Rain on 4th, the popular gay dance bar in Austin

••• The kitchy dance floor at Rain on 4th is part of the fun. photo by Andrew Collins

Billing itself Austin's's "upscale gay lounge," Rain on 4th has been going strong for several years just a couple of doors down from longtime favorite gay Austin hangout, Oilcan Harry's. In a relatively short time, it's become a major player on the scene, giving its rivals a run for their money.

Rain occupies a stretch of West 4th that has held a number of gay clubs, most recently the creepily, Dahmer-esquely named Boyz Cellar.

It's steps from a number of trendy restaurants and across from gay-popular Halcyon Coffeehouse, Bar, and Lounge.

The club is divided into three main parts (not unlike Oilcan's): a mellower front bar has a pool table and cushy leather sofas - it feels living room-esque and relaxing. The cocktail bar up front is often less crowded than in other parts of Rain, so it's not a bad idea to order your (very reasonably priced!) cocktails here.

The middle room has a small but fabulous dance floor with pulsing, lighted floor panels that conjures up the spirit of John Travolta gettin' down in Saturday Night Fever. To one side are some cozy booths for chilling, and to another side you'll find a nice long bar set against a brick wall backlit in the colors of the rainbow (it's a thankfully tasteful and subtle nod to Pride colors). The acoustics in this room, with its soaring wooden ceiling, are excellent, and the DJ-spun tunes are upbeat and fun.

The third section comprises a spacious yet quite cozy patio that's a bit more quiet than the rest of Rain and thus ideal for chitting and chatting. The overall vibe here as well as in most of the bar is one of festivity and inclusion. Its definitely Austin's feel-good gay bar.

The crowd is eclectic if trending toward collegiate but still with plenty of folks of all ages.

It's also one of the most mixed-gender gay clubs in town, and it manages to be a place where groups of friends congregate without feeling cliquey and vogueish the way some places in Austin feel. And although it's clearly aiming for an upscale look, the crowd spans styles and tastes - this is the sort of place where you'll fit in just fine wearing shredded denim or pressed-jeans.

Rain on 4th is in Austin's funky Warehouse District, on the south edge of downtown, at 217 W. 4th Street, 512-494-1150. The bar is open nightly and has some fun theme events, such as drag shows on Sundays, a "calendar boy" contest on Thursdays, and a pool tournament on Mondays. As is the case for most Austin gay bars, there's generally not a cover charge.