Category Archives: argentina

“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.

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 »

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.

Fiesta Jolie

An effervescent young crowd fills Palermo every Wednesday with an energy so infectious that it’s impossible to not have a good time.

Avenida Juan B. Justo 1658
Buenos Aires, Argentina    Google Map »

Wednesday 9PM – 5AM

On any night of the week, doors may open at 9pm to hang and watch the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, or a film festival of campy comedies from Spain. The only real way to know what you’ll find on any given Wednesday is to check out Fiesta Jolie on Facebook or Twitter. Later on in the evening, the dancefloor heats up, and line of 20 and 30 somethings in search of a good time on a miercoles begins to multiply.

Drinks are relatively inexpensive (which is even better considering the is often no cover fee.) At Fiesta Jolie the boys love to make out, and so do the lesbians (who can comprise up to 40 percent of the crowd on any particular Wednesday.)

Flux Bar

Editor’s Choice: Best Happy Hour Cocktail 2015
Buenos Aires’ trendy Soho neighborhood is the best place to enjoy a well-crafted cocktail. However, for a gay drinking option, take the Metro to the San Martin station where you can grab both a great cocktail and a great deal.

980 Marcelo T. de Alvear (Av. 9 de Julio)
Barrio Centro, Buenos Aires Argentina    Google Map>>

At this friendly spot, happy hour runs from 7 to 10pm and is the perfect way to kill time before the notoriously late Argentine dinner hour. Located in downtown BA (in a section known as Microcentro) Flux benefits from a large after-work crow eager for a drink after a day at the office.

For visitors: most of Flux Bar’s amicable staff speaks a far amount of English; the locals who patronize the bar are pretty diverse (from hot 20 year-olds to daddies over 40.) And, if your not feeling the crowd that night, grab one of the city’s gay nightlife pamplets on your way out the door.

Cocktails are the main attraction at Flux Bar and any item on the drink menu is worth a taste. (Oddly enough, non-Argentine drinks such as the mojito and caipirinha are the best bets.)

The downside to Flux Bar is the space itself. Located on the lower level of the building, you can expect more of a “sitting on a sofa in a basement” vibe than a sleek modern cocktail lounge.

Gay Guide to Buenos Aires

Legendary nightlife, extraordinary architecture … and porteños (the Spanish word for the men of the port city Buenos Aires.)  These are a few of the many of the reasons why Argentina’s capital city remains a gay travel mecca.  Our 2016 guide to the Buenos Aires’ bars and clubs is an excellent way to find the best of the city.

For gay travelers, the city’s pride parade (the Marcha del Orgullo Gay) takes place on first Saturday of November and is perfectly timed with the start of spring in South America.  Tourists will find warm temperatures, hot guys, and blooming jacaranda trees.

International flights to Buenos Aires are frequent, but not cheap (check for flight deals to EZE airport.)  As of 2015, visitors from certain countries are required to pre-pay a reciprocity fee before entering Argentina.  Here’s an explanation of the policy and here’s where you can pay online and receive a printout. (Update from March 2016: The fee for US citizens has been revoked following President Obama’s historic visit to Argentina.)

For general tourist information, we still recommend the Lonely Planet: Guide to Buenos Aires.  Combine it with our up-to-date gay guide below and you will fall in love with Buenos Aires!

Bars & Clubs

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

View all »

Hotels

Best gay-friendly places to stay in BA.

View all »

Restaurants & Cafes

Use our Google Map to find over a dozen popular places.

View map »

Visit Montevideo

Take a short trip and discover this gay-friendly city.

View all »

Gay Tango at La Marshall and Tango Queer

A masculine sharply-dressed man passionately leading a beautiful woman with a flowing dress is instantly recognizable around the world as the tango, the iconic dance from Argentina.

For some, the idea of gay tango may seem like a radically new concept.  However, as proven by the photo on the Wikipedia page for the history of the tango, male couples have been dancing since the early 1900s.

The tradition of same-sex tango is kept alive and well in Buenos Aires at two places which welcome tourists. Continue reading Gay Tango at La Marshall and Tango Queer

Hotels of Gay-Friendly Buenos Aires

From luxurious five-star hotels to charming bed-and-breakfasts, the following short list of gay-friendly places to stay in Buenos Aires is a diverse selection.

Nearly all are located the three biggest gayborhoods of Palermo, Recoleta, and San Telmo.

Algodon Mansion

Set in the upscale Recoleta neighbourhood, Algodon Mansion offers chic rooms with free Wi-Fi and complimentary wine. Guests can relax in the sauna room and enjoy the rooftop swimming pool and sun deck.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Art Factory Palermo

Chic and lively hostel located in the trendy Palermo district. The walls of Art Factory’s rooms outdoor seating area feature a dazzling array of colorful works from local artists.

