Welcome to the gayborhood, where the grass is greener, the street is cleaner and the people just a little bit gayer. Bar crawling between the blocks of 11th and Broad streets, and Pine and Walnut is an experience not to be missed whether you're gay, straight or everything in between. So if you're looking for a mac-tion packed night on the town, here's a little guide to the scene where Philly's brightest flames burn.
This place might not have been bumpin' when we visited on a Sunday, but the boys that were there provided the best eye-candy for the night by far. The bar-fomerly-known-as-Globar gets truly bumpin' on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., when drinks come cheap and the party boys come out ten-fold. At Bump, you'll find a hipper, cooler, better-dressed crowd, attracting Philly's chic-wannabes with it's orange-infused, Pod-like atmosphere and cheesy Pocahontas dance remixes. Bump's packaging is neat and pretty, and yes, a little too neat and pretty. But while it tries too hard to be cool, it's difficult to resist the comfort of Bump.
Techno beats bounce off the bare and sweaty chests of the men at Woody's. It's hot, it's humid and it's hard to concentrate on how good you look when men in thongs are making out in the corner. And no one cares. And that's what makes Woody's Philly's favorite gay bar. There's five different bars, a banging dance floor and risers for you and your best straight gal-pal to grind on. Perhaps the reason why Woody's is so popular is because they train them young. One of the only gay bars with an 18 and over night, the young and not-exactly out-of-the-closet gay community flocks to the Wednesday night youth nights and gets hooked. It's exciting to be around so many people who are out, fabulous and just like you. It makes you crave more. And maybe because many of our young gay community popped their out-and-abouting cherries at Woody's, it will always have a special place in many hearts.
If you don't have a penis and don't want penis, Sisters offers a sapphic alternative. In fact, Sisters isthe biggest lesbian option in Philly's gay scene. Thursday night specials include an eight-dollar cover charge in exchange for eight free drinks, karaoke, a buffet special and a DJ dance floor. You won't find any sausage at the buffet, but you will find plenty of clams, ready and waiting to be eaten. The Warhol-esque silkscreens of lesbian icons -- including the well-known actress and little-known lesbian Lily Tomlin -- that hang on the walls are a tad uninspired. However, the down-to-earth crowd is unpretentious in their stone washed jeans and Timberlands. But for those on the prowl, these women don't gussy up after a long day at work -- they leave their lipstick on their vanities at home.
Don't go in the basement! Don't go in the basement! Well, actually, go in the basement if you're into seedyshadysteamy sex with truck drivers. The Bike Stop is a meat-market, and if you're young, you're gonna be eaten alive. But perhaps, if that's not your thing, head up to the first floor for some live blues music. And if that's not your thing either, try the second floor sports bar, where one can simultaneously watch SportsCenter and re-runs of last week's Friends on giant TVs. The men and the women who look like men of this three-tiered animal house range from masculine to hyper-masculine to hyper-hyper-masculine. If you like hockey or leather or, even better, both, the Bike Stop is the perfect pitstop for you.
If Cheers were a slightly run-down gay bar that looked a little past its prime, it would be 12th Air Command. While not the most visually stimulating establishment, 12th Air Command's strength lies in its crowd. It boasts the friendliest, most out-going patrons of the Philly gay bar scene. In the crowd of regulars, everyone seems to know each other and they're more than willing to introduce the newbies and buy them drinks. Every other Friday is packed with Asians and their stalkers at the Jaded Lounge parties. Don't have any gay friends? Visit this place, and soon everyone will know you. Just be warned -- 12th Air Command has neither the youngest nor the hottest clientel. Make some friends, but please, don't take anyone home.
The 2-4 is like the secret society of the gay community. It's a members-only, after-hours club, and the only way to get a membership is for a member to sponsor you. You can enter as a guest if you come with a member, but only members can drink. Here's where you go if it's 2 a.m. and you still haven't had your fair share of clubbing, or if the drugs haven't yet worn off. There's something here for everyone -- a DJ spins for those who want to make one last-ditch effort to sell themselves on the dancefloor, plush chairs welcome those who want to wind down and two bars keep the alcohol flowing for those lushes whose idea of safe sex is to drink so much that they can't get it up. Get in here if you can -- admittance means you've been accepted by Philly's gay elite -- but this ain't your daddy's country club.