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  • Key West Spells Diversion With a Big “D”: Drinking, Dancing, Drag
  • February 20, 2024

Key West Spells Diversion With a Big “D”: Drinking, Dancing, Drag

Key west Drinking Dancing, Drag
Photo: Island House

Packed with positive energy, Key West’s nightlife scene is proud of its lack of pretense. If drag shows, from raunchy to refined, aren’t your pleasure, then wander into a room full of glitter and sophisticated adult drinks, a back room on the dark side … or cheer on a favorite adult toy competing in a most unconventional soapbox derby.

Christopher Peterson at LaTeDa

Drag Without Dilution

Nightly drag shows are just part of the everyday vibe on Duval Street, the main drag in ‘s Old Town, and gateway to everything from naked all-male volleyball to Margaritaville. For thoa taste of Drag Race glamour, Aqua’s got dazzling spectacle, stunning costumes and pulsating pop beats. Alternatively, elevate your evening with performances by renowned female impersonators like Randy Roberts or Christopher Peterson at LaTeDa’s Crystal Room Cabaret, where iconic divas come to life with flawless precision.

More on Key West

Kylie Jean Lucille at 801

If that sounds like a lot or extra, then get over it because there’s a lot more. Offering more porn than polish, try 801 . As the 300 pound, brash and brilliant hostess, Puddin’ Tain, says to passing crowds – often in neon pleather, and as loudly as possible – “it’s always fun at the 801!”

The show’s unabashed humor and audacious performances only get more expressive as the night goes on. Needless to say, these always fill the room with laughs and gasps that could make Ru Paul blush.

Tea Traditions

Sunday afternoons draw the broader queer crowd –and friends — to Duval Street and the tea dance at LaTeDa shoudl not be missed. DJ Rude Girl gets everyone from muscle daddies to guys in frocks and every dance/gender expression in between to the dance floor.

Thursday nights bring the now world-famous vibrator races for charity to Mary Ellen’s, a bar/restaurant with a hint of Cracker Barrel, if that southern staple featured gender-neutral bathrooms and a gong rung nightly with silicone replica’s of male porn stars to celebrate the night’s winners.

Mary Ellen’s Bar and Restaurant

Bars For All

Going on a bar crawl, two have reserved their own flavor of fun in Key West. There’s the small bar 22 & Co, popularly known as “Tutu” bar, where Barbie pink rules. It flaunts a Versailles-worthy ball of mirrors, and glitter is everywhere.

The other is the polar opposite, with black walls, a dark room where Ken might feel at home, if the rumors are true, and favoring beer over cosmos. That bar is Saloon 1, Key West’s only bar, and as down and dirty as it should be. Going from there, you’ll find everything in between, all within easy walking distance, so we invite you to explore.

Key West’s nightlife is pretty much what you can expect from the rest of the “one human family” island. Its only mandate is to have fun, and it’s pretty easy to find your own groove and someone to share it with.

Gay Key West Uncovered is a six-part miniseries that is unapologetically queer, and not-so-straight from the mouths of drag queens, creative digital nomads, the fiercest lesbian boat captain you should have the pleasure of meeting, naked pool boys, business owners and even the mayor. This time we’re going out on the town to meet the queens of the night, join some of the locals, and saddle up to anyone who will drink, or at least talk, with us. Listen to our third episode here, and join host Bobby Hankinson and Towleroad as we explore the best of Duval Street, before we (maybe) stumble home:

More On Key West on Towleroad

‘Florida Curious’ to Key West Convert: Take Your Clothes Off and Say ‘Gay’ in the Conch Republic

Strip or Just Tease? Key West’s Famous, and Infamous, Clothing-Optional Gay Guesthouses

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