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Spend your baecation in the southern hemisphere. Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires, makes for the perfect getaway for you and your partner. From the beautiful architecture that will make you think you’re in Europe, to the tree-lined streets to cool you down, to the tango music playing from every street corner, you’ll fall in love all over again in the “Paris of South America.”
In addition to natural and man-made beauty, Buenos Aires is a gay mecca in South America. Argentina was one of the first countries in the continent to legalize same-sex marriage, and its capital city is, naturally, one of the most open and accepting spots in the country.
Homosexuality has been legal in Buenos Aires since 1887, though civil unions and marriage wouldn’t come into being until many decades later. In the city’s earliest years, despite the legality of being gay, LGBT people were still largely looked down upon by Argentinian society. In the 1930s, a change in regime led to mass arrests of LGBT members of society. This led to the creation of laws protecting gay male sex workers in the early part of the 20th century.
By the 1970s, two of the countries’ main LGBT rights organizations, Nuestro Mundo, and Safo, were created, however, the coup d’etat and right-wing regime in the middle of the decade dismantled these groups. During the following years of the regime, many people were “disappeared” by military forces, and LGBT people were amongst many of those “disappeared.”
In 1983, Argentina returned to democracy, and the queer community not just in the capital city but across the country, began to rebuild with organizations, bars, clubs, and pride parades and festivals. During the next decade, groups advocating for LGBT rights and protections began winning in the courts and in Congress. In 2005, the city of Buenos Aires legalized same-sex civil unions, and by 2010, Argentina legalized same-sex marriage.
Palermo, or Buenos Aires’s largest, upscale, hip, neighborhood, is the gay spot of the city. As the largest neighborhood in the city, Palermo is where many of the top sites are. Check out the Botanical Gardens, home to over 5,000 plant species, see the modern art displays at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), go for a relaxing stroll in Parque Tres de Febrero, or visit the animals at the Buenos Aires Zoo. As you wander down the tree-lined streets of Palermo, making your way towards Plaza Serrano, you’ll find yourself surrounded by quaint cafes, charming shops, and trendy bars and restaurants. Palermo is also home to some of the biggest mega clubs in the city.
Perhaps due to this party scene, as well as its reputation as a hip, young, trendy neighborhood, Palermo was able to become the top gay spot in the city. If you’re looking for something fun and local, check out Peuteo. This little gay bar is known for good drinks and friendly vibes. Stick around and maybe you’ll meet the owner himself, said to sit and talk to guests from time to time.
If you’re looking for big parties at European style clubs, you don’t need to look far. Glam offers visitors and locals an experience complete with dark rooms, pop music from the 90s, and affordable drinks until 7 am. Walk into Glam’s front dance hall, or continue to the back for a more classic bar type vibe. Human is another popular club with live DJs, a massive dance floor, and a party til sunrise. The alcohol is on the pricier side, but the megaclub is free before 2:30 in the morning.
Amerika is one of the biggest gay clubs in all of Latin America. The club sits just on the edge of Palermo with Barrio Amalgro. With an entrance fee that gives you access to an open bar, three massive dance floors, themed parties, and a mixed crowd of all ages and gender identities, it’s easy to see why Amerika remains one of Buenos Aires’s most popular queer spots.
The upper class, beautiful, historic neighborhood of Recoleta is perfect for your vacation. Between the European style architecture, leafy parks, and beauty around every corner, you can get lost in one of Buenos Aires’s biggest neighborhoods. While in town, check out the Recoleta Cemetery, full of gorgeous mausoleums, including the tomb of Argentina’s beloved Eva Peron. The park outside the cemetery hosts a crafts and food market every weekend that you can’t miss. If you’re a fan of books, you have to check out El Ateneo. The theater-turned-bookshop is the most beautiful store you’ll ever step foot in, with murals on the ceilings and a cafe on the stage.
While not quite the party spot that is neighboring Palermo, Recoleta is home to its fair share of bars and clubs, including a few popular queer spots. Contramano is a popular option. The bar is often empty, as are many Argentinian bars and clubs, until well after midnight when it’s time to party and the bar fills up. While there is an entrance fee to get into Contramano, you get the fee back in drink tokens. Contramano is known for specific theme nights, such as bears night, and is frequented by queer folks of all ages and genders, though usually has a large number of older men.
