Category Archives: latin america

Gay Carnival “Blocos” of Rio de Janeiro

« Return to Carnival 2020 Home

The massive parades held in Rio de Janeiro’s arena known as the Sambadrome are the most recognized symbols of Brazilian Carnival around the world.

However, visitors and locals alike can tell you Rio’s smaller blocos da rua (street block parties) are much more fun … and much gayer!  Almost every bloco is infused with a small amount of playful sexuality and gender fluidity.  But, a handful of blocos are widely recognized as gay-friendly (or GLS, the Portuguese acronym for gay, lesbian, and sympathizers.)

Bring your camera as pumped up boys and extra-fabulous drag queens are plentiful.  You will also find loads of visual arts, live music, and satirical social commentary.  In 2020, expect to see many costumes satirizing issues that may go over your head as a foreigner (expect lots of parodies of current Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.)

To navigate all of these blocos (and find bars, clubs, restaurants, and gay-friendly hotels) use this link to the VamosGay Google Map of Gay Rio 🌎

Banda de Ipanema

The biggest of all of the GLS blocos, Banda de Ipanema is as colorful and gay as the neighborhood they call home.  Founded in 1964, this banda boldly marched at a time when flamboyance was truly dangerous.   Banda de Ipanema blocos are extremely popular, so be prepared to drink and be merry with thousands of other revelers.

Bloco da Preta

The daughter of Brazilian music legend Gilberto Gil, and an extremely popular musician in her own right, Preta Gil is the mistress of ceremonies for one of Rio’s biggest pre-Carnival blocos. Preta’s gay following is massive, and months before Bloco da Preta there are pre-bloco parties held at nightclubs across Brazil.  The city of Rio de Janeiro estimates Bloco da Preta  attracted nearly 40,000 revelers in 2017.

Banda das Quengas

In Portugues, quenga means “whore,” although because so much of the sex is free, maybe “slut” would be a better translation.  The dress code for a bloco das quengas draws inspiration from cheap street hookers. Here’s a photo gallery to give you a better idea.  The atmosphere is liberada – free from the rules of society, free from what anyone thinks.

These quengas are fun, but not organized enough to set up a website.  So, we’ll let you know where to find them as Carnival 2020 approaches



Cordão da Bola Preta

This is the best reason to break out of the gay tourist bubble of Ipanema/Copacabana!  This well-established group has a massive presence in Centro (downtown) which is mostly straight, but gays are always welcomed.  Check the Bola Preta website (in Portuguese) for their full agenda of blocos for 2018 (and congratulate them on their 100 year anniversary!)   Outside of Carnival, Bola Preta’s feijoada parties with live musicians are a great way to start a Saturday night.

Simpatia é Quase Amor

Back in the heart of Ipanema, the group Simpatia é Quase Amor has more of a hippy vibe where gays are part of a gigantic rainbow where everyone is has a good time.   Join Simpatia é Quase Amor before Carnival, and during Carnival week. Both events take place in Ipanema’s Praça General Osório.

Bloco Toco Xona

By the girls, and for the girls … Bloco Toco Xona is famous for its female bateristas (Carnival drummers.)  Gay boys are welcome too!

Bunytos de Corpo

This  is a very camp, humorous, performance art group whose aesthetics are based on physical fitness craze of the 1980’s.  Leotards, leg warmers, headbands, athletic shorts, and more!  Get physical with Bunytos de Corpo as they run (and drink) through Praça Tiradentes.

Agytoê

Drawing inspiration from ancient Egypt for both their fashion and their decadent approach to celebrations.  Agytoê gets little press outside of Brazil, but you will recognize them (and their devotees) when you see them in downtown Rio on the final night of Carnival.  Dressed in black and gold, they express their art through music and dance, drawing in everyone who passes by. 

Bars & Clubs

Aside from the blocos in the street, there are more formal bailes (balls.)  The official baile is the Scala Rio Gay Ball.

One last cheap-and-easy option to just drop by any gay bar during Carnival.  Use our list of gay bars and clubs of Rio to find the right one for you.  And, if you haven’t booked your room for Rio yet (hurry up!) and use our list of the city’s gay-friendly hotels.

« Return to Carnival 2020 Home

View full day-to-day schedule »

Rio de Janeiro Gay Pride 2019

At the moment, the 24th LGBTI Pride of Rio de Janeiro does not have a confirmed date for 2019.

Rio’s Pride Parade traditionally begins on Copacabana Beach and runs through Avenida Atlantica.

View the VamosGay Guide to Rio »

Join our VamosGay Rio mailing list and get the latest updates.

Plan your trip now with our guide to the top gay-friendly hotels and places to stay in Rio de Janeiro!  And check back for a full schedule of festivities once pride week events are confirmed.

