LGBTQ Nightlife Guide| Charlotte’s got a lot | Charlotte NC Travel & Tourism
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Charlotte’s LGBTQ Nightlife Guide

Whether you’re looking for a place to dance the night away or sit back and relax, we have a full list of places to party it up for pride.
Listen to the hottest music at Petraâs
Listen to the hottest music at Petra’s

By Matt Comer

Every august, Charlotte plays host to one of the most popular pride celebrations in the Southeast and the largest pride celebration in the Carolinas – the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade. More than 100,000 people visited the two-day festival and parade last year, bringing rainbow-clad families, young people, professionals, people of faith and others to Uptown Charlotte. Afterward, many headed around town to experience the city’s LGBTQ nightlife. To prepare for this year’s pride festival Aug. 15-16, we’ve put together a guide to Charlotte’s most popular places to party it up for pride, although these hotspots are worth checking out all year long.

DRAG & DANCING 

The Scorpio

2301 Freedom Dr. • 704.373.9124

Open Friday-Sunday

Founded in 1968 (making it Charlotte’s longest running LGBTQ nightclub), The Scorpio is the perfect place to catch a unique drag show. Performers range from the classic female impersonators ready to don evening gowns to “camp drag” with hilarious themes and costumes. After evening drag shows, stick around for a night of dancing on Charlotte’s largest LGBTQ dance floor.

Cathode Azure

1820 South Blvd. • 704.823.6066

Open Tuesday-Sunday

The staff at Cathode Azure, one of Charlotte’s newest LGBTQ nightspots, call their unique space a “South Beach Styled Super Lounge.” With the ambient glow of blue accent lights and black lights, the all-white lounge furniture inside and outside the club exudes a chic yet welcoming atmosphere. Cathode has racked up awards in “Best of” contests from local publications like Elevate Magazine’s 2015 Best LGBT Club and Charlotte Magazine’s 2015 Best LGBT Bar in the Best of the Best Awards Voters’ Choice. This hotspot is the place to be on the weekends with a top urban DJ and dance on Fantasy Friday, a top hits DJ on Mandance Saturday, a 4 p.m. drag show, free pizza and $3 drink specials on Sunday Funday and the free Red Light Drag Show on Sunday at midnight.

L4 Lounge

2906 Central Ave. • 704.567.2158

Open Wednesday-Saturday

L4 Lounge was designed for the ladies, but guys are welcome too! This bar and lounge is small enough to keep your evening intimate but large enough and with great DJs to keep you dancing all night long. Enjoy a game of giant Jenga out on the bar’s patio or lounge around inside with a vast selection from the club’s hookah bar.

The Nickel Bar

2817 Rozzelles Ferry Rd.• 704.916.9389  

Open Thursday-Sunday

Tucked away in West Charlotte, just past Johnson C. Smith University, The Nickel Bar is popular with the city’s African-American LGBTQ community, though you’ll likely find a great diversity of people there any weekend.

The club features DJs, drag, other entertainers and dance nights. Many of the events promote local or regional nonprofits or raise funds for community groups, which the owner Milton Howard is a big supporter of.

The Nickel Bar, Owner Milton Howard

SIT BACK & RELAX

Petra’s Piano Bar & Cabaret

1919 Commonwealth Ave. • 704.332.6608

Open Tuesday-Sunday

Situated in the eclectic and artsy Plaza Midwood, Petra’s is one of the city’s most diverse bars, attracting a wide range of LGBTQ customers, straight allies, drag performers, spoken word artists, singer-songwriters and more. The bar regularly hosts a variety of events, including a karaoke night every Wednesday and “The Happening” on Thursday with DJs, drum circles and working artists doing live paintings and more. Every other Friday, the bar hosts a jazz and soul night.

The Bar at 316

316 Rensselaer Ave. • 704.910.1478

Open seven days a week

Located in the historic Dilworth neighborhood in a two-story home converted into a restaurant and bar in the 1980s, The Bar at 316 is one of Charlotte’s oldest gay bars. The establishment – previously named Liaisons– no longer features a restaurant, but it still serves up a good hamburger or brunch for special events. The second floor bar hosts a long stage featuring drag performances on Saturday evenings and once a month for their unique drag brunches. The second floor patio is also the perfect place to sip a drink, feel the breeze and chat with friends.

Sidelines

4544-C South Blvd. • 704.525.2608

Open seven days a week

Sidelines is the go-to hotspot for LGBTQ sports fans and aficionados. Grab a seat at the bar and watch your favorite basketball, baseball, soccer or football team, or play a game of pool and darts. The bar is the host for several local LGBTQ sports leagues and is the perfect place to relax with a pint of beer while cheering on your favorite team.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH

The Woodshed Lounge

4000 Queen City Dr. • 704.394.1712

Open seven days a week

Walking into The Woodshed is like walking into a home away from home. The owner, a longtime philanthropist for HIV and LGBT causes, treats all his guests like family. Featuring affordable drinks, pool tables, an outdoor patio and more, The Woodshed offers regular special events for Charlotte’s bear and leather communities. The Woodshed is also the home bar of the Charlotte Tradesmen, the local leather club. Don’t miss karaoke on Sundays and Tuesdays, free pool on Mondays and pool tournaments on Wednesdays.

Chaser's

3217 The Plaza • 704.339.0500

Open Monday-Saturday

Billed as “Charlotte’s Guilty Pleasure for Male Entertainment,” Chaser’s will take you to the wild side featuring go-go dancers strutting their stuff on stage almost every night of the week. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the guys team up with local drag performers to present “Diva Nights.” T

FACES OF PRIDE

You’ll meet a diversity of fun folks when you visit the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade. The Queen City has no shortage of fun leaders out and about making a difference every day. Here are a few to know.

LaWana Mayfield

Elected to Charlotte City Council in 2011, Mayfield was the city’s first openly LGBTQ elected official. Her time in office has been marked by an insistence on diversity and inclusion – on matters of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion and everything in between. Look out for her in the parade or elsewhere in the city!

Rodney Tucker

Currently serving as executive director of Time Out Youth Center, Tucker is known far and wide as one of the most fun and fabulous community leaders in the Charlotte area. You’re as likely to find him dolled up for an evening gala fundraiser or in drag performing for local nonprofit arts groups like One Voice Chorus.

Lana Cane

The bubbly alter-ego of local Charlottean Davey Greene, Lana Cane hosts a regular trivia night at Petra’s Piano Bar in Plaza Midwood and has become known as a go-to personality to support local nonprofit and community causes. Greene says his character Lana was created during a time in his life when he needed a mechanism to cope with the stresses of caring for his mother during her cancer treatments; like Greene's mother, Lana is a semi-retired nurse. He says of Lana, “one of those eccentric ladies you see around town that you just couldn’t help but love.”