Some people call Berlin a gay bar, but you won’t find it on Halsted, the main drag of LGBTQ life in Lake View. Its location signifies a larger truth: The club’s culture doesn’t fit neatly into the lineup of bars that help define the area long known informally as Boystown. Berlin is the funky outsider, the big-wigged diva, and the moody goth of the LGBTQ nightlife scene, all rolled into one. It’s a place to be safe expressing yourself — and to be seen when you’re ready to shine. That goes for celebrities, too, from Melissa McCarthy to Iman to the B-52s; some of them end up spinning in the DJ booth, including Deee-Lite’s Lady Miss Kier and the Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears. No matter where you fit on the sexuality and gender spectrum, you’ve got a home on the dance floor at Berlin.

Berlin Bomb
Berlin Bomb

Address: 954 W. Belmont Ave.
Year opened: 1983
Drink of choice: Berlin Bomb, a shot of vodka floating in Red Bull
Clientele: Berlin celebrates everybody. The nonhomogenous crowd includes an increasing number of trans patrons, and nobody bats an eye if a few Cubs fans wander in after a game.
Song you might hear: “Emerge” by Fischerspooner

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