Hong Kong is a forward-thinking, highly advanced city with one of the most metropolitan communities of people in the world – from ex-pats to locals and all those third-culture kids in between. And while it still has a long way to go (especially in terms of legislation), there is certainly a renewed hope for the nightlife and social scene in the gay and lesbian community of the 852. A more open, accepting collective consciousness means gay-friendly places like The Pontiac, Stauntons (especially on Sundays), Lily & Bloom and Bobby’s Rabble are inspiring a crossover culture. But more importantly, over the last few years we’ve seen a slew of hip new bar openings and increased support for incredible events and initiatives like Pink Dot (held during Pink Season) and the upcoming Gay Games to be hosted in Hong Kong in 2022. But if you can’t wait that long, here are the most fabulous places to unwind in the city.
Marketing itself as “Hong Kong’s All Inclusive Gay Bar”, this (relatively) new kid on the block has quickly become a firm favourite on the scene, attracting a young, fashionable crowd to Lan Kwai Fong. Petticoat Lane has emerged as an innovator, with new drag queens and sensational midnight shows bringing in the coolest of clientele. It’s leading the way in Hong Kong and is now also host to Wednesgays – a little midweek revelry with free vodka from 10pm-11pm. Petticoat Lane promotes what we should all strive for – a safe-space for a community of people sans judgement and labels, but rather an overwhelming desire to be your own damn self!
Petticoat Lane, Basement floor, Sunny Building, 57 – 59 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.petticoatlane.club
FLM is one of the originals here in Hong Kong; a place that has been through it all and lived to tell the tale. A definitive choice for the streets of Sheung Wan (a hub of the gay and lesbian social scene), FLM has gone through a few facelifts to get to where it is today – a fun, dance-your-ass-off and drink one-too-many hotspot! FLM has some of the best drinks deals in town, with a happy hour that runs until 10pm and $50 house spirits from 10pm onwards Monday to Thursday. Plus, after a run as the official screening host to Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3, FLM has started hosting more events of its own – ‘Secret Shows’ and Gayborhood (a designated pub-crawl vibe through the best gay bars in the area). It is hyping itself back up, opening its doors more lovingly to the wider LGBTQ community and offering you a great time guaranteed. And if that’s not something to love then what’s love got to do with it (got to do, got to do with it)?
FLM, 62 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, www.flmhk.net
Recently renovated and reopened, this long-standing spot on the hill (Pottinger for those not down with the lingo) is back and ready for business! LINQ boasts an impressive dedication to funky beats, with in-house DJs on the decks almost always (and often shirtless) getting you to tear up the dancefloor, especially after indulging in any of its various drinks specials throughout the week – happy hour is Monday to Saturday from 5pm to 8pm. Just outside of bustling Lan Kwai Fong, and with the same advantage of spilling onto the street, you can expect a mixed crowd of expats and locals and a spectrum of partygoers (not exclusively those from the gay community). Sassy and celebrating all types of identity, LINQ has returned to give Hong Kong the party it deserves!
LINQ Bar, G/F, 35 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/Linq-Bar
If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed, with the option to be outside, but not in the throngs of LKF, then a chilled drink at T:ME is just for you! Tucked away (pun intended) just off the escalators, T:ME has been going for years and has a great, open atmosphere, boosted by the adorable little park adjacent the bar’s entrance. It feels more intimate here than at some of the bigger bars, but there’s no shortage of drinks specials – with not one but two happy hours! Grab a drink after work with special prices until 9:30pm, or top up your night out with its midnight happy hour on Fridays and Saturdays (just look for the neon sign above the bar). T:ME also believes in a little weekday fun, with free gin for guys on Tuesdays. There’s also gay-friendly Club71 just next door, so bar hoppers can make their moves without the mission.
