Lexington's gay bars, all of which are straight-friendly, have a long history. But there are only a few left. Here are some worth looking into.
The Bar Complex
224 E. Main St. (859) 255-1551. Thebarcomplex.com. Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight Sun.-Wed., 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Thu.-Sat.
"The Bar," a Lexington institution with roots dating back decades, opens onto Main Street (the unmarked yellow door near The Kentucky Theatre), but if you come in the catacombslike back entrance, it feels as if you're entering some secret members-only club. Upstairs in the multilevel, multibar club is a spacious dance area where a predominantly gay but certainly mixed crowd gathers. Downstairs is a cozier front bar, and off to the side is a cabaret theater with a local drag cast performing Thursday through Saturday. Drinks are moderately priced and notoriously strong.
Noteworthy: The dance floor, modeled after the legendary Studio 54 in New York, was an unlikely disco palace in the early 1980s, attracting celebrities from both coasts.
208 S. Limestone. (859) 523-6338. Soundbarlex.com. Hours: 4:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (will close earlier Sun.-Tue. if the crowd is light).
If your taste in martinis is refined, a Monday afternoon at Soundbar is a perfect time to visit. As a modest crowd gathers, the amiable bartender is happy to serve up a French 76, the house specialty, with muddled lemon and Ketel One vodka, topped with champagne. Or he might mix up an extra-dirty vodka martini on the rocks, with hand-stuffed blue cheese olives for your discerning companion. Nice. After work, the sounds in the Limestone bar are muted, but come nightfall, especially on weekends, the dance floor, the newly opened lounge upstairs and the patio out back can be packed. Cocktails are the specialty here, as are drink specials, including a 41/2-hour happy hour.
Noteworthy: Soundbar's Facebook page, Facebook.com/soundbarlex, features a rundown of daily drink specials, such as half-price bottles of wine Tuesdays and two-for-one well martinis Monday.