Last year, in CL's [Openly] Gay Issue, we introduced Za-Gay Guide, a complete list of LGBT bars and clubs in Tampa Bay. With the ever-evolving bar scene in GaYbor and new additions in other parts of Tampa Bay, it's time for an update. Here's a breakdown of new and renewed (or renamed) spots, plus all your old Za-Gay Guide favorites.
The Queenshead Eurobar. Located in a former gas station next to Beak's on Central Avenue (and most recently home to the 2501 Gallery of erotic-art-show fame), this promises to be a gleaming yet homey reinterpretation of the British pub, with a gay twist and a fresh, creative menu thanks to chef Chris Green, who was second in command to Domenica Macchia at MJ's. Owners Paul Smith, 36, and Darren Conner, 40, a couple for 14 years, are from Manchester and Yorkshire, respectively, and charming as heck. Smith, a former art director for Brit tabloids like the Daily Mirror and the Star, came to the states to work for the National Enquirer and the Globe; Conner has a variety of experience in the restaurant and bar biz. And they've always wanted to open a bar in a '50s gas station because they like the aesthetic (and the parking). Look for seating and maybe even a beachy area outside, a sleek, curved white bar inside and — a tribute to Smith's journalism past — a men's room papered entirely in trashy front pages from London tabs with headlines like "LOST MOUNTAIN DWARF IS SAVED BY CHIHUAHUA." 2501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-498-8584, thequeensheadbar.com.
Ybor Resort and Spa. Set to open June 27th @ noon just in time for Pride and Gay Days, the Ybor Resort and Spa will feature over 40 private rooms, a hot sauna, a clothing-optional pool, and dark rooms for those looking to get naughty. There will also be over 200 secured lockers to store belongings. A men-exclusive club, it's open to members only. But membership rates are reasonable; $10 for the night, $30 for the year. 1512 E. 8th Ave., Tampa, 813-242-0900, yborresortandspa.com.
Chelsea Nightclub. Formerly known as Azalea (whose crew won major points for arriving at the Loafies in a fire truck), the Chelsea is still the same convivial place, complimented by one CL habitué last year for its "long stone bar, wooden tables, comfy, closed-in patio and attentive, friendly barkeep." The website also promises strippers, drag shows, a Latino night and, as always karaoke — yes, they're still serious about their karaoke. 1502 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-228-0139, chelseanightclub.com.
Club Nautico & Cabaret. Formerly home to Chiq, the popular women's bar, the establishment has been reborn as a "7000-square-foot Gay Dance Club and Cabaret Bar presenting Vegas Style Shows, Open Mic Night, Karoke, Dancers, Pageants, and much much more," according to its website. There's a welcome emphasis on comedy and cabaret; The Nautico Players stage a weekly Suicide Drag show on Sundays, and Pride weekend entertainment includes Shirley Q. Liquor's "Theater of Ignunce." 4900 66th St. N., St. Petersburg, nauticostpete.com.
Ybor Eagle/ Ybor City Social Club. The former home of Flirt is now a two-tiered club with the Ybor Social Club upstairs and the Eagle downstairs. Part of D. Stephen Moss' mini-empire (he also owns Honey Pot and G. Bar), the Social Club is the more general-interest bar of the two, if your general interest extends to hunky dancers, all-'80s after-work parties and College Nights with $1 shots. Downstairs things get more serious, with Bear Hunt Fridays and a strictly enforced leather dress code on Saturdays; Sundays is Underwear Night (no jock string or thongs). 1909 N. 15th St., Tampa, 813-242-2717.
And those are just the new spots. Read on for a complete list of gay bars and restaurants in the Tampa Bay area.
G. Bar. Half-bar, half-club: When you go from one side to the other, the music changes from clubby fast-paced music to a relaxed atmosphere filled with pop and hip-hop. It's a big stylish space with high ceilings, brick walls, a dance floor that seems almost non-existent in the busiest times, DJs, VJs and go-go dancers of both genders. A popular destination for women on Fridays, men on Saturdays and everybody on "Fusion Thursdays." 1401 E. Seventh Ave., 813-247-1016,
Play. Once known as Spurs Country Bar and boasting two stages, it "promises to be a cornerstone for live music." The lineup will support the local music scene, hosting both rising stars and seasoned veterans. The patio will play host to various modes of food coming from local vendors as well as 2-4-1 Happy Hour. There will be weekly team trivia nights, karaoke and televised sporting events. 1701 E. Eighth Ave., 813-443-0754, playybor.com.
Steam Fridays/Flirt Saturdays at The Honey Pot. Boys on Friday, girls on Saturday. "Steam is my choice for Gay Friday nights (comparable to G. Bar on Saturday nights)," says one CL aficionado. "Good music, spacious and, well, lots of eye candy!" 1507 E. Seventh Ave., 813-247-4663, www.myspace.com/steamfridays.