Twenty thousand visitors will be searching out a heaving dancefloor and a neighbourly crowd within the next few weeks as the city struts towards the one-off mega-event, Gay Games VI.

As a result, some of Sydney’s premier nightspots have been polishing up the floorboards and decking the halls for what will be the city’s biggest gay and lesbian party in history.

Oxford Street has long been considered the gay epicentre of Sydney and one of the most relentless line-ups of Games party action happening on the strip will take place within the rapidly expanding gay institution, the Midnight Shift.

The venue is already gearing up for the Games in impressive fashion, with next Thursday’s grand opening of the ground floor bar extensions, which have seen the Shift taking over the Pile Up shop site next door and incorporating it into the venue.

We’ll have more space to put in more pool tables, more seating and an area that we can use for entertainment like podium dancers and drag shows, says Midnight Shift promotions manager Daniel Floyd.

During the Games we will also act as the home base for the San Franciscan and Dutch teams, as well as hosting open events for the international volleyball teams and basketball teams during the Games. For us the whole club is going to be a mixing pot of locals and internationals.

The sprawling special events calendar begins on 26 October with the pre-Games Get Set! party, followed by the Go! party on the 2 November. On Sunday 3 November the action continues with the Go -¦ Recover party.

On 8 November the party action sparks up again with the official Gay Games Black Recovery, followed by the Finish Line party marking the closing ceremony for the Games.

The parties continue with a double headliner on Sunday 10 November, including the Finished Yet? recovery party in the morning and The White Party in the evening, before the action winds up with the laidback Last Shout party on 11 November.

A real attraction of the Shift over Games week will be the entertainment talents of local drag icon Penny Tration, who will be presenting an outrageous daily Gaymes Review Show.

That basically will be a review of the entire day’s competitions including winners and losers. I refer to it as a camp Roy and HG Show with guest appearances from around the world and local talents as well as a performance from Dorinda from Good Morning Australia, says Floyd.

Punters are also reminded that they can get free entry to the upstairs club just by turning up to the Shift before 10:30pm.

It’s becoming a foregone conclusion that the major social hotspot for women will be the ever-popular dyke venue BumpHer Bar. The BumpHer team have gone all-out in their blockbuster 11-day line-up of entertainment for the Gay Games.

The prime top-floor Oxford Street position and funky atmosphere of the venue will act as an unofficial home base for sporty dykes and scene queens from all over the world in early November.

We’re so excited about the Gay Games. We’re the only lesbian bar open non-stop during the Games in Sydney, says BumpHer Bar’s group director of events, Margot Natoli.

The action kicks off on 31 October with the launch of the 11-night BumpHer Bar calendar of events, before the bar lunges into a typically hectic weekend of entertainment and DJ talent.

DJs Kate Monroe, Garry Tee, Mandy Rollins, Kelly Lynch, Sveta, F.E., Renae, Thao and interstate and international DJ talent will hit the decks to keep BumpHer’s atmosphere at a peak throughout Games week.

On 4 November the venue will host local favourite Perfect Snatch And Lucky Dick, an over-the-top dating game hosted by DJ Kate Monroe. The following night will also see the outrageous antics of Roman McCheesney, Shelley Silberman and Jackie Loeb in the all-singing, all-dancing comedy show Mud, Sweat And Beers.

Wednesday 6 November will see BumpHer Bar preparing the girls of Sydney (and beyond) for a night of fever-pitched partying, with the Bump Pre-Butch! party featuring cocktails in the venue’s Mini bar.

Thursday will be another showstopper as BumpHer Bar presents the brilliant one-hour drag king cabaret show Three Wise Kings.

On 8 November the venue will party on as usual, before sliding into the upbeat dance night Disco Days on 9 November.

The party action finally winds up on 10 November with the BumpHer bar Closing party.

Combined with all the gorgeously athletic dykes from overseas or out of town and the hot girls who are coming to BumpHer bar from Sydney, it’s going to be an absolute ball, says Natoli.

From one of the city’s hottest dyke venues we move to the reigning master venue for hard dudes and leather men: the Barracks Bar.

The venue has acquired a cult following in the Sydney gay scene, attracting an arguably butcher clientele than other venues.

The sexy and dark atmosphere of the venue has proved an attraction for Sydney’s male leather community and also offers laidback entertainment to punters with its pool tables and periodic offers of free boot polishing and buzz cuts.

Barracks should also prove to be the main base for punters heading off to the Gay Games Black Party on 7 November, with the venue a likely target as a pre-party and recovery hotspot for the teams of men heading out to the party.

Upstairs from the Barracks is the newly renovated T Squared bar, which boasts the largest outside drinking area on the scene and a spacious three-part split-level interior.

T Squared will host the Gay Games Sunset party recovery on 3 November, with the venue open over all four floors (including Barracks) and featuring sets by DJs Mike Kelly, Chip, Mark Alsop and David Smith.

It’s hard to go past Sydney’s internationally renowned superclub Arq as a venue that consistently puts on a spectacular line-up of entertainment during special events periods in Sydney.

Arq will begin its Games celebrations on 31 October with the star-studded drag show This Is Our Life, featuring DIVA-winning personalities Chelsea Bun, Trudi Valentine, Vanity Faire, Courtney Act and Hank Adams.

The venue will lay on a little pro-American patriotism on 1 November with the Ultra-Team USA function. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will bless Team USA at a private function, before the public are allowed into the venue to enjoy high-energy dance and to meet and greet Team USA after 9pm.

