Exclusive | Palm Springs: Where to Play/Meet
By Joe Okonkwo | AN OUTTRAVELER.COM EXCLUSIVE
Palm Springs doesn't have cutting-edge nightlife, but it does have a full range of bar and club options for men and women, busy and fun on weekends, and a large number of gay periodicals reporting on it. The Bottom Line is the well-established, biweekly magazine, sporting a glossy, full-color cover, extensive listings and maps as well as community news and information. (See Resources below for complete information on local gay publications.)
Hunter's Video Bar (302 E. Arenas Rd; 760-323-0700) is a fun video bar with happy-hour drink specials and enough games and activities to keep its wide range of patrons (from muscle boys and motorcycle daddies to drag queens) engaged and happy. It's a classy, open club with a dance floor open on weekends and busy holidays. Hunter's is a fun place to start the evening and your best bet for people watching even on a low-season weekday.
The other major dance club in Palm Springs is Oasis (611 S. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-416-0950), a huge indoor spot with cabaret shows and wild theme nights and a more serious dance vibe than Hunter's. It draws the usual crowd of circuit boys in season, and there are also nights geared more to women, although everyone is welcome.
Sidewinders ( 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, CC; 760-328-9919) caters to a primarily Levi-and-leather crowd along with fans of country-western music and line-dancing. The romantic second floor balcony is a nice place to exchange phone numbers with that cutie in chaps. The old Ground Zero has recently become Club Whatever (36-737 Cathedral Canyon, CC; 760-321-0031), a low-keyed neighborhood bar catering to men and offering karaoke many nights, good drink specials, and Saturday drag shows.
The team behind Georgie's Alibi -- Florida's favorite video bars, with locations in St. Petersburg and in Fort Lauderdale's Wilton Manors gayborhood -- opened a branch in Palm Springs in 2007 called AZUL (369 N. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-325-5533). The PS version serves up tasty tapas well into the night and has live music on weekends.
Toucan's Tiki Lounge (2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-416-7584) has taken the nightlife scene by storm. Despite the somewhat out-of-the-way location on the north end of town, this campy, tropical-themed bar with two patios packs in a very mixed crowd, especially on weekends. The management is fun and friendly, and go-go dancers keep the crowds happy most evenings. Having undergone a beautiful refurbishment, the Dorothy's Other Kansas (67-580 E. Palm Canyon Drive, CC; 760-324-3000), formerly the Desert Palms Inn Bar, has a terrific tea dance on weekend evenings and is great fun just about any night. It overlooks the resort's pool, and it draws an eclectic, all-ages bunch of both women and men.
The bar at Blame It on Midnight (see Dining) keeps hopping well into the evening, and they feature live cabaret shows. Another sexy and hip restaurant bar is Wang's in the Desert (see EAT), which has a particularly festive patio and is known for its fancy and elaborate cocktails.
The Plum Restaurant & Martini Bar, Look and Hamburger Mary's (see Dining) also pull in a festive crowd for their great happy hours. Streetbar (224 E. Arenas Rd; 760-320-1266) is a popular cruise bar and hangout. Badlands (200 S. Indian Canyon Drive; 760-778-4326) is a neighborhood bar with video games and two pool tables in the same area.
Rainbow Restaurant and Bar; (212 S. Indian Canyon Drive; 760-325-3868), is popular with septuagenarians who gather around the piano and belt out their favorite torch songs. The food has improved lately, but it's still pretty basic.
The long-running Tool Shed (600 E. Sunny Dunes Rd; 760-320-3299) caters to a cruisy leather-and-Levi crowd, while the well-air-conditioned Barracks (67-625 Hwy 111, CC; 760-321-9688) strives for a hard-core leather and chains atmosphere -- but who can wear all that hide in the heat?
Frankie J's (73460 Hwy 111, Palm Desert; 760-568-1180) is a neighborhood bar serving the eastern end of the region. And the newest addition to the Arenas Road area is the low-key but friendly sports bar called Scores (760-327-0753).
Right in the heart of downtown, the Spa Resort Casino (401 E. Amado Rd; 760-883-1000 or 800-258-2946) is arguably the most impressive of the six casinos in the Coachella Valley. This classy casino ranks among the most elegant of California's gaming facilities, and amenities include the Oasis Buffet (which is far superior to most casino buffets), a swanky show lounge, and Ropponi's, a first-rate Pan-Asian restaurant. Open 24/7, the casino draws a predominantly mainstream crowd, but you're likely to see some gay folks in here just about any time of tha,ad the management is very gay-friendly.