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Cape Town, South Africa – LGBT

Cape Town Waterfront

Cape Town Waterfront

Having stepped out of its apartheid closet into the constitutionally protected light of day a mere 14 years ago, gay life in Cape Town is booming. And like many teenagers, it’s bold, bawdy, conflicted and in a constant state of reinvention. Stunning physical beauty abuts gritty urbanism, a contrast that makes the city both laid-back and neurotic. Think SoCal in South Africa. Flat-topped, cloud-covered Table Mountain plunges into sandy, Speedo-rich Clifton (its Miami-esque “third” beach and nearby Sandy Bay nudist area being the most gay-popular). Gabled Cape Duth-style buildings tussle with glass-and-steel condos in the city bowl. While appreciating the fascinating intricacies of its multiethnic society – black, white, Cape coloured (mixed-race descendants of Malay slaves), and Afrikaner, with a total of 11 official languages – is tough in one visit, witnessing its ever-growing inclusiveness only takes one night out. With fits and starts, missteps and optimism, this teen has steadily grown into the queer capital of the rainbow nation, if not all of Africa.

Clubs & Bars

Bronx Action Bar
Tel: +27-21-41992219
Address: 35 Somerset Rd, Waterkant
Hours: 8pm-4am
Weekends throb with ripped bartenders and thumping house at this smallish gritty anchor to the Pink Block, where shirts are shucked with an easy-cheesy familiarity. People of all shapes, sizes and sexual persuasions pack out this fun bar, where buff bare-chested barmen and DJs keep patrons dancing until dawn. Flex your vocal chords at the Monday-night karaoke session.

M Bar
Tel: +27-21-4247247
Address: 38 Long St
The second floor of the gay-owned Metropole Hotel epitomizes modern African chic – red ostrich skin, deep chocolaty wood, and ice-cubes in the aquarium-walled urinal.

Beaulah Bar
Tel: +27-21-4216798
Address: 30 Somerset Rd, Waterkant
It may be a lesbian owned, but you wouldn’t guess that by the heady mix of hipster guys and girls of all shades swaying to killer electro in the smoky boudoir-like space.

Tel: +27-21-4215401
Address: 21B Somerset Rd, Waterkant
Hours: 8pm-4am
They may tell you that it’s the glitzy decor and handsome clientele that make this the hot gay bar of the moment, but we know that the real draw is its torque of brief-clad go-go boys shaking their stuff on the podiums. How else could you endure dancing to disco?

Cafe Manhattan
Tel: +27-21-4216666
Address: 74 Waterkant St, Waterkant
Hours: 9.30am-2am
Give thanks to the far-sighted proprietor of Cafe Manhattan since he kick-started the gay quarter a decade or so ago by opening this popular bar and restaurant. An enlarged deck makes it even easier to check out the area’s human traffic.

Tel: +27-21-4250493
Address: 21 Somerset Rd, Waterkant
Hours: noon-midnight
From the same stable as the equally lavish Cruz and Opium comes this Afro-chic venue with ostrich-egg chandeliers, zebra-hide upholstery and an intricately carved Indian doorway. Avoid the so-so food and head to the bar for excellent cocktails.

Tel: +27-21-4214798
Address: 27 Somerset Rd, Waterkant
Admission: R20
A gay and gay-friendly crowd fill this spacious, fun venue with a fairy-light-festooned courtyard and rooftop chill-out areas. Upstairs thudding-hard house and bare chests are the go, while downstairs, house and anthems keep the dance floor crowded.


The Glen
Tel: +27-21-4390086
Addess: 3 the Glen
The city’s only true gay hotel tarts up a tony Sea Point mansion with slick design, unique layout, private terraces, an in-house spa and sexy staff.

Cape Grace
Tel: +27-21-4107100
Address: West Quay Rd
Widely regarded among the continent’s best sleeps, understated luxury and sublime service drip class all over a private quay just a hop-skip from the bustling Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.

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