Rue Sainte-Catherine and the VillageYounger lesbians who like to party will probably spend most of their time on St. Catherine, a long thoroughfare which runs through the Village (Montreal’s version of the Castro, Chelsea or West Hollywood). The street has some of the city’s best shopping, nightlife and restaurants featuring nearly every cuisine imaginable. If you ever find yourself dressed up with nothing to do, wandering down St. Catherine will surely inspire.
The Sky is seriously one of those places that makes me just thank the heavens that I’m queer, because seriously, straight people can not party like this. It’s mostly guys but very mixed; we saw plenty of lesbians and straight couples dancing to Madonna peacefully alongside skinny shirtless gay men. A five dollar cover gets you access to three floors of dancing, with a different DJ in each and occasional gogo dancers. We had our choice of hip hop, house and straight up gay pop, plus a relatively low-key pub on the ground floor. The club was completely packed, the people really friendly and the drinks a little overpriced. Definitely worth it though: on top of the club is an open air deck with a hot tub and swimming pool. It deserves its reputation as the city’s best gay club, and might even be my favorite anywhere.
Le Drugstore1366 St. Catherine Est
A multi-story bar and dance club, Le Drugstore is decorated to look somewhere between a New York City train station and pub, with street signs and exposed brick. This one’s a real lesbian bar, as opposed to the gay and lesbian (which really usually only means gay) clubs that dominate most of the Village. It’s typically full of patrons dancing, drinking, flirting and playing pool all the way until the bar shuts down at 3 am.
Taverne Normandie1295 Rue Amherst
This is a great, laid-back gay karaoke bar on a relatively quiet side street. There weren’t many girls inside, but the male patrons and drag queen MC were very welcoming and friendly to us. They had an extensive song list, including songs in English, Spanish, French, Greek and German. Though most people sang American rock, it was fun to hear a few people do songs that only got famous in Quebec. The Quebecois tend to be fiercely proud of their culture, so it was cool to hear a whole room of drunken gay boys singing along enthusiastically to Robert Charlebois, whom we had never heard of but quickly grew to love.
Cabaret Mado1115 St. Catherine Est
I was never much of a Celine Dion fan before my first trip to Cabaret Mado, but one evening at the city’s best drag show turned me into a believer. Named for its resident performer and the best drag queen in Montreal (the illustrious Mado Lamothe), Cabaret Mado packs in a standing-room only crowd to watch Mademoiselle Mado and her background dancers (who were either drag queens or biological women or a mixture, we weren’t sure).
So strip clubs aren’t for every lesbian, but if they happen to be for you, this is one of North America’s finest. The staff was really friendly to us, and we saw a decent amount of other female customers. It’s cheap and casual (the décor looked more like a bowling alley or suburban sports bar than a snooty strip club), and the whole atmosphere feels more like a party than anything uncomfortable or degrading. The dancers are really beautiful and diverse, and do great shows on two different stages. A friend of mine reported once seeing a fire-breathing stripper. We weren’t that lucky, but we did get to see a two-girl sex show and a bachelor party where the dancers got to strip down the bachelor and whip him. Pretty entertaining stuff. Warning: make sure you don’t accidentally wander into Super Sexe’s seedier, sleazier neighbor, Club Super Contact, where the doorman refused to believe my girlfriend and I weren’t hookers.
Specifically targeting the queer women of Montreal (including transwomen, butches, femmes, and androgynous girls), Boutique Mad-Ame carries clothing from dozens of queer, feminist or otherwise alternative designers. The boutique also doubles as a community center, offering yoga classes, L Word screenings and craft workshops.
This women-owned, sex-positive and gay-friendly sex shop carries sex toys, safe sex supplies, romantic and novelty gifts and CDs from local musicians. They also have frequent in-store workshops, educating participants on vital topics such as striptease, massage techniques and how to please your girl in bed.