Your Guide to LGBTQ+ Nightlife in Louisville
A welcome oasis for locals and visitors alike, LGBTQ+ friendly nightlife in Louisville is thriving. In fact, Louisville is making a name for itself when it comes to inclusivity, pride and just having a good ol’ time!
Louisville is the first and only city in Kentucky to earn a perfect score on the Municipal Equality Index, measuring how inclusive a city’s policies are to the LGBTQ+ community. What’s more, 2022 marks the seventh consecutive year Louisville has earned this honor.
Here are some of the hotspots you won’t want to miss while you’re here.
The club scene is a staple in queer culture, and it’s no different for LGBTQ+ friendly nightlife in Louisville. Play, the main club to see and be seen, is lively and very busy. It’s heralded as the best place to dance in Louisville and boasts large entertainment acts like the drag queens of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Play also regularly gives back to local Louisville queer nonprofits, so you can party with a good conscious knowing your dollars are going back into the community.
For a more lowkey bar haunt, The House Lounge in Old Louisville is a warm and more relaxing place. The building this place calls home once housed the longest-running gay bar in Louisville history, Teddy Bear’s. Continuing the tradition of a lush, relaxed setting, House Lounge is perfect for a Kiki and a kickback.
Chill BAR Highlands lives up to its name with a large full-service patio bar and small interior dance floor situated in an historic building in the Highlands neighborhood. Enjoy a full menu of specialty martinis or grab a beer out front. The casual atmosphere is perfect for catching up with friends or participating in periodic trivia nights.
The ironically named Big Bar is an intimate dive bar also located in the Highlands area. The small space packs a big punch with a more casual environment. Stop in for rotating frozen drink specials or check out the karaoke crowd on Wednesday and Sunday nights.
Nowhere Bar is the largest LGBTQ+ club in Louisville specializing in EDM, hip-hop and pop music. With a large patio, dance floor, pool tables and food options, Nowhere offers a variety of experiences throughout the week. Pop in for a weekday karaoke night or stop by on Saturday for a packed dance floor. The mixed crowd is also the most racially diverse of the LGBTQ+ spaces in Louisville.
Known by the locals as “Mag Bar” for short, Magnolia Bar is a quirky dive that has a full bar, jukebox, arcade games and an outdoor patio. The lowkey atmosphere is perfect for a quick drink or a longer stay to enjoy live bands amid the fun decor.
Sober LGBTQ+ Nightlife
Many LGBTQ+ people push for social scenes that don’t center around the club and bar scene. Queer Kentucky, a diverse LGBTQ+ non-profit based in Louisville, has partnered with The Mocktail Project, a voice in the alcohol-free community to host queer poetry and story slam events at lesbian-owned Nanny Goat Books.
Gayborhood Events, an organization dedicated to creating events for Louisville’s queer community with a focus on providing inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ women, non-binary and trans folks, has also had a hand in creating sober events for the city’s LGBTQ+ community. From soccer games and social hours to craft and trivia nights, the focus on creating intentionally inclusive spaces outside of the bar scene is clear.
More late-night sober community spaces are on the way, like a queer-owned coffee co-op called Old Louisville Coffee Co-op. The team's intention is to open a coffee shop with late hours (and even 24 hours on the weekends) to give non-club-going folks a place to create community.
No matter the speed, LGBTQ+ friendly nightlife in Louisville has something for everyone. Whether you want to dance the night away at the club like the dancing queen of your dreams, or kick back with like-minded Lesbians at a poetry slam, the diverse and inclusive offerings of Louisville has a warm “Hey, y’all!” waiting for you.
After all, y’all does mean all.
Written by Meg Ten Eyck
June 14, 2022