Featured, Night life

A hot night out on the town: The best queer spots for cabaret, drag, dancing and beyond

Oct 4, 2019, Author: Candice May

Nightlife in the City of Gold may always be in flux, but for the LGBTQ community, some places will always be home. Whether you’re seeking out some landmarks to learn about queer history or your quest is more hedonistic and vibrant clubs are your thing, there’s more than enough to keep you busy. 


For … drag dining at its finest 

Occupying a prominent spot on the Illovo nightlife scene, Beefcakes is regularly voted one of Joburg’s best LGBTQ venues. Nightly performances, beefy table hosts, mouth-watering burgers and Sex and the City Cosmo cocktails are just a few reasons to visit this place that welcomes everyone and anyone looking to experience drag dining. It’s a little classier than local rival Babylon, but it attracts a broadly similar crowd and the young, up-for-it vibe is just as much fun. And, fear not, because when this door closes, another opens next door – with a later license and even louder pop songs. 

Illovo Muse, 198 Oxford Road, Illovo 

011 447 5266  

Facebook: @beefcakesjoburg 


For … a dance-all-night vibe 

Joburg’s famous Babylon – The Bar has everything you’d except: Cheap drink offers on weekends, a young crowd and plenty of Britney. It’s spread over two floors, with a dedicated booth area that never seems to empty out. Most Joburgers over the age of 25 profess to hate it, but they’ll still end up here a few times a year, tossing back half-price tequilas and dancing until the sun comes up. We should probably also mention that it’s possible to get picked up in less time than it takes to finish a drink here. Gays, lesbians and straights are all welcome nonetheless! 

Illovo Muse, 198 Oxford Road, Illovo 

011 447 3215  

Facebook: @babylonthejoburgbar 

Instagram: @babylonthejoburgbar 


For … 1980s pop, rock and disco 

Melville cuties can call Ratz Bar their own. This classic, no-attitude gay bar has outlasted many other drinkeries on the strip due to its combination of cosy couches, generous happy hours and friendly bartenders. Home to a friendly crowd of guys and gals, it’s a great place for pre-drinks before a big night out. Come midnight, the tables are cleared and the high-energy dance music draws a mixed, flirty crowd. Daytime brings gawking tourists, but the evenings are still for partying. Don’t miss karaoke nights on Wednesdays, ladies’ nights on Thursdays and sundowner karaoke on Sundays. 

9 7th Street, Melville 

011 482 2414 

Facebook: @ratzbar.melville 

Instagram: @ratzbarmelville 

For … millennial pink drinks 

If you thought that millennial pink was a trend solely seen on the runway – think again. Tonic, the welcoming, gay-friendly bar that celebrates all things gin, has taken over the nightlife scene providing not only a picture-perfect backdrop for your next Instagram, but also a selection of equally Instagrammable pink drinks. It’s a total win-win! Our top pick is the Boomerang-friendly Mother Fluffer, topped with pink candy floss and garnished with rainbow sprinkles. The Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, shaken with white chocolate syrup and raspberry sherbet, is a close second. 

32 7th Street, Linden 

087 238 4623 



Secret meeting places 

Trouble Bar: A back-to-basics gay bar with good-looking men. Corner of Republic Road &, Rabie Street, Fontainebleau. 082 875 9230 

Liquid Blue: The crown jewel of Melville’s cosmopolitan neighbourhood blasting house, R&B and commercial music. 8 7th Street, Melville. 011 482 5593 

The Rec Room: The largest, busiest gay steam bath in Jozi (OMG!). Shop 1 Phoenix Centre, corner of Malibongwe & Tungsten Drive, Fernale. 011 792 1288 

Ramrods: A cruising spot under Adult World. 356 Jan Smuts Avenue, Craighall. 010 597 4233


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