Category Archives: latin america

“Boa Noite, Cinderela”

There is something darkly sinister about the Portuguese phrase “Boa Noite, Cinderela.” It sounds like something an evil witch in disguise would say to an innocent Disney princess before feeding her a poisonous treat.  In Brazil, it describes the phenomenon of drugging victims in bars to later assault or rob them.

Outside of Latin America, mostly women are targeted with this type of crime, and sexual assault is usually part of the equation.  South of the Equator, gay men are often the prey.  The predators may also be gay, or they may be heterosexual.  Assailants only need to act gay long enough to befriend and flirt with a single gay man before slipping a drug into his drink.

The substance itself could be an existing party drug which creates the desired effect (Special K, GHB, or Rohypnol.)  Or, it could be scopolomine, a particularly scary drug with the abilities to subdue victims, make them compliant in their own robbery, and leave them with memory loss.

The goal is almost always robbery, and the story almost always ends with the victim awakening hours, sometime even days, later with no memory of what happened after they met their attacker.

Recently, the crime has entered the digital age with an assailant using Grindr to pick up, drug, and rob gay men in Sao Paulo.

The tips to staying safe are obvious, but worth sharing:

  • don’t accept drinks from strangers
  • keep your eye on your drinks (bottles and cans with smaller openings are more difficult to slip a drug into)
  • take your drink with you (to the dance floor, or the men’s room)
  • if you do take your eye off your drink, just dispose of it and order a fresh one
  • use the buddy system (or, set up a check-in with someone if you go out alone)
  • don’t party too hard if you do go out alone; it’s hard to tell the sensation of a knockout drug kicking in if you’ve already had ten caipirinhas
  • take only what you need for that night in your wallet
  • if traveling, make sure your room key is unidentifiable (trash the little envelope labeled “Copacabana Palace, Room #318”)

One final tip is to share your story if you have been victimized.  When attacks have happened in the gay bars of Sao Paulo, victims and their friends have taken to Facebook to post warnings and even distribute surveillance camera images of their attackers.

AirBnB: A Gay Way to Stay in Latin America

In 2008, the website created to help people list, find, and rent lodging has grown exponentially.  The comfort level of travelers to  rent from AirBnB continues to grow as well.

Unfortunately, the website does not provide an option to filter by the sexual orientation of the hosts.  It would be a useful feature for gay travelers, but would likely be a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen.

For now, gay men looking to stay with a gay host have learned to search listings for clues.  Some hosts proudly display their same-sex partners by their side in their profile pics and list their apartments as joint ventures.  For other listings, the signs are more subtle: a Carmen Miranda poster, a stack of Reinaldo Arenas books, or maybe refrigerator magnet of Madonna. If your gaydar fails, you can have an equally good time with an open-minded straight guy or gal.

For travelers who have never tried AirBnB, click below to view some of the many excellent listings in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Santiago Chile, and many more cities across Latin America.

Visit AirBnB with $20 Discount

Bars & Clubs of Gay Buenos Aires

Navigating nightlife in BsAs (the shorthand code for one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world) is easy.  Each of the neighborhoods is walkable, or accessible by a short metro or cab ride.  Recoleta and Palermo are have the most options.  Pick any of the gay-friendly hotels of Buenos Aires from our list and you will be in the center of almost everything.  (There are even options for gay tango!)

Nightlife starts late with many places opening doors at 11:30PM.  Early birds should try bars like Sitges, Peuteo, and Flux Bar before hitting big clubs like Glam and Amerika (pictured above.)  Restaurants also stay up late and can be great pre-club options.  Use the VamosGay Google Map to Gay Buenos Aires to find over a dozen popular places to eat and navigate your night of bar crawling.

Amerika

Size matters! And it doesn’t get much bigger than Amerika.
Full review & details for Amerika »

Bach Bar

Simple bar with a local following.  Gay men and lesbians, but much more popular with the ladies.
Visit Bach Bar on Facebook »

Chupitos Bar

Festive place with a wild menu of specialty shots, and bartenders that keep the party rolling.
Full review & details for Chupitos Bar »

Contramano

Daddies, and Hustlers, and Bears … Oh My!  Experience one of Buenos Aires’ oldest gay bars.
Full review & details for Contramano »

Glam

Editor’s Choice 2016: Best Thursday Night Club (Saturday’s are hot too!)
Full review & details for Glam »

Fiesta Jolie

Young and fun!  Every Wednesday.
Full review & details for Fiesta Jolie »

Flux Bar

The best happy hour cocktail.
Full review & details for Flux Bar »

Jungle Bar

Show place and cruising bar.
Visit Jungle Bar on Facebook »

KM Zero

Strippers and drag continue to draw tourists to one of Buenos Aires most well known bars.
Full review & details for KM Zero »

Palacio Alsina / Fiesta Dorothy

Monthly nightlife spectacle at the grand Palacio Alsina.
Full review & details for Palacio Alsina / Fiesta Dorothy »

Ma.Cho

Catch these parties when you can!  Fun young crowds of locals.  Ma.Cho parties are occasionally in nightclubs like Glam, but sometimes at trendy rooftops, and even pools!  Visit our MaCho gay parties in Buenos Aires page for links to the latest party.  Sometime you can even catch them in Montevideo!
Full review & details for MaCho

Mundo Bizarro

Mostly straight bar with rockin’ food and music attracts a gay crowd with stylish pulp fiction decor.
Full review & details for Mundo Bizarro »

Peuteo

Editor’s Choice: Best Gay Bar
Full review & details for Peuteo »

Sitges

An easy first stop for tourists visiting Buenos Aires.
Full review & details for Sitges »

Zoom

Have a friendly beer … or a hardcore encounter at this bar/bathhouse hybrid.
Full review & details for Zoom »

Bars & Clubs of Gay Montevideo

One of the gay-friendliest cities in Latin America has a relatively small number of gay bars and clubs making it easy to navigate for first-time visitors.

