Denmark legalized same-sex civil marriage in 1989 and same-sex church marriages in 2012. Overall, the majority of people in bigger Danish cities are open-minded, tolerant and inclusive towards the LGBTQ community.
Copenhagen, in particular, has a big and diverse social scene. Both Copenhagen and Aarhus host big official pride parades and celebrations, and many smaller cities follow suit.
If you are looking for LGBTQ-friendly venues and events, the ‘rainbow sticker’ system is common, so look for the sticker at the entrance. Info about the community, activities and events can also be found on http://lgbt.dk/ and http://www.out-and-about.dk/
If you’re interested in meeting likeminded students, http://blus.dk/ is a good place to start.
The Pink Files – Guide to Gay Copenhagen
By Mathias Larsen
Moving to a new city can be frightening enough in itself, especially when you don’t know anybody, and for that matter, don’t have a clue of where to go! How long until you will feel like you fit in and what types of people will you meet? In this article all of the LGBTQ+ cafés and bars of Copenhagen will be listed along with some key impressions of that place so you know what to expect.
Copenhagen was voted one of the most gay-friendly places in the world in 2014, according to the travel site Lonely Planet. I’ve been living in the city for nearly 4 years and yes, it’s a pretty good city, although it has it’s ups and downs. People in Denmark have gotten used to the fact, that some people are just born this way, and yes, it’s okay to be GAY! However, the same rules apply for the gays as for everybody else, so if someone should ever send you the odd eye it’s not a hate-crime, it’s just because of the ‘Jantelov’, (a notion, that no-one should set themselves apart from the rest).
Of course this can vary on where you are – like if you go to the suburbs or further out of the Copenhagen area. But in the inner city you will see people of all colors of the rainbow walking down the streets. There are a couple of places you can go if you’re looking for a LGBTQ+ setting and just want to sip your coffee or grab a beer among friends.
The gay scene in Copenhagen has something for every palette. Most bars and clubs are in close proximity of one another – a kind of Gay Triangle of sorts. These are the most visited places on a night out, and the good thing is, if one place bores you, the next one isn’t that far away! Be sure to check out StudyCPH’s guide to the perfect gay night out down below!
The Pink Files guide to a gay night out!
- Pre-Game/Warm-Up: At the beginning of a night out you’ll need to find a place, where you’ll be able to talk and catch up with your friends. This could be at Masken, Oscar, Jailhouse, Centralhjørnet or Kiss Kiss. As most Danes prefer to pre-game at home, there will probably be less crowd at the bars, so you will also be able to discuss those juicy shenanigans, that took place last weekend. The different places usually start to get crowded from 21-22, by which time all the bars/clubs have opened.
- On the look-out! If your biggest hope for the evening is to meet new people and maybe even get more acquainted(??) with one of them good-looking fellas, then there’s a couple of options! If you already are at Masken, you might as well stay, because there ought to come a mixed group of people as the night goes. Here the drinks come at a good price and the music is not too loud, so you’ll still be able to talk. Being that there are two floors, the possibilities are that much higher that someone interesting is to be spotted among the crowd. Most people that gos to Masken smokes – what better way to start a conversation than to bum a smoke or offer a lighter?
Oscar is another good place to go meet other guys. From 10 PM, starts a DJ playing lounge-tunes and people starts to gather around the tables. Do note that a lot of Danes go out in groups, so it can seem very intimidating to break into a conversation. If you come as a group, it might be easier to merge the two groups together and finally get to talk with that one hot guy!
Jailhouse also offer a good place to go and talk with other people. Since many of the guests are regulars they look after newcomers and are generally very friendly.
- Going dancing? Most dance-spots don’t get crowded before midnight, but what’s better than a free dance-floor with a group of friends? You can choose between Cosy, G-A-Y and Never Mind. The music played will mostly be pop and classic anthems with a little Eurovision thrown in as well. There are of course many other (straight) places you can go dancing – it will all be at your own risk! Make sure to check out if there’s any special events going on – maybe on Gay Agenda Copenhagen’s mobile-app?
- After-Party! When the bars and dance-floors start to empty but you want to continue the party, then go check out Never Mind, as this is the place where most people go as their last stop – why this also gets referred to by some as Last-Call-Station.
Gay Agenda Copenhagen
– The Most Up-To-Date Calendar for LGBT+ in Copenhagen
Gay Agenda is both an app and a website with all the information you need to navigate the LGBT community in Copenhagen. It simply guides you on where to go and what to do in the LBGT community, with a full event calendar with all LGBT related events. With this app on your smartphone, it is easy to find exactly the event or party you are looking for.
