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Exclusive | Montreal Where to Play/Meet

Exclusive | Montreal Where to Play/Meet

Montr?al's gay nightlife scene has two faces: one is determinedly "New York," as evidenced in such giant clubs as Unity, Parking, Stereo, and Sky, where muscle boys groove to DJ-spun music, and the other is, well, Montr?al, found in the innumerable taverns, or pubs, where locals belly up to the bar and while away the hours chatting to each other over their favorite beers. The latter variety is a great place to meet Montrealers, of all ages and walks of life, in an environment more conducive to conversation. The city is also known for its open and legal male strip bars, with lightbulb-lined stages right out of Flashdance (although perhaps not as inspired), where rent boys strut their wares and non-sex lap-dancing takes place in the back.

Another facet of Montr?al gay life that will stick out to most American travelers is the profusion of saunas or spas that line the rue Sainte-Catherine and nearby side streets. But unlike in the States, there is no stigma of sleaze attached to frequenting saunas. They are more socially focused than American spas, and locals say they find the spas here more relaxing and enjoyable places to hang out and meet men, or simply to meet up with friends, than the self-conscious bar or disco scene. As in the States, spas are mostly frequented by men, although local lesbians have successfully lobbied for occasional special nights of their own.

Unity II (1171 rue Sainte-Catherine Est; 514-523-2777), formerly Unity on rue Montcalm, reopened June 2002 with much of the same, hot energy of its predecessor. The new location added the kitsch, incense-scented Bamboo Room bar and a "chill room" lined with leather benches and pool tables. Parking (1296 rue Amherst, at Ste-Catherine; 514-282-1199), located in a former auto repair garage, has attracted a mixed clientele of men, but its focus is definitely on cruising. House music plays upstairs, the harder music is downstairs, and leather is compulsory to enter the leather-only room. Women are allowed on Thursdays and Sundays. Thursdays attracts a younger lesbian crowd. Parking also operates Taverne Normandie (1295 rue Amherst; 514-522-2766), which sometimes has live music and draws older gay men.

Le Drugstore (1366 rue Sainte-Catherine Est; 514-524-1960) has established itself as the place for lesbians to have a beer on Fridays after work. On other nights, the crowd is extremely diverse, and everyone will feel welcome there. Spread out over 12 levels (on four stories), the New York City-themed complex includes several bars, a pool hall, boutiques and a hair salon, a restaurant, terraces and lesbian-popular bar, busiest on Friday nights. Local lesbians lounge against the bar with a beer or cocktail as friendly bar staff pour drinks and dispense words of wisdom. Women congregate in the basement pool hall and at Bar Budweiser. Le Taverne is its sports bar, Terrasse Budweiser is a laid-back caf? bar, Terrasse Corona is a rooftop patio bar and the Grande Terrasse offers magnificent Gay Village views. (The bar names aren't obvious or that important; most people just use Le Drugstore.)

If you like house music, Club Stereo (858 rue Sainte-Catherine Est; 514-286-0325) is a trendy weekend after-hours dance club attracting a mostly young (under 30) crowd that features an incredible dance floor and sound system. Especially busy late on Saturdays. Sky Pub/Club (1474 rue Sainte-Catherine Est; 514-529-6969) underwent a $6 million renovation and draws in beautiful guys and girls to match. The second floor cabaret features dinner/drag shows every Friday and Saturday night; on the same floor is Lego Bar. Sky's massive dance club on the third floor rocks all weekend long, and is adjoined by the self-explanatory Boyz Room. Sky's rooftop, arguably the best in the Village, features two bars, a small pool, hot tub and showers -- go for the views of the city and its hottest men. Saturday nights attracts gorgeous men and women for (no cover) Latino night, with drag shows in Spanish and hot dancing on the main floor.

Part One | Part Two

Related Articles:
Montreal: Introduction
Montreal: Where to Stay
Montreal: Where to Eat
Montreal: What to See & Do
Montreal: Where to Shop
Montreal: Resources

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Joe Okonkwo