Party Earth Review Although not officially called Boystown – that gayborhood designation goes to an enclave of Chicago’s Lakeview – West Hollywood is the epicenter of gay culture in LA. Ciro’s Nightclub held the first gay dance nights here... ... read full review
Santa Monica Boulevard stretching roughly from Crescent Heights Boulevard on the east to North La Peer Drive on the west West Hollywood, CA 90069
West Hollywood, Los Angeles –
Although not officially called Boystown – that gayborhood designation goes to an enclave of Chicago’s Lakeview – West Hollywood is the epicenter of gay culture in LA.
Ciro’s Nightclub held the first gay dance nights here way back in the 60s, and though Ciro’s is long gone, the gay-centric stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard that runs through town is still a veritable mecca of rainbow-wrapped revelry.
The Abbey Food & Bar is a perennial favorite, so regulars expect this expansive church-meets-Spanish-villa to be buzzing with everyone from boy toys to big groups of birthday girls, while doe-eyed bucks gallop to Rage, a long-standing bi-level club packed with go-go goodness.
The 15,000-square-foot expanse of The Factory is also a big draw for the dance crowd, though guys in cruise mode know to make a beeline for Mother Lode or hit up Mickys, which often hosts almost a dozen house dancers at a time.
Up and down the blocks, everything from casual sports bars like Trunks to the speakeasy-themed debauchery at Debauchery to the dinner-and-drag show starlet Hamburger Mary’s are easy to find and even easier to barhop between.
When morning sets in, the atmosphere is usually relaxed, with a diverse mix of LGBT residents, families, and plenty of fun-loving straights grabbing brunch at Paris Crepe Cafe or Hugo’s, while sculpted gym rats pop in to Max Muscle to ensure their ridiculous abs keep putting everyone else’s to shame.
Although trendy clothiers abound, there’s no shortage of kinky shops to explore either, whether it’s for custom-fitted leather at 665 Leather, quirky gay souvenirs at Body Factory, or the ocean of pink that is video and novelty emporium Chi Chi LaRue's.
LA Gay Pride in June is known to draw more than 300,000 people to the streets, and almost twice that show up in October for the costumed madness of Halloween, so it’s doubtful the fun-filled revelry along WeHo’s Santa Monica Boulevard will be leaving the family anytime soon.
Pumped-up and stylish young men, alternative types, fun-loving heteros, families, grizzled veterans of the gay-rights era, trendy professionals, and loads of “curious” tourists. All ages.
The Factory (652 North La Peer), one of West Hollywood’s largest dance clubs.
Rage (8911 Santa Monica Boulevard), a longstanding institution with two floors and go-go dancers most nights.
The Abbey Food & Bar (692 North Robertson), a perennial favorite steps from Santa Monica Boulevard that never charges a cover and is always packed with a festive and diverse crowd rocking to nightly DJs and drinking too many fruity cocktails.
Mickys (8857 Santa Monica Boulevard), a big dance club known to host twenty go-go boys at a time.
Fiesta Cantina (8865 Santa Monica Boulevard), always packed with young guys downing cheap margaritas.
Debauchery (8939 Santa Monica), a 1920s-style speakeasy.
Trunks (8809 Santa Monica Boulevard), a sports bar often described as the gay Cheers, with regular DJs, two pool tables, and a nice outdoor patio.
St. Felix (8945 Santa Monica Boulevard), an intimate and funky-cool bar that attracts a mixed crowd looking for great cocktails.
Annual events include several big Oscar parties (February), LA Gay Pride (June), the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, aka OUTFEST (July), AIDS Walk (October), and the ever-glorious chaos of the West Hollywood Halloween Carnival (October 31st).
Oliana (8951 Santa Monica Boulevar), an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar.
Andrew Christian Flagship Boutique (8943 Santa Monica Boulevard) for designer swimwear.
Chi Chi LaRue's (8932 Santa Monica Boulevard), a video and novelty sex shop run by famed adult video producer Chi Chi LaRue.
665 Leather (8722 Santa Monica Boulevard), for custom-fit exactly what it sounds like.
Block Party (8853 Santa Monica Boulevard), a clothing store that’s the self-described “Gayest Store on Earth” peddling cards, souvenirs, and a large selection of casual clothes.
Body Factory (8591 Santa Monica Boulevard), full of gay (and straight) souvenirs and skincare products.
Most of the area’s popular bars also serve food, but some other casual eateries include:
Hamburger Mary’s (8288 Santa Monica Boulevard) is the always-busy WeHo branch of the popular HM chain, featuring piano singalongs, drag shows, and lots of other festive events to go with its hearty American diner fare.
Hugo's (8401 Santa Monica Boulevard)
Paris Crepe Cafe (8719 Santa Monica Boulevard)
Basix Café (8333 Santa Monica Boulevard)
Hamburger Haven (8954 Santa Monica Boulevard).
Pricier joints include :
La Bohème (8400 Santa Monica Boulevard)
Jinpachi Sushi (8711 Santa Monica Boulevard)
Mercato di Vetro (9077 Santa Monica Boulevard)
Price ranges run the gamut from low to high, though most tend to fall within mid-range.
Anything goes, from khaki shorts and fanny packs to pants that don’t have a fanny.
Daytime for shopping or strolling the neighborhood, or Friday and Saturday nights to be here, be with queers, and get used to it.
The Hudson (1114 North Crescent Heights Boulevard) is a completely unassuming restaurant and bar that sees big late night crowds vying for something off its expansive cocktail list.