Things to do in Oak Lawn: Visit Dallas’ iconic gay district


Discover a place where pride knows no bounds.

It still surprises many people that Dallas has such a large LGBTQ + community. After all, Texas continues to grab the headlines for its conservative outcry in the state capital, often directly targeting the rights that gay people have fought so hard for. However, this very adversity may be the reason queer Texans have been forced to regroup, becoming an influential force to be reckoned with for survival and instinctively knowing when it’s time to make our voices heard and take a stand. Openly LGBTQ + leaders hold many elected positions in the community and have recently held positions as prominent as police chief. Gay-owned and allied businesses are strong here too, as evidenced by our own well-established businesses LGBT Chamber of Commerce. And when it’s time to play, watch out, you’ll likely find us partying at Crossroads, aka the intersection of Throckmorton Street and Cedar Springs Road in the heart of our own gay Oak Lawn neighborhood.

As a proud homosexual (Happy Pride, all of you!), I was part of the Dallas queer community for a long time. Like, a really long time. We’re talking after cellphones but before smartphones, when a grinder was just a Boston sub-sandwich and the only ‘cancellation culture’ I encountered was desperate attempts to end it. to my Crunch gym membership. Indeed, I was young and naive in the mid-1990s, but despite being warned that some Dallas gays were snobs, I managed to find a tribe of longtime friends and a chosen family, a partner. two and a half decades, and an ongoing bar tab that’s probably hovering around $ 300,000 (and it continues). In fact, wherever you find me in the neighborhood, I’m usually accompanied by a healthy sprinkling of glitter, the latest trendy cocktail, and a soundtrack fueled by pop divas – and that’s right when I visit my chiropractor or drop shirts off. the cleaners.

Of course, I have witnessed the changes Oak Lawn and its surroundings have undergone over the years, but basically a lot has stayed the same. Due to various factors, the number of bars and other LGBTQ + businesses has declined. Rent increases, the pandemic, internet dating sites and smartphone apps have all played a role, but we can’t ignore the fact that we can now be ourselves almost anywhere in town, thus reducing the need to be exclusively queer. the spaces. But that doesn’t make places owned by homosexuals and our allies any less important. Visiting Oak Lawn last weekend for Dallas Pride, the thousands of people crammed into bars, restaurants, shops and streets made it clear that we still need a central meeting place where we feel right at home. safe, respected and loved. So whether you’re a longtime resident, new to town, or planning a next visit to Big D, here are the fabulous places you must go, not just in June, but throughout the rainbow year. -in sky.

Toast to the queer community of Dallas

At its peak, Dallas nightlife featured over 30 bars and clubs, not to mention Arlington, Fort Worth, Denton and other metropolitan cities. While we’ll probably never see the same kind of hey-gurl hay day again, we still have 24 watering holes in North Texas, 17 of which are scattered around the Gay Quarter. And while Oak Lawn bars are open to everyone (21 and over, of course), it’s always good to keep their specific niches in mind when choosing a place to hang out in the neighborhood.

To dance, go Station 4 (also called S4), a large two-story club that includes the Rose Room Theater and Lounge, a showcase of world-class high-tech dragsters hidden upstairs. Across the street, country western dance (including classes) is the claim to fame of Round-Up Ballroom and Dance Hall, a sprawling venue with several bars and a separate karaoke lounge near the entrance, not to mention having been voted once the best gay country western dance hall in the entire United States of A. Dallas eagle, which remains temporarily closed, normally draws the leather crowd with an energetic dance floor and various theme nights. Sue Ellen The two-story setting caters primarily to queer women with a large dance floor and stage for frequent live musical acts. And although they have smaller dance floors, TMC, more Latin-centric Kaliente and Havana, all play their part.

