Queer Spaces in Johannesburg
Queer Spaces in JohannesburgMx Blouse
Johannesburg is South Africa’s largest city and its economic hub. One would think such a city, in the continent’s most progressive country, would be home to at least a sizeable amount of queer businesses, but that’s sadly not the case. Still, the city is home to a few queer friendly spaces and LGBTQI-specific events that are worth both your time and dime.
Curating this list is rapper, Mx Blouse, whose boundless music has set them as a mainstay on the music scene in Jo'Burg. For the best queer-safe spaces in the city see below.
In this Guide
“Johannesburg has a serious lack of establishments that cater particularly to the LGBTQIA+ community, but Tennis Club is one of the venues that are not just paying lip service to “queer friendly” – they really are. It’s one of the few places I feel comfortable rocking up at in a crop top and loads of eyeliner without a worry in the world. In addition to that, they often host gay-themed parties and dress-up parties in general, which are always fun and go right into the early hours of the morning. Tennis Club has often played host to LE GRAND BALL.”More Info
“Not particularly my cup of tea, but this is a very popular spot. They play all the pop hits and they sometimes have live entertainment in the form of drag performers. It’s located in Illovo, one of the more affluent suburbs, north of the city, and prides itself in being an “open-minded” venue that is welcoming to everyone; gay or not. They have a huge bar, chic interior design, VIP booths and male strippers add to the raunchy, but fun atmosphere.”More Info
“Black-owned galleries are generally hard to come by anywhere in South Africa, making artist BANELE KHOZA’s project space a welcome anomaly on the cultural landscape. They often host group and solo exhibitions by young, emerging artists and emerging creative across various disciplines including fine art, photography, performance, illustration and more. Every now and again, they also host talks, with an aim at facilitating dialogue around art and design.”More Info
“This bar located on Melville’s popular 7th Street strip is not gay-owned, neither does it sell itself as a gay bar, but it has become notorious for attracting the community nonetheless. For years, it has been like the gateway to Johannesburg’s POC LGBT community. On Thursday nights in particular, students from the surrounding University communities as well as professionals from all over the city congregate here for affordable drinks and the latest queer favourite pop hits. It gets seriously packed, so arriving before 10pm at least is the only way to guarantee yourself space, or even entrance.”More Info
“Known as Johannesburg’s second oldest bar, Kitchener’s is also probably one of the city’s most progressive with a music programme that caters to different tastes. It’s a sanctuary for the city’s underground scenes and the queer scene is no exception. The bar is home to Pussy Party, for instance, a monthly party catering specifically to femme revellers and a DJ lineup that is exclusively femme. More than just a party, Pussy Party has become more of a movement.”More Info
“This is without a doubt my favourite place to go dancing on the weekends, and so far the only place I know of in the city that is strictly about the music, and zero frills. Third Place hosts some of my personal favourite parties and Vogue Nights Jozi, a popular ball that redefined queer nightlife in Johannesburg.”More Info
“On Saturdays, the city central suburb of Braamfontein comes alive as this market breathes life into it. Throngs of people gather at this market to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and the variety of food, clothing and art stalls as well as live music out in the sun. Neighbourgoods is the sister market to Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill based market of the same name, owned by entrepreneurs Cameron Munro and Justin Rhodes who started both markets in order to give market access to small designers, and producers prioritising quality local produce.”More Info
“When the market closes around 3pm, Great Dane, a bar across the street from the Neighbourgoods Market, is where you’ll find Joburg’s young and fabulously gay, dancing well into the night. Keep it casual, sure, but be sure to put your best foot forward because everyone here looks beautiful as fuck! Although Great Dane is not a gay bar, Saturday afternoons have specifically and affectionately become known as ‘Gay Dane’. You have to be sure to make it there as soon as possible before the market crowd pours in, making it virtually impossible to find space or to get a drink at the bar. You’ll often find a long queue outside as people wait their turn to go inside.”More Info
“In the northern suburb of Craighall, the Royale is local favourite and my personal drinking hole on any day of the week. They’ve got great food on offer and the courtyard is a summer time staple for Joburg’s young and well-heeled. The speakeasy at the back of the restaurant is where you’ll most probably find me and my friends dancing, or even hijacking the playlist. Everyone feels at home here and it really feels like a small, close knit community where everyone comes to have fun in a safe space.”More Info