Be aware that nightlife starts very late in Montevideo.  Doors may may not even be open at 11:30PM.   Start the night like a true Uruguayan with a late dinner at any of Montevideo’s gay-friendly restaurants; many of them stay open until midnight or 1AM. If you have time to kill between dinner and the club of your choice, you can try Small Club.  Known as a previa (pre-club before the main attraction) Small Club has drinks, various locations to mix and mingle, and live performances.

After midnight … all three gay club options are listed below.  Use our Google Map of gay Montevideo to navigate the city.

Cain Dance Club

Multiple levels of fun! Cain is the biggest gay nightclub in Montevideo.   Read the full review of Cain Dance Club »

Chains Club

This gay bar remains popular with both locals and tourists.  Visitors who find the crowds at clubs like Cain and Il Tempo to be too young, will have a great time at Chains with guys over 30. Read the full review of Chains Club »

Il Tempo

Down-to-earth good time with a gay and lesbian crowd.  There’s a small stage with a revolving line-up of music, drag, and comedy.  Read the full review of Il Tempo »

Ma.Cho

Not an actual club, but MaCho is a floating gay party organized by promoters from Buenos Aires.  Check our MaCho gay Buenos Aires party page to find out if they have any special events planned for Montevideo.
Read the full review of MaCho

Best Apps for Gay Travel in Latin America

Planning a trip to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, or Uruguay?  From our travels to all four countries we’ve  created the following list of must-have apps for gay men. (And don’t forget our guide to mobile data and SIM cards.)

Google Maps

Essential!  Google Maps over the years has evolved into one of the best ways to navigate unknown territory.  The latest update provides the best public transportation directions available.  And for walkers, try plugging one earbud in to listen to turn-by-turn audio directions to avoid walking to avoid exposing your mobile phone while barcrawling at night.  (Pre-load our Google Maps for Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Sao Paulo for offline browsing.)

One note for Buenos Aires, the Moovit app is a highly recommended supplement to Google Maps with some of the best tips for the city’s public transportation system.

We assume most visitors will be walking, taking the bus/metro, or being driven by taxi, but for visitors who will be driving, the Waze app is essential too.  And after you finish driving, Onde Parar is the best way to find a parking spot (only available in Brazil.)

99Taxis

More popular, and more available, than Uber in Latin America, the 99Taxi app uses both contracted drivers, and the existing pool of yellow and white taxis.  Options like the ability to pay via PayPal are great.  One downside is drivers who accept your request and then cancel if a better option appears.  99Taxis was recently in the news after one of their homophobic drivers expelled a gay couple in Rio during Carnival.  The company quickly terminated the driver from their service.

WhatsApp

This recommendation is mostly for Americans, since the extremely popular WhatsApp is one of the most downloaded mobile apps in the world.  In Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America, everyone already knows the app allows free messaging, photo/video sharing, phone calls over wi-fi, and location sharing.

Grindr

“But, I’m not one of the those types of guys who uses Grindr.” Yes, the world’s most popular mobile app for gay men does have a slutty reputation, but Grindr is what you make it.  You can create a G-rated profile stating that you are only looking to meet new people … Or, create and X-rated profile looking for sex.  Enjoy Grindr and be safe!

Other hook-up apps with sizeable populations in Latin America are Hornet, Scruff, Adam4Adam, and Disponivel (more about that one below.)

Disponivel

What began as a hook-up website whose biggest competitor was ManHunt (remember them?) has since made the leap into the age of mobile apps to be one of the most popular ways to find men in Brazil. The Disponivel app’s interface now has an English option, but often reverts, or has untranslated Portuguese elements.

TripAdvisor

Still on top after all these year!  If you must have one app for general city info and tourism recommendations (in English), TripAdvisor is the way to go.  If your phone has enough storage space, try Foursquare, Yelp, and Vespa.

VamosGay

No, we don’t have a mobile app, but we do have a mobile website! Choose the “Add to Home Screen” option and you’ll see a shiny new icon on your phone which will take you to our listings for restaurants and nightlife whenever you need them.

Best Gay-Friendly Places to Stay in Latin America

Don’t just find the perfect place to stay … support gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses!  These are the best gay-friendly hotels, resorts, hostels, and bed-and-breakfast locations we found while creating our gay guides to Latin America’s biggest cities.

Click any section below to visit the full listings for each city:

Buenos Aires, Argentina »

Mexico City, Mexico »

Montevideo, Uruguay »

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil »

Sao Paulo Brazil »

Santiago, Chile »