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MUSIC, NIGHTLIFE & DRAG

Austin is the soul of Texas, and we earn the title of Live Music Capital of the World® by showcasing bands seven nights a week in more that 250 live music venues across the city. We are home to world-class festivals such as Austin City Limits Music Festival, South by Southwest®, Carnaval Brasileiro and the Austin International Drag Festival, where we deliver the best in music, dance and culture.

Find some of the best LGBTQ-friendly bars, clubs and spots for live music, dancing, DJs and drag shows.

Couple watching live music show at Cheer Up Charlies in Austin Texas
Cheer Up Charlies. Credit Nick Simonite.

MUSIC

C-BOY’S HEART AND SOUL
Listen to classic soul and R&B music at this juke-joint with a spacious back patio. Insider Tip: Get cozy in their upstairs lounge styled after a ‘50s era Japanese GI bar.

CHEER UP CHARLIES
Listen to live music, dance under a parachute and drink kombucha from the tap at this LGBTQ-owned indoor/outdoor venue. Be sure to try the vegan Bac’n Cheeze Burger from onsite food truck Arlo’s. Insider Tip: Go on the last Wednesday of the month for “Greetings, from Queer Mountain” – a free LGBTQ storytelling showcase.

EMPIRE CONTROL ROOM
Self-described as a “modern music space and watering hole” Empire is a great setting for local live music of all genres.

FLAMINGO CANTINA
Home to what they call “good vibes music,” you can see live reggae, ska, Latin and worldbeat music as well as rock, hip-hop, alternative and more.

THE WHITE HORSE
Listen to live country music while you learn to two-step with free dance lessons every Friday and Saturday night at this progressive honky tonk.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY LIVE MUSIC
The kids can experience the Live Music Capital of the World®, too! Take the whole family to all-ages venues like Radio Coffee & Beer, Threadgill’s, “Unplugged at the Grove” at Shady Grove and “Blues on the Green” in Zilker Park. You can even find kids shows at Cherrywood Coffeehouse on Sunday mornings.

SXSW music showcase with band on stage at night at Spider House Cafe and Ballroom
Courtesy of Spider House Cafe & Ballroom.

NIGHTLIFE

BARBARELLA
Known by locals as “Barbs,” this dance club holds themed parties most nights and stays open until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Insider Tip: Don’t miss TuezGayz - a local LGBTQ tradition that takes place every Tuesday with happy hour until 11 p.m. and dance videos until 2:30 a.m.

CRAFT PRIDE
Drink local at this bar that boasts over 50 taps and two cask engines of exclusively Texas Craft Beer. You can also enjoy genuine Detroit-style pizza from onsite food truck Via 313.

LUSTRE PEARL
Known for tall boys, cocktails and hula hoops, visiting this Rainey Street bar with its huge backyard is like hanging out at a fancy home in the country.

SPIDER HOUSE CAFÉ AND BALLROOM
It’s a bar. It’s a patio café. It’s a music venue and an eclectic art installation. This quirky locale captures the essence of Austin with its laid back environment, specialty cocktails and artisan-inspired menu.

SWAN DIVE
This live music venue is connected to Barbarella through a not-so-secret passageway in the back and hosts everything from live indie rock to burlesque shows.

DRAG

BT2
Located a few miles north of downtown off the interstate, this is an LGBTQ-friendly nightclub & bar feauturing DJs, live entertainment, patios, a volleyball court, pool tables and more. Insider Tip: They host a drag show every Friday night.

ELYSIUM NIGHTCLUB
You’re always in for a treat at Elysium. This warehouse nightclub has been hosting Austin’s alternative nightlife since 2001 and is home to a number of drag shows.

HIGHLAND LOUNGE
Hosting regular drag shows, DJs, ladies’ nights and themed events, Highland brings sophisticated, craft cocktails and a whole lot of party to downtown Austin.

JO'S
Stop by Jo’s Coffee on Second Street on the last Thursday of every month for Drag Queen Bingo featuring, you guessed it, bingo and a drag performance.

RAIN
A staple of the Warehouse District, hosting live entertainment every night of the week. Regular events include Drag class, Martini Mondays, First Aid and Super Bash.

For more live music venues and nightlife explore the Austin Insider Blog and our Events Calendar.