View the VamosGay Guide to Rio »

Gay Guide to São Paulo

São Paulo is famous across the globe for its Parada do Orgulho, the largest gay pride parade in the world.  However, compared to its tropical brother Rio de Janeiro, foreigners know very little about Latin America’s largest and most populous city.

Guide to LGBT Pride Parade 2019 »

Gay nightlife in Sampa, as São Paulo is also known, rivals major cities like New York and London. (One could even argue the city’s gay nightlife mecca The Week, pictured above, surpasses any gay club in the US or Europe.)  By day, São Paulo offers world-class gastronomy, visual arts, and architecture.

Dive in with the VamosGay 2019 Guide to São Paulo to plan your trip, unlock insider tips, and enjoy the best of the city!

Neighborhoods

Learn more about the diverse “gayborhoods” of São Paulo.

View all »

Bars & Clubs

A to Z listing of every bar, lounge, and club in the city.

View all »

Restaurants & Cafes

The 2019 hotlist of where to eat in a city full of options.

View all »

Sex & Saunas

An up-to-date list of Sao Paulo’s hottest hot spots.

View all »

Hotels & Airfare

Location, amenities, price, and gay-friendly!

View all »

Places to Visit

Museums, parks, street fairs, and more.

View all »

Carnival in Rio 2019 – Gay Event Schedule

« Return to Carnival 2020 Home

Festive block parties, chic nightclub events, and over-the-top Samba parades … Carnival in Rio de Janeiro has a multitude of fun experiences for gay travelers.  (And, you can heat things up even more with our listings of Rio de Janeiro’s gay saunas and sex clubs!) Here’s the full list of gay-friendly events from Carnival 2019.  (Check back later for the full agenda before 2020.)  Leave your feedback for VamosGay via email, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.



Sat Jan 13
3PM – 8PM
Location:
Centro
Google Map »
Bloco Toco Xona: Pre-Carnival
One of the the most popular blocos for girls-who-like-girls, Bloco Toco Xona welcomes gay boys too!  This year, Toco Xona will celebrate their 10 year anniversary.  Learn more from our guide to LGBT blocos.
Sat Jan 20
3PM – 8PM
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Banda de Ipanema
In the heart of gay Ipanema, this banda is biggest of all of the gay-friendly blocos.  Learn more from our guide to LGBT-friendly blocos.
Sat Jan 27
3PM – 8PM
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Banda de Ipanema
One more pre-Carnival bloco which is sure to pack the streets around Ipanema beach.  After the street party winds down, catch the sunset on the beach, have a shower, and try dinner at Felice.
Date TBD
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Simpatia é Quase Amor
Get in the spirit with this pre-Carnival bloco from the free-spirited Simpatia e Quase Amor.  Learn more about them from our guide to LGBT-friendly blocos. So far, this bloco has not provided a date and time for 2018, but we hope to have an update soon.
Sun Feb 4
9:30A-1:30P
Location:
Centro
Google Map »
Bloco Fogo e Paixão
This bloco of “fire and passion” is very queer friendly … and a great place to warm-up your party muscles before Bloco da Preta.  Event info, and video of a past Fogo e Paixao block party.
Sun Feb 4
8AM- 1PM
Location:
Centro
Google Map »
Bloco da Preta
The biggest gay-friendly pre-Carnival bloco featuring singer Preta Gil.  Carnival organizers estimate attendance of 400,00!  The warm-up starts at 8am, but the parade will “launch” at 10am.
Fri Feb 9
11:PM
Location:
The Week RJ
Google Map »
Carnaval at The Week
Carnival opens with a bang at Rio’s biggest and best gay nightclub.  DJs keep the sweaty dance floors moving at The Week.
Sat Feb 10
3PM – 9PM
Location:
TBD
Google Map »
Bloco Toco Xona (unconfirmed)
By the girls, and for the girls!  This bloco is known for its skilled female Carnival drummers.  Gay guys are always welcome to join in on the fun.
Sat Feb 10
5 :30PM
Location:
Centro
Google Map »
Banda de Ipanema
The first of three Carnival week blocos from the biggest GLS/LGBT-friendly banda in Rio.  Catch them again on Monday and Tuesday. Learn more about Banda da Ipanema from our guide to GLS blocos.
Date TBD
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Simpatia é Quase Amor
Get a second shot of peace-and-love, as this gay-friendly bloco returns to Ipanema.  The start time is 2pm, but this laid-back Sunday parade will start … whenever it starts.
Sun Feb 11
1PM – 1AM
Location:
Mansão Carioca
Google Map »
Joy Party at Mansão Carioca
The party continues at the gorgeous mansion known as Mansao Carioca.  Enjoy the line-up of DJs by the pool and check out the eye candy. Highly recommended!
Event info & tickets
Mon Feb 12
Time TBD
Location:
Centro
Google Map »
Bloco Bunytos de Corpo (TBD)
Jazzercize your way down to Praça Tiradentes for a bizarre (yet fun) gay-friendly bloco celebrating the fitness craze of the ’80s.  (Note: Bunytos de Corpo has not officially announced anything for 2017, but they do enjoy surprises.  We’ll update this listing ASAP.)
Mon Feb 12
4PM
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Banda de Ipanema
Return to Praça General Osório for more samba, good vibes.  This Monday edition will be kid-friendly
Date TBD
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Simpatia é Quase Amor
Free-spirited bloco brings everyone together to parade through Praça General Osório.  Check our guide to LGBT-friendly blocos for more on Simpatia é Quase Amor.
Tue Feb 13
5:30PM
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Banda da Ipanema
Carnival Tuesdays can to be slow.  Spend a relaxing day on the beach, find a gay friendly restaurant for lunch then hang out in Ipanema for one last party with the Banda.
Tue Feb 13
6PM
Location:
Lapa
Google Map »
Banda das Quengas
What’s more fun than a slut-walk?  A block party of whores!  (That’s the literal translation of this bloco‘s name.)  Your excuse to dress like a five dollar hooker and get drunk in the streets has arrived.  (Start time not confirmed yet.  Will update this listing when it’s official.)
Tue Feb 13
11PM
Location:
Scala Rio
Google Map »
Scala Gay Ball
The grande finale of Carnival!  Located in the Scala nightclub with three sections, DJs, live samba, food and drinks.  Doors open before midnight, but 1AM is a better time to arrive.  Learn more info on the Scala Rio Gay Ball.
Tue Feb 28
All-Night
Location:
Everywhere
Google Map »
Hit the Bars!
Every gay bar in Rio will be running some sort of promotion.  If you choose to skip the Scala, you can still have a fun time.  (And don’t forget, the gay saunas will be open for those looking for a different kind of fun before Ash Wednesday when Carnival is officially over.)