Along with event calendar, the Gay Agenda guide gives you an overview of the different cafés, bars, clubs, saunas, shops and venues related to the LGBT community. Whenever there is a big event in the city, Gay Agenda will give you a special guide to all the happenings. You’ll also find BLUS’ activities in the calendar.
You can find Gay Agenda for Apple, Android and Windows in your app-store.
Homepage: gay-agenda.dk. Download http://gay-agenda.dk/app-store-download/
LGBT Bars & Clubs
The street called Studiestræde has the most to offer. Here you can find four bars/clubs and two more nearby. This is a good place to start, as there are different places to check out. Do note that for the most, small Danish bars indoor smoking is allowed.
Masken Bar (Studiestræde 33, Sun-Thu 14-03, Fri-Sat 14-05): This bar is a great place to start a night out. The drinks are cheap, shots go by 10 for kr.99 dkk and the music varies from rock to Eurovision-songs. Everyone who’s a friend of the LGBTQ+-community is welcome. The bar has a very raw and authentic look, which many has come to appreciate, and for a lot of people Masken is their first choice when going out. During the day and on weekdays the bar is mostly inhabited by regulars aged 35+, but as soon as the evening comes along, different types of people, all ages, sexualities, gender identities and appearances start showing up. The staff is very friendly and always ready to help. Masken has two levels inside; the the main bar upstairs and a secondary one downstairs. During weekends, the place gets crowded fast and the second bar opens with a smaller choice of beer and shots compared to the one upstairs. Masken co-organizes, together with Cosy Bar, the Pride Street Fest on Pride Parade Day. Find out about special events and more at www.maskenbar.dk and on their Facebook-page.
Cosy Bar (Studiestræde 24, Sun-Thu 22-06, Fri-Sat 22-08): This is the perfect spot if you ever are in the mood for some good bubblegum-pop and having a good time with friends on the dance-floor. The prices are cheap and the clientele is varied and you are certain to have a good time! Cosy Bar has more than 30 years of experience and is treasured among its guests. The best hour to go to Cosy is usually after 1 AM. It has gone through some rough time in the past, but through all of its hardship, it’s still a popular choice for party-goers young and experienced! However, a couple of restrictions have been put in place to ensure that the LGBTQ+-guests have a good experience, for instance, during the weekends a members-card is needed to get in. This can be acquired at the door or via E-Mail. More information at www.cosybar.dk where you can also see up-coming events.
Jailhouse Bar and Restaurant (Studiestræde 12, Sun-Wed 15-02, Thu-Sat 15-05): If you have a thing for men in uniforms, this is just the place for you! The bar is themed like a prison with cellars making out small booths and the staff dressed as police-officers. Despite its daunting look, it’s actually a really welcoming and casual bar with helpful staff and friendly regulars at the bar. When you enter you will see other people, whom you might not meet otherwise. Here, everybody is welcomed as a friend, regardless of age, personality, gender expression, and that’s the irony about the cages, I’m told by the manager – at this bar, no one is put in a box! There’s Happy Hour every day from 15-21 and throughout Monday. Special events are held on holidays and during other special occasions, such as Oktoberfest, Eurovision and Halloween. You can check out the next event on their Facebook page. Being a part of Copenhagen’s gay-scene for more than 14 years, they also co-organize the Pride Street Fest. On the top-floor, there’s a small restaurant, also in jail-theme – booking in advance is advised. The pricing is very reasonable – even for students! You can choose between a starter, a main-course and 3- and 4-course menus. The menu changes from week to week. Check out updates about the bar and the restaurant at www.jailhousecph.dk and on their Facebook page.
Kiss Kiss Bar & Café (Studiestræde 41, Sun-Thu 18-00, Fri-Sat 18-07): One of the more recent bars that became LGBTQ, is this small, cosy bar with a great setting for conversation. Just enough seating for about 30 people, this could be a good place to begin or to end a night out. The bartender is friendly and helpful and always ready for a chat. The prices are affordable and the bar offers many opportunities. It has yet regulars, but on weekends it is a good alternative to the other, often crowded places. See events on their Facebook-page.
Men’s Bar (Teglgårdstræde 3, Mon-Sun 15-02): Located on a side-street of Studiestræde, this bar is not for those who are easily offended! You enter up the stairs and through a black leather curtain into what looks like an old-timey tavern. The light is dim and the people sitting inside are usually regulars, so you can be sure to expect eyes on you if you are a newcomer. The regulars are 35+ and the atmosphere is very loose – everything can and will be said and talked about! The prices are very affordable and Happy Hour runs from 15-21. When I talked with the bartender, I was told that those who come here are usually adventures people and things can/will happen if you seek ‘em! On the first Sunday of each month, a free brunch is served from 3 PM. Check out when’s the next event at www.mensbar.dk or on their Facebook-page.
