Party with pride at these LGBTQIA+ hotspots in North Carolina

Party With Pride At These LGBTQIA+ Hotspots In North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Dorothy Scott

May 3, 2024

“Be gay, do crime” is a popular lighthearted meme online, but for our local North Carolinians, there might be a better way to get in on some good ol’ communal fun: heading to your local LGBTQ-centered clubs and hotspots.

Bars and clubs have long been tentpoles in the queer community — they’re typically safe spaces to meet up, let loose, and have a good time, and you may even be surprised by how many there are. Queer bars and clubs aren’t always flashy; some go the discreet route, which historically helped keep their clientele safe from police raids.

Nowadays, discreetness is less of a priority, but you may still miss out on some of the hottest meeting spots around if you don’t know where to look. That’s why we’ve gathered 10 of the hottest LGBTQ+ watering holes in North Carolina — because everyone deserves community (and a good time), out or not.

1. Legends Nightclub Complex (Raleigh)

Address: 330 W Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Not everything with “legends” in it rises to the occasion, but Legends Nightclub Complex certainly does. Located in the Depot Historic District, this nightclub contains everything from a game room and a video bar to a dance floor and a full performance theater. Legends is closed from Tuesday to Thursday each week, but beginning on Fridays, the real — dare we say — legends arrive.

This Raleigh hotspot often sees top-tier queer entertainers taking its stage, including “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumni such as Jaida Essence Hall, Amanda Tori Meating, and Jorgeous. Its local drag performers are nothing to scoff at either, turning out shows for locals and visitors every week. “If you are looking for a great night out at a local gay bar and a good drag show then look no further!” one visitor even wrote in their Tripadvisor review.

Party With Pride At These LGBTQIA+ Hotspots In North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Legends Raleigh via Instagram.

2. Chemistry Nightclub (Greensboro)

Address: 2901 Spring Garden St, Greensboro, NC 27403

Open from Tuesday to Saturday each week, Chemistry Nightclub is one of the best places to escape for a night of drag debauchery — or just to have fun in general, as Chemistry also has trivia and karaoke nights. Oh, and it even has a pool in case you want to beat the heat with your local queer community.

Cover fees to enter Chemistry Nightclub appear to differ by night, with some evenings costing as little as $3 and others costing around $7 if you want expedited admission to skip the queue. Ultimately, Chemistry is a down-home kind of nightclub — the type of place that immediately feels like home even if you’ve never been there. This is only aided by food trucks popping by, which some Google reviewers particularly adore. “Love the fun drinks, and the food truck is always yummy,” one review wrote.

3. Rofwiha Book Café

Address: 406 S Driver St, Durham, NC 27703

While many queer hotspots are nightclubs and bars, more non-alcohol-centered gathering places are beginning to emerge, including in North Carolina. Enter Rofwiha Book Café, a Black-and-queer-owned coffee shop whose mission is to be a safe space for all Black and queer folks. This mission is represented in its book selection, which exemplifies literary greatness from Black authors worldwide.

Rofhiwa is such a gem! What a beautiful place to work from, buy some books, and drink coffee,” one Google reviewer wrote of the shop. “The atmosphere is cozy, inviting, and perfect for getting lost in a good book or catching up on some work.”

Plus, this coffee shop’s flavors are out of this world. One fan-favorite flavor mentioned in many Google reviews sounds particularly delicious: rosemary brown sugar. Ultimately, if you’re in the area, visiting and supporting Rofwiha Book Café is a must.

Party With Pride At These LGBTQIA+ Hotspots In North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Rofhiwa Book Café via Instagram.

4. Club Cabaret (Hickory)

Address: 101 N Center St, Hickory, NC 28601

If any entry on this list needs more love, it’s Club Cabaret. This Hickory staple is the longest-running gay club in the city, but its social media channels don’t have a big following and its Google Reviews are few and far between (albeit positive).

At Club Cabaret, you can expect to see plenty of performances from North Carolina’s rising drag stars, a monthly talent show, and much more. This venue is open every Friday and Saturday, but as one commenter noted on a post on the Club Cabaret Fans and Family Facebook page, it also opens on Thursdays and Sundays for “special occasions” from time to time.

Ultimately, Club Cabaret isn’t the most happenin’ place, with many Google reviewers noting that not many folks were there when they were, but this is exactly the kind of LGBTQIA+-centered place that could thrive once the word is it. Just take it from this reviewer: “The staff and owner are super friendly and it is an over all great atmosphere.”

5. Ruby Deluxe (Raleigh)

Address: 415 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601

As one Redditor put it, Raleigh’s Ruby Deluxe is where “the younger/trendier crowd” hangs out, so if you want up with the cool kids, as they say, this is the spot for you.