Men will love Zoom, a popular, dark, punk rock-themed bar in Recoleta, by the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) Medical School campus. The bar boasts a dance floor, lounge rooms, dark rooms, and a fully-stocked bar to keep the party going into the early hours of the morning. The bar is casual and attracts tourists and locals alike for a good night out.
Make your way into the cobblestone streets and historic buildings of San Telmo, found in the south-east of the city. San Telmo is the home of tango, as well as some of the best authentic food, and a massive antiques and crafts market every Sunday culminating in Plaza Dorrego. Sundays aren’t the only days for antiquing in San Telmo, though. Stop by any of the antique shops that line the streets on other days of the week if you didn’t get your fill at the market. Visit the National History Museum to learn about the country pre-European colonization up through Argentine independence in 1810, or sit on any park benches to catch a glimpse of a tango show performed right there in the street.
San Telmo is also home to many of the city’s popular queer spots. Check out Pride Cafe for something to do during the day. The gay (but still straight friendly) cafe welcomes customers for a warm cup of coffee or a peaceful meal in a relaxed, chill atmosphere. Club de Osos is another popular spot among men in the area, while El Patio de la Casona is a relaxed spot for drinks or a bite for anyone.
Where to Stay
When its time to rest your head, it’s important that the hotel you choose is accepting and open to you and your partner. Lugar Gay, in San Telmo, is a great spot and very welcoming. The queer hostel is gay-male exclusive, providing men with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Rooms are private including single bed private rooms, double bed private rooms, private rooms with shared bathrooms, and dorm style rooms. Each stay includes breakfast, access to the WiFi and access to the jacuzzi, mini-gym, and common space.
The fun, bright, and queer-friendly Art Factory Hostel is bound to give you a great visit. Enjoy the free WiFi, breakfast, bar and terrace, game room, book exchange, tango lessons, and city tours. Art Factory provides you and your boo with everything you need and don’t know you need for your trip. Private rooms in cozy beds make your nights here that much more complete. Art Factory has a location in San Telmo as well as one in Recoleta.
Home Hotel, in Palermo, is close to all the fun, while still providing a chill space to relax. The hostel has everything from cozy, well-decorated rooms, to the pool, to the spa and cocktail bar. Private rooms let you enjoy some alone time, while the gardens and asado areas let you get to know your fellow guests. Plus, with a caring, friendly staff, what more could you ask for?
1555 Malabia House Hotel, in the heart of Palermo, gives you not only a great stay but also easy access to the best bars and clubs of Buenos Aires. The designer bed and breakfast is decked out with light, sunny colors, colorful artwork, and charming private rooms. Head back in the afternoon for complimentary snacks in the common spaces.
Plan your trip in November, during Argentina’s spring, for Buenos Aires Pride Parade. The parade began in 1992, led by Carlos Jauregui, activist and first president of the Comunidad Homosexual Argentina. The parade has grown in the past 25 years, now attracting hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to take part in the orgullo gay. 2018’s parade will happen on November 10th, starting at the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the famous Casa Rosada. The event includes free concerts, a diversity fair, and the annual march from Plaza de Mayo to the Argentine congressional building.
Pride festivities continue all month long with other LGBT events. If you’re a fan of films, you can’t miss the Asterisco International LGBTIQ Film Festival. The event happens annually in early November, just ahead of pride. The event’s goal is to highlight and represent sexual and gender diversity around the world through cinema. Events are usually held at MALBA Cine, Auditorio Leonardo Favio, Cine Gaumont, and other auditoriums, theaters, or museums throughout the city.
If you love to dance, or just want to be more immersed in Argentine culture, check out Queer Tango. While traditional tango is strictly between straight couples where the man leads, queer tango can be anything: two women, two men, women leading and men following. Check out a queer milonga, or tango dance hall, in San Telmo and practice your moves. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, the queer milongas are open to anyone.