Good places to hang out with friends for a cocktail include Woody’s sports bar, Hidden door (with a famous Sunday beer bust), and Peking Bar, all full of super relaxed atmospheres. For places with quality dishes paired with alcohol, check out Cedar Springs Valve House, Liquid Zoo Sports Bar & Grill, JR’s Bar & Grill, and Mr. Mrs., which also offers a regular drag brunch. that of Alexander offers live music and classic cocktails (in addition, it is developing), while the Tin chamber is the number one destination to catch male dancers. Two places that aren’t specifically LGBTQ + focused but end up attracting a fairly even mix of people from all walks of life are the chicest. Library bar at the Warwick Melrose Hotel and Vine bar, which shines especially during Sunday Funday. Outside the confines of Oak Lawn, but well worth a visit, are some nice neighborhood joints Barbara’s Pavilion at Oak Cliff and the Club 1851 in Arlington as well as the Urban cowboy lounge, Club changes, and Club reflection in Fort Worth.

Photo courtesy of Roy G’s

Fill your face with delicious food

Whether you go before, after, or instead of going to the bars, there is never an excuse to be hungry at Oak Lawn. Hunky’s Old Fashioned Burgers, dating from 1984, was joined more recently by Mario’s Mexican and Salvadoran restaurant, Ai Sushi Sake Grill, Crickles & Co Brunch + Brasseries, Or not, Taqueria La Ventana, Tacos and Mas, Thai lotus cuisine, Exotic pizza from Amico, Chef’s House (Chinese and Thai), Cosmic coffee (vegetarian and vegan), Italia Express, Union Cafe, and End of the street chicken, plus a newcomer Roy G’s, which takes its name from the acronym ROYGBIV which helps people remember the colors of the rainbow. Outside the gay district, the namesake of gay chef Abraham Salum Salum Restaurant offers a refined and exquisite cuisine. It’s time to loosen that belt a notch or two.

When your credit card needs some action, head to one of the shops along Main Street, including a thrift store Outside the closet, which also offers free HIV testing and counseling on site. For a variety of gay oriented products, Tapelenders has gone from its original video rental business plan to a great little gift shop for all your queer trinket needs. Meanwhile, for men’s underwear, swimwear and other clothing, be sure to check Skivvies, Describes men’s clothing, and the ES collection.

Visit the Resource Center

One of the crown jewels of Dallas’ queer community has long been Resource center, which goes way above the average for YMCA-style neighborhood tours. The main building itself has an architectural impact, built from the ground up to meet the many diverse needs of LGBTQ + people. With tailored services for everyone from young people to seniors, a variety of programs focus on subgroups within the wider community, and local organizations can also rent spaces for meetings and other events. . Find out more about everything they do – not to mention how you can get involved –sign up for one of their popular Get Centered tours.

Focus on well-being and well-being

The health needs of LGBTQ + people can be unique and we are fortunate to have so many different options serving us directly, often with free and accessible services including PrEP and STI testing and treatment. Among the outposts in or very near Oak Lawn are Nelson Tebedo Clinic, the primary care facility of the Resource Center, and Prism Health North Texas, who recently partnered with an LGBTQ + focused medical practice, Group of downtown doctors.

Look great while you’re at it

All over the Gay Quarter, you’ll find a variety of service providers who strive to make you look as fantastic on the outside as you are on the inside. Style your hair with Atelier Barber Co., Aura Lounge, and Beauty salon; treat yourself to manicures and pedicures at Onyx nail bar, the Nails Spa, and Fabulous nail bar; wink with more confidence after a visit to Deep eyelashes; sunbathe at Tanning bar; and feel better in your body with the help of Hydration and Aesthetics iFusion.

Learn about LGBTQ + history

Years ago the Dallas Public Library Oak Lawn Branch in partnership with the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Fort Lauderdale to create the second largest collection of LGBTQ + literature and reference material in the world. And to add to the fabulous reserve, the University of North Texas created the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual Archives, a vast digital archive to collect and preserve the history of the LGBTQ + community.

Stay the weekend on the Strip

Whether you are an out of town visiting Dallas or a local looking for an old gay time with a stay near you, the Warwick Melrose Hotel and guest rooms owned by homosexuals Auberge Daisy Polk are two great options that are just steps away from all the action. Imagine how nice it would be to step out of a bar or a restaurant after a big meal and realize that you are only minutes away from a hot shower and a big comfy bed.

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Steven Lindsey is a Thrillist contributor.

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