Any city that has a huge phallus (sorry, obelisk), a giant opening tulip and a pink house as its icons must be in touch with its sexuality, right?
It is. Argentina is the first country in South America to legalise same-sex marriages and Buenos Aires is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. After all, the tango was started by two men slow-dancing together.
“If you’ve got 2 left feet, I’m not going home with you” – Photograph by blmurch
When hunting the highly image-conscious P.Y.A.T. (Pretty Young Argentine Thing), my friend swears all you need is Grindr – a mobile date-finding app based on geographical proximity. Last weekend he chatted to an Argentine male model. At 4am he received this text: “I’ll be outside the club in 5, look for the black BMW SUV”.
For the more safety conscious, here’s a more conventional approach to the Buenos Aires scene. Cancel morning plans as you wont leave the clubs before 6am and prepare yourself for drama: “Que piel tan blanco y sexy! Me muero!” (“What white and sexy skin! I’m dying!”)
SITGES Córdoba 4119
Get sozzled in this dive before hitting the clubs. AR$60 gets you unlimited drinks, so there’s no ‘pay here, get served at another bar’ Argentine nonsense. Be prepared, the booze is pretty bad (colectivos could run on the ‘nacional’ they serve), but the low-budget drag shows are strangely captivating and there’s lots of mingling – a rarity on what can be a diva-heavy BsAs scene.
FIESTA PLOP! Fridays @ Teatro de Flores, Rivadavia 7806
Plop! parties in the elegant, gutted Teatro de Flores are a unique BsAs experience. The boys are cute, snogs are common and the ‘cachengue’ pop-music offers an escape from the capital’s electronica. Expect a freak show on stage – the drag ‘espectaculo’ is a burlesque horror show. Themes have included Alice in Wonderland and terrorism. Yes, terrorism.
“Plopped out for a Mexican. Back in 5” – Photograph by yo_axolotl
AMERIKA Gascón 1040
Amerika is large, brash and loud, the most popular gay club in Argentina and a must on the weekend. The music is a mix of Europop and Latin and the people are just as varied. When entering the ‘glorious’ Tunnel – a dark pathway for filth and freakiness – go with empty pockets for casual sex or voyeurism, or say “chau” to your wallet.
GLAM DISCO Cabrera 3046
Go to Glam on Thursdays to be sneered at by hairdressers in the electronic room and later pick them up dancing to reggaeton. A great cruising spot for hot gay guys and tourists (not that the two are mutually exclusive).
CLUB 69 Thursdays @ Niceto, Niceto Vega 5510
Whilst not a gay club, this a compromise if your breeder buddies are up for a big night out. The cabaret-themed club has something-for-everyone drag shows (half of the trannies are actually hot girls with too much slap on) and a stripper pole on wheels accompanying the pumping electro. The VIP area is a great place to chat/snog in the shadows. Just walk straight past the velvet rope – if you’re confident and look half decent it’s easy.
Club 69: does exactly what it says on the tin – Photograph by Lisa Goldapple
DENGUE Thursdays @ Gong, Córdoba 634
If you’re more interested in music than cruising, get your jiving ass to Dengue Dancing. It’s popular with a mixed younger hipster crowd and raucous dancing is compulsory. Every DJ in Buenos Aires wants to play there, and the party carries on ‘til morning light.
HUMAN Saturdays @ Punta Carrasco Complex, Costanera Norte
This Buenos Aires superclub is a worldwide pop party in a massive venue located by the Rio de la Plata. Dance under the first rays of light in the open space outdoors and hope they’ve got beer googles.
ALSINA Alsina 940
This massive three floor gay disco is in the magnificent 19 century cathedral-like Palacio Alsina. Fridays are a gay magnet second only to Amerika, but it’s also worth checking out Saturday’s ‘State’ – the talk of electro partyland. Go late, leave at sunrise, and marvel at the city whilst wandering back though one of the world’s widest avenues, 9 de Julio.
FLUX Alvear 980
Popular with ex-pats, Flux is the only gay bar in the city to get a drink before midnight. It’s unintimidating, sophisticated, offers a wide array of cocktails and British owner Jamie is on hand to offer city info. A good place to make new friends.
PRIDE CAFÉ Humbolt 1897 and Balcarce 869
Fancy a slice of the pie – literally? Pride has two cafes in Palermo and San Telmo, so whichever barrio you wake up in, you’re never far. With cute waiters and DJs, this is the only daytime place open apart from sex bars and saunas. Note: every Saturday Pink Point do a flamboyant tour of the hidden secrets of gay life, crossing the city from the original San Telmo branch to Pride Hollywood.
OUT & ABOUT GAY PUB CRAWL
The pub crawl covers three bars and a club – ending at Glam or Amerika. Get your shot head on, and head to the meeting point in Palermo to mingle every Thursday night at 9pm. With pre-organised drinks and queue jumping, it’s a great intro to the scene and a hangover.
AXEL HOTEL Venezuela 649
This is South America’s first all-gay luxury hotel. Even if you’re not a guest, you can still go to their infamous Sunday Pool Party. The Sky Bar’s swimming pool has a transparent bottom, so you can watch the shenanigans from the lobby bar 5 floors below. Great if you like American muscle queens, expensive prostitutes and bad service.
PINK POINT Galeria Luxor, Lavalle 669
This LGBT info point is staffed by multi-lingual employees who are on hand with brochures, gay maps and all you need to know about the vibrant Buenos Aires gay community.
THE ROYAL FAMILY Sarmiento 846 6º- A (1054)
The first gay and lesbian language school in Latin America also runs tailor-made tours.
Gay Argentina’s main Pride Parade is held in BsAs the first Saturday of November, to mark the formation of the first ever gay group in Buenos Aires in 1969.