Gay Bar

Why is it So Hard to Approach Men at a Gay Bar?

The 2010's have been riddled with app after app after app for gay men to peruse in an attempt to steer us away from the normalcy of approaching someone you like at a gay bar to the comfort of a woof button from your very own bedroom.

Sure, these things have their perks.  You, for the most part, get to know who the person is in terms of what their likes are, albeit sexual or not, so you already have an idea of what you're getting yourself into.  But what would happen, god forbid, if the internet and these apps went away and we were forced back into doing something completely shocking: actually approaching someone we like in real life?

My particular generation came about with the usage of internet hookup and dating sites like Adam4Adam, Bear411 and Manhunt before that parlayed into the usage of apps like Scruff, Growlr and Grindr.  This time period rarely allowed our generation (I'm talking about the super late in the game Gen-x'ers to the early millennials) to explore the cruising elements that gay bars became known for thirty or forty years prior to us entering into it.  

This of course, can be very frustrating for guys around my age, because it limits us in terms of how we can really approach someone that we like at said bar or any social environment.  I consider myself to be someone who is very friendly, amicable, fun, and easy-to-like so I have no problem fitting into a lot of social groups yet I have a very hard time saying hello to someone I find physically desirable.

Am I afraid of rejection?  Sure.  Everyone is.  There are "cheat" ways of approaching someone without having to directly do it, though, that I do find work for me.  Situations like them being in a group of guys that I happen to know someone in can make it easier to go in "for the kill" per se.  You can also find yourself talking with someone else and they interject into whatever you are talking about.  Those are all and good, and can make everything less complicated, but what happens when you actually have to approach someone?

I can't remember the last time I actually said "Can I get your number?"  It sounds archaic almost, in that a lot of dates that I go on now don't even involve the number trade, it's more chatting on an app first prior to meeting up.  Then, if there is chemistry, the numbers get exchanged and we go from there.  

My therapist recommended (yes I see one, we all should no matter where we are in life) that I try and actually go up to a guy and say "Hello."  I usually don't go to gay bars by myself, unless its for a quick drink prior to an engagement later on that evening, but I actually did try twice this past week to go solo and actually approach someone at a popular bar in New York City.

It was happy hour which meant that the crowd was a bit lively, scattered, and diverse in terms of the kind of guy you could go for.  I gravitate towards many a kind, but I did find someone very attractive that had a solid beard, nice build, and great smile and eyes.  He was casually chatting with someone else, and when that person got their coat and left, I noticed he did not.  He, like me, was alone.  So what would actually happen if I really did approach him?  Would he reject me immediately, not even talk to me, find it weird that I wanted to talk to him first or maybe, just maybe, actually talked to me back?

I noticed he was watching some sort of Olympics recap, and given that they had Gus Kenworthy's adorable face on the screen, I knew I had a way in.  "Isn't he just so fucking cute?," I said to the guy nervously.  "Yeah, I've seen his Instagram and he definitely knows how to showcase his assets."  (Laughter).  "I'm Ryan."  "I'm John."

I wanted to quickly switch the convo from how great Gus' ass was into more about who John was, who I am, and if this was just a friendly conversation.  It became that, as he happened to have a boyfriend and they are not open (womp womp), but, I accomplished something that truly terrified me and I'm glad that I did it.

I can't be alone in this situation in terms of approaching someone you like at a gay bar, so I asked some of my friends if they have done the same (this includes straight people as well at a straight bar).  Surprisingly, most of them have, and it led to a serious relationship and even... marriage.

So maybe the idea of approaching someone you like isn't as dead as I thought it was, maybe it was me shielding myself in my bedroom from something great that could truly happen.  I think this was a life lesson for anyone out there who fears rejection the most: it happens.  It will happen, but at some point you'll get lucky and those anxiety-ridden thoughts will disappear for good. 

What is the Best Gay Bar You Have Ever Been to in Your Life?


