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Exclusive | Provincetown: Where to Play

Exclusive | Provincetown: Where to Play

It's hard not to love Provincetown, or P-town as anyone who has been there calls it. Great New England cuisine, sunny beaches and thriving seasonal nightlife attract a diverse, friendly range of queer folks from every walk of life.

While much of P-town's nightlife has been unchanged for years, the bars here still continue to feel fresh and fun during the summer, as visitors and newcomers change the makeup of the crowds each night. Things get going on the early side here, running from T-dance (3:00 p.m.) until 1:00 a.m. when the bars and clubs close. Those who aren't ready to call it a night might be invited to a private after-party, but are most likely to be found on the street in front of Spiritus Pizza. Summertime also draws top-name gay and gay-popular performers and DJs to Provincetown (expect to see the fabulous likes of Varla Jean Merman, the Funny Gay Males, Margaret Cho, and Broadway divas like Betty Buckley or Patti LuPone). Some are one-night-only gigs, but many are extended runs.

The Atlantic House (more popularly known as A-House (6 Masonic Pl; 508-487-3821) is undisputedly the grand dame of the gay scene in P-town. Open 365 days a year (and predominantly a gay hangout since the 1950s), the A-House is really a complex of bars in an old inn: a disco, the quaint and crusty Little Bar (open noon-1 a.m.), and a leather/Levi bar upstairs called the Macho Bar (open 10 p.m.-1 a.m.), which is a festive blend of Cape Cod kitsch meets leather bar industrial. Despite its almost self-mocking name, Macho Bar has a serious dress code. In summer, the A-House disco is particularly popular on Friday nights when the dance tunes crank, and things get busy on the outdoor patio. The disco charges a cover on busy weekends, but the Macho Bar is free at all times.

The Gifford House(11 Carver St; 508-487-0688) is another historic and long-running gay fave. The attractive Porchside Lounge is a good bet for friends looking to socialize in a relaxed fashion. The patrons are friendly and there's a pool table and jukebox to keep you entertained. Next door is the Lobby Piano Bar, which hosts piano sing-alongs. Downstairs is the leather-themed Club Purgatory.

The Boatslip (161 Commercial St; 508-487-1669) continues its successful daily T-dance, which convenes every afternoon from 4 to 7 p.m., with crowds packing a small, enclosed dance floor. Expect much posing on the spacious waterfront deck. It's worth a visit simply to take in the mind-boggling display of summer outfits.

The Pied (193A Commercial St; 508-487-1527) is a harborside dance bar with beachfront dock. It may cost to get in, depending on the weekend, and drink prices can be exorbitant. Still, the Pied hosts an extremely popular and fun "After-Tea T-Dance" for men (and some women), beginning at 6 p.m. "T After Dark" is a sleek, sexy post-9:30 p.m. option for women. You can check out the crowd before plunking down an entrance fee from the sun deck of the food court just next door (entrance to the left if facing the Pied). Thursday through Saturday nights bring special club nights. Look for women's events throughout the week.

Vixen (336 Commercial St; 508-487-6724) is Provincetown's hopping nightclub and performance space for women. A tastefully decorated establishment, Vixen features the comfortable and classy Bacchanal Wine Bar. The back area includes a dance floor, with a bar running along the entire length of the space. The DJ's play list is unadventurous but fun and danceable. Each night boasts a slightly different theme. The diverse clientele includes girl jocks, women of color, glamazons, some men, and everyone in between. Vixen also draws fine talent to its cabaret, comedy and musical shows: Expect funny women like Kate Clinton, and popular musicians like Catie Curtis, Melissa Ferrick, and Betty during high season.

The Crown & Anchor (247 Commercial St; 508-487-1430), which underwent a huge renovation several years ago, is one of the most talked-about gay entertainment complexes in the country. The big venue here is Paramount, which claims to be P-town's largest nightclub and cabaret. The crowd is a mix of mostly gay boys (20s through 40s) and some lesbians and miscellaneous straight women. The light shows are fierce and the tunes are throbbing. The bartenders are pretty-boy studly, and the energy is high. This place has raised the bar for nightlife fabulousness in old P-town. Out back you'll find The Crown Poolside, which serves food and offers poolside beach chairs daily at no charge for patrons. Lounge in the sun, order cocktails and maybe a few oysters on the half shell.

Just next door is Wave Video Bar, an attractive and large space. There's never a cover and it opens daily at 11 a.m. Crown Cabaret is P-town's largest cabaret. And finally, there's The Vault, the leather/Levi bar in the Crown & Anchor's east wing. It's fun and dark, with beefy barkeeps (is that a Falcon video porn star serving up the Coronas?) and filthy videos. Consult Provincetown Magazine for cabaret, performance, and special event schedules for the Crown & Anchor, as well as the rest of P-town's nightspots.

Related Articles:
Provincetown: Introduction
Provincetown: Gay Life
Provincetown: Where to Stay
Provincetown: Where to Eat
Provincetown: What to See & Do
Provincetown: Where to Shop
Provincetown: Artistic/Cultural
Provincetown: Resources

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