View hotel details/lowest rate

BA4U Apartments

Gay-owned and operated apartment service in Buenos Aires.  A good choice for long-term stays in BA for those looking for apartments loaded with amenities.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Be Trimos Hotel (formerly Axel)

The fabulous gay hotel chain Axel Hotels has closed its Buenos Aires location.  But, under new management, the hotel retains its impeccable designer décor, garden views of the trendy San Telmo district.  The hotel’s pool is still popular, but with less eye-candy.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Che Lulu Guesthouse

Fully furnished apartments and rooms with shared bathrooms with touches of designer style.  Full kitchens and private patios.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Faena Hotel

Five-star design hotel offering plush accommodation in upscale Puerto Madero.  The Faena Hotel is also the home of the opulent Tango Rojo.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Home Hotel

Boasting an outdoor swimming pool, spa facilities and a chic garden, Home Hotel is an excellent option (some rooms feature spa baths, private terraces and city views.)

Home Hotel also offers DJ nights in the garden every Friday during the summer season, and guests can chill out with a drink at the cocktail bar before stepping out in Palermo, a neighborhood full of shopping and nightlife options.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Legado Mitico Buenos Aires

Stylish boutique hotel featuring spacious rooms with thematic décor inspired by the Argentinean culture and history.  Click below for more info and a photo gallery of Legado Mitico’s rich interior design.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Lugar Gay Bed & Breakfast

Located in the San Telmo neighborhood, Lugar Gay is a great option near many of Buenos Aires’ architectural landmarks and tango attractions.  Friendly staff are the main attraction.  Private rooms are available as well as dormitory/hostel-style lodging.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Peuteo

Editor’s Choice: Best Bar 2016
Not too young. Not too old.
Upbeat bartenders, strong drinks, and a popular happy hour make Peuteo one of the best gay options in Buenos Aires.

Gurruchaga 1867 (btw Costa Rica & Nicaragua)
Buenos Aires Argentina    Google Map »

Wednesday – Sunday 7PM – 3AM
Monday and Tuesday – Closed

Peuteo derives its name from a clever take on the Latin American anti-gay slur puto (when spelled out letter-by-letter in the Spanish alphabet, puto reads as pe – u – te – o.) This clever approach extends to every element of the bar: drinks, music, events, and performances. Peuteo succeeds at leaving behind gay bar cliches of the past, while still being a space where many types of guys can have a good time.

Continue reading Peuteo

Travel Deals to Latin America

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a “bucket list” is defined as … a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying.

Why until you are on death’s doorstep to visit a dream destination like Brazil?  Thanks to favorable currency exchange rates, it is possible to enjoy a holiday in Rio de Janeiro (or other gay-friendly destination like Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, and Santiago) without breaking the bank.

Here’s the VamosGay shortlist of websites with the best travel deals for Brazil!

Flight Deals & Vacation Packages

Decolar.com / Despegar.com – Extremely popular website for flights to (and within) Latin America that most travelers outside of Latin America have never heard of.   We continue to find the lowest rates.

Expedia.com – Pretty good for flights, but highly recommended for packages deals.  You may find lower rates if you search hard enough on other sites, but when buying an entire package, Expedia customer support is the strong arm you may need to change or cancel an expensive flight and hotel combo.

Iberia Airlines – European carrier with many cheap flights to South America.  Add them to your list of sites to search and you’ll be surprised.

TAM / LAN Airlines – The merged juggernaut of South American carriers (now known as LATAM) offers many direct deals.

Skyscanner – This site can be simple if you are just looking for the lowest price, but also lets users dig in and compare prices across airline companies and departure dates.  A great place to squeeze out the lowest price not just for Latin America, but across the globe.

Cheapflights.com – The name says it all.  If it doesn’t have the lowest price for an international flight, it will definitely link to it.

Where to Stay

Booking.com – Highly-recommended one-stop shopping for hotels.  Consistently low-prices and the option to book without pre-paying makes this a favorite.

MisterB&B – The gay alternative to AirBnB the world has been waiting for.  A big part of the experience is having a gay local as your host.

Getting Around with Uber

Taxis in Latin America don’t have the best reputation.  Uber provides a safe and easy option for club hopping or just getting to the airport.  Click any of these links for Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Sao Paulo.  (Use the discount code ubervamosgay for a lower rate.)

Tour Guides

Viator Rio de Janeiro – Need a personal tour guide you can trust to show you the best of gay Rio de Janeiro? We recommend Viator’s Guided Tour of Rio de Janeiro’s gay nightlife.