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Nashville’s Gay and Lesbian Nightlife

Whiskey on the rocks at a bar.
Photo © Matt Baran, licensed Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike.

Map of Midtown Nashville, Tennessee
Midtown Nashville
Women outnumber men at the Lipstick Lounge (1400 Woodland St., 615/226-6343, Tues.-Sat. 6:30pm-3am, Sun. 11am-7:30pm, $5-10 for events like karaoke and trivia night), one of two lesbian bars on the same East Nashville intersection. This is a laid-back club with a better-than-average sound system and karaoke selection. Live music, pool, and great food attract a crowd nearly every night. The crowds are more mixed during the week than on the weekends, when it is mostly gay and lesbian.

One of two East Nashville bars on the same intersection that cater to a lesbian clientele, Mad Donna’s (1313 Woodland St., 615/226-1617, Tues.-Thurs. 11am-10pm, Fri. 11am-11pm, Sat. 10am-11pm, Sun. 10am-10pm, no cover) is a restaurant that becomes the place to hang on Tuesday nights. That’s when drag queen bingo meets two-for-one drink specials. Do we really need to explain what happens next? In addition to drag queen bingo, the 2nd floor hosts karaoke and other festivities.

Right next door to club Tribe is Play (1519 Church St., 615/322-9627 Wed.-Sun. 9pm-3am, $8 on drag show nights), the city’s highest-energy gay club, with drag shows and performances by adult-film stars. Though it is a gay bar, everyone is welcome as long as they’re happy to be here. The drag shows are quality, but it is the dance floor (right next to the stage) that draws people in. On weekends that dance floor is packed. If you want more room to get your groove on, come on weeknights without drag shows.

For a low-key evening of shooting pool or a happy-hour stop before dinner, TRAX (1501 Ensley Blvd., 615/742-8856, daily noon-3am, no cover) is the place to go. The patio is a nice place to sit in warm weather. There is wireless Internet and big-screen televisions, but little in the way of ambience. The back parking lot is well lit, a perk when leaving in the wee hours.

You don’t have to be gay to enjoy Tribe (1517 Church St., 615/329-2912, Mon. and Fri.-Sat. 4pm-2am, Tues.-Thurs. and Sun. 4pm-midnight, no cover), but it helps to be beautiful, or at least well dressed. The dance floor here is one of the best in the city, and the atmosphere is hip. Martinis and other specialty drinks are the poison of choice at this Midtown club, which stays open until the wee hours. It has changed names and owners over the years, but has basically been the go-to gay dance spot for decades. It is next door to Play.

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