Best LGBT bar, 2009: La Cage
"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun bars and club articles -- including guides, unique features, drink recipes and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
The votes are in and the winners have been selected for OnMilwaukee's Best: Bars & Clubs, 2009. The results of this readers' poll, including an editors' pick, are available in this series of articles that run all month long in the Bars and Clubs section of OnMilwaukee.com.
Once again, OnMilwaukee.com readers picked La Cage as the city's best LGBT bar. Riverwest's Art Bar came in second place for the third year in a row.
La Cage is Milwaukee's oldest LGBT dance club, featuring two dance floors, four bars, mega video screens, drag shows, theme nights and new and retro extended-mix dance songs cranking all night long. Gay, straight or undefined, this club is a fun place to cut the rug while enjoying reasonably priced drinks.
Second-place winner Art Bar has a totally different vibe. With rotating, provocative art shows, a full-service cafe and live music, Art Bar draws an eclectic group of people for coffee, happy hours and late-night entertainment.
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Kruz
2. Art Bar
3. Walker's Pint
4. Pump House
7. Triangle Bar
8. This Is It
10. Club Boom
12. Boot Camp Saloon
13. The Room
mke girl | Feb. 12, 2009 at 1:56 p.m. (report)
la cage might be a fun place to go dancing but try being a bi-girl (straight looking) getting a drink - it's nearly impossible! i've had to actually ask men to get a drink for me cuz the bartenders would ignore me! this sort of discrimination is BS... on the other hand, i frequent art bar and they treat all equally - they, in my opinion, should be #1!
Gem | Feb. 11, 2009 at 1:38 p.m. (report)
Well I have s lot to say, so here we go. I am an old timer I guess (40 something) I remember the days of the wreckroom, factory, club Dahlmer (219) and Park Avenue on sundays. We usually had to wait in line on the weekends to get any of the places listed above. But alot has changed. The drinking age went up, drunk driving awareness, changing in drinking habbits and the biggest the internet. People no longer need to go to a bar and hook up, they can just do it from the comfort of their own home. Aside from that you can pretty much go to any bar and have a drink etc, even dance at the more liberal places. with that said I don't even go to the gay bars here they are HORRIBLE!!!. whoever said the Harbor room is the best bar must be on crack, the only place that would come close to being ok would be the room. but the owner is a jerk and the staff isn't to swift either. Kruz is ok, haven't been to art bar, heard good things about it, but frankly I don't want to worry about the benz and being shot while I'm out. its bad enough in the 5th ward. as for laCage I personally know the owners. I think they over paid and the gay community here is very quirky and not dependable to susutain a larger place unless it is hot as one other reader commented. I've owned several business and you wouldn't believe how expensive things are. It is truely a ripoff and again one busy night doesn't pay the bills. if you don't have the city in your pocket, then it's everyone else. I think the boys that bought LaCage didn't have a ton of experience, but the best of intentions. I don't go there. Its not my demographic, but I do wish them well. Unfortuneatly, to experience true LGBT night life we have to drive to Chicago. Back in my youth, Chicago was a cowtown! Believe it or not they came to Milwaukee for fun. Boy times have changed. with that said, Milwaukee doesn't even have a good straight dance club. When Park Avenue was open, fridays and saturdays were a who's who in town and that was thee place to be. limo's lined the streets women in cocktail dresses and guys dressed to the nines. not so much unlike Milwaukee St now with the exception of being casual. The dance floor was huge as were the bars, I still haven't heard a sound system as good and the light show unparrelled. The DJ actually would work the lights to the beat of the music vs putting them on automatic. ah the good ole days!
magenta | Feb. 11, 2009 at 12:22 p.m. (report)
Glowstars is totally correct. How far the mighty have fallen! And with a cultural shift away from purely "gay bars" in American society, it's a miracle that Milwaukee has so many left to choose from. That being said, anyone on this list worked harder for the #1 spot than La Cage. La Cage has taken a nosedive under the most recent management and has lost its premier danceteria status (held tightly from the mid-80s until the mid-00s) to straight bars. In just the past few years, Cage's ambience, architecture and even its clientele have gone from impossibly stylish to impossibly trashy. This used to be a place to see and be seen, now it's more of a lowest common denominator for the dregs of Milwaukee nightlife. Even bachelorette parties are now steering away from this place. Unable to sustain the former owners' ambitious, endless remodels, the new owners seem content to just open the doors and call it a dance club, giving people very little reason to show up week after week. After the last remodel ripped out the unintentional retro kitsch this place had going for it, Cage just became a big, hollow barn that looks and feels extremely empty six nights a week, and rarely feels full even on Saturdays. And unfortunate hiring choices have staffed the bar with an array of pompous, self-important, and extremely rude employees who clearly don't get the joke, and seem more interested in discouraging return business than building a clientele. (This wasn't always the case - so you have to wonder how much the new owners know about service expectations.) It's quickly becoming a gay version of Victors, but without any of the things that make Victors a worthy destination. How depressing is that! A few people have questioned why Pumphouse (and Wherehouse!) are not more popular? It's because Milwaukeeans can't seem to break its disfunctional relationship with a club that is neither fun, happening, or decent to its customers, and try something new that may not have the crowds, but certainly have the energy, the ambience, and the ambition to become something better. There are better options out there, Milwaukee, and you know it. But if you don't support the alternatives, all you're going to wind up with is the undying vampire of La Cage. Stick a stake in it - - - it's done.
the HARBOR ROOM is far better than la cage--they are always doing intriging promotions as well and did not even make the list. unbelievable. i wonder how many of the milwaukee la cage voters have been in the other bars several times. likely, just go to a couple gay bars. plus, there are so many STRAIGHTS including women at la cage can it, rightfullly, even be called a GAY bar? under the original ownership it was a great bar but no more. the owners are trying to be all things to all people and end up being little to anyone. this is it is a fine cocktail bar with low drink prices. but, the harbor room still remains the best gay bar in milwaukee. by far.
If it is in fact the default spot on a Saturday night, and everyone goes there anyway, why would you divert money into sprucing it up? Sounds like they are laughing all the way to the bank, tacky 90's or otherwise. What about the Pumphouse though? That place has an amazing layout, multi levels, indoor outdoor. why isn't that place more popular?
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