| Print |

Nightlife

The scene

For a city as design-conscious, modern and forward-looking as Copenhagen, its gay scene can be anything but. Not unlike Cher, most places are beloved and good fun but often frivolous, of questionable taste and clinging onto a different era. Even their demographic appeal is usually similar to that of the nip and tuck-prone diva.

Don’t let that put you off. The greatest thing about Copenhagen is its generally liberal and easy-going vibe – you don’t have to be in the gay scene for a great night out with the boys, as the gays are well represented and pretty much welcomed everywhere. So if the scene is too limited, pick and choose from the smorgasbord of gay-friendly straight places.

The main areas

Pisserenden: The biggest concentration of gay bars is found in Pisserenden, the area between Strøget and the infamous cruising park, Ørstedsparken (at one point dedicated condom collection boxes were installed to let the grass show through all the latex). This is where you'll find the classics like Cosy Bar, Jailhouse, Men's Bar and Masken, attracting an eclectic mix of young and old, gay and hen parties. Never Mind and Pony tend to attract a trendier, younger clientele.

Strædet: On the other side of Rådhuspladen, the town hall square, you'll find Oscar and Heaven, both popular with the gym and 'cosmopolitan' crowd. It's also home to Centralhjornet, the oldest and absolutely kitschest gay bar in town.

Kødbyen & Vesterbro: The meat packing district is not strictly gay, but very gay friendly. Gay parties such as Homo Electric and Popism take place at the Block 66 warehouse club, and you'll find lots of homos in every other bar, particular at Jolene on Thursdays as well as Vesterbro's biggest club Vega.

When to go out

The night in Copenhagen begins with after-work drinks, particularly on Fridays when many people leave the office by 16:00, meaning that you can start your guilt-free drinking before high tea.

Take a break for dinner or stay put to take advantage of happy hours, usually lasting until the post-dinner boom kicking off around 22-23, and lasting until the clubs pick up the baton around 2am. Gay nightclubs typically close around 5am but a few bars, most notoriously Cosy Bar, will pick up the slack until 8am.

Drinking

Like some kind of Peter Pan-inspired student culture, going out is practically synonymous with heavy drinking in Copenhagen (but then those Nordic stomachs are stronger than most); it's like AA without the anonymity or the 12 Steps. The blurrier the memories of a night out, the merrier it’s generally assumed to have been.

When you’re out in a group drinks are usually bought in rounds, with each person taking it in turns to do the inviting. It’s considered exceptionally bad form to leave before you’ve bought a round. Same rule applies to each subsequent batch of rounds until all ability to keep track of who last bought what has completely gone.

Ordering

Most bartenders are English-speaking making ordering a doddle. Beer is the usual drink of choice, partly because it’s easier to pace yourself with lager during a 12 hour drinking session, and partly because it’s relatively inexpensive. Order a stor fad (50cl of lager), and you’ll fit right in.

For long drinks, mixers are usually served in 25cl bottles and charged separately, so decide how many you’ll need – it’s usually less than one per drink. Also, note that standard spirit measures are just 2cl. That’s around half a shot, so order doubles if the aim is to get anything resembling a buzz.

If you’re a heavy drinker or in a group, ordering spirits by the bottle is often surprisingly good value in Copenhagen. Costing you as little as DKK 600 for quality brands, the price will include ice and mixers.

Bar tipping

Don’t. Start tipping and they might think you’re too plastered to be legally served any more.

The door

If you’re unmistakeably Western-looking (European as opposed to John Wayne-like) and reasonably smartly dressed, then you’re unlikely to ever encounter problems in Copenhagen; doormen are usually employed to ensure people leave quietly as opposed to enforce any kind of door policy.

However, groups of men who could come from Turkish or Middle Eastern descent are known to frequently face problems getting into nightclubs, particularly straight establishments. Call it xenophobia or racism if you like, but if you fall into that category, then you’re best advised to arrive in ethnically mixed couples or groups of no more than two males.

Bring a picture ID (passport, driving license or national ID card) with you to avoid any problems; many places now register guests upon entry to filter out unwanted elements from their blacklist.