Radio City Lounge

Radio City Lounge

Allegedly the oldest gay bar west of the Mississippi, if not in the entire US, it looks and smells it. It opened circa 1949 and was once Salt Lake City’s best (and maybe only) jazz bar, playing host to Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong in its glory days; The Radio City Lounge slowly became a gay watering place and by the early 1960’s was solidly gay.

Old timers will tell you how elegant the bar once was, with gold lame curtains and deep banquettes. Now it carries an (ahem) atmosphere all its own. The sprayed ceiling is the color of overused motor oil and 55 years of cigarette smoke has drawn interesting patterns down the wall.

The primary clientele today are Spanish-speaking “businessmen” who will offer you their wares at least three or four times before you even reach the bar. Serving only 3.2 beers (or near-beer) it is astonishing how many falling down drunks can be found here. The “dance floor” is tiled with the asbestos tile found in 1950’s basements and police stations. Outside the back door can usually be found a congenial group indulging in… well, whatever. The bartender is quite often the most inebriated person in the place.

One word, when they refer to the restrooms as the “powder room” they are NOT being coy! A sit not to be missed, but only for the courageous and non-fastidious this bar will change forever your stereotype of the city most know for Mormons and Olympics.

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The Radio City Lounge closed in 2009.


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