Ruby Deluxe has more than 10,000 Instagram followers, showing just how important a space it is — and it’s clear to see why. Its events bring the queer community together like few others. For instance, an event slated for June 2024 is an after-party for rising pop star Chappell Roan’s concert in the area, giving queer concertgoers a place to dance the rest of the night away. Ruby Deluxe even hosts weekly viewing parties for “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” so you never have to watch the latest eliminated drag queen sashay away alone at home if you live in the Raleigh area. While you’re there, check out the indoor and outdoor bars — and the in-house coffee shop. You read that right.

Party With Pride At These LGBTQIA+ Hotspots In North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Ruby Deluxe via Instagram.

6. Woodshed Bar (Charlotte)

Address: 3935 Queen City Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208

Woodshed Bar brings something different to the table than our other entries thus far. Where the others are more focused on drag performances, Woodshed Bar is a leather bar, meaning it’s more oriented toward male performers and provocative leather attire like harnesses. The fun never ends here, either, as Woodshed Bar is open every day and offers rotating drink specials. Plus, pool tables and a duo of outdoor bars make this watering hole one for the books.

At the end of the day, Woodshed Bar celebrates queerness unabashedly, even noting on its Memberships page queer folks’ safety and happiness is always prioritized despite anyone being welcome to attend. Just be respectful and have a good time, and you’ll stay in Woodshed’s good graces.

7. Twist Lounge (Greensboro)

Address: 435 m, Dolley Madison Rd, Greensboro, NC 27410

The Guildford Village area of Greensboro is home to Twist Lounge, which describes itself as “a twist on your neighborhood bar.” One twist off the bat is that Twist Lounge permits outside food, meaning you can dance the night away and enjoy drinks without worrying about running out of fuel or not having food to help you sober up. Twist Lounge hosts a plethora of drag shows, country music performances, dance parties, and more — just don’t expect to see one from Monday through Wednesday, as Twist is always closed on these days.

Twist Lounge’s outdoor seating area is also especially cute, and with many pride flags waving around, this establishment is bravely for the queer community by the queer community. “I love the atmosphere here! The bartenders are always nice and the drinks are great,” one visitor wrote in a Google review. “It’s perfect for meeting with friends to socialize or make new … ones.”

Party With Pride At These LGBTQIA+ Hotspots In North Carolina

Photo courtesy of twist Lounge via Instagram.

8. Flex (Raleigh)

Address: 615 W Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Flex is a nightclub and bar in Raleigh that’s not afraid to dip into the spicier side of the LGBTQIA+ community, featuring go-go dancers, celebrations of the leather/bear community, and an overall sensual vibe some nights. This isn’t to say there aren’t less sensual nights, though. Flex also hosts drag shows, karaoke nights, and country dancing for a classically fun yet sensational time.

What’s more, Flex is known for its cocktails and kind bartenders, meaning you’ll be in good hands each time you order a drink. In fact, this is precisely what led to this positive Google review: “I love this place. The vibe is great, the karaoke is fun, the drag shows are entertaining, and the bartender is so kind. Always worth a visit.” Just note that you may need to pay to park at Flex, as one reviewer cited a $5 parking fee.

9. Queeny’s (Durham)

Address: 321 E Chapel Hill St Suite 100, Durham, NC 27701

Whether referring to drag queens or simply one another, “queen” is a popular term in the queer community, so it’s probably no surprise that Queeny’s is such an LGBTQIA+-friendly destination. Queeny’s serves mouth-watering food and inspired alcoholic beverages at reasonable prices, and it’s open until 2 a.m. every day, meaning queer folks in Durham have a dedicated late-night safe space that’s not a nightclub.

Queeny’s even has a library and podcast studio, so it’s really a jack-of-all-trades type of establishment. Oh, and it hosts queer events such as the Queer Social, held on the business’ back patio. Has there ever been a better place in Durham to meet fellow LGBTQ+ folks?

Party With Pride At These LGBTQIA+ Hotspots In North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Queeny’s Durham via Instagram.

10. The Hippo (Raleigh)

Address: 123 E Martin St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Rounding out our list is The Hippo, Raleigh’s queer-owned wine depot — er, bar and shop, but “depot” puts the respect on its name that it deserves. The Hippo opened in late spring 2023 and is another excellent non-nightclub option, opening at noon or 2 p.m. depending on the day (The Hippo is open seven days a week).

Here, you can even sign up to become a member of The Hippo Wine Club, which sees you getting three or six bottles of hand-selected wine per month depending on your subscription level. This way, you can try new things while also, as the brand notes, “[keeping] your money in Raleigh.”

One of my most favorite spots to sip wine in the triangle,” one Google reviewer wrote of The Hippo. “Fun, eclectic, vibrant and welcoming space.” We’re not surprised to read this, as The Hippo allows dogs — and therefore extra joy, of course. If the dogs don’t make you smile, the neon hippo-shaped light inside absolutely will.

Party With Pride At These LGBTQIA+ Hotspots In North Carolina

Photo courtesy of The Hippo Wine Bar and Shop via Instagram.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Party with pride at these LGBTQIA+ hotspots in North CarolinaParty with pride at these LGBTQIA+ hotspots in North Carolina

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