Moving to one of the main roads, Vester Voldgade, you will find some of the clubs with a dancefloor, and they usually are the most touristy.
Never Mind Gay Night Club (Nørre Voldgade 2, Mon-Sun 22-06): Just across the biggest central park, Ørstedsparken – infamous as a gay cruising park after dark – you’ll find the last stop for nearly everyone who stayed out until the early hours. Normally referred to just as Never Mind – or “Never” among its regulars. This club offers dance music until dawn and a last-call opportunity before you’re heading home. It has gained a reputation as the place where everyone ends up after every other bar has closed, so if you are planning on going there later on, be prepared on having to wait in a queue. It’s possible to get a member-card to avoid standing in line. There’s no admission fee, but I will strongly advise you to put your things in the wardrobe, which costs 50 dkk. The music is pop, disco and Eurovision, and the dance floor is usually packed. The prices are more expensive than at the other places, and by the look of the floor, a lot of it ends up there. Pro-tip: Don’t wear your newest kicks to go to this club, because they will have a darker color in earthy tones when you finally leave! Because of the large group of people in a confined space, there isn’t that much room to dance around in, so expect having to do the stationary bounce ‘n’ flounce. Being the last stop for a lot of people, the clientele varies from 20-40+. See their homepage at www.nevermindbar.dk.
G-A-Y Copenhagen (Vester Voldgade 10, Thu 16-03, Fri-Sat 16-05): One of the newer places to open in Copenhagen G-A-Y has become the place for a new group of gay and lesbian party-goers. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and friends of the LGBTQ+-community are all welcome. At G-A-Y, it’s important that everyone gives a mutual respect and just have a good time. The atmosphere is bar/lounge and the party peaks after midnight. They won the Axgil-prize for hosting the best party, mainly because of the professional staff. The location is already familiar to the gay community, as other gay bars located on that address. It offers diversity and the opportunity to break down the stereotypes, that divides the communities. Check out their Facebook-page for updates.
Oscar Bar/Café (Rådhuspladsen 77 (also Regnbuepladsen 7), Sun-Thu 11-00, Fri-Sat 11-02): This cafe is very much just like any other café. Here you will see a wide array of people – gay and straight, young and old. You have to make your order at the bar as there’s no table-service. The staff is kind and always very helpful. Fridays and Saturdays are especially busy and it gets crowded fast after 10 PM. It will turn into a bar/lounge, where a DJ will be playing house-tunes and the setting gets sultrier. For some, this is their favorite warm-up bar from where they take off later on. The drinks are a bit more expensive than the other places, but the value and quality is clear. During summertime, this will be your primary hanging-out café as it has a big outdoor-seating. The food is really good and goes by normal café-prices. The kitchen is open 11-16 and again 17-21.30. Their Happy Hour runs from 17-21 and again 00-1.30 on Fridays and Saturdays. The atmosphere is casual and it’s a popular spot for dates and hanging out. During Pride Week, this café is a popular choice for many and, on Pride Parade Day, the square in front of Oscar is made into Pride Village and another extra bar is opened outside. Live-DJs will also be playing to make a cool lounge-feel in the sun. See events, menu-card and much more at www.oscarbarcafe.dk or on their Facebook-page.
A few bars in the inner city completes the Gay triangle. These vary in concept and primary audience and experience, ranging from Centralhjørnet, the oldest gay bar in the world, to the brand new gay club Faith.
Centralhjørnet (Kattesundet 18, Sun-Thu 12-02, Fri-Sat 12-03): Just around the corner from Oscar Bar/Café, this bar is the most kitsch and “hyggeligt” place you’ll find anywhere! From the ceiling are seasonal decoration and on the walls are different knick-knacks hanging. The bartender describes it as “over the top” with a smirk. Every Christmas, the façade is decorated with lights and other festive things, and definitely worth a look. Its regulars go all the way up to 70+ and they seem to see Centralhjørnet as a second home, where they can meet up and discuss the matters of the world. On weekends, the place gets visited by diverse type of guests, from people stumbling in from the street, to younger audiences who are in search for a quieter place to begin the night. Every Thursday and Sunday, there will be some sort of entertainment, mostly stage-performance with music and singing – sometimes drag-performances as well. It’s best appreciated for its authentic feel and faithful regulars, who have kept it going for more almost a century! Check out up-coming events on www.centralhjørnet.dk and on their Facebook-page.
