NYC is rightly known for its vibrant LGBT nightlife. On any given evening there are an incredible number of options—how do you decide where to go? Even native New Yorkers can find it hard to choose. The decision process can involve looking at who’s promoting what, the day of the week, which DJs are spinning and even the weather.
Crowds vary dramatically by night of the week: from young guys without a 9-to-5 job stepping out super-late on Tuesday nights; to more mature guys partying Wednesdays evenings; to fans of NYC's many drag-queen-hosted Thursday parties; and some rocking indoor/outdoor parties that attract a diverse crowd on sultry summer Sundays. The night of the week is especially important at mixed gay/straight venues, which tend to be more straight on the weekends and gay-popular one night a week. If you go to Le Bain atop the Standard on Friday because your friends had a blast there on Tuesday, you might be turned away.
So here’s ManAboutWorld’s four-part nightlife strategy to help you make the most of your nights on the town.
1. Stick with the venerable venues
See this list of neighborhood bars and long-running parties that have proven themselves—you'll always find a crowd.
2. Follow the promoters and DJs
Below, we’ve listed some favorite promoters and DJs. Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, and subscribe to their email lists. You won’t miss out on their big parties and one-off events.
3. Cross-reference, with a grain of salt
If a listing below interests you, look through the latest reviews on Yelp. Click on the reviewer’s link to find out what other venues they’ve reviewed and liked to assess their reliability.
4. Check the calendar
GayLetter is an indie party newsletter highlighting one notable event for each night of the week, from Wednesdays through Sundays. Although the events aren’t always clubs—they include cultural and culinary events too—their roundups are always notable and worth checking out.
These are the key people to follow. They're all dependable, experienced party promoters. Visit their websites to get a sense of their style and the type of crowd each attracts.
Skews on the younger side of the gay scene, in particular his For the People Fridays at Atlas Social Club.
Justin hosts some of the city’s hottest parties for cute young guys in their 20s, with his ongoing party Broadway Mondays at Hardware Bar and occasional special events.
Previously known for his Tuesday night dance party Westgay at Westway, Sharp has reinvented himself with new nights he promotes all over town.
Nardicio is an iconic NYC nightlife producer, known for his inventive drag shows and sexy events.
Israel hosts some of the best alternative parties in Manhattan, including gay laser-tag night, a happy-hour pool party and dinner-and-a-show meetups.
Rafferty is a mainstay of the NYC nightlife scene, producing epic rooftop events and, most recently, the weekend lineup for NYC Pride. His Saturday night rave—Trade at Undr—is one of the City’s hottest.
Michael Formika Jones
Once known as drag queen Mistress Formika, Jones now promotes super-fun events like Sexy Monday Night Bingo at La Palapa and more.
Legendary party promoter Bartsch, whose monthly parties at the Copacabana in the late 1980s made her a nightlife icon, promotes events from here to Miami, including a recent one dedicated to Amanda Lepore's memoir.
The “pre” to Alegria’s “after”, these circuit parties draw muscle boys on holiday weekends, especially at their big Gay Pride event coming up.
This longtime NYC promoter is the main party-maker for Rise bar, including RuPaul’s Drag Race nights and more.
Timothy de Iturriaga
De Iturriaga hosts the wildly popular Adonis Lounge, which takes place at a variety of locations each week including Atlas Social Club.
Ric Sena’s Alegria
Ric hosts one of NYC’s longest running shindigs—a Sunday night bash that runs all the way into Monday morning. These parties are usually scheduled on holiday and big party weekends, like Black Party and Pride.
Now focused more on fundraising and cultural events than pure parties, Josh has grown up with his audience, and his events reflect a mature sophistication.
Fiore is one of the kings of bear nightlife in NYC, with his massively popular Furball and related parties like Drenched.
Drag Queens as Party Promoters
NYC’s most popular and talented drag queens are also an excellent resource for finding parties. We’re not saying you’ll necessarily love every show by each of these performers, but they are all artists. Some lip sync; some sing live; some are smart and sassy; others are as crass as they come. Follow these fine ladies to find some of the hottest parties pretty much any night of the week:
• Sherry Vine
• Lady Bunny
• Holly Box-Springs
• Marti Gould Cummings
• Paige Turner
• Aja Queen
• Kareem McJagger
• Logan Hardcore
• Holly Dae
DJs to Follow
Here are some of our favorite DJs many of whom trot around the globe spinning at major international gay events. We try hard to catch them in their NYC residencies and appearances.
Always a fun, sexy time for guys who really like to dance to classic disco.
His high-spirited, high-energy mix is popular with men in their 20s and 30s—the vodka-drinking, label-conscious Fire Island crowd.
Hairy and handsome as all get out, Sparber DJs at iconic gay bars in NYC including Eastern Bloc and Rockbar.
Sweet and sexy, Dawson is a rising star on the international circuit, with a focus on bass and heavy house that keeps the crowd pumping.
The DJ helms the popular Horse Meat Disco and Battle Hymn parties.
This smoking hot DJ has had a major influence on house music.
A musclebound, house-driven DJ who spins at everything from pool parties to bear events.