An Incomplete Guide to Alternative Queer Spaces in Montreal

Where to Gay It Up, From Morning to Night

  • Belle & Baluchon offers both discretion and affordability. Photo Sarah Boumedda.

Attention, LGBTQ+ friends! There’s a world of queer pleasures and possibilities outside of the Gay Village! Get off at Papineau metro, walk underneath the Ste. Catherine St. E. rainbow-coloured skyline until you reach Berri-UQAM—and never look back.

Don’t get me wrong, the Village is not all bad. You can find me on stage at Bar Le Cocktail embarrassing myself (buy me a shot and I’ll serenade you!) on their karaoke nights, which happen between Thursday and Sunday after the drag shows. Or Cabaret Mado, a prominent spot in the Montreal drag scene.

Men can find a little bit of fun at one of the several saunas, at any time of the day or night. And, plenty of cute people, including you, can be found dancing and flirting on the dance floors of clubs like Unity and Complexe Sky.

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In anticipation of going home with a cutie, make sure you were tested recently—it is encouraged, but not required, to include in your going-out purse a transcript of your latest screening.

We all know sexual health and getting tested regularly is important, but can be daunting if not straight or cis. L’Actuel is an LGBTQ+ friendly clinic in the village, at 1001 Boul. De Maisonneuve E. Their service is quick and efficient.

In the heart of the Village, at 1426 Beaudry St., the feminist bookstore L’Euguélionne offers queer literature—poetry, zines, mangas, lesbian erotica, oh my! Check it out and maybe leave with a tote bag from Lez Spread the Word, an LGBTQ+ organization by and for queer women, to put our Orientation issue in.

Whoever you are, Belle & Baluchon welcomes you, and hopes you’ll find an outfit you’ll love and feel comfortable in.

Newly moved into their 1336 Ontario St. E. location, the thrift store Belle & Baluchon is rapidly becoming a personal favourite. The boutique offers something you don’t see enough of—discretion. While some of us are out, loud, and proud, some are still discovering themselves and need to do so away from prying eyes and judgmental looks.

The owner is dedicated to accompanying you in finding clothes to fit your gender expression, and that are actually affordable. Whoever you are, Belle & Baluchon welcomes you, and hopes you’ll find an outfit you’ll love and feel comfortable in. Cash only.

Now, you’ve seen the Village. You’ve taken multiple photos of the balls in the sky and basked in the rainbows. You must be hungry; I know I am.

Buy your crush (or me!) a slice at Notre-Dame-des-Quilles- in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, Montreal’s not-so-unofficial lesbian bar—complete with pizza and a bowling alley.

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Among their many events, the venue hosts queer movie nights, burlesque performances, regular DJ sets, and the elusive Lesbian Speed Dating nights. The event is open to non-binary folks, and cis and trans women identifying as lesbian, bi, or pan.

Make friends and lovers at LSD! I promise the terror of IRL meeting wears off quickly as you’re trying to answer the host’s boisterous questions. One that’s stuck with me: Which sporting equipment would you use in sexual context? Buy me that shot and I’ll tell you what I answered.

Over in the Mile-Ex, there’s always something going on at Bar Le Ritz PDB. Queer folks flock to their thematic dance parties—Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, the 2000s. The Ritz is somewhere where we can feel right at home, dancing to “Toxic” for the fifth time in one night.

Truthfully, it’s a little out of the way and hard to access with public transport, but the experience is worth the long-haul commute. Especially at the Glitter Bomb, the crown of the Ritz’s queer dance parties which is held about once a month.

The feminist bookstore L’Euguélionne offers a wide variety queer literature options. Photo Sarah Boumedda.

Dance your heart out and cheer on the drag performances happening throughout the night! Come as you are—heels, sneakers, fake lashes, lipstick, jeans, leather. Cash only.

If drinking is not what you’re into, you might want to check out the Sober Queer Dance Party, a newer initiative hosted in collaboration with Pervers/cité. Offering an alternative to nightlife centred around drinking, the party doesn’t have a permanent home, but has been hosted at Le Cagibi before.

A glowing gem of the past on the Main, Café Cléopâtre is where to go for all things sexy. At 1230 St. Laurent Blvd., the ground floor houses a strip club, while the second is a cabaret space for shows and steamy events.

Notably, Montreal’s naughty queer Glam Gam Productions is no stranger to Café Cléo—it’s even where they had their latest show, Greasy: A Lesbian Love Story.

The queer drag group with a penchant for the political, House of Laureen, often performs and organizes community-oriented events at the cabaret space. Also, some of the yearly kink positive festival Montreal Fetish Weekend’s events happen there.

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Feeling daring? Bring a date to the Bareoke, a night of karaoke and striptease at Café Cléo organized by the Glam Gam gang, on the first Saturday of every month.

Come March, the roller derby season picks up. Gather your friends to go see a live game. The tickets are afforable, and you won’t regret going to cheer on women, non-binary, trans, and gender non-conforming players in the Montreal Roller Derby league.

With all that projected running around town, you’ll need a sturdy bike you can depend on. For a practical and unconventional date, head to Right to Move (2153 Mackay St.) on Wednesday nights. The weekly event welcomes women, trans folks, and femmes to repair and work on their bikes in a supportive and relaxed environment.

Looking to meet queer women? Check out the monthly dance party Où sont les femmes? created by Lez Spread the Word. You can also pick up a sister for our Orientation issue, in LSTW, a lesbian magazine from the same organization.

Look, in a world where being queer is all too often about surviving, we find pockets of community that sustain and strenghten us. Have fun, be safe, and I’ll see you at Glitter Bomb.

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