Survey the spectrum of gay bars in Philly

12th Air Command 254 S. 12th St. Recently given a makeover, 12th Air did away with their plain white entry with a tiny insignia and replaced it with a flamboyant purple and chartreuse facade that

12th Air Command
254 S. 12th St.
Recently given a makeover, 12th Air did away with their plain white entry with a tiny insignia and replaced it with a flamboyant purple and chartreuse facade that makes it hard to miss.
Features: Three floors, five bars and one huge dance floor
Specials: Thursday night, drag night. Friday night is full of surprises. Saturday night is all ages. Happy Hour specials run daily from 5 to 7 p.m.

The Bike Stop
206 S. Quince St.
Not for the faint of heart, The Bike Stop is home to the leather daddies of Philadelphia. It’s a spot that is not advertised by a well-lit entrance or neon signs. This bar is marked only by a small light fixture above a metal door, which actually looks more like the back door to Moriarty’s. It’s best identified by the stream of leather-clad men that come and go. The Bike Stop is known to have a few unwritten rules. They are hard on carding and no cologne is allowed – don’t ask why, but if they smell it on you, you won’t get in. If you are not from the leather scene, be prepared for memorable sights.

Bob & Barbara’s
1509 South St.
One of the oldest bars in the city, Bob & Barbara’s is home to the only working organ that is still actively played in jam sessions. Old-school jazz with the occasional fresh face can be found here four nights a week. This is not a strictly gay club, but it is friendly and home to the best drag show in the city.
Features: Jazz, daily. Thursday, drag night.
Special: $3 shots of Jim Beam and Pabst Blue Ribbon, daily.

1234 S. Locust St.
Some people will say that Bump has a snooty air about it but that’s untrue. With posh, contemporary décor and cheap food, Bump is a great place to hang out with minimal damage to the tuition fund. This place is friendly to people of all ages and sexual orientations.
Features: One of the best chocolate martinis in the city.
Specials: Happy Hour martinis $3 from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. On Tuesdays they feature half-priced appetizers. On Thursdays, buy one entrée get one free.

The Post
1705 Chancellor St.
Every Philly neighborhood has at least one. This is the ‘gayborhood’s’ own little bar with a lot of regulars. It is not located in the middle of the gay club circuit, but since it is decorated with a headless statue of David and chalk drawings of the male body, it is clearly a gay bar. Drinks are always cheap, the bartenders are always friendly, and The Post welcomes a broad mix of people.

1221 St. James St.
Hands down, the best place to dance in the city. Whether you are looking for a good time during peak or after-hours, Pure is the place to be. Gay or straight, there is plenty of eye candy at Pure five nights a week. Every night there are live DJs and a good blend of house, hip-hop and sometimes trance music to get your groove on. Drinks are slightly more expensive than other places in the neighborhood, but they make up for it in quality.

417 N. Eighth St.
Don’t be confused; although the Real World said so, Shampoo is actually not a gay club. But Friday night is the renowned Shaft. Most people will wind up in the foam room at some point during the night, but before you go diving in for your very own shampoo, keep in mind that you never know what is really going on beneath the bubbles.
Features: Loud music, six bars and multiple dance floors. Friday is gay night.

1320 Chancellor St.
The only strictly lesbian club in the city, Sisters is well known for three things: strong drinks, its location around the corner from Woody’s and the Thursday night drink special. There is a broad mix of young curious types and older women.
Features: Notorious karaoke night and a great vibe. Their food is great as well if you just want to stop in for their Sunday brunch or an early dinner.
Special: Thursdays, $8 for eight drink tickets and entry.

Tavern on Camac
243 S. Camac St.
Take a stroll along Camac Street. and check out the TOC. Yes, the streets here are literally paved with wood and the music is good too. The restaurant opens nightly at 5 p.m. with quality dining at low prices, with a piano bar at night. With a warm, friendly atmosphere, the Tavern is a great place for a nightcap any time during the week.

202 S. 13th St.
No list of gay nightlife spots would be complete without this one. One of the oldest and by far the most popular gay club in Philly, Woody’s attracts all of the young partiers in the city every night of the week.
Features: Monday, karaoke night. Wednesday, all ages. Friday and Sunday, Country Western two-step.

Cheryl Ellis can be reached at

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