LGBTQ Nightlife in Detroit

October 11, 2017  |   Story by Jan Stevenson  |   Photos by Bill Bowen

The D has always had a vibrant, active bar scene with great music, dance clubs and cozy gathering spots. Some the Detroit’s legendary bars have been around for decades, like Menjo’s that was a youthful hangout spot for Madonna before she become the iconic “Material Girl,” Gigi’s Cabaret which has the longest running female impersonation stage in the state and The Woodward which has been serving the LGBTQ community for almost 60 years.

Like many other big cities that have grown to embrace a more advanced and open attitude towards LGBTQ people, most of the bars and restaurants in and around downtown Detroit welcome all customers – including LGBTQ revelers.

There’s still something special though about going to a LGBTQ bar and Detroit’s LGBTQ community is known for being especially welcoming to newcomers. Check out the LGBTQ bars listed below.

Centaur Bar

This art deco masterpiece of a martini bar is located directly behind the Fox Theatre in Detroit’s sports and entertainment district. This is not specifically an LGBTQ bar, but does attract an eclectic, hip crowd. The kitchen is open 7 days till 2 a.m. offering an interesting small plates and extensive drink menu. This spot’s elegant decor and two-level design includes a dance floor.

Queen’s Bar Detroit

But don’t be confused by the name. Queens is named after the NYC borough – the owners have another Detroit bar named Bronx. Although not specifically an LGBTQ bar, Queen’s Bar has an unpretentious vibe and clearly welcomes LGBTQ patrons with a super-friendly staff. They offer a grill menu.

Adam’s Apple

A friendly neighborhood bar open to everyone. On Thursdays you watch people sing their hearts out at the karaoke bar. Offers outdoor seating on the patio, dancing, events and theme nights throughout the year. No food here – be sure to fill up before you hit the town.

Briggs Sports Bar

Located in downtown Detroit, across from GM Renaissance Center, Briggs Sports Bar is a popular after-work watering-hole. This attractive club draws an energetic crowd to its Trophy Room dance club. The bar features 22 craft beers and two alcohol infusions on tap, and the full kitchen offers a menu that is decidedly meat-oriented – barbecue, burgers and house braised corned beef. The SkyBox rooftop is perfect for enjoying a cocktail while taking in an unrivaled view of downtown.

Club Gold Coast

One of Detroit’s oldest and most popular night spots, Club Gold Coast is open seven nights a week. It’s located in the Palmer Park area of Detroit, once the epicenter of Detroit’s gay scene. Great staff – very friendly. Outdoor seating on warm nights.

Escape Lounge Nitnght Club

So you’ve partied all evening but you’re not ready to call it a night. Escape Lounge is an all-male, after-hours, all-night eatery and bar that opens at 10 p.m. Located on the east side of Detroit, Escape has a secure parking lot and offers burgers, fries, pizza, wings and drinks.

Gigi’s Cabaret

Gigi’s cabaret is the longest running female impersonation revue in Michigan, in business over 30 years, and it’s a longtime Detroit gay hot spot. Offering a big dance floor upstairs and the stage for the drag shows in the basement bar. It’s a fun spot, known for their incredibly friendly staff and DJs and their openness to everyone and anyone that shows up.

Hayloft Saloon

Hayloft, Sports and Video Bar is a male club offering karaoke, pool, darts, six LCD screens and internet juke box. Happy hour starts at 2 p.m. everyday. This is a no-nonsense sports bar where men meet other men for fun, friendship and more.

The Liberty Bar

Great little bar in Pontiac, Michigan. They offer a pub menu, with a trendy twist and an extensive drink menu with a huge beer selection. Open for lunch too. Interactive videos, go-go dancers and Thursday Karaoke. Welcomes men, women and trans. Very friendly atmosphere.

Menjo’s Gay Entertainment Complex

Menjo’s Complex has been a gathering place for the gay community of metro Detroit for decades. It’s also a bit of a Madonna mecca since she used to be a regular when the Material Girl was also a local Michigander. The mostly male 20-to-30 something crowd comes for the dancing and entertainment. The Complex includes the Menjo’s Bar, the Eagle Leather bar and the Olympus Theater, offering karaoke, trans events, concerts and performers. Open Wednesday to Saturday.

Pronto!

Pronto! is a popular restaurant and bar that’s served the LGBTQ community for decades, right in downtown Royal Oak. Offers deli style sandwiches, soups, fresh salads, cakes, cupcakes and desserts. The video bar is popular in the evenings and features live entertainment, including Broadway-style cabaret nights. Pronto! provides a fun atmosphere with friendly staff, a relaxing sidewalk patio, a full bar and a popular Sunday brunch. Pronto! has teamed up with the Drag Queen Bingo hosted by Five 15 every weekend in the space right next door.

Soho Ferndale

This classy spot features wine, jazz, martinis and a comfortable, casual environment. Located in Ferndale’s gay district, Soho has a weekly line-up of trivia, karaoke, dance parties and sweet drink specials. Popular with both men and women. Frequent special community events, like “Homophobia is Such a Drag” fundraiser for the Ruth Ellis House homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth.

Woodward Bar & Grill

In bustling Midtown, Woodward Bar and Grill is the oldest gay bar in Detroit dating back to 1960. Its storied history is reflected in the pictures on the walls and in conversations you’ll hear from loyal patrons. The Woodward is open for lunch and dinner with simple but excellent fare. During the day it serves the many business people in the area, turning mostly LGBTQ after 5 p.m. It’s popular with the Black LGBTQ community and is a welcoming environment for men, women and trans.

Mentioned Attractions And Venues
  1. Centaur Bar
    2233 Park Ave., Detroit, MI 48201313-963-4040 Highlight on map | More Details
  2. Queens Bar Detroit
    35 E. Grand River Ave., Detroit, MI 48226313-285-8019 Highlight on map | More Details
  3. Adam's Apple
    18931 W Warren Ave, Detroit, MI, United States313-240-8482 Highlight on map | More Details
  4. Briggs Sports Bar
    519 East Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226, United States313-656-4820 Highlight on map | More Details
  5. Club Gold Coast
    2971 E Seven Mile Rd, Detroit, MI, United States313-366-6135 Highlight on map | More Details
  6. Escape Lounge Nitnght Club
    19404 Sherwood St, Detroit, MI, United States313-892-1765 Highlight on map | More Details
  7. Gigi's Cabaret
    16920 West Warren Avenue, Detroit, MI, United States 313-584-6525 Highlight on map | More Details
  8. Hayloft Saloon
    8070 Greenfield Rd, Detroit, MI, United States313-581-8913 Highlight on map | More Details
  9. The Liberty Bar
    85 North Saginaw Street, Pontiac, MI, United States248-758-0771 Highlight on map | More Details
  10. Menjo's Gay Entertainment Complex
    928 West McNichols Road, Detroit, MI, United States313-863-3934 Highlight on map | More Details
  11. Pronto!
    608 S Washington Ave, Royal Oak, MI, United States248-544-7900 Highlight on map | More Details
  12. Soho Ferndale
    205 West Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, MI, United States248-542-7646 Highlight on map | More Details
  13. Woodward Bar and Grill
    6426 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI313-872-0166 Highlight on map | More Details