Beef, brawn, and good times
NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Kansas City article click DailyXtraTravel
In the early 19th century, the Westport community of Kansas City was the trailhead for legendary destinations that included Santa Fe, California, and the Oregon Trail. Today, new legends are made in this historical district,
now the center of the Kansas City gay community.
There are real cowboys here in KCMO -- lots of queer folks from the Ozarks and the Texas Panhandle. Their stories can be vivid and heartbreaking a very different spin on gay life outside the usual urban metropolis. A
great place to catch up with these cow-pokes is at the Wyandotte County Fairgrounds, featuring the Missouri Gay Rodeo Association. The main event here is their annual Show-Me State Rodeo held each September; this year September 2, 2010.
Cowboys aside, Kansas City also presents a surprisingly robust theater and cabaret scene, complementing a fine array of dance halls, saloons, and edgy drag shows. This is a fun town.
Nightclubs, bars, and restaurants
You haven't seen Kansas City if you don't stop at
Missie B's (805 W. 39th), where there's entertainment and dancing Monday through Saturday, and it's "always good times with good friends," including karaoke, drag shows, live music and bingo. There's dancing upstairs in the Bootleggers Lounge, and
their leather shop is open Friday and Saturday nights. Saturdays through Tuesdays there are beer busts, and there are bear nights, and Heartland Men's Chorus events too.
Cut across to Main Street for one of the area's most popular and sociable hangouts, "KC's favorite midtown party place."
Buddies (3715 Main) is an all-day affair Mondays through Saturdays, with a 14-hour
"Happy Hour" and the best Bloody Marys in town -- always on special. Daily drink specials, beer and liquor busts, weekend shot specials, and their Killer Quart of well cocktails-in-a-jug keep it lively. A cruisy bar with a
diverse and loyal following, Buddies also has a pool table, video games, darts, and cable TV sports events and concerts. Everyone knows each other at this neighborhood bar, but the atmosphere is not cliquish, and they welcome visitors, leaving no wallflowers here! There's off-street, well-lit parking, and an on-site ATM too.
Next door, Sidekicks Saloon (3707 Main Street) is a saloon and dance hall open Monday through Saturdays, 2pm to 3am, with a mixed but mainly male crowd of lively cowboys, leathermen, and bears. Friday and Saturday
nights they come for country-music dancing. There are nightly games, darts, and pool games. "Boy in a Dress" trivia contests for cash prices are
Thursday's featured event and they have Friday night beer busts from 9 to midnight. Check the local press for special events and guest appearances.
Other bars include: Balanca's (1809 Grand) with small dance floor and karaoke;
Bistro 303 (303 Westport), for non-stop daytime lunch and evening martinis, hors d'oeuvres or dinner;
Daddy's Backdoor Bar (1610 Main) men's bar with leather and bear events; Outa Bounds (3601 Broadway) gay sports bar and grill with laid-back vibe; Sidestreet (413 E 33rd), a long-time neighborhood bar and grill with outdoor patio, mainly for guys; and Varieties (3611 Broadway), a small dance club and lounge.
Flo's Cabaret (1911 Main) is especially intriguing for it's star performer, the incomparable Flo. This local legend who's appeared on stages of many KC nightclubs over the years, now has her own place. Here she skewers her audience with lighthearted yet pointed humor. This stylish lounge also serves fine food to go with the libations.
Tootsie's, (1818 Main) and
Wetherbee's (2510 NE Vivion) are primarily women's bars.
On the Kansas side are the gay neighborhood bars Fox (7520 Shawnee Mission Parkway; Overland Park); and
the View (204 Orchard; Kansas City, Kansas).
Bar Azul (4960 State Ave) has Saturday gay Latin nights of dancing and drag shows.
Click HERE for listings of more local restaurants and cafes.
Ken's Place B&B (18 W. 38th; 816-753-0533) occupies a grand old house between Main (near Buddies and Sidekicks) and Broadway. The six rooms, each with its own theme, come with cable TV, DVD/VCR players,
and great nightly rates. Amenities include a room with a sling, balconies, sun deck, pool, hot tub, and breakfast. Ken Yalverton is ringmaster here. Not for all tastes, but definitely a good way to avoid cooker-cutter hotels and connect to the local gay scene in a hurry.
Hydes Gym and Guesthouse (816-561-1010) is a men's private club with lockers and excercise room, shower area, and accommodations.
HERE for a wider and more varied list of area accommodations.
Shopping and restaurants
The Westport Road area has shopping, dining, and entertainment, just off Main Street. Another cluster of restaurants on 39th Street at the Missouri-Kansas state line includes a variety of ethnic cuisines.
The Country Club Plaza is a 15 block high-end retail and restaurant district with a year-round calendar of music and special events, a little south of Westport, down Main Street.
The Kansas City Power & Light District is a downtown cluster of stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues along Main and Walnut Streets, between 12th and North Truman.
Among restaurant options in Westport, Gene and Jeff welcome guests to Bistro 303 (303 Westport). Here you'll enjoy cocktails and fine dining set in a contemporary decor with an outdoor patio. Not far away, the gay-themed Cafe Trio (3535 Broadway) is one of the trendiest restaurants in town. They also have live jazz music. Reservations are advised.
A favorite of many is the Broadway Cafe & Roastery with two nearby outlets (301 Westport and 4106 Broadway). They roast and serve their own artisan-crafted brews here, but alas, no wi-fi connections.
Hamburger Mary's KC (101 Southwest Blvd) opened recently in the Crossroads neighborhood, with their signature hamburgers, plenty of sassy camp and nightly entertainment.
Westport Coffeehouse (4010 Pennsylvania) is a pleasant hangout with panini, coffees, rich deserts, and internet access -either at your laptop or one of their computers.
HERE for more KC restaurants and cafes.
Cinema & Theater
In Westport, the Tivoli Cinema (4050 Pennsylvania) screens art films of gay interest throughout the year, and they host the Kansas City Gay & Lesbian Film Festival too.
Kansas City Repertory Theatre has interesting productions, and the Unicorn Theatre has fare that's always compelling, and frequently gay-tinged.
Pride & Media
Kansas City Pride events will take place the week of May 31 to June 6, 2010. A revival of the Show Me Pride Parade on the 6th, will commence at 11am, with celebrations at the Penn Valley Park festival grounds continuing until 1am.
Camp is the print and online voice for the LGBT communites of Kansas City and surrounding areas in Missouri and Kansas.
News and events information of interest to area bears and visitors can be found at the website of the
Kansas City Cave Bears.
For the Record
Two Westport gay spots sadly have closed of late: Out There, the longtime Westport gay book and rainbow store, once known as Larry's Gifts; and Planet Cafe (3535 Broadway) a local internet all-ages gay-frequented coffeehouse.