These are the the biggies in the Twin Cities, if you to party. The Gay 90's is truly a magnificent facility, but due to some decisions by the straight owner(s), guys fled the scene, much to our remorse, and headed to the Saloon, which is four blocks down the street. I remember the first time I went to each, with vivid recall.
The Gay 90's, when I first started going, was a place to behold. It is a huge facility, in fact, one of the largest I have been to in any city. And it was filled with gay men, of every type. It is where I first went, when I came out in the summer of 1996. Boys from all over the Upper Midwest flocked there, to be part of the scene.
Sometime in 1998, there is no specific date, more straight people started frequenting the club. Wedding parties started showing up, probably to see the drag show upstairs, and the main dance floor is huge, lots of room for the girls to have fun. Then their attractors, straight boys, thought they would snag their girlfriends there. Thus began the exodus. I myself had altercations with straight guys on more than one occasion. I am sad to this day that it has thus changed, as it really is something to behold.
Lastly, for those people who enjoy transforming things, let me know, as I would quit everything I am doing to transform it back to it s grandeur, with the right financial backer.
Thus began the rise of the Saloon. The first time I ever went to the Saloon, it was a Sunday night, also soon after I came out. It was barren of anyone. Even with the demise of the 90's, I always had this picture of a dead Saloon. Silly me. Although it is a considerably smaller place, it packs 'em in with a young to middle age crowd, and is really the place to see, or be seen. And guess what? It's gay-owned.
The Saloon is currently the most popular place to hang out on any given night in the Twin Cities. The two most popular nights are Thursday (18 and over) and Saturday, when the most boys are partying their butts off.
If you look to the left in the pictures, under the first awning, is located the bar area of the Saloon, where you are also able to order food. The bar is large, and there are video monitors aplenty for those alone. As you walk further into the bar, there is a pool table. Walk even further back, and you reach another small bar area. This area is closed off on Sunday nights, when it becomes a leather bar.
As you again look at the pictures, under the second awning is the entrance to the dance floor area, where there again is a large bar that spans the length of the dance floor. As you walk further back, you eventually reach a outdoor patio area.
Parking: There is a parking lot next to the Saloon, but if it is the night of an event at the Target Center, rates are pricey. Consider parking a block or two away. Very little on-street parking available unless you are there early.
408 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Arguably the largest bar in the Upper-Midwest, the 90's, as it's called, consists of eight different areas. Downstairs there are five, and upstairs, three:
There are three entrances to the club. closest to 4th Street is the entrance to the Dance Annex. It's usually only open late night on the weekends. Going south, the next entrance might be considered the main entrance. It's the door you see in the picture above. It opens to the restaurant (daytime and evenings), which then becomes a big gathering area during late night. The last entrance (it's to the left of the main entrance) brings you right to an enclosed bar area. This bar is what I call the regulars bar - I always get the impression that the guys sitting here have been coming for years.
To expand on the main floor description, let's start with that main entrance. After getting your ID checked, you enter a large room. To the right is a bar that runs the length of the room. The enclosed bar is to the left. As you go further into the room, there is a raised stage area. This is where you will find male strippers on Fridays and Saturdays. All the way to the back of this room is a rather small dance floor. They used to play hip-hop, I haven't been in awhile to know if they still do.
The other half of the main floor complex is accessed by turning to your right, either just as you enter, or way at the back of the room. Let's take the front of the room right-turn. This is the access to the Dance Annex. It is a huge dance floor, with a bar that runs the length of the left side. When I first came out (96), it was a sight to behold. Not only does it have great sound and lights, but it was filled with guys from all over the 5-state region. It still has the lights and sound, but it is a shadow of its former self, as straights have invaded. Most of the boys fled to the Saloon, which now is the place to see and be seen. Having said that, it is still a fun place to dance. All the way at the back of the Annex, through the men's bathroom, you gain access to the Men's Room. This is one of the areas that remains totally gay. There are porn videos playing, and usually male strippers as well.
Then there is upstairs. La Femme is what really put the 90's on the club circuit map for straights, before they invaded the Dance Annex. This is where one of the best drag shows in the country takes place. It's another huge area, with plenty of seating and standing area. To the left, as you enter is the bar. To the expansive right is the show area.
If you continue walking, you'll come to the Retro bar, which plays retro music. Usually the least crowded of the three dance floors. Before entering the Retro Bar, if you take a right, you will eventually enter the Garden Court, which is the 90's full service dining area. I have, in the past, reviewed the restaurant downstairs, but never reviewed the Garden Court. Featuring fine dining, this room has karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights. And enjoy the LIVE vocal and Piano talents of Ben & Bob Moore. Reservations are taken from 7pm to 8pm.
Garden Court Restaurant
Parking: Parking lots abound downtown and expect to find the close ones full unless you are getting there early on prime nights. On street parking is limited in the area. So expect to walk a good block or two if you are one who believes in going late!
513 Washington Ave. S.
Industrial-looking dance club. Open until 3 am Friday and Saturday nights.
319 1st Ave. N.
One upscale location where people of different tastes can mix dinner, drinks and dance.
1032 3rd Ave. NE
GLBT Latino/a establishment featuring Wednesday gay night, plus drag shows Thursday.
Copyright 1998-2012 Bob Meyers
Comments, questions, gripes, anything at all, feel free to email me!
This page was last updated on 03/26/12.