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Welcome to the Village

Xtra’s guide to Davie Street’s gayest haunts

Dean Mirau at the HIM Health Centre on Davie Street. Credit: Jon Haywood

Davie: the street that never sleeps. The Castro redux.

As much we might complain about the Village looking a little tired, you are still likely to find someone on the sidewalk at any given minute of the day on Davie Street. Whether it’s a drag queen on her way to a show, a gaggle of drunken club kids on their way home from the bars or the nice old lady from yoga class, it’s hard to go late-night grocery shopping without waving hello to someone.

The main attraction is the bars. I never thought I would say this, but I’ve been enjoying the dancefloor at The PumpJack (1) (1167 Davie St), where you can move to music that you can sing along to. The Sunday Beer Bust is still the busiest evening of the week, but don’t drink the cheap stuff.

The hottest crowd goes to the tightest bar in town, the eponymous 1181 (2) (1181 Davie St), where owner Jenn Mickey personally makes sure her customers are having a good time. There's always a line on weekends; go early and find yourself a cushion.

If small spaces make you claustrophobic, check out the Oasis (3) (1240 Thurlow St). Take in a show or the sun on the best rooftop patio in the ’hood, or just stare at Mitch’s hairy chest, which hasn’t seen a shirt since the early 2000s.

Although some question whether it’s still a gay bar or not, Vancouverites have been dancing at Celebrities (4) (1022 Davie St) since the 1980s, which is more than enough reason to go.

One of the more interesting (and equally long-running) gay spaces on Davie is the recently renovated Numbers (5) (1042 Davie St), with three floors of fun and plenty of dark spaces to cruise and make out.

The Junction (6) (1138 Davie St) has managed to break the curse of closures in that spot and remain open, attracting a younger crowd on the weekends and hosting fun events during the week. That patio is just aching for a good tea dance.

For something a little more off the beaten path, absorb the view from the Bayside Lounge (7) (1755 Davie St), where it always feels like the ’70s and you can still see the ghosts of the telephones on the tables. Why the gays have not taken over this bar is a mystery to me.

Cut to the chase with a steam and a BJ at F212 (8) (1048 Davie St) or just pretend to work out. Student discounts available. If you think you might have compromised yourself at the tubs (or in general), drop in to the Health Initiative for Men’s (9) (1033 Davie St) health centre across the street, or sign up for one of HIM’s many other programs.

The best reflection of the neighbourhood is The Fountainhead (10) (1025 Davie St), a great place to meet with friends, play some pool or throw some darts. Next door, it’s always a good day when Joe’s Grill (11) (1031 Davie St) has crab-cake Benedicts on the menu.

Hamburger Mary’s (12) (1202 Davie St) gets the lifetime achievement award for longest-running gay restaurant on the strip, and its turkey dinner is perfect comfort food.

For a cheap, wholesome meal, go to The Dish (13) (1068 Davie St), where you’ll also find the best breakfast sandwich on the street and the nicest staff.

My favourite burger on Davie is still at Score (14) (1262 Davie St). The caesars are a meal in themselves. Or calm the savage beast with the smooth sounds of the electric piano at Priscilla’s (15) (1047 Davie St).

Curl up with your tablet and a mean cup of coffee at Melriches (16) (1244 Davie St), which has employed and features the work of local artists. Then go next door to pay homage to the civil libertarians at Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium (17) (1238 Davie St), who fought Canada Customs for the right to import and share our stories.

Explore your fetishes with some leather at Priape (18) (1148 Davie St), get your outfit for the White Party at State of Mind (19) (1100 Davie St), put it neatly away in one of the handy-dandy space savers at Room in Order (20) (1055 Davie St) and then clutter up your place again with some objets d’art at Homewerx (21) (1053 Davie St).

Vancouver may be getting gayer overall, but the Davie Village is still the place where you can be whoever you are and no one will bat an eye. There’s no place like home.