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LGBTQA LA: From the first gay pride march to drag queen bingo

Long before Los Angeles became the sprawling metropolis it is today, the city was originally called Yang Na and ruled by a tribe known as the Tongva. What’s interesting about this early society is that they were in some ways more liberal in their approach to the LGBT community than Conservative America is today.

The Tongva believed that a person’s sexuality was determined in utero, and celebrated homosexuals as ‘two spirited’ people. Coming full circle, the footprint of the Tongva is still strong in modern day LA as the LGBT community remains defiant amid today’s turbulent political landscape, which albeit is looking slightly better after the election.

In 1970, LA hosted one of the first gay pride marches in the US, and was arguably more influential than San Francisco in the push for homosexual equality in the United States. The result of this is that LA is now one of the most welcoming and open cities for LGBT travellers in the world.

There are hundreds of events that specifically cater to the LGBT community in the city of angels, and one that is growing in popularity is drag queen bingo. Yes, you read that correctly – an event that fuses drag culture with the time-honoured game of bingo. While there’s so much to do in this great city, you need to check out drag queen bingo.

The origins of drag queen bingo

It might seem there’s not much in common between bingo and the drag world – and there wasn’t before Judy Werle’s lightbulb moment in the early 1990s. Werle, then the director of the Chicken Soup Brigade, was searching for new fundraising methods when she stumbled upon on a game of bingo. Seeing the impressive size of the average bingo hall crowd, she decided she’d host a charity bingo event to introduce some glamour and glitz to the occasion.

The first ever drag queen bingo night was hosted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in Seattle and was an instant hint. Punters queued round the block to get in – and the popularity of the event led to more and more drag queen nights taking place in Seattle, and eventually throughout the world.

Like much of the gambling industry, drag bingo has even moved online in recent years. Believe it or not, you can play online drag bingo from the comfort of your own home – or by mobile, if you’re on the move. To see what we mean, and find out where these events are happening near you, check out this insightful Drag Bingo guide.

LA’s best drag queen bingo nights

Here’s a rundown of the best drag queen bingo events we could find in the City of Angels.

Hamburger Mary’s Bar & Grille: 8288 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90046.

Described as the ‘best gay bingo’ by Los Angeles Magazine, Hamburger Mary’s is the best place to go in LA to experience your first taste of drag bingo, as well as some delicious hamburgers. There are plenty of shows to get your teeth stuck into – two on a Wednesday, one on a Thursday and another two on a Sunday.

Hamburger Mary’s plays host to LEGENDARY BINGO, a group that started 20 years ago who have since raised 5 million dollars for local and national charities, one event at a time. William Belli and Roxy Wood are regular hosts at bingo evenings as well as a few famous names such as Paris Hilton and Raja from RuPauls Drag Race.

Redline: 131 E 6th Street, CA 90014

One of the most popular stops on the DTLA circuit is Redline, which is home to some of the best drag acts in Los Angeles. There are weekly drag events every Wednesday with bingo being hosted by Queen B two Wednesdays of every month.

Shows start at 10pm every night, but there’s happy hour between 5 and 8 before the main show, so get there early and enjoy some drinks before the main entertainment. RuPaul’s drag race has inspired a new generation of witty, entertaining queens that are regularly on show at Redline.

Unlike Hamburger Mary’s, you can stay on at Redline after the main event and have one of the best LGBT nights in the city before heading back to your hotel.

Micky’s 8857 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Just down the road from Hamburger Mary’s is Micky’s nightclub and bar, a location synonymous with LA’s thriving gay scene.

Monday is the best night to head to Micky’s for some drag queen fun, when you can see the brilliant Showgirls. You’ll simply love this cute bar with its great mix of drinks offers and fabulously friendly staff

Make sure you book online before you turn up to make sure you get a good view for Showgirls. You want to ensure you have the best possible view of amazing performers like Morgan McMichaels, Lexi Vaughn and Rhea Litre.

Although you’re unlikely to catch some drag bingo, you will be able to see some of the biggest names in the drag world.

Other notable LGBT events in LA

And don’t miss these other LGBT events at these exciting venues in town.

The Black Cat: If you really want to step into the history of the LGBT struggle in LA, then you need to go and grab dinner at the Black Cat Tavern. On New Year’s Eve in 1967 the LAPD raided the tavern, arresting gay revellers and brutally beating them. From that point on the tavern became the location of repeated peaceful demonstrations from the LGBT community until equality was won. Now it’s a great spot for a boozy lunch with vegan friendly dishes available.

Craft Night @ Akbars: Every Wednesday at Akbar’s hordes of gay enthusiasts come together to enjoy a night of craft activities that change weekly. The result is a bar that becomes a bubbling mix of all different tastes and styles within the gay community.

If that isn’t your thing make sure you go down Thursday to Sunday when AKBAR’s is a traditional, pumping gay nightclub. With some of the best music in the LGBT scene, this is your perfect destination to bump and grind.

LA is one of the most gay friendly places in the US and is a must-visit for anyone from the LGBT community. Modern day members of the community have a lot to thank early campaigners in LA for and can pay homage to their dedication at various locations throughout the city. There are amazing gay bars and nightclubs in LA, but the highlight at the moment is drag bingo, which is guaranteed to have you in stitches.

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