« Return to Carnival 2020 Home

Gay Guide to Carnival 2020 in Rio de Janeiro

In 2020, Carnival will begin on Friday, February 21 and run through a wild extended weekend to Tuesday, February 26.  The day after is Ash Wednesday when the parties are over (for the most part) and you will find the streets of Rio de Janeiro quietly getting back to normal. Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is considered the world’s largest, hosting approximately two million participants per day. In 2004, Rio’s carnival attracted a record 400,000 foreign visitors.



Getting There & Where to Stay

Purchasing a package of a flight including a hotel stay can be a great way to save money.  (Expedia has some of the cheapest package deals we have found with international flights to Brazil.)  However, for those who want to book flights separately, try Skyscanner.com, Expedia.com, Iberia,  LAN / TAM Airlines,  and CheapFlights.com

Visitors from select countries can now apply online for a tourist visa to Brazil before their trip.

For lodging, Booking.com remains the best, cheapest, way to find both hotels and flats (with Expedia ranking a close 2nd.)  Visit our full list of gay-friendly places to stay in Rio de Janeiro by clicking on the link below.

View all gay-friendly hotels in Rio »

Day-By-Day Schedule to Carnival 2020

Hopefully, you can arrive before Carnival week (and stay after.)  By January, Rio will be in full swing.  Visit any of the gay bars and clubs on our list and you will find a good time.  Click below the full calendar of events from Carnival 2019.  It will give you an idea of what to expect in 2020.

View the Carnival 2018 schedule »

Gay Block Parties? LGBT-Friendly Blocos

From the butch, to the femme, and everyone in between, Carnival in Rio offers the perfect excuse to show off your muscles or your glitter.  Here’s our short list of the city’s most  gay-friendly block parties, but you’ll find many of Rio’s blocos are fabulously welcoming.

List of Rio’s LGBT Carnival Blocos »

Travel Tips

To keep this section short, our guide will assume you know how to navigate the dangers of big cities and foreign countries.  Download digital version of Lonely Planet: Rio de Janeiro for the best English-language guide to the city, and a good source for basic travel tips.

