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In Praise Of Tiny Gay Bars

by Dan Allen January 15, 2016


They’ve been a vital part of our culture since way before Stonewall, and despite the onslaught of digital connectivity, somehow the world’s tiny bars survive and even thrive, such as Portland’s, Sloan’s Tavern (above), featured in Travel Portland’s guide to gay life in the city.

The adorable Travel Portland Zine, Tiny Bars, reminds us our appreciation of unique social spaces. Usually catering to a loyal group of regulars, these mini bastions of community can be in remote hamlets (where the clientele’s often a mixed bag of LGBT locals) or huge cities (where they tend to serve niche queer types).

By virtue of their teeny square footages, invariably they’re intimate, and pretty much guarantee friendly interaction, both social and physical. The kind of place found seemingly on every corner in weird, wonderful Portland.

Here are just a few of our fave tiny bars, around the world:

Ty’s Bar, New York

Photo by Julian L. on Foursquare

Patrons say: “Friendly crowd of regulars mostly bears & hot dads. Excellent drinks at incredibly fair prices with great Dj’d music nights. The bartenders are sweet, handsome & friendly. I love Ty’s, check it out when you are in historic Greenwich Village NYC, on beautiful Christopher St.” – giovanni.sorrentino, GayCities

In Between Waikiki, Honolulu

in between

Patrons say: “This is the smallest bar I have ever been into. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. The bartender was friendly as were most the people in the bar. Nice place to just hang for a while and kick back.” – Valleykid, GayCities

Besenkammer Bar, Berlin


Patrons say: “Charming little gay bar with a lot of personality in a tiny place. There appeared to be quite a few regulars at the bar and, though I didn’t enough German to engage in meaningful conversation (the bartender was forgiving), I felt welcome.” – Matthew B., Yelp

Pony, Seattle

Photo by Hjalmar on Foursquare

Patrons say: “I’ve been going to Pony since they opened the new space and while it is TINY, that kinda makes it fun. The drink beer selection is basic but tasteful and almost everything else is delightfully not. Think Hooters for men who like men amplified and then concentrated in one triangle of Capitol Hill.” – gentihomme, GayCities

Hole in the Wall Saloon, San Francisco

Photo via GayCities

Patrons say: “Hole in the Wall Saloon is maybe the last of the cool gay bars in the city. It is bikers, punk and rock and roll friendly. The decoration is insane and if you feel really happy or in the mood you can swing the lights hanging on top of the bar. Bartenders are friendly. Patrons are local and diverse.” – Cristian L., Yelp

Portland, Oregon

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 6.50.24 PM

Portland is full of weird, wonderful tiny bars, most of which are of the mixed gay straight variety. One such spot is the mixed-crowd watering hole Angelface (above), featured in Travel Portland’s cute Tiny Bar zine.

A tiny bar bonus is that if you bring enough friends, any place becomes your own pop-up gay bar. One place to do exactly this is at the bar of Portland’s fabulous Ace Hotel: Pepe le Moko.

Check Out Travel Portland’s guide to LGBT life in the city

Explore all of Portland Zines

Dan Allen
Dan Allen


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