Although gay bars lately have taken a bit of a hit due to the ongoing presence of social media apps that prevent some of us from wanting to actually go out and meet people in real life, they are definitely a big part of our history both personally and as a community overall.

As our lives go by, there are certain moments and places that we definitely remember visiting for the first time, one of them being our first gay bar.  You recall just how nervous you were, if you looked good enough (and showered efficiently), and what exactly will happen as the night went on.  Even though your first gay bar may not be your favorite, its one to definitely reflect on as it began your gay nightlife journey which leads to the following question...


What is your all-time favorite gay bar you have ever been to?  Which one definitely brings back some incredibly fond memories, and which do you still go to on a regular basis?  We all have that one that sticks out for a certain reason: maybe we met the love of our lives one night (or the best f**k ever), there was a party going on that gave you life and then some, or maybe its where you convene with your besties for a fun night out.

We asked what your favorite gay bar of all time is, and the answers were diverse in terms of location, type of bar, and much more.  Sadly, many of these are not open anymore, but its the distinct memories we have of them that keep their spirits alive.

What would you add to this list? 

GYM Sportsbar (New York City)

Connections (Nashville) 

San Francisco Eagle (San Francisco)

The Roxy (New York City)

Royal Vauxhall Tavern (London)

Twist (Miami)

Uncle Charlie's Piano Bar (New York City)

Paradise (Asbury Park, NJ)

Trax (Chicago)

Nu Towne Saloon (Phoenix)

GAY (London)

Rawhide (New York City)

Paragon (Miami)

Diesel Seattle (Seattle)

Mars Bar (New York City)

Salvation (Miami)

Stonewall (Sydney)

Backstreet (Atlanta)


Some Philadelphia Football Fans Mistakenly Walked Into A Leather Bar (Guess The Bar's Name)

Some Eagles fans got a surprise when they walked into a gay bar instead of a sports bar.

While looking for a place to hang out for the Super Bowl, some visiting Eagles fans walked into the Minneapolis bar called the Eagle Bolt. Apparently, some people thought the bar was an Eagles themed sports bar and others chose the bar just because Eagle was in the name.

‘We were just walking around as we were looking for a bar,’ one patron told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

‘I said we’re stopping there, it says Eagle.’

Of course, these visitors quickly found out there were more bears than Eagles in the joint.





















Thankfully though, there was no conflict once the locals and the visitors realized what was up. In fact, the mix up was almost not worthy of noting (other than for a few laughs).

As Cyd Zeigler at Out Sports said:

"You don’t have to be gay to watch the Super Bowl in a gay bar. Heck, you don’t have to be a football fan either."

"You just have to be cool, and it sounds like a bunch of cool Eagles fans had the night of their lives in a gay bar called Eagle."

Bar owner Ed Hopkins agreed and said that things like this should be this simple. So what if it’s a gay bar? As long as there’s a tv screen playing the Super Bowl, the more the merrier.

“It assumes there is something wrong with realizing you are in a gay bar,” he said. “The people in tonight enjoyed being in our place.”

“The Eagles fans were very rowdy and fun. We enjoyed having them in our establishment.”

“The Super Bowl is supposed to bring everyone together that loves football. That is how the Eagle felt tonight.”

This Moving Bathhouse Party Has New York City Bars Raving

Its cold up in the North East of America with temperatures reaching as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit just in the New York and Philadelphia area.

But while its getting colder outside, its getting warmer inside at gay bars in New York City.

Multiple clubs in New York City are hosting “Bette, Bathhouse and Beyond” events in order to both revisit the good old days of the gay bathhouse scene as well as to celebrate singer Bette Midler who was a frequent visitor of such haunts.

Party organizer Daniel Nardicio has teamed up with singer Amber Martin to create a night to remember. Guests are told that the dress code is towel only while Martin performs one of Midler’s routines to mimic bathhouse excursions of the past.

And if you’re thinking, “Why celebrate Midler at a bathhouse?” That’s because Midler was known for her bathhouse performances.