T:ME Bar, B/F, 65 Hollywood Road, Central (enter from the back of the building opposite the small park), Hong Kong, www.time-bar.com
Formerly Circo, a quick name change and upward mobility to the 22nd floor has given (literal) rise to Bing Bing, a divine space with killer views of Hong Kong, and a penchant for techno music and delicious dancers. Bing Bing also has a more local feel to it and the crowd is definitely younger than what you might find in the hub of Sheung Wan, but the space and its fabulous daily happy hour is open to all. This has more of a club ambience, even though dance floor space is quite limited – be willing to fight for it because the popularity is obvious (weekends can see almost 200 fun-lovers at Bing Bing). It’s young and chic and a little different to the usual go-to’s, so definitely worth putting on your list if you don’t already know it!
Bing Bing, 22/F, Oliv BLDG, 15 Sharp Street East, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/HK.BiNGBiNG
Need a place that’s high-energy and wonderfully frenetic for an outrageously good time? Then head over to ZOO, another one of Sheung Wan’s gay hot spots. ZOO is considered more local on the scene, but is a super fun and friendly place to let your hair loose, especially on the weekends when it gets busier. But don’t let that fool you, there are plenty of drinks specials throughout the week to keep you coming back for more! Daily discounts and a happy hour every day from 7pm are testament to the intensity here so make sure you’re ready to party when you’re headed to ZOO.
ZOO, 33 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/pg/ZOOBARHK
Another favourite amongst local gays, WINK is also a venue on the Gayborhood bar crawl event initiated by FLM down the road in Sheung Wan. WINK offers divas and dancers alike premium drinks (with a special focus on uniquely crafted cocktails), and is a place where regulars are known by name (by some très cute bartenders). WINK has a chilled lounge feel to it and is a great place for a few after work tipples, plus it serves up fantastic specials, including a daily happy hour that even lasts until 11pm on weekends. It is also involved in Hong Kong’s Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, hosting affiliated events throughout and promoting the industry in the 852. It’s a vibrant, youthful space that is home to great drinks, great music and great vibes.
WINK, G/F, 79 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/pg/WINKHONGKONG
Most of Hong Kong LGBTQI bars and spaces are more generally directed, attracting crowds of all types and ages and preferences. What makes Boo Bar so interesting and unique is its specificity: a bar solely geared towards bears (rugged, often bearded, macho gay men). A karaoke machine sets the tone here and advocates for a lot of fun. The staff are extremely friendly (and cute), and drinks are not only delicious, but well priced, with those cute bartenders often being rather heavy-handed. Boo Bar has no qualms about its attracted clientele. Sometimes you know what you like and you need a place to find it.
Boo Bar, 5/F Pearl Oriental Tower, 225 Nathan Road, Jordan, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/boobar.hk
While gay men in Hong Kong seem to have more and more options on the nightlife scene, unfortunately the same cannot be equally stated for the lesbian community. However, two women have catalysed change and progress (and where there is representation and access, there is acceptance). Les Peches is home to Hong Kong’s premiere events for lesbians, bi-sexual or queer women “and their friends”. What started out as a monthly occasion has developed into more regular events due to the obvious need for a friendly, fun space for women to come together and have a good time specifically catered to them. From The Lounge (which takes place every first Tuesday of the month), to The Club (every third Saturday of the month), a stunning mix of lesbian, bi-sexual and queer women mingle and indulge in the freedom to do so uninhibited by labels, judgements or limitations.
Les Peches, events held at various locations across Hong Kong, www.lespecheshk.com
About to celebrate its third year, Behind is a monthly pop-up event at various fabulous locations around the city. Created by Angus Wong – who believes that there is a spectrum within this vibrant community and that labelling and sectioning doesn’t help to push it further – Behind came about to reflect that beautiful mix and give everyone a place and a time to basically live their best lives. Plus, we all know how much of an accomplishment it is in the 852 to keep anything running for so long, especially an event that only takes place once a month to hugely supportive crowds. The event is held on the last Saturday of every month, always in some magnificent venue and with a banging playlist (with a heavy dose of disco and funk because aren’t those just the best anyway?). It’s free and it’s open to all, with a concentrated attempt not to discriminate or put pressure on those who choose to be there, but rather aims to include and accept. With some big name sponsors and even bigger Hong Kong venues jumping in on it too, Behind is truly an LGBTQI shining light!
Behind, Events held at various locations across Hong Kong on the last Saturday of every month, www.facebook.com/pg/ClubBehind