On 2 November DJ Paul Goodyear will take to the decks in a marathon set in the Arena while Roger Z and Peter Ferris keep the atmosphere peaking in the Vortex bar below.

A football-themed male dance show and sets by some of Sydney’s hottest DJs will feature at Arq on 3 November before the club temporarily closes until 6 November.

Arq will re-open on the 6th on a chilled-out vibe with the live show Breathe Play, starring vocalist Peretta Anggerek and musician Rob Kelly, while drag shows from Vida Las Vegas will take place downstairs in Vortex.

For the weekend of the 8 and 9 November, Arq will present the hugely popular party nights Shine and System, featuring hot DJs and dance acts.

If you’ve sauntered through the doors of the Oxford Hotel’s downstairs bar over the past week, you would have noticed that the bar’s creative team have already been hard at work posting sports images and giant tennis balls from the venue’s ceiling to get local punters in the mood.

The venue has been a long-time favourite on Oxford Street for its casual vibe downstairs, decadent drinking spaces upstairs and its super-friendly bar staff.

We really want to keep the Oxford in theme for the Games. Just this week we’ve also added theme lighting features including athletes projected across the walls that you can see as soon as you walk in through the main entrance, says Tina Beveridge, assistant venue manager at the Oxford.

We’re promoting ourselves as the Oxford Clubhouse and we want to be open to all teams from around the world. We also don’t want to forget our regulars during this busy period so this week we are issuing queue-jump passes valid from 25 October until the 10 November.

The Oxford, which is already open 24 hours on the ground floor and in the second-floor Gilligans cocktail lounge, will also extend hours in the third-floor Gingers bar over Games week.

The Oxford’s downstairs bar will maintain its regular early-week attractions, including the new Tuesday prize night Spin The Willy, as well as the super-horny screenings of Turkish wrestling projected on the Oxford’s big screen on Thursday nights.

The venue will also run a Melbourne Cup horse race afternoon on Tuesday 5 November.

Stonewall Hotel shifts into Games gear this week with a celestially-inspired scenic featuring a galaxy of stars suspended throughout the venue representing all the special boys and girls who comprise the international queer community.

We want Stonewall to have a really festive, fun atmosphere that people can use as a bit of a party base during the Gay Games, says Stonewall manager Deborah Dmoch.

Stonewall launch their week-long The Gayest Games Of All celebrations on Saturday 2 November with a feature show by drag stars Mogadonna, Tess Tickle and Courtney Act in Bitter With A Twist intertwined with sets by DJs Chip, Steffan and Rodney Dean.

Sunday sees Candy Box and Destiny Calling hosting Cocktail -“ a showcase featuring mystery stars, shows and sets by DJs Mike Kelly and Sister P.

The club then shifts into ?-camp gear on Monday with the Campest Games Contest, featuring Maxi Shield hosting an outrageous competition of handbag-throwing, ribbon twirling and cheerleading, set to the sounds of DJ Chip.

International visitors can get a taste of Aussie tradition with Tuesday afternoon’s Melbourne Cup Luncheon where you can watch Australia’s favourite horse race while enjoying a champagne lunch with the locals before Stonewall slips into night-time karaoke with some special guest performers.

Wednesday maintains the ultra-popular weekly attraction of Malebox, with international visitors and locals alike given a number on entry (otherwise know as a shag tag) to track down their Mr or Ms Right For The Night.

Thursday’s festivities re-establish the gender divide, with the 4 Play boys party and bar dancing on the ground floor, while the LoverGirl girls party will feature shows by Sexy Galexy, Sandi Hotrod and DJs Sveta and Sister P in the upstairs VIP bar.

The action will get very hot on Friday for Stonewall’s Beach Party as it encourages the world’s hottest amateur dudes to show their wares in the International Swimwear Contest. Anyone interested in entering can enlist by calling 9360 1963 before the contest.

The Stonewall festivities wind up on Sunday with the Farewell Tea Dance, which should prove a hit with $5.50 Long Island Ice Teas on offer all night.

The Eden bar is a relatively new addition to the Oxford Street gay circuit, but has already come into its own as an intimate and upbeat alternative to some of the larger clubs on the strip.

We get everybody in here, all backgrounds and all cultures -“ drag queens, lesbians and people from the gay scene. We basically want to have a really accessible feel for people who are visiting during the Games, says Eden management team member Izzy Rigby.

The parties begin early at Eden with the fancy dress Halloween party taking place on Thursday 31 October. To launch into Gay Games sports week, Eden will host the premier instalment of their new weekend party Unite, featuring some of Sydney’s top DJs.

Eden also is a drawcard for its cheap drinks and carefree day-time vibe, with patrons free to relax in the lounge area with a beer at the front of the venue, which opens directly onto Oxford Street.

A laidback and classy alternative to the rigours of Oxford Street’s sometimes overwhelming night life takes place nightly within the palatial surrounds of Kinselas’ Middle Bar.
The cocktail lounge offers A-grade staff and great cocktails, with Middle Bar’s spacious second-floor balcony a local favourite for those wanting to watch the action of the Oxford strip from a comfortable drinking vantage point.

A particularly great evening out at Middle Bar for Games visitors will be on Gay Sundays, with the venue hosting DJs Richard Weiss and Matt Varnish as the sun sets over Oxford Street’s golden mile.

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