Metro Weekly

Trade Makes Esquire’s List of ‘Best Gay Bars in America’

The men's magazine selected 32 nightspots from various cities across the country and Trade was the sole bar from Washington, D.C. to make the list.

Trade nightclub – Photo: Yaro Vargas

Trade, the Logan Circle-area LGBTQ bar, was recently named one of Esquire‘s “32 Best Gay Bars in America.”

The men’s magazine selected 32 nightspots from various cities across the country, looking for laidback, casual bars and nightclubs where patrons enjoy an unpretentious evening of frivolity. 

In its write-up of Trade, the sole bar from Washington, D.C. to make the list, the magazine’s editors describe it as a “rare, gloriously gay dive where absolutely everyone is welcome to just kick back.”

The bar’s nightly XL Happy Hour received a shout-out, as did its regular theme nights, including RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties, and its drag cabarets.

Ed Bailey, the co-owner of Trade, said he had been informed that the bar had been chosen by Esquire for a feature on gay bars, and was asked to submit a photograph for the magazine, but was not given much more information about the feature.

Since learning from social media that the feature had been published, Bailey says he’s happy the brief write-up highlighted Trade’s various offerings and captured the overall spirit of the bar.

“I like to think that we have achieved what we set out to achieve when we opened Trade, which was to create something that’s chill and unpretentious and kind of quirky, in a way that is different from the regular formula that people are used to with bars in our [LGBTQ] community,” he told Metro Weekly.

“I think we’ve achieved a lot of what we intended, which was to create a chill kind of alternative spot for people who didn’t gravitate towards the typical bar scene. I think that helps Trade stand out.

“People come here if they are looking for something that feels a little different. And it may not be the kind of a bar they’ve been able to go to in other places. So that helps Trade stand out from the rest.”

Bailey credits a loyal customer base for the bar’s continued success, noting that many patrons frequented and bought takeout food and drink menu items from the bar during the COVID-19 shutdowns.

That loyalty, especially from patrons who live in or near the Logan Circle neighborhood, helped Trade survive at a time when other bars or nightclubs just didn’t have the financial wherewithal to weather the era of social distancing.

“We take very seriously that we are a major part of the actual community in Washington, D.C.,” Bailey says. “We try to remain vigilant about being community-minded, contributing to the community, offering our space to the community, and just recognizing that gay bars are the ‘community centers’ for LGBTQ people. so we recognize that and work hard to live up to that reputation.”

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