10 Great Gay Bars in Orange County (and Long Beach)

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Flickr user -marlith-

A while back, we received instructions from the suits to put together a set of lists of the ten best in several categories. As Gustavo explained, this is meant to make our already awesome Best Of applications even more awesome...er.

One of the categories was gay bars, and we all stood around scratching our heads. Gay bars? All six of us are in long-term relationships of the "opposite" sort. Absent any actual experience of gay bars in Orange County, we consulted the experts--blowing our entire 2012 budget on gay bar research in the process--and today we're proud to welcome Greg Barnes of Laguna Niguel as a guest writer. Greg, take it away!


2011 has been a year all about the percents. Whether you're the 99% or the 1%, you're probably sick of hearing about it when you turn on the TV or your computer.  One percentage group not yet well represented on this blog, however, is the "10%."--that is, gay people. This changes today, as I give you my top 10 gay bars of OC and Long Beach. Gay bars down here in the LBC and OC are quite a bit friendlier and more welcoming than their counterparts up in LA, whether you're gay or just a casual drinker looking for a local tipple. Less attitude and more smiles are to be found down here. Now, let's begin the countdown.

10. Ibiza
Hidden Gem

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Greg Barnes
I only recently learned of this bar located smack dab in the middle of Huntington Beach, hidden in the corner of a strip mall. It's no wonder this is the least well-known gay bar in Orange County. Once you discover it though, you'll find experienced bartenders, a good-sized dance floor, pool tables, and cheap but tasty drinks. It sometimes takes a while for this otherwise dark and quiet place to pick up, but true to its locale, this casual HB hangout never fails to put a smile on your face. 18528 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 963-7744; www.ibizabarhb.com.

9. Pistons
Leather and Denim and Bears, Oh My!

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Greg Barnes

This bar was a complete surprise to me when I first visited it only recently. I never knew we had an establishment around here specifically for the bears and the leather-clad gays of the community. I thought surely only in LA could I find a place like that. When you first walk in, you think you've come a long way for a truly "interesting" (read: a little bit scary) evening, but the bartender, a charming bearish type in leather short shorts, pours drinks for anyone to enjoy. Make sure to venture through the door on the other end of this small indoor bar. There is a fantastic covered patio out there, full of folk mingling and carousing. Out here, they're known to have BBQ parties on Sundays and movie nights on Wednesdays. This first-timer is definitely going back to Pistons. 2020 E. Artesia Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 422-1928; www.pistonsbar.com.

8. Paradise Piano Bar & Restaurant
Date Night

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Greg Barnes

Paradise is not only a great bar full attractive cool gay professionals and hipsters, but also a great place to take a date for a fantastic dinner. The vibe in early evening is of a reasonably priced, upscale bistro, live piano, and good food, and the waitstaff are all hot and engaging. On weekends, the go-go dancers and Jello shots come out for a truly fun and unforgettable evening--which you might even remember the next morning. 1800 E. Broadway, Long Beach, (562) 590-8773; www.paradisepianobar.com.

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25 comments
Eon RosVive
Eon RosVive

let you in through the back, just like YOU like

Eon RosVive
Eon RosVive

Marco Viveros......get-yo-club-on!....

Terri Head
Terri Head

Ibiza in HB is gone!! Velvet Lounge is great!

Paul Gonzales
Paul Gonzales

Awesome list-- I just wish there were enough cool spots in OC to fill it.

Jsmith
Jsmith

I love the gays! Equal rights 4 all! 

asdgasdgdsa
asdgasdgdsa

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Apps4U
Apps4U

Did not know OC has that many gay bars! Can not wait to check out Velvet. Thanks for putting this together OC Weekly!

Md
Md

FYI: this list if for Gay Dive Bars. NOT Gay Dance Clubs, ie; Hamburger Mary's, Executive Suite, Ripples etc.....,

fluffatu
fluffatu

Sad to see Ripples in LB didn't make the scene. Very low key, beachy, and great place to go if your crowd has some straights mixed in.

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

Guess none of the regular SAFII bloggers were man enough to handle this challenge.

909Jeff
909Jeff

This list is FABULOUS! 

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Sorry, chulo—you won't find me at any of these fine establishments regularly. I don't swing your way ;-)

Jayson
Jayson

Velvet IS a dance club, and definitely not a dive bar. 

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

When you go to the doctor and he or she doesn't have the deep expertise you need, do you tell the doctor to study up and be ready to diagnose next week? No... you consult a specialist.

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