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Your LGBTQIA+ guide to Cape Town

colourful Cape Town, South Africa

Hailed as South Africa’s beautiful ‘Mother City’, Cape Town is a unique blend of the country’s culture throughout history, and now an epicentre for LGBTQIA+ communities. Cape Town spearheads a shift in cultural attitudes towards the queer community.

Through essential events, beloved venues, and trailblazing collectives, the city has become a pivotal site of change and queer celebration. From Vogue Houses like House of Vineyard to organisations such as Femmes & Thems who champion inclusivity within the city’s queer scene – promoting love and acceptance as fundamental aspects of the community.

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De Waterkant

The majority of LGBTQIA+ venues reside in and around De Waterkant district – home to over 100 queer businesses and extremely popular amongst tourists and locals alike. Today, the neighbourhood stands as a symbol of Cape Town’s inclusivity, acceptance, and pride in its queerness. 

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In the heart of the district, a 50s themed burger bar showcases some of the city’s most iconic drag performances alongside mouthwatering food. A local favourite – Beefcakes remains one of the city’s most celebrated queer venues, and hosts a variety of cabaret, lip syncs, and so much more. On Wednesdays, hailed as ‘the Diva of Africa’ – the legendary Odidiva rules the Beefcakes stage with live singing and performances. Also, their cocktail selection is a must-try!

Zer021 Social Club

Joining the forces of inclusivity, safety, and glamour – Zer021 Social Club describes themselves as ‘The True Cape Town Bar for the Urban Tomorrow’. Here, you can expect gag-worthy community club nights, karaoke, and renowned annual pride parties.

Home to some of the city’s most well-known drag performers – Zer021 Social Club is always a place of extravagance, music, and celebration. They are often in collaboration with fellow queer organisations to create exquisite drag brunches, performances, and LGBTQIA+ events. While some showcase breathtaking local talent – including drag Beyoncé medleys and retro club evenings, Zer021 Social Club also hosts a plethora of internationally recognised queer performers, including Mayhem Miller and Morgan McMichaels!

The social club announced the opening of their much-anticipated daughter venue, Mingles, in 2023. Located in Woodstock, Mingles contains everything that we love from Zer021 – a safe space to meet the community, a wide selection of refreshing drinks, and a whole bunch of tasty bites. And of course, this wouldn’t be a Zer021 venue without a taste of the city’s vibrant drag scene – making it definitely worth a stop!

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Manhattan Bar

Similarly located in the heart of De Waterkant, Manhattan Barstands as the longest-running venue in the queer district. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite, an evening of terrace drinks, or mouthwatering food for dinner, Manhattan Bar won’t let you down. Its convenient location in the centre of Cape Town’s queer neighbourhood makes it a regular meeting spot for locals and tourists. Let yourself relax in the sunny terrace while making your way down the cocktail menu. The iconic and historical Café Manhattan is a must-visit. 

A short walk brings us to Susa Restaurant and Gallery Space. A queer-friendly haven of art, culture, and culinary expertise… 

Susa Restaurant is part of the Youngblood Africa Art Gallery. This space gives a platform to culturally trailblazing art, music, and performances – forming a uniquely vibrant atmosphere for your evening dinner and drinks.

Recently, Susa Restaurant collaborated with one of the biggest R&B events in Africa – Strictly Soul,to deliver a show-stopping party with amazing vibes and food – surrounded by art! With a plethora of creative events held throughout the year, make sure to check their social media for a full timetable. 

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Honey & Dora

Looking for more amazing food within De Waterkant? Honey & Dora has got you covered. A new café concept and lifestyle bar – this cute and quirky venue delivers amazing breakfast, lunch and dinner. Following the success of Honey & Dora, they were able to set up a support fund to help the LGBTQIA+ community. The restaurant also gives untrained individuals the opportunity to learn essential skills and collect valuable experience.

Alongside their culinary magic – quiz nights, karaoke, drag brunches and queer networking events are common at Honey & Dora, making it the perfect spot to stop by during your travels and meet more of Cape Town’s LGBTQIA+ community. 

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Queer Collectives

Through art, community, and nightlife, LGBTQIA+ collectives such as the Phefumla Queer Collective and Femmes & Thems work tirelessly to champion the creation of safe spaces for the city’s queer community. Created by a group of young artists who noticed a lack of space for queer POC in Cape Town, Femmes & Thems was birthed in 2021, and has vigorously shaken up the city’s nightlife scene ever since.

Amongst the creators of this wonderful organisation are DJs, singers, event managers, and artists. This creative supergroup contains the perfect formula for the city’s hottest nights out – with the Femmes & Thems dance floor becoming quickly iconic amongst the community. As well as unforgettable parties and events, the organisation supports local artists through the ‘Ballantine’s True Music Fund’. In their own words: “We want to empower POC queer beings, by giving them access to resources, skills and spaces that they wouldn’t have access to…we want to create safe spaces for queer beings to party without having to worry about safety or harassment of any kind.” 

Since the start of their work, Femmes & Thems continue to create space for queer POC in Cape Town who struggle to find a safe space in music and nightlife. This includes providing access to training and rehearsal resources, as well as building a platform for artists to be heard by larger audiences. Femmes & Thems parties are now also hosting in Johannesburg, so catch them while you can…

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Queer Friendly Beach

We could not discuss the beauty of Cape Town without exploring the delightful Clifton Third Beach – the city’s stunning queer-friendly beach. 

Often hailed as the ‘unofficial’ queer beach, Clifton Third is a favourite amongst both LGBTQIA+ locals and tourists. Soak up the African sun while meeting fellow travellers and mingling with the queer locals. A day at Clifton Third is a must during your visit to Cape Town.

Cape Town’s LGBTQIA+ scene is a vibrant tapestry of networks, venues, and collectives – everyday becoming more and more visible. A beacon of inclusivity, diversity, and queer celebration in South Africa – a trip here will be simply unforgettable. The strength of community, variety of queer hangout spaces, and dazzling natural beauty all contribute to the magic of LGBTQIA+ Cape Town. So get your flights, book your events, and enjoy!

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