Ten Best Gay Bars in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach

Being gay in South Florida is as common as it gets. Sure, there's still prejudice, bullying, and occasional hate crimes, but where isn't there these days? On a map, South Florida is one of the most gay-friendly areas in the country, not to mention the world. Sure, it's no San Francisco (not until we legalize medical marijuana and gay marriage), but it's not exactly Pyongyang down here either.

Although we live in a cultural melting pot with a diverse, proud LGBT community, there's just one little problem: The majority of the gay bars down here are train wrecks in slow motion. Dated music (no, not "retro") and lack of age range (it's either 21-year-old power bottoms who lick the floor any pop diva walks on or your long-lost great-grandfather who keeps a large supply of kiddie porn in his basement -- take your pick). All major turnoffs. But most worrisome is the lack of diversity. We don't know if it's the fear of speaking to new people or the fear of simply being yourself, but people-watching at a South Florida gay bar is straight out of Mean Girls. All cliques, all the time, and if you approach someone without an invitation, nine times out of ten, you get a "you can't sit with us" glare.

Thankfully, because of the volume of gays and gay or gay-friendly bars, there are some hidden gems among the muck and grime. These ten bars represent the best in Broward and Palm Beach counties and offer a little something for everyone.

10. Village Pub
2283 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

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Village Pub is the newest bar on the drive (next to the just opened Rumors, formerly Matty's), and coincidentally the most popular one too. Bars in Wilton Manors (and most bars in general) have a specific life cycle. A new bar opens, gains hype, some dedicated regulars, makes a profit, everything seems just swell. Then before you know it, a new bar opens up one block away,closing down the beloved, now "old" bar.

Village Pub is a strong contender to stay afloat on the drive, with daily drink specials, a ridiculous amount of video screens (they only use VJs), and an open layout that prevents any sense of claustrophobia, even when it's a wall-to-wall sausage fest. The music ranges from '90s classics to today's Top 20, and with dart boards, pool tables, and video poker machines, there's literally something for everyone here.

Ten Best Gay Bars in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach

9. Dapur
1620 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale

Dapur is part lounge, part restaurant. While the Asian style tapas is fantastic, the lounge is the real focal point of the establishment. An impressively lit bar with muscley "straight" bartenders at your service, and the DJ spins the ultimate minimal house/lounge tracks.

The specialty drinks may be a little on the pricey side, but they're made with top shelf liquor and fresh ingredients like mint and fruit. Anything muddled has us sold. The lounge is leaning towards upscale, but the drinks and food are reasonably priced considering the atmosphere you get in return.

Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Broward-Palm Beach® 2012 online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

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