My First Big Gay Atlantic City Weekend

Some friends and I traveled to Atlantic City for a long weekend to give OUT at Borgata a try.

This weekend was not only my first big gay weekend at the Borgata Hotel & Casino, it was my first time going to Atlantic City, period.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 3.17.21 PM

Our carload on the way to Atlantic City. I’m the one in the back with the dark beard.

A group of us from G Philly—and other queer folks from up and down the East Coast—were invited down to stay two nights at the Borgata (you can’t miss its shimmering gold towers as you enter Atlantic City) for the hotel and casino’s first OUT at Borgata weekend. This was the kickoff event for their new initiative to lure down queer folks to AC with parties and entertainment catering to the LGBT crowd. For the opener they invited ’90s songstress Sarah McClachlan and comedian Kathy Griffin.

But the entertainment’s only a fraction of the draw to the Borgata. Once you’re there, you’re in a city all its own, full of top-notch restaurants, a luxurious spa, and shopping if you’re not in the mood to Jitney over to the nearby Tanger Outlets (which is worth a trip if you have the time).

As far as food was concerned, we gave Wolfgang Puck American Grill and Izakaya a try. The former, a meat-lovers paradise, with delicious steaks and fish cooked and prepared in a variety of ways. I loved the sirloin at Wolfgang Puck. It melted in my mouth and washed down wonderfully with a Manhattan that was prepared to perfection at the bar. For dessert, I tried a classic: the baked Alaska, with its meringue topping and cake and raspberry-syrup filling. Eating it, I felt like a queen in more ways than one: They served that shit on the Titanic.

Chef Michael Schulson’s Izakaya, a modern Japanese restaurant, was wonderful on Saturday night. We tried an array of sushi, many topped with jalapeño peppers, for an extra kick, but we also ordered some of the Japanese-style offerings, like the edamame dumplings, which Schulson made famous at Sampan here in Philly, the trumpet mushrooms with truffle oil, and seared barnegat scallops, complemented with Thai basil pistou, raisins and kale. My friend had a plum sake mojito that he couldn’t stop talking about all weekend. Give that a try next time you’re there if you dig sweeter sake drinks.


Kathy Griffin Saturday night at the Borgata.

Kathy Griffin Saturday night at the Borgata.

Following each night’s dinner, we headed up to the main stage to check out the slated entertainment. Friday night, we attended a lovely Sarah McLachlan concert (fear not, sad dogs were not present). The singer-songwriter was in top voice, singing some of her classic hits (“Angel,”
“Possession”) and some newer offerings that had lesbians in the crowd losing their minds. On Saturday—the night all the gays were waiting for—we saw comedian Kathy Griffin. And boy did she deliver. (We have a more in-depth review of her show here.)

On Friday night promoters turned Borgata nightclub MIXX into a gay club, where Philly’s own DJ Mimi spun a danceable mix of pop and techno. We also saw a few drag performances and raunch-tastic singer Wendy Ho regaled us with her parody hit “Public Place,” sang to the tune of Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” As somebody who typically isn’t all about the club scene, I totally dug this. I was dancing for hours on end until my body had enough. But isn’t that how it’s supposed to go?

During the daylight hours, there were plenty of places to shop, eat, and socialize. And yes, of course some of us stuffed our faces at the Borgata Buffet, because, why not load up on fried chicken, mac and cheese, pizza, and other improperly paired yet very satisfying junk foods. Some of the more high-maintenance (read: hungover) queens among us opted for room service, ordering omelets, pancakes and mimosas that were brought right up to their beds.

We also got some downtime in Borgata’s Immersion Spa, situated on the top floor of the Borgata’s Water Club. There you can get a facial or massage, relax in a steam room, amongst other spa-ly things. I decided to get a Swedish massage (because I deserve it, dammit). I’ll tell you something, if anything sealed the deal this weekend, it was that massage. I left that place floating.

If you’re not in to the intimate spa experience, head to the Water Club’s lush Pool & Gardens on the first floor. The oasis is surrounded by palm trees and waterfalls. It’s like swimming in a rainforest.

Then there was the gambling, which I had to try at least once. Did I win anything? Well, at first I was ahead, but that all went to hell in a few minutes. Regardless, it was fun to actually sit at a Black Jack table that wasn’t masking as a fundraiser for my high school.

I had a great time this weekend. If there’s ever a place to stay during your next visit to Atlantic City, I’d recommend the Borgata. The service was good, the atmosphere made you feel like you were in Vegas, and the shows made it all worthwhile. This was definitely a weekend to remember.

You and your gay pals should give Borgata’s next OUT at Borgata weekend a try. For more information, including rates and upcoming performance schedules, head here