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Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News: As You Are, Trade among Esquire’s Best Gay Bars 2023


The number of Washington, D.C., bars on Esquire magazine’s Best Gay Bars in America has doubled from 2022 to 2023. Trade, which made the list last year, has been joined by As You Are bar.

The national lifestyle magazine has chosen 42 bars, up from 32 last year, that embody places where patrons “can, like have fun.” Acknowledging that in public life, so much of the queer narrative is based on trauma and challenges, especially in the context of increased legal backsliding, these bars “celebrate being alive to face what’s ahead… for building the dance floor off to the side of the cruel world.”

Esquire celebrates Trade for several reasons, not least of which because “Trade is the rare, gloriously gay dive where absolutely everyone is welcome to just kick back.” They note the lengthy hours of operation (5 p.m. opening weekdays, 2 p.m. opening weekends), and “loud and loose” parties. The writers are especially excited about the lengthy XL Happy Hours, pop star and diva theme nights, drag events, talented DJs, and diverse crowds.

On its Instagram account, Trade posted that, “It might go without saying, but TRADE would not exist without the ongoing efforts of our amazing, hardworking staff and our crazy, extended family of performers and DJs. And, of course, a big thank you to all of you for continuing to make TRADE the best, weird, quirky and QAF little bar it could be.”

Ed Bailey, owner of Trade, notes that “as a small business, like a bar, you work really hard to try to make something that’s fun and interesting, and when someone recognizes you for that effort, it’s just so reaffirming that maybe you are actually doing something right.”

He says that, “to be recognized by a highly regarded, national publication on such a short list is pretty mind-boggling. This amazing recognition came as a surprise to us too, which made it even more special. It’s really just a testament to the Trade staff and all the hard, long hours that they put in to make Trade so weird and special.”

Trade opened in December 2015, and has maintained its XL happy hour since that first day. It also achieved notoriety during the pandemic, when it fulfilled its D.C. government-mandated obligation to serve food with drinks by having a menu that consisted of stale popcorn and a slice of wrapped American cheese with white bread.

Esquire goes on to celebrate As You Are, which “had a lot to live up to when it first opened its doors… Luckily, co-owners Jo McDaniel and Rachel Pike were up to the task and had the experience necessary to manage such an ambitious project.” As You Are, Esquire notes, is more than just a bar; it’s an event center, café, lounge, karaoke bar, and safe space.

McDaniel says that her bar is “absolutely thrilled to have been selected as one of Esquire’s 42 best in the country. We believe fervently in our community and what we’re all building at As You Are.”

She reinforced the community, convening aspect that Esquire wrote about is alive and well, and the most important part of As You Are. “This place was built by and for the community, and continues to evolve to our ever-changing needs. This mission requires a lot of work and a lot of flexibility, so to be recognized by a national publication this way is incredibly affirming. We’re honored.”

In a previous Blade article in April of this year celebrating the bar’s one-year anniversary, McDaniel noted that, “We’re looking to change bar culture — not just queer bars, but all social spaces,” said McDaniel. “We want to help people socialize safely, to empower those who have been taught to be pleasing.”

Esquire notes that these bars, while reaching across America, from West Hollywood to Washington, D.C., and places like St. Louis in between, are places where patrons can “swing open the doors and walk into the places where we can feel at home whether we know a soul or not.”

The post As You Are, Trade among Esquire’s Best Gay Bars 2023 first appeared on Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News.

The post As You Are, Trade among Esquire’s Best Gay Bars 2023 appeared first on Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News.

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