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Czech yourself before you wreck yourself: A guide to Queer and alternative nightlife in Prague

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Ankali — Courtesy photo
Ankali — Courtesy photo

Since its tourism boom began in the late '90s, Prague has become an increasingly international — and increasingly chaotic — hub of culture and nightlife. With a cost of living way below most US cities, especially Seattle, going out in Prague is not only safe and easy (thanks to amazing public transportation) but also relatively affordable.

Even better, it boasts an alternative scene that's simultaneously subtle and booming, a faint reminder of the heavy censorship that took place during the 41 years the Czech Republic spent as a communist state prior to 1989. Czech alternative culture didn't fizzle out during that time — it just had to find better hiding spots. This means that travelers and locals alike are constantly stumbling across hidden gems of alternative and oftentimes Queer culture nestled in (or underneath) discrete corners of the city.

Here is a small roster of some of the favorite Queer and alternative cultural spaces in Prague to check out at the end of the day:

Q Cafe — Courtesy photo  

Q Café — Opatovická 166, Prague 1
I've always believed that a good night out begins with a good starting point, where you can "warm up" your social battery and enjoy the company you're with. The Q Café is a great place to do that. Nestled in the city center (Prague 1) between the National Theater and the famous Dancing House Hotel, it offers good drinks in a bright and happily Queer atmosphere.

Perhaps the most defining feature of Q Café, though, is its small but beautifully intimate library of Queer literature. Though it's not huge, I and many others get easily lost in it. Plus, if you find a title you like, you can ask the staff if it's available to take home for a bit! Open at 3 p.m. every day, Q Café is a great place for everyone, whether you're looking to read with a cup of coffee or get a late-afternoon beer before venturing on.

A beer on tap is 55 CZK ($2.50) and most cocktails are around 160 CZK ($7.00).

Friends — Courtesy photo  

Friends — Bartolomejská 11, Prague 1
A staple of Prague's Queer nightlife scene, the Friends club sits smack in the middle of the city center, making it an easy next stop on a night out with friends (of course) if you're looking to dance. Due to its location, the crowd tends to be more touristy than some other spots — not that this is a terrible thing. Meeting people is easy, and the venue offers many events (from techno to oldies to quiz nights) depending on the day of the week, so there's something for everyone here.

Friends is open every day from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., making it a great option to stay through the night, if your heart desires. The cover charge is usually around 150 CZK ($6.50), and drinks range from 100 to 200 CZK ($4-8).

Ankali — Courtesy photo  

Ankali — Lopuchová 58, Prague 10
If you're looking for original music and dancing without the hassle of the city center's tourist crowds and want to go for an adventure to Prague's less well-known 10th District, I would tell you to head down to Ankali. Known for dim lighting, avant-garde music mixing, and diverse crowds, Ankali functions out of an old soap factory and hosts multiple events that highlight Prague's artistic and creative spheres. Local DJs perform often, art installations are frequent, and it's not uncommon to see people discarding clothes throughout the night with ease. A hub for alternative and fluid self-expression, Ankali is a haven for anyone craving an invigorating night off the beaten path.

The cover charge is on the higher side, around 200-300 CZK ($8-12).

Bike Jesus — Courtesy photo  

Bike Jesus — ostrov Štvanice 1125, Prague 7
I've saved my favorite for the end: Bike Jesus. Situated on Štvanice Island north of the city center, Bike Jesus is as gritty as it is inconspicuous. The space gets its name from its multifunctionality: it began as a bike shop and now serves as a bar, nightclub, art studio, and community center of sorts.

My friends are I are a bit more partial to quiet nights, so this became a preferred spot for a mellow drink after work or university, since an outdoor seating area (next to the Štvanice bike park) gives patrons a taste of Prague's quiet side, complete with funky overhead lights and a huge mural on the building that reads "BLACK LIVES MATTER" and "ROMA LIVES MATTER."

If the evening storm catches up to you (as it often does in the summer), venture inside to find a stage with live music and a bike workshop one room over. While this venue doesn't offer a particularly loud or bustling atmosphere all the time, it's a perfect mellow alternative to (or precursor for) Ankali and gives an equally satisfying taste of Prague's alternative scene.

A beer on tap is 40 CZK (about $1.60), and you can also grab a small bite for 70-140 CZK ($3-6).