Exclusive | When in...Seattle
Originally published in OUT December/January 2008, issue 180
If you can judge a city by its icons -- the Space Needle (phallic much?) or Dan Savage ('nuff said) -- then Seattle's nickname of yore, "The Queen City," is as apt as ever. Participants in the recent 2008 Gay Softball World Series would likely agree. Buoyed by the tech boom and gallons of caffeine (the original Starbucks is just past the Pike PlaceMarket fish tossers), Seattle has shed its flannel-clad grungy past to grow into a cosmopolitan world player -- zesty yet laid-back, it's a beacon of sophistication in Washington, a state not winning any awards for its gayfriendliness. From the stately mansions of the Queen Anne district to the funky gentrifying hoods of Fremont and Ballard and tony Belltown condos overlooking Puget Sound, gays are well-represented, although Capitol Hill's confluence of bars and the mixed hipster crowds that frequent them make it the de facto epicenter of the scene. Thanks to an ante-up by aesthetes in the form of the recently opened Olympic Sculpture Park, a thriving locavore movement in the restaurant scene (fed by a savvy creative class of employees from Amazon.com and Adobe -- hot geek alert!), and the vast amounts of outdoor adventures inspiring those at the nearby REI headquarters, the Emerald City's queer patina shines clearer every day. Go ahead, blame it on the rain.
Grey Gallery & Lounge
1512 11th Ave.; 206-325-5204
Like a perpetual art opening (minus the brie), stiff martinis and avant-garde pieces pair well with the attractive crowd spilling over from the more raucous Purr next door.
Cha Cha Lounge and Bimbo's Cantina
1013 E. Pike St.; 206-322-0703
The older bro to its randy sister in L.A.'s Silver Lake neighborhood, its overstuffed burritos upstairs and overthe- top Mexicali kitsch down below draw a gayish mix of alt-rockers and hipsters gettin' all lucha libre on the weekend.
1509 Broadway; 206-324-5358
Large and friendly and just a bit skuzzy (enter in the alley), Neighbors one of the few places you're able to get sweaty on the dance floor. Twinks go wild with their gal pals on Thursday's '80s night.
1533 13th Ave.; 206-323-1525
Drink specials almost nightly at the sporty upper bar, a cheesily bumpin' dance floor, the Doghouse Leathers gear shop, and a massive outdoor patio make Capitol Hill's sprawling anchor an always cruisy end-up.
Part One | Part Two