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WWhile there are exclusively lesbian and gay clubs and bars in South Africa’s cities, there are also many establishments that, along with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities, welcome anyone who wants to party the night away.
The thriving nightlife in South Africa’s cities includes several clubs, pubs and venues that cater for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. Supported by South Africa's post-apartheid constitution – the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation – these nightlife venues form part of the country’s extensive and welcoming LGBT travel network.
Renowned for their nightlife areas, Johannesburg and Cape Town have a particularly vibrant social scene, which includes clubs and bars exclusively for either men or women from the LGBT communities.
CCape Town, which was recently recognised by the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper as one of the 10 most popular gay destinations in the world, has many venues to choose from.
Amongst the most popular is Café Manhattan. Recently renovated by the Madame Zingara group, this iconic eating, meeting and chilling spot is the longest standing venue in the heart of de Waterkant village and has been a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike. The quirky Western décor (including saddle-chairs) and the friendly waiters and barmen will ensure you have a good time, every time.
Zer021 is a quirky bar located in Zonnebloem in Cape Town which often hosts drag performances and DJs. Versatile is another bar famous for its nightlife. Also in Cape Town, The Social Bar is a spot in De Waterkant Village perfect for sundowners before hitting the clubs.
In Johannesburg, Ratz Bar in Melville is a popular part of the gay and lesbian nightlife scene. This bar is an old Joburg establishment well-known for being LGBTQ friendly. Also in Johannesburg, Babylon is arguably one of the most famous places for a party. There’s also Trouble Bar, located in Randburg which boasts “cheap drinks, sexy boys and hot tunes”.
In Durban, Club Altitude has a friendly atmosphere and is open five nights a week. It's extremely popular with the LGBT community in the city but also welcomes the straight community.
Travel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 21 469 2600
Fax: +27 21 469 2606
International Toll-free Numbers:
UK: 0808 238 0044
USA: 888 2156 556
Australia: 1 800 447164
Things to do
Several tour operators offer travel packages specifically for LGTB visitors. South Africa also has a wide variety of gay-friendly lodges, hotels and guest houses. See the Out2Africa website for more information.
What to pack
When going out in any of the cities it’s best to keep your belongings safe from pickpockets. A small bag that can stay on your person at all times and closes securely is advised.