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gAyTX Nights: October 2020

Austin’s LGBTQ+ nightlight scene is starting to make a comeback as bars in the Warehouse District reopen with limited capacity, food and drag shows.



The iconic Oilcan Harry's on 4th Street got a new coat of paint while it was closed under the state's pandemic response. Photo credit: Chase Martin/therepubliq

Several bars in Austin have reopened as ‘restaurants’ under a change at TABC that allowed bars more options at bringing in food sales. The Iron Bear, which had been open for orders to-go during the summer, reopened to dine-in service at the end of August. In September, Stonewall Warehouse in San Marcos reopened. Both Oilcan Harry’s and Highland Lounge reopened earlier this month.

Oilcan Harry’s

Austin’s oldest gay bar, Oilcan Harry’s reopened as a restaurant on Friday, October 9, 2020. Patrons will immediately notice that the bar’s iconic red painted brick exterior has been painted white, and the bar’s logo has been painted on the wall as well. There have also been some changes on the interior as well. Most noticeable is the future home of a Sir Rat Leather & Gear pop-up shop near the entrance.

Posted by Sir Rat Leather & Gear on Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Table seating is required for all customers. Staff will take your order at the table and deliver your food and drinks to you. Masks are required on entry, but can be removed once you have been seated. Masks must be worn anytime you get up from your table. Tables of no more than 10 people, with social distancing required outside of your group, so no socializing between tables. Also, note that it’s also credit cards only, so no cash.

Under the state’s current protocols, capacity is limited. While walk-ins are welcome, reservations through OpenTable are recommended, especially in the evenings on the weekend. Outdoor seating is available on the back patio, with most tables offering views of the stage if you’re there for a show.

The bar now offers 11″ pizzas from DeSano Pizzeria Napoletana, located around the corner on Lavaca Street. The pizzas come with a thin crust and feature a slight charring of the crust as a result of cooking in DeSano’s wood-burning oven. Options include: meat, pepperoni, cheese, or veggie. Pizzas are $13 ($11 for cheese). For lighter fare, they also have snacks: popcorn, mixed nuts, and chips for $3.

If you’re looking for entertainment, Oilcan’s has kicked off weekly drag shows. Back at the end of September, it was announced that Maeve Haven was the new Entertainment Director at Oilcan’s and she hosted auditions for “entertainers and performers who are interested in being a guest, cast, or host of current and potential opportunities” earlier this month. Oilcan’s has already announced two weekly drag shows on Thursday and Friday nights.

Fans of KREAM at Seller’s Underground will be happy to see that the show, featuring Noodles, Cupcake and DJ Ruby Knight has moved over to Oilcan Harry’s. You can catch the trio along with special guest performers every Thursday night start at 10 PM. The show is FREE for 21+, with $20 cover for 18+.

Friday night will see the return of Crave, hosted by Maeve Haven. Grandma Steve, Vylette Ward and Targét return with Monica D. Jet and KenDoll Golightly joining the cast. Showtime is every Friday night start at 11 PM. The show is FREE for 21+, with $20 cover for 18+.

Congratulations to Jonathan Smith! The former General Manager at Sellers Underground has rejoined the team at Oilcan Harry’s as a Manager.

Highland Lounge

Highland Lounge announced that they were reopening on Friday, October 9, 2020. As all the other bars reopening, they are doing so as a restaurant (no details on the food yet), so they have limited capacity and social distancing guidelines are enforced.

Friday and Saturday nights feature four drag shows each night, starting at 9:30 PM, 10:30 PM, 11:30 PM and 12:30 AM. If you’re not in the mood for a show, there is a deejay spinning out on the patio.

The Iron Bear

The Iron Bear was one of the first bars to reopen as a restaurant at the end of August, and its gotten to be a hotspot for those looking for someplace to go out for the night. As the only gay bar with a full kitchen, it also has a larger selection on its menu. It’s also open for lunch during the day … BTW.

They also started Bearback Drag Queen Bingo, hosted by the Dirty Dynasty — Cupcake and Lady Grackle — every Tuesday night, from 8-10 PM. FREE, no cover. 21+.

Stonewall Warehouse

Down in San Marcos, Stonewall Warehouse opened up back in September. The bar is currently in the process of celebrating 31 Days of Halloween with themed shows planned throughout the month, along with Wednesday night trivia and a drag show on Friday night.

Chase is the founder and Creative Director of, former host and Executive Producer of OutCast Austin, an award-winning LGBT weekly radio program on KOOP 91.7 FM in Austin. In 2011, he was named the Critics Pick for 'Most Gaybiquitous' in the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin. In 2012, CultureMap Austin named him one of Austin's Top LGBT bloggers and he received the AGLCC's Chamber Award for Social Media Diva.

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october 2021