Faith Gay Club (Knabrostræde 3, ): More info coming.
Heat Club (Kompagnistræde 34, ): More info coming.
LBGTQ+ Friendly Bars and cafés:
Jolene (Flæsketorvet 81 København V, Thur-Sat 22-04): If you are into electro-house and disco-funk, then this is a place you need to visit! Located in what is known as Kødbyen – the Meat-Packing District – this bar will play the funkiest and most urban tunes in all of Copenhagen. Being in Kødbyen adds a certain flavor to it, so be prepared for a run-down-factory-look, graffiti-covered bathrooms and a lot of people! Jolene tends to attract one special group of party-goers – girls with a bob-cut who likes to dance and skinny boys who aren’t afraid to wear flower-printed pullovers! Usually it starts to get really crowded from 1 AM. So if you want to work that bass before there’s insufficient room to do so, you have to get there early!
Studenterhuset (Købmagergade 52, Mon-Wed 8-00, Thu 8-01, Fri 8-03, Sat 10-02, Sun 10-22): A house just for us students! Studenterhuset – or Student House – is a perfect place for meeting up with friends, getting to know new people and relaxing after a hard day of studying! The first thing you’ll see when you enter is a room full of people talking over a cup of coffee, people playing board-games, and some sitting in front of their laptops, still at work. The bar-staff is volunteers – you can also become a volunteer!- Check out how at www.studenterhuset.com or turn up and have a chat with the friendly personnel. There’s currently more than 10 volunteer-groups! No surprise, the prices are very favorable, with a discount for students as long as you can show a valid student-card. Studenterhuset has regularly special-event evenings with quizzes, talks, movie-nights and much more. Upstairs is a study-hall – though it might be difficult to find space and there will be groups talking loudly and some interference from people passing by. But it offers a central place to meet up and many people prefer to do their studying here. The building makes out the HQ for many umbrella-groups, such as StudyCPH! So do yourself the favor and see if there’s anything there for you!
Café Intime (Allégade 25 Frederiksberg, Mon-Sun 16-02): Located in Frederiksberg, a separate municipality, which borders up against Copenhagen, this bar has a completely different feel than the other places. First and foremost, a jazz-bar with live performances every day from 8 PM and the house-band playing on Sundays. This is a bar for people who look for a place with substance and food for thought. The regulars sit at the bar and everyone is in on the conversation. On each table sits a rose next to a candle. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an old saloon, with dark panel walls and soft woven seats. Here is space for contemplation and serious talk with a friend as well as a stranger. The staff see themselves more like hosts rather than bartenders. When I spoke to one of the hosts, he told me that the feeling of the place during weekends is very much like a house-party, where everyone is welcome, as long as they respect the integrity of the place. The music is played low and people are urged to participate in the talks going on around in the bar. The Happy Hour goes from 16 to 19, but this is not the place where you down shots. On weekends, it gets crowded in the small living-room and the ambience intensifies and the volume rises. But the hosts try to keep the conversations as the main focus and make sure that everyone is having a good time. See who’s playing at their Facebook-page.
The Living Room (Larsbjørnsstræde 17, Mon-Thu 9-23, Fri 9-02, Sat 10-02, Sun 12-19): Right on the corner of Studiestræde and Larsbjørnsstræde, this café offers a great break from a busy day. The atmosphere is the embodiment of ‘hygge’; downstairs is the seating area with many couches and soft chairs and dimmed lights. Behind the staircase, there’s a small ‘cave’ that will let you stress down and make you forget all your troubles. Their selection of drinks has something for everyone, whether you’re into coffee, tea, cold beverages, smoothies or alcohol. Check out special offers on their Facebook-page.
Café Obelix (Vesterbrogade 53, Sun-Wed 8-02, Thu-Sat 8-05): Your average Café with a standard menu-card and a brunch-plate during the weekends. Check out their menu-card and prices at www.cafeobelix.dk.
Luna’s Diner (Sankt Annæ Gade 5, Christianshavn and Vesterbrogade 42, København V, Mon-Thu 9.30-00, Fri-Sat 9.30-01, Sun 9-23): Inspired by the American diner experience, this café/restaurant serves a variety of different food. Their specialty being the burger (be sure to try it out), there’s a lot to choose from! Be sure to book a table for the weekend brunch as it’s very popular. Check out the menu-card and prices at www.lunasdiner.dk.