Queens of the Night: 8 Best Bars for a Drag Show in NYC

What can turn any average bar night out into a fabulous and fantastic in-your-face experience? Yup. A drag queen. 

For decades these brave souls have donned fabulous wigs, sparkling sequins and jaw-dropping stilettos to become some of nightlife’s biggest celebrities.

Aptly just named "Drag City of the Year," New York City‘s queen scene has exploded and challenged the limits of drag.

Whether you're looking for a sarcastic seasoned starlet who can read you like this morning’s Twitter feed or a glittering newcomer that turns heads wherever she goes, these are the spots to catch some of the best queens NYC has to offer.

1. Industry (355 West 52nd Street)

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Voted “Best Gay Bar” multiple times by New York Magazine and The Village Voice, Industry is a spacious hotspot lined with plush scarlet seats and exposed brick, not to mention an impressively sized stage. It’s there where the magic happens.


Every Thursday night, the brutally honest Holly Dae leads her trio of queens for a night of fierce fun and frivolity in Queen, now going on its sixth year running. From lip sync challenges and themed nights to audience games and dirty hijinks, Queen quickly snatches that crown.

2. Pieces (8 Christopher Street)

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Off a quiet corner in the neighborhood where it all began sits Pieces, one of the West Village’s most beloved neighborhood bars. What seems like a hole-in-the-wall dive bar gives way to a den of lights, music, and sickening drag.

Their newest crown jewel is ENCORE, a night celebrating the best of Broadway every Wednesday with Brita Filter, a cascade of pizzazz and personality who’s anything but pure. Grab a drink from the unmistakable Dusty Ray Bottoms manning the bar as Brita brings some Broadway downtown.

3. Boots & Saddle (100A 7th Avenue South)

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Credited as being the drag lounge of NYC, Boots & Saddle has just moved to a shiny new location around the corner from its old spot. And talk about an upgrade. The new saloon now hosts a slew of queens weekly with multiple shows every night.


Fresh for this year is So You Think You Can Drag Season 5 finalist Holly Box-Springs, headlining her new bi-weekly show Gagging Wednesdays. This pint-sized pixie proves she's more than just a pretty package, transforming before your very eyes. They don’t call her The Queen of the Reveal for nothing.

4. The Ritz (369 West 68th Street)

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What its namesake is to NYC hotels is what this Midtown hotspot is to the city’s gay bar scene. With two large levels of dancing, drinking and debauchery, The Ritz is anything but a boring night out in Hell’s Kitchen.

The richest bitch in the biz, Marti Gould Cummings takes to the stage Sunday nights in "Untucked & Uncensored," a no-holds-barred night of mischief, special guests and constant reminders that when she has the mic, Marti is the monarch.


5. Barracuda (275 West 22nd Street)

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Out looking for a fight? Then jump in the ring at Barracuda as your two hosts, the flawless Judy Darling and the illustrious Miz Cracker, battle it out at Knockout Tuesdays for the title of H.B.I.C., otherwise known as the "Head Bitch In Charge."


Each week, both queens bring a special guest that they think can win in a contest of talent, looks and personality and has had everyone from singers and dancers to fledgling drag queens and go-go boys. The audience ultimately decides who takes the title in this unforgettable battle royale.

6. Therapy (348 West 52nd Street)

therapy_nyc #therapynyc {photo by @misterchangzheli}

Therapy is a true Hell’s Kitchen gem that combines everything great about a gay bar and adds its own chic touches, such as an intimate front lounge and second level entertainment space with tables and seating, not to mention their astoundingly delicious and diverse bar food menu.

Showbiz spitfire, and HK legend, Paige Turner takes center stage in a flash of hot pink every week at "Slurp Sundays," a lip-smacking show full of laughs, live singing and tough love. Be sure to bookmark this savvy and sharp blonde for the perfect nightcap to any weekend.

7. XES Lounge (157 West 24th Street)

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A unique watering hole amongst its Chelsea counterparts, XES comes with a lot of things in a seemingly small package. From extended happy hours to an outdoor back area when you just want some air, it’s easy to see how it's a staple of the neighborhood.


And what’s a bar without a karaoke night? Pop in on Sundays and belt out some tunes with the tall, dark and deliciously chocolate Kareem McJagger. Part charm, part sass and 100% fierce, she’ll have you swaying in your seat as you build up the liquid courage to get up there yourself.

8. Hardware (697 10th Avenue)

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Step inside this oversized toolshed to discover a dimly lit den full of color and life. This local speakeasy has had a serious rise to power in the past three years and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

If you find yourself thirsty on a Tuesday night, stop in for Late Night Tea with your hosts Pixie Aventura and Delighted Tobehere. The dazzling duo takes the stage in the back at midnight with a high-energy show just for those NYC “never-sleepers.”

Check out the 8 Absolute Best NYC Happy Hours by Neighborhood. 

[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram] 

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