Buenos Aires is not called the Paris of South America for nothing. The city streets are reminis- cent of the grand boulevards of Champ d’Elysee in Paris and the Grand Via in Madrid. With magnificent architecture, many parks, outdoor cafes, good restaurants and great shopping, Buenos Aires is a city that you want to visit over and over again. With its passionate people, liberal attitude and vibrant gay nightlife, Buenos Aires also is one of the best destinations for the gay traveler and stands proud as the gay capital of South America. This is a city faithful to its traditions and at the same time, con- stantly experiencing its own rebirth.
Buenos Aires is a city with many diverse neighborhoods and, while exploring the city, you will find it a city of contradictions. Great wealth exists alongside often hidden poverty.
One of the most picturesque and histor- ic neighborhoods of Buenos Aires is La Boca (meaning mouth in Spanish). Painted in vibrant colors of yellow, blue, green and orange, the old houses of La Boca were once crammed with Italian immigrants. It is the home of the Tango. In the early 20th century, tango was a dance for two frustrated men to perform while their women were paid for their services in the rooms above. To pass their time downstairs in the street, the men held each other in their arms, pressed tightly, putting their flesh together with both passion and anger. That was the original tango, performed by men. It was a dance that a woman could never dance. In La Boca today, with many tourists watching, there always will be a tango couple dancing on the sidewalk or on the cobble street stones.
The same passion and sensuousness of tango can be felt in San Telmo. At El Lugar on Defensa 1120, or at La Marshall where you can take gay tango lessons. You don’t need to know Spanish. Just hold him tight, be strong and lead. The rest is history. I promise, it’s a lot of fun and you’ll get to meet the hot Latin boys that you always wished for. San Telmo is a trendy gay neighborhood and home of many antique stores and restaurants. You must go to the famous San Telmo Street Fair held every Sunday. This street fair is a shopper’s heaven at a bargain prices. It will be impossible not to find that special thing you are looking for. It is colorful, fun and entertaining. If you decide to take a peek into Buenos Aires history, walk toward Plaza Mayor. There you’ll see the Pink House as the peasants did when Eva Peron stood in front them promising a new life and bright future.
Nearby Palermo is divided into sections. Palermo Hollywood is the home for TV and movie studios and Palermo Soho is named after the New York neighborhood. SoHo is the home of many local designers and trend leaders. Start your Saturday with a spa treatment at Home and then stay for lunch. Walk down toward Hollywood where every Saturday local artists and merchants display their goods out of doors at the Street Fair at the center of this neighborhood. The local boutiques, restaurants and cafes are beautifully designed. They all have that European flavor, which makes this neighborhood so unique– a mixture of elegance and culture. Believe me when I say, “You can shop till you drop.” From clothing and shoes to music and flowers, everything is a bargain here. The day won’t be complete without a drink or coffee in the afternoon at one of the outdoor cafes while you people watch. Trust me; it will be fascinating and intriguing. Don’t get confused when you see males kissing each other. Local Porteños (boys who live in Buenos Aires) give a kiss to greet each other—even straight guys.
Recoleta is the home for the most famous cemetery in South America. Eva Peron is buried there among the elite of Buenos Aires aristocrats. It is the area where you will find the most expensive stores in the city. From Hermés and Ralph Lauren to D&G, this is where the rich and famous shop. The luxurious Alvear Palace Hotel stands tall in the center of this rich neighborhood. To peek into the lifestyle of the elite, we highly recommend having lunch or afternoon tea at the Alvear—it is glorious. Be certain to dress appropriately. Then walk around and enjoy the beautiful mansions and parks, perhaps include a visit to Museo National De Bellas Arts, Malba or Museo Evita is highly recommended.
As a wine lover, a visit to Casa Coupage is a must. Sommeliers Santiago and his wife, Ines, open their house to visitors every Wednesdays for wine tasting with tapas, and on Thursdays for a four-course dinner. Serving only 15 people, it is one of the things to do in Buenos Aires. The tapas and wines are incredible. We sampled Argentine
Malbec wines and we learned a lot on how to pair the right food with the right wine. The tasting is also an opportunity to discover how people live there and meet the locals. Believe me, this will be one of the best meals you’ll ever have. For only best-kept secrets of Buenos Aires—for sure the best surprise of your visit. Due to limited space, advance reservations are required. In Buenos Aires, call 4833-6354.
Where to Stay
Located in the heart of San Telmo, the Axel Hotel is the best upscale gay hotel chain in the world. The new hotel offers more that just luxury—it provides the freedom to be openly gay. With modern design and many amenities such as sauna, Jacuzzi, two swimming pools and one of the best restaurants in town, this hotel is heaven for gays.
You will meet people from all over the world and for sure it will be an unforgettable experience. It is a place where everyone is welcome, respected and valued without any prejudice of sexual orientation. If you need to find out anything about anything in Buenos Aires, you just need to ask the staff at the front desk. They are friendly and very knowledgeable. Last but not least, don’t miss the Sunday Pool Party. It’s the best you’ll ever have.
Argentina’s gay community is very lively and active, especially in Buenos Aires. Gay Argentina’s main Pride Parade is held in Buenos Aires the first Saturday of November of each year. It marks the formation of the first-ever gay group in Buenos Aires in 1969. In 1996 measures forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation were introduced and passed, making Buenos Aires the first Spanish-speaking city in Latin America to do so. In 2002 same sex civil unions were approved in Buenos Aires. As a result Buenos Aires became a popular gay travel destination. It is one of the most open-minded cities in Latin America.
The gay scene is vibrant and sophisticated. In many ways it is similar to the American one but with a European flavor. There are many discos, bars, saunas, movie theaters and sex clubs. The only caveat—everything starts very late, well after midnight, but it’s all worth it. The guys are hot and the women are sexy, and they love to party.
Some of the places to mention are Amerika and Alsina discos, Sitges and Chueca bars, Full Sauna, Zoom bar and back room, and for bears the Contramano bar. Women flock to Bach Bar and Entremujeres or La Casa Del Encuentro and Marlene. Pick up a copy of Gmaps (Gay Maps of the World) at the hotel or simply check out www.gaymaps.org for what is happening in this city that never sleeps.
www.aa.com • www.alvearpalace.com • www.axelhotels.com • www.casacoupage.com • www.homebuenosaires.com • Buenos Aires: www.destinoargentina.info