There’s nothing transparent about Las Vegas nightlife, but there’s more than meets the queer eye for the LGBT community. While gay bars and clubs have a short shelf life on the Strip, the local community keeps the scene alive outside the tourist zone, and it’s more thriving than you’d expect. Considering Las Vegas’ strong tourism infrastructure, there are a large number of local gay residents who work in hospitality, entertainment, and the general service industry. Naturally, they’ve carved out a little LGBT scene for themselves.
In-the-know gay travelers make a beeline to local LGBT hot spots. The kitschy, campy, and colorful The Garage (1487 East Flamingo Road, Tel: 702-440-6333. www.thegaragelv.com) is near the Strip (about a 10-minute Uber ride), but carefully removed in its own rainbow-colored oasis. It’s a quirky dive bar with a design that conjures a gas station auto shop meets video arcade meets sports bar. With cheap booze, good times, and a fun crowd, The Garage is among the preferred LGBT hideaways for gay locals. It’s also near the University of Las Vegas, so expect a fun college-aged scene.
Another gay bar not high on the gay tourist’s radar is Quadz (4640 Paradise Road, Tel: 702-733-0383. www.facebook.com/QUADZLasVegas). This 24/7 video bar is a local haunt that attracts a large Latin crowd and their admirers. It’s no-frills, hole-in-the-wall fun, and there’s nothing Vegas about it. The low-key vibe and pool tables are perfect for those who simply want to chill out with cheap drinks and good company.
Las Vegas is full of fantasies, but, quite often, you can create your own if you plan ahead. Ultimately, you can enjoy a trip here without the crowds, expensive flights, and cookie-cutter guest rooms, all while enjoying privileges you never knew existed. Cracking the secret codes of Vegas is worth the gamble, so play your cards right and you’ll have a high-roller experience that was never intended for the 99%.