In their glory days, bathhouses weren’t just places for sex but social hubs for gay men, and performers often showed up to sing a song or two. Milder was so known for it that she gained the nickname Bathhouse Betty.

When actor Alan Cumming announced that he would be creating a club with multiple events to celebrate gay culture, he added that a bathhouse theme was in the works. The videos above and below show the fruition of those original ideas.

Now, the party is on the move again as it was held last night at another club in New York called Bedlam Bar.

Keep a look out for “Bette, Bathhouse and Beyond” because it looks like its an event that everyone’s loving.

h/t: NewNowNext

Traveling In Gay Europe - Final Destination: Cologne

Our European travel series for gay men concludes. First we showed you Vienna, Austria. Then we took you to Munich, Germany. Now Instinct is pleased to present you with a tour of culturally rich and historical Cologne.

The fourth-largest city in Germany and former Roman colony has the famous Rhine snaking through it and a robust gay culture. Cologne’s annual Pride festivities draw about one million people from all over Europe.

Bars are located in two areas just about two metro stops apart. Old Town, closer to the river, caters to men 50+ as well as leather and fetish. More popular, attracting a younger crowd, is Bermuda Triangle, near Rudolfplatz. The intersection of Schaafenstrasse and Mauritiuswall is where one finds lively watering holes of many types. ExCorner has a casual beer-loving vibe and I saw birthday parties and Oktoberfest celebrated in equal measure. One thirtysomething had multiple glasses of beer lined up on a window sill. At only two Euros per glass, I suppose he could afford it.

IRON is more sophisticated featuring an all-black interior accented with purple neon lighting. Here I spoke with an American (who didn’t want to give me his name for this article) living with his husband in Germany. When I commented on how mixed the crowd was, he told me it is normal for gay men and women to hang out together in Cologne. His identity preserved, we both smiled at the handsome Iranian (and straight) bartender who felt embarrassed his German wasn’t “good enough.” Who was I to judge? I ordered my second drink in English.

Saunas are popular in Cologne too. Badehaus Babylon, a gorgeous Italianate villa made of red brick, offers three floors of fun including an outdoor pool (allowing office workers to be voyeurs from their skyscrapers surrounding the facility). Drawing a diverse clientele, there were men of all ages and types, from thin, pimply teenagers (the age of consent is 14) to white-haired older men. In contrast to years ago when I first visited, this time I noticed many Middle Eastern men (Cologne has a sizeable and growing Muslim population). One reason they stood out was the swimming trunks they wore. Most men wrap a towel around their hips, or wear nothing at all. And in comparison to the US, condoms are a big deal in Germany. PrEP is not yet widely available in Europe like it is in the States, so one finds condoms everywhere, as well as posters stressing safer sex.

Lastly, there are two absolute cultural musts in Cologne. Museum Ludwig, with its permanent and visiting modern art exhibits, features Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns. Cologne Cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction began in 1248 and wasn’t completed until 1880. Both are located on the Domplatte, not far from the main train station.

If You Go – Cologne


Cologne Bonn Airport is a regional one so it is difficult to fly direct to or from the USA. Connections via Munich, Frankfurt or Berlin should be expected. Cologne is served by high-speed rail if you travel in and away by train. Deutsche Bahn offers Sparpreis saver fares for booking in advance online and one-way tickets can cost as little as 19 euros.


