In Berlin, there’s gay bars – mostly in Schöneberg, with a few neighbourhood spots scattered around – and then there’s queer bars. While there’s plentiful variety in both groups, the former tend to be gay guy-centric, sometimes focused on a particular fetish, while the latter host a wider cross-section of the LGBTQIA+ community with a range of entertainment, from drag king shows to poetry slams. If you’re looking to dive into the scene, here are four to check out first.
With prime placement right off Kotti and a reputation for being jam-packed even during the week, Möbel Olfe is arguably the epicentre of queer life in Kreuzberg. (Apologies to nearby Roses: while still fun, it’s been a victim of its own wacky décor and now draws a moderate number of straights and tourists.)
The sometimes chaotically-crowded interior lends itself to mingling with strangers, with different nights earmarked for different crowds: Tuesday is FLINTA* night, Thursday is (unofficially) more for men, and Friday is for a nonbinary and trans crowd, usually remaining boisterous until the early hours. But as long as you’re respectful, the door staff aren’t too hardline on who gets in on which night.
- Reichenberger Str. 177, Kreuzberg, Tue-Thur 18-4, Fri-Sat 18-5, Sun 18-2
A queer hub amidst the near-ubiquitous straight families of Prenzlauer Berg, Tipsy Bear is a machine when it comes to hosting events. Everything from drag, trivia, karaoke, bingo and experimental live pop music crops up on the calendar here, and the bar deserves serious props for its commitment to hosting anything and everything queer and creative, drawing on all segments of the community.
On the flipside, the formidable programming can make dropping by here for a casual drink a little tricky, at least if you’re averse to (modest) cover charges – but the supremely friendly staff make it worthwhile. Either way, check out their schedule on social media to find out what you’re in for that night.
- Eberswalder Str. 21, Prenzlauer Berg, Sun-Thur 18-2, Fri-Sat, 18-3
This 16-year staple of a now-gentrified stretch of Weserstraße is the epitome of a no-fuss queer chillout space and a go-to for low-key drinks, served efficiently at a fair price and with a little casual flirting, enabled by its tight seating.
SilverFuture hosts occasional events like open mic nights and a monthly FLINTA* dating night, but most days, it’s just a formidable hangout spot with a funky atmosphere that gives a vivid twist on the classic living room-style bar filled with second-hand furniture aesthetic that this city loves. For a similar vibe, consider Südblock over in Kreuzberg: while a little less queer, its sprawling terrace is a dream in summer.
- Weserstr. 206, Neukölln, Mon-Thur 17-2, Fri-Sat 17-3
Okay, this one’s a borderline case: historically, Kreuzkölln’s Ficken 3000 was more in the mould of the classic Schöneberg gay bar, but in the last five-or-so years, it’s pulled off a smooth pivot. Ficken obliterated its men-only darkroom policy and now hosts young DJs and eclectic parties of all sorts – usually on weekend nights, when the bar’s slogan, “Share The Blame”, feels particularly apt.
While still a little dude-skewed, the crowd is chatty and chilled out and won’t care if you’re wearing anything from a jockstrap to a sequined dress. Be warned, though: it gets absurdly sweaty in there, which is partially why so many people hang out in the cooler basement darkroom. For a similar atmosphere in more of a sit-down setting, consider Sux, a little down the road in Neukölln.
- Urbanstr. 70, Kreuzberg, daily 22-8