Mondays, when it's closed).
Feast on shrimp quesadillas, baked mac-and-cheese, pimento-grilled-cheese sandwiches with bacon and tomato, grilled veggie burgers, and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin. Tribe draws a mixed bunch, mostly gay, but both women and men and quite a few straight "friends" of the community. It's most popular earlier in the evening, as serious revelers and dancers tend to move next door to Play as the night continues.
B-Bob's, Mobile, Alabama
Downtown Mobile's favorite gay dance club, the two-floor B-Bob's (213 Conti St) club has a quieter lounge on the ground level and a livelier space upstairs with a dance floor and show bar with DJs and drag shows. It's in the city's small, unofficial gay quarter, right in the heart of the downtown historic district and just steps from another popular Mobile gay bar, Gabriel's, plus a number of restaurants.