Hotel NH Collection Köln Mediapark, Im Media Park 8b; +1 212 219 7607


Bei Oma Kleinmann, fantastic traditional German food popular with locals – get the schnitzel with a pint of Kölsch, the signature local brew; Zuelpicher Str. 9; +49 221232346

Bastian’s, charming bakery café serving jaw droppingly-good rolls and pastries; Auf dem Berlich 3-5; +49 221 25083412


Badehaus Babylon Cologne, one of the most beautiful and popular saunas in Europe; Friesenstraße 23-25; +49 221 4207 4577

ExCorner, Schaafenstraße 57-59; +49 221 233 6060

IRON, Schaafenstraße 45; +49 221 2764 9614

Museum Ludwig, Heinrich-Böll-Platz; +49 221 22126165

Cologne Cathedral, Domkloster 4


On The Prowl In Gay Europe – First Stop: Vienna

Welcome to Instinct’s three-part travel series giving you a peek into modern gay culture in Vienna, Munich and Cologne – three of Europe’s most amazing cities. Tomorrow and Friday we’ll delve into two of Germany’s hottest destinations for gay male travelers – but today it’s all about Austria’s capital, Vienna.

Along the banks of the Danube, The City of Music feels like a European Washington, DC, with wide avenues, city parks and “wedding cake” architecture to match. Chock full of diplomats, NGOs and English-speaking professionals from all over the world, a distinct Gay Village lies ensconced between the Mariahilf and Wieden neighborhoods, not far from the center of this gorgeous and sophisticated metropolis.

Using and the tourism office’s Gay & Lesbian Guide (on paper and as an app), I unsurprisingly had a host of bars, clubs, restaurants, and saunas to choose from. I visited the Eagle first. Featuring a retail counter selling t-shirts, poppers, and leather/BDSM accouterments (like cockrings), it’s marketed as a cruise bar. Men can drink and flirt before having sex in a dimly lit back room. Nowhere close to sanitary, it provides an effective taboo vibe patrons aged mid-20s to 60-plus clearly enjoy.

For a no less social, but definitely less sexual vibe, Village Bar is a great choice. Cozy, modern and welcoming, with little red glass lanterns hanging from the ceiling, I heard several Americans talking about their careers in the States. Handsome and friendly bartender Andrew (“That’s my artist name.”) speaks perfect English and will recommend you imbibe the local Viennese beer, Gösser, vom fass (on tap). Nearly every region in Austria and Germany has brewed its own signature beer for hundreds of years. When I travel I sample as many as I can – they are like cultural fingerprints.

One evening a fake Grindr profile lured me to Ken Club, a monthly LGBTQ dance party playing deep house. Perhaps best left for the young (I am 51), I found a dark, crowded, smoky bar with deafening music and a lot of rude, inebriated twenty-somethings stumbling down stairs leading to a packed dance floor. Not a lost cause, however. I found respite near the main bar when I kissed a cute Brazilian diplomat working on nuclear policy for the United Nations. Unable to walk since a young age, he confessed, “You wouldn’t believe how many guys buy me drinks just because they see this wheelchair.” Actually, I could; I had become one of them.

Finally, there are four saunas in Vienna, with the crown jewel being Kaiserbründl. Unlike the dank, unclean sex clubs found in American cities, saunas in Germany and Austria are highly social places where friends arrive in groups, particularly on Sunday afternoon, share a beer, coffee or cigarette before and after finding distraction. At Kaiserbründl you may choose a Jacuzzi surrounded by North African-themed arches decorated with mosaic tile, basic sauna or steam room, or a dramatic solarium dominated by a crystal chandelier hovering above you. They also have a large restaurant on the street level. Penne all’Arrabbiata was the special the day I was there.

Tomorrow’s destination: Munich (via train from Vienna: 4 hours)

If You Go – Vienna


I flew from LAX nonstop on Lufthansa. VIE, the city’s international airport is served by all major airlines.


Rent a great apartment for $100 per night or less;


Lugeck, a delicious modern twist on traditional Viennese cuisine; Lugeck 4; +43 1 512 50 60;


Eagle Vienna, Blümelgasse 1; +43 1 587 2661;

Village Bar, Stiegengasse 8; +43 676 358 4842;

Kaiserbründl, Weihburggasse 18-20; +43 (0) 1 513 32 93;




Palm Springs: Longtime Gay Video Bar Changes Name to QuadZ

Even in small California desert towns famous for “a dry heat,” a longtime Hollywood legacy and global gay tourism, change happens. Gents: the Palm Springs gay video bar formerly known as Spurline is now…QuadZ.

What’s the name mean?

“That’s the million-dollar question,” Eric Stahl, 47, one of the managers of the bar said via phone.

Owners Michael McCartney and Jim Osterberger, who opened Spurline more than ten years ago also own the original QuadZ in Las Vegas, a bar with a website homepage stating that they have “some of the best and strongest drinks at some of the lowest prices Gay Vegas has to offer.”

Why did they revamp and rename? “It’s part of the transformation of Arenas Road,” Stahl said.

Indeed, competition for customers is intense. Tourism has grown by leaps and bounds as the region has recovered from the Great Recession, and today’s (often younger) patrons from markets such as LA, San Diego and San Francisco demand ever more upscale environments. 

In the past couple of years new arrivals to Palm Springs’ gayest avenue include Chill Bar, right next door to QuadZ, and Blackbook, half a block away. Across the road, Hunters invested in an extensive renovation about a year or so ago, installing a new DJ booth and world class sound system. 

QuadZ’s arrival can be seen as a continuation of the gay desert revival that began about five years ago, when Ron deHarte took the helm at Palm Springs Pride. It was deHarte who lobbied city hall to close off Arenas Road between Indian Canyon and Calle Encillia for all-day outdoor entertainment during Pride weekend, annually held on the first weekend in November.

For Instinct readers who travel to Palm Springs, you may remember how Spurline was famous for its beloved show tunes and musical theatre nights on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays. Patrons would sing along to videos of musical numbers from classics like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to newer films like Chicago and many numbers recorded from the annually broadcast TONY awards.


“We haven’t changed those,” Stahl said. And Sundays will continue to have karaoke, hosted by “none other than Jeff Bosco,” a longtime Spurline employee.

Will anything new be happening? “We’re looking to liven up a couple of the other nights,” is all Stahl would say regarding programming on the remaining nights of the week.

Now that the bar has a fresh look inside, “We will be looking to reach out to the gay community more,” Stahl added. He means event and group business. LGBTQ enthusiast and athletic organizations like the International Gay Rodeo Association that come to Palm Springs, or that may have local chapters, are prime business targets.

What has the customer response been? Stahl said both regulars and newbies to QuadZ have given him positive reviews. And if you check out their Facebook page, you can read supportive comments from local fans.

QuadZ opened in early October, prior to Halloween and the annual Leather Pride and Palm Springs Pride weekends. High season in the Coachella Valley, where Palm Springs is, officially started November 1 and, depending upon whom you ask, generally goes until March/April. That’s when that world-renowned “dry heat” descends and QuadZ will be serving the locals. Happy hour pricing, anyone?

Below: an example of the kind of video patrons will see on QuadZ's popular show tune evenings.








A Man Was Shot Outside An Atlanta Gay Bar

This past Monday, witnesses say they saw a man standing around the Bulldogs bar, a black gay bar in Atlanta, Georgia.

A group of friends eventually interacted with this man, later identified as 47-year-old Elijah Payton, as he started to yell at them.

An anonymous witness spoke to WSB-TV Atlanta about the situation, “He started yelling obscenities, such as ‘Hey, which one is with who? I wanna have sex with one of you guys,” the witness told them, “He then screamed that he was homeless and that he wanted to know if one of us could give him some money.”

Payton then followed the group to the parking lot. One of the group members offered Payton $5 before Peyton lifted his shirt and pulled out a gun.

At that point, the majority of the group ran away with only two left behind. Payton then told the remaining two to undress, which caused one of the men to attempt to run. Payton then shot the runner twice in the back.

Later this Thursday, Atlanta police located and arrested Payton for not only this shooting but for another one that occurred last month. Payton reportedly shot a man in his thigh after refusing to give Peyton his cellphone charger and food.

While Payton awaits trail, both victims are alive and recovering.