Buenos Aires – Gays in the tango mood

Who has never dreamt of Buenos Aires? The Argentinean capital city surely reminds us of tango, the passion for football and theatres but its magnificent architecture influenced by Europe which makes it different from its South American neighbouring countries. It has become very popular among LGBT travellers who feel most welcomed. Porteños – the name given to the locals – enjoy partying and talking to foreigners passing by. Let’s go now.

 

When. Summer hits the Argentinean capital city from the end of December to the end of March as it is in the southern hemisphere and it can be very hot and humid in January and February but the mid-seasons are very pleasant. The gay pride is usually held on the 1st or 2nd Saturday of November and gathers a very large crowd of activists and party-goers. If you choose August, you have to know that the World Tango Champion is held there. Si señor!

What to see. Very European through its architecture, Buenos Aires seduces us by the diversity of its neighbourhoods. Centro is the business centre and is very lively especially during the day while San Telmo lives to the rhythm of its artists’ workshops, bars and restaurants installed in colonial houses. You will stroll the small paved streets where and you can find nice gifts on the great antiques market on Sundays. Palermo is the neighbourhood that has boomed most. Palermo Viejo and Palermo Soho accommodate the bourgeois bohemians while Alto Palermo is more into shopping. The very beautiful neighbourhood of Recoleta is stuck between Centro and Palermo; its cemetery and its Beaux Arts museum are worth visiting. Finally, you will have to visit the very popular Boca where Diego Maradona is THE undisputed star. You will actually meet him (not really himself of course!) posing for tourists in the colourful artists’ streets of Caminito. It is touristy but exciting.

 

What to do. The country prides itself with Tango and there are plenty of occasions to see or practise its. From couple dancing in the streets to huge shows, feelings will be different ut strong. Besides, lovers of Mafalda, the other local star, will be able to sit beside her on a bench in San Telmo where Quino lived some streets away from Manolito’s grocery.

 

Gastronomy. The reputation of Argentina is built on the fact it has the best meat in the world. It is truly delicious and not so expensive. The tradition is to have it “asado” that is to say grilled for a long time on a parrilla while remaining juicy. But the bife de chorizo or de lomo and chinchulines (bowels) are all excellent. The sweet dulce de leche or milk jam coats most desserts among which the famous Alfajor. If you have loved La Cabrera in Palermo, the Inside Resto-Bar in Centro is really gay with strip shows in between the tables during weekends. The gay friendly La Farmacia (Street Bolivar 898) in the bohemian neighbourhood of San Telmo has charming waiters and serves good food. The Pride Café or its equivalent in Palermo  Pride Café Hollywood will welcome you for pastries and a coffee during the day.

Night life. The oldest gay bar of the city is the Contramano in Recoleta which is a nice meeting place for bears on Sundays. Angels Disco, still in Recoleta, attracts many transvestites but is quite cheap. Sitgès in Palermo is the greatest gay and lesbian bar. It is very crowded during the weekend with its drag queen shows. Nearby is also the incredible gay club Amerika with its two dance floors and its backroom gathering 2000 persons from Thursday to Sunday. It is renowned for its “canilla libre” (free drinks) on Friday and Saturday and its wild atmospheres. There are also many gay parties in non-gay places like Fiesta Plop, Fiestas Dorothy, Fiesta Puerca, Rheo or  Brandon Gay Day. The Guillermo’s Buenos Aires gay guide and  facebook page are updated regularly with plenty of details as well as the schedules.

 

Sex. Los Fiesteros regularly organises muy caliente gays nights on invitations. Some have age restrictions (35 years old) while others are open to everyone. You just have to register on their website. As for saunas, A full Spa on Viamonte has a not-so-stunning entrance which hides a very large and beautiful place with large relaxing spaces with sofas, the usual sauna equipment and many cruising spaces. It is very crowded at the end of the day and during weekends. The sauna/hammam space of Nagasaki Men’s Club (Street Aguero 427) is small but the metallic cruising spaces at different floors are surprising. Near the America gay club, we find the new  Homo Sapiens Gascon while Unikus had its glory days in the 1990s. As for sex-clubs, Kadú Cruising Bar goes naked on Fridays, leather on Saturdays and Tom’s and Zoom have mazes and are full of cabins. Escort services are legal and Soy Tuyo – meaning literally “I belong to you” in Spanish – offers a large range of “free-lancers”. The very busy Leonos is also another option.

Lodging. There is a wide choice of accommodation in each area, ranging from the charming hotel in old buildings to cheap youth hostels. Gay couples are generally welcomed, so there is not much to fear. Gay friendly bars, restaurants and shops are very lively in Palermo and Las Canitas. Recoleta is undoubtedly more expensive but many bars and gay clubs are located nearby. Centro will often be noisy and not always value for money.

 

Around. For  fresh air and nature, staying at a ranch or estancia is a possibility, to enjoy a good asado and horse riding. The town of Tigre at the entrance of Pananá delta will be a good nature get-away with its artistic neighbourhood, its small islands and its canals. Finally a trip of one hour in fast ferry will take you to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay. There is nothing particularly gay friendly but it is really a small colonial gem – although a bit too touristy – and a good one day trip.

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