  • Mobile data – research the international data packages provided by your carrier.  In Brazil, SIM cards with data plans are cheap and easy to activate.  As a foreigner, you can activate and use SIM cards from TIM, Claro, and Oi.  We recommend Claro. Read our guide to SIM cards and mobile plans for foreigners visiting Brazil.
  • Bring a 2nd phone.  That iPhone 4S in your drawer is perfect for navigating the city with apps.  Phone theft is rampant in blocos and nightclubs.  It can also hold your new Brazilian SIM card.
  • Google Maps – pre-plan your route (by foot or Metro) and save them as “offline” maps.  Download our Google Map now.
  • Bring your drivers license to nightclubs.  Dragging around your passport is not necessary; a driver’s license / photo ID is fine.
  • Avoid mosquitos  – Aside from dengue fever, many mosquitos in Brazil are now carrying the zika virus.  Bring your own DEET mosquito repellent .  Pharmacies in Rio sell the cheap stuff.
  • Debit/credit cards – Highly recommend one with a “chip.”  Credit card cloning is still a problem in South America.  A pre-paid Visa for small purchases and hotel guarantees is a good idea.
  • Ask your front desk – All of the hotels on our list of gay-friendly places to stay in Rio know the city and are happy to help.  Use them!
  • Watch your drink! – Criminals who drug tourists usually target women, but in Brazil gay men are often targets.
  • Be careful who you bring back to your hotel – At some hotels, you can walk directly to your elevator, some may ask for ID from your guest(s)  When in doubt, you can always go to one of Rio’s many gay saunas.
  • Wear shoes – Yes, your new Havaiana flip flops are cute, but the streets will be come a muddy mess of spilled beer and urine.
  • Don’t sweat every little expense – The club that wants to charge a cover of R$20 … That’s about US$6.50 right now.
  • Be OK with the fact you won’t see it all – Don’t overload your agenda.  Make a note of what you would like to come back for in 2020.



Online Resources During Carnival 2020

Get info and ask questions by following VamosGay on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  Or, leave a comment below!

Sign-up for Gay Carnival in Rio Newsletter


We’ve got all of the inside info, but we love to share it with our friends. Like VamosGay on Facebook and/or join our email list.

This gay guide to Carnival in Rio will give you everything you need to plan your trip before you go, and all of the information you need during Carnival week.  Bookmark vamosgay.com/carnival-rio on web and mobile!

New Year’s in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is one of the best places in the world to ring in the New Year (or, as Brazilians call it Réveillon.)  While the northern hemisphere is freezing, the beaches of Rio are warm … and the men are hot!  This guide for 2020 is split into three sections:  getting there, enjoying New Years Eve on Copacabana beach, and finding the best gay parties.

Getting There / Places to Stay

We recommend that you fly down in late December and spend a week discovering Rio de Janeiro.  (Rates for the high season start on flights departing after December 27.)  To book an international flight to Rio, the best websites are:

Once in Rio, you will need a place to stay.  Ipanema Beach is where the boys are.  Copacabana is amazing as well.  Check out our list of the best LGBT friendly hotels and apartments in gay Rio.

For the plane ride down, pick up a copy of Lonely Planet Rio de Janeiro, the best English language guide to the city.  (United States citizens will also need to apply for a Visa to enter Brazil.  Americans won’t be able to board their flights without it.)

Copacabana Beach

Fabulous and free!  The sands of Copacabana (and neighboring Ipanema) are the place to be this time of year.  The New Year’s Eve tradition is to wear white and pay tribute to Iemanjá, the water goddess at the center of Brazil’s Candomblé religion.  Every year, there is a massive party with live music that fills the sands of Copacabana Beach, however if you stay in Ipanema you will only be 20 to 30 minutes away by foot.  The music starts between 8 and 9PM, and the fireworks begin at the stroke of midnight.

Parties, Parties, and More Parties!

Get every last drop out of 2019 before the year ends.  Rio’s gay bars will be open and ready to party after Christmas Day.  Bookmark this page for your gay Rio New Years plans, or subscribe to our newsletter below.

Nova Manhattan 21 (Manhattan rio’s)

Sauna with escorts and drag shows

Rua Buenos Aires 21
Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil Google Map »

Mon – Fri 3pm to 11pm
Sundays Closed and Saturday (mostly closed)

The downtown location attracts an after work crowd looking for fun with any of the charge-by-the-hour young men. Many patrons hang around for the stripper and drag shows.

Nova Manhattan 21 (formerly known as Manhattan Rio’s) is open five days a week and always has some sort of daily promotion (karaoke, bingo, 2-for-1 drink specials, etc.) The new location is safe and clean. As for English, no one is fluent, but there’s enough of a vocabulary.

Gay Saunas, Cinemas, and Sex Shops of Santiago Chile

Following the collapse of its military dictatorship (1973 – 1990) Chile has steadily made strides towards a more progressive society. Sex between partners of the same sex became legal in 1998.  And, on October 22, 2015, Chile recognized same-sex civil unions.

Lke most big cities in Latin America, Santiago has many gay bars and clubs.  For those looking for something extra, here is a list of the most active gay-friendly sex shops, cinemas, and saunas in the city.   Continue reading Gay Saunas, Cinemas, and Sex Shops of Santiago Chile