Category Archives: latin america

Scala Rio Gay Ball

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Carnival events in Rio de Janeiro can be placed into one of three categories:

  • blocos da rua – These are block parties originally organized by neighborhood groups.  One of the oldest, Banda de Ipanema, is also a gay-friendly bloco
  • bailes (formal indoor balls) – These cabaret-style balls are a long standing tradition with food, drinks, and amazing live performances.
  • parada / desfile – Huge spectacular parade in which escolas de samba (Samba schools) compete for the grand prize in Rio’s massive Sambadrome arena.

The Scala Rio Gay Ball is a baile (one of its many names is the Baile Gay do Rio Scala.)  During Carnival, many balls are held at the Scala Rio nightclub, but they save the best (and most fabulous for last.)

Getting There / Getting Tickets

In 2018, The Scala Rio Gay Ball will take place on Tuesday, February 13.  Doors open at 11:00PM, but we recommend entering after midnight.  There are many blocos nearby in the Cinelândia neighborhood.  There are various levels of tickets: one is general admission that gives access to an open-bar and snacks (R$118 = US$35), the others are VIP levels that have full dinner and a separate area (prices vary.)

Some websites offer tickets, but we recommend ordering them through the front desk of your hotel.  Any of the hotels on our list of gay-friendly hotels in Rio will be happy to assist!

The Scala Rio nightclub is easily accessible via Metro (the Cinelândia station connects with stops in Copacabana and Ipanema.)  Consult our Google Map of gay Rio.

What to Expect

The Scala Rio Gay Ball began as a costume ball, but over the years the rules have loosened.  Some attendees pull out all the stops with Vegas showgirl style drag, or full S&M leather gear.  Superhero costumes are increasingly popular as well as spooky outfits you might expect for Halloween.  Attendees are free to not wear costumes, so throw on a festive hat and you’ll be welcome to join the fun.

If you enter at midnight, the ball will appear a bit lame.  The fabulous people are still out partying in the streets.  However, if you are with a group, it is a good hour to relax a bit and enjoy the free drinks.  You can also watch the red carpet full of travestis in full drag regalia.  At the entrance of the Scala Rio nightclub, camera crews will be set up to broadcast the over-the-top drag queens.

The main hall has a DJ and the dance floor can get crowded.  Once the live samba band takes the stage, the true feeling of Brazilian carnival takes over.  The atmosphere is very friendly, full of Brazilians and tourists looking to have a good time.

The crowd is a mix of ages, but men over 40 will feel very comfortable.  Gays who are looking for a circuit party where they can dance until dawn with their shirts off will be much happier at The Week.

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Gay Bars & Clubs of Rio de Janeiro

First-time visitors to the Latin American paradise known as Rio de Janeiro can follow a simple formula.  Stay at a hotel in zona sul (the southern zone of the city where Ipanema and Copacabana are located.) From zona sul, you can enjoy the beach by day and party hard by night at local bars and clubs.

Rio’s other gay bar crawl can be found in the Lapa neighborhood (with a few spots technically in Centro, but less than 20 minutes away by foot.)  Lapa is not gay per se, but open to anything and everything fun.  On the way to gay parties at Buraco da Lacraia and Sinônimo, you will inevitably be swept up in the rhythms of live music or tempted to stop for a bite of some of Rio’s most mouthwatering restaurants where gays and straights come together.

Rio de Janeiro explodes with activity during Carnival, Gay Pride, and New Year’s Eve.  And don’t forget to download our Google Map of Gay Rio de Janeiro to navigate the city.

00

Avenida Padre Leonel Franca 240
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil      Google Map »
⛔  3/15/2017 — Bad news … 00 has closed its doors after over 10 years of fun.  We’ll update this if/when news becomes available.
Take a short taxi trip to Gávea and pay the pricey cover fee for the perfect way to end your weekend.  The Sunday night party at 00 is highly recommended.  The crowd is hip and young.  The club itself has both an indoor area with a restaurant, and a large stylish outdoor space.

Anexo Lounge

Rua do Rezende 52
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil      Google Map »
This Lapa pub has enough great food to be on the lists of both gay-friendly bars and restaurants.  Aside from the dinner menu and drinks, weekends often feature live performances.  The Anexo Facebook page is the best way to know before you go.  Saturdays are particularly good.

Bar 49

Rua Teixeira de Melo 48
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil    Google map »
⛔ 1/1/2017 – Unfortunately, this trendy (mostly straight) bar with a mix of beautiful people and local artists has closed.
Read our full review of Bar 49 »

Boate 1140

Rua Capitao Menezes, 1140
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil      Google Map »
Locals love this gay party palace in Jacarepaguá.  Brazilian beats and Brazilian guys and the rock the house every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Check the Boate 1140 website for the occasional Thursday promotion and more info about the club.

Buraco da Lacraia

Rua André Cavalcânti 58
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil   Google Map »
Escape the gay tourist bubble of Copacabana and Ipanema for a truly unique Brazilian experience.  Every Friday night, pay one cheap cover to enter and have all of the beer (or soft drinks) you can handle.  If you enter around 10:30 you can catch their legendary cabaret show of politics/comedy/performance art.  Take the stairs up to a 2nd dance floor where sexy garçons wearing only an aprons and a bow ties will happily serve you drinks.

Estilo da Lapa

Avenida Mem de Sá 127
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil   Google Map »
Very small bar with cheap drinks and small plates.  The crowd is almost exclusively gay locals.  Popular with couples.  Worth stopping in on a weeknight for a beer before 11pm.

Fosfobox

Rua Siqueira Campos 143 (loja 23 & 24)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil      Google Map »
This long-running gay-friendly Copacabana music venue is named after a type of matchbox and tucked within a small shopping plaza, Fosfobox is a small club with a big focus on music.  On any given night you may encounter techno, house, or neo funk.  View the lineup and get more info on the Fosfobox website.  Fridays tend to be the gayest.

Galeria Cafe

Rua Teixeira de Melo 31
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil    Google Map »
Highly recommended on Friday nights!  First time visitors to Rio are often surprised by the current lack of gay nightclubs in Ipanema.  (Rest in peace, Dama de Ferro.)  However, every Friday, Galeria packs in the young hotties and a few of their straight female BFFs.  Music ranges from “flashbacks” to the 80’s and 90’s to pop divas of today like Rihanna.  Galeria is not very big and gets sweatier (and sexier) as closing time approaches.

Le Boy

Rua Raul Pompéia, 102
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil    Google Map »
⛔ Closed 4/4/2016 – No info on re-opening ⛔
The legendary Le Boy is a must-visit for any gay tourist visiting Rio.  Located on the edge of Copacabana, within walking distance of Ipanema, Le Boy attracts hordes of tourists, hot local men … and unfortunately a few criminals.  (Watch your wallet, cellphone, and drink.  “Boa Noite Cinderela” is the phenomenon of slipping drugs into stranger’s drinks and robbing them.)  Le Boy stays faithful to the gay nightlife formula of pumped-up go-go boys, fabulous drag queens, club remixes of pop favorites, and strong drinks.  At 3AM, the darkroom section becomes very active.
Read our full review of Le Boy »

La Cueva

Rua Miguel Lemos 51
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil   Google Map »
