Category Archives: rio de janeiro

Gay Carnival “Blocos” of Rio de Janeiro

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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 2018, expect to see many costumes satirizing issues that may go over your head as a foreigner (expect lots of parodies of current Brazilian president Michel Temer and Rio’s mayor Marcelo Crivella.)

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.

Here are their confirmed dates for 2018.  All take place at Praça General Osório, located in the heart of Ipanema.
Sat, Jan 20     5PM – 10PM     Pre-Carnival
Sat, Jan 27     5PM – 10PM     Pre-Carnival
Sat, Feb 10       5:30PM start    Carnival
Mon, Feb 12       5:30PM start    Carnival (kid-friendly)
Tue, Feb 13      5:30PM start    Carnival
Sat, Feb 17       5:30PM start    Post-Carnival tribute

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.  Expect a large percentage of gays on Sunday, Feb 4, 2018.  The bloco will be downtown at Rua Premeiro do Marco.

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 on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.  Their bloco is scheduled to startson Avenida Mem da Sá in the Lapa district.



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.  In 2018, the start times for both events is 2PM, but expect to hang out and drink before the parade actually starts moving.  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!  For 2017, catch their pre-Carnival show will start at Praça Joia Valansi in the Botofogo district.

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.  Start time is still TBD. 

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.

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Gay Couple Ejected By Homophobic Driver in Rio

A 36 year-old businessman will file a claim with the organization “Rio Without Homophobia” against a driver hailed using the 99taxis app (a popular alternative to Uber in Latin America.)

The plaintiff and his boyfriend were ejected from the car in the dead of the night on Avenida Almirante Barroso in downtown Rio.  The reason for expelling the couple?  One boyfriend fell asleep during the ride resting his head on the other’s shoulder.

They claim the driver informed them “I think you better leave.  I don’t want perversion in my car.”  as reported by Brazilian newspaper O Globo.

The couple had just left the popular Carnival bloco “Bunytos de Corpo” at 2AM.

The story of the homophobic 99taxis driver sparked a firestorm on Brazilian social media.  Shortly thereafter, 99taxis issued a statement in a follow up story by O Globo announcing that the driver in question had been dismissed.

View Our Gay Guide to Rio de Janeiro »

Olympics 2016 Gay Guide to Rio

Over ten thousand athletes from 206 different countries will converge upon Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics.  The biggest sporting event on the planet promises to attract a record number of tourists.  To assist them, the city of Rio has created an English-language guide full of attractions and useful tips.  (Try our guide for getting a mobile data and SIM card in Brazil.)

For the many gay tourists who will be visiting the Cidade Maravilhosa, we have created the VamosGay Guide to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.  It will build upon our current listings for gay-friendly hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs … and even places to hook up.

The opening ceremonies will take place on August 5 and the Olympic Games will run until the closing ceremony on August 21.

Bookmark vamosgay.com/olympics-2016-rio to view the complete city guide later this year.  And, follow VamosGay on Twitter, and Facebook to get the latest updates for #Rio2016.



Booking.com

Gay-Friendly Hotels and Places to Stay in Rio de Janeiro

Brazil’s hotel industry is very aware of the power of the “pink” dollar and hotels in large tourist destinations are gay-friendly.   The list below are the best, and most popular, places to stay.  Most of them are near clusters of Rio’s gay nightlife and popular beaches “where the boys are.”

Altos de Santa Teresa

This chic, yet informal, guesthouse built in the heights (altos) of the Santa Teresa neighborhood.  Spectacular panoramic views include the Christ the Redeemer statue and the Sugarloaf mountain range.  Friendly staff and great amenities make all 9 spacious rooms in high demand.

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Hotel Atlântico Copacabana

Great option in Copacabana near the Siquero Campos Metro station.  Located a few blocks further from the beach makes the prices consistently lower.  Relaxed guest policy has made this a favorite with gay travelers since the 1990s.

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Arpoador Inn Hotel

A long-time favorite for the following reasons: friendly front desk, amazing breakfast  with a boardwalk view of Arpoador Beach (the small beach between Copacabana and Ipanema.)  The Arpoador Inn is within a ten minute walk of gay Ipanema and about fifteen minutes from Copacabana nightspots like Le Boy.

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Casa Cool Beans B&B

Gay owned and operated guesthouse.  Informative hosts are full of tips on gay Rio.  Many downtown and Lapa attractions are within a 20 minute walk.  Use the VamosGay Google map to Rio de Janeiro to view all of the nearby bars, restaurant, clubs, and saunas.

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Casa Mosquito

This beachside boutique hotel features a restaurant, a spa and luxurious personalized services.  Within walking distance to attractions in both Ipanema and Copacabana.  Guests rave about the interior design, service, and outstanding breakfast.

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Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro

One of the best hotels in Brazil, the Fasano brings world class luxury to gay Ipanema.  Click below for photos and more information.  The Fasano is expensive but worth every penny.

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Golden Tulip Ipanema Plaza

Very popular high-end hotel is often booked to capacity during high season.  However, booking a room at the Golden Tulip not only give you a hotel room; it gives you access to guests-only rooftop and much coveted beach chairs and towels on the prime real estate of Ipanema Beach gayest section Praia da Farme.

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La Maison by Dussol

Like spending your vacation in a high-fashion photo shoot, his luxurious guesthouse sits within a green area in Rio de Janeiro. It offers a contemporary, neo-classic décor and daily in-suite breakfast.  La Maison is in the Gavea neighborhood which is removed from the madness of the touristy section of Rio, but only a 10 minute taxi ride to Ipanema.

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Mar Ipanema Hotel

Great option in Ipanema with a number of shops on the trendy streets opposite the beach.  Rooms during New Years and Carnival are in high demand.  Get more Mar Ipanema info and options to book it below.

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MisterB&B

The gay alternative to AirBnB is now available in Latin America!  Click below to browse gay-hosted apartments across Rio de Janeiro.

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Pestana Rio Atlântica

Five-star beachfront hotel in Copacabana welcomes gay travelers to stay in the lap of luxury.  The rooftop bar is an excellent place to catch the sunset while enjoying a cocktail.  (One sad update, the Top of the Pestana gay party has been discontinued.  Anyone who attended it during Carnival 2015 knows how much it will be missed.)

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Praia Ipanema Hotel

The most serene of the Ipanema Beach hotels, the Praia Ipanema has a quiet rooftop with some of the best views in Rio’s zona sul.

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Sol Ipanema

Superb location on the Ipanema Beach seafront, within a vibrant area of bars and restaurants. It features a sunny terrace with breathtaking coast views.

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Sofitel Rio de Janeiro

Luxury hotel in the heart of Copacabana.  Click below for photos and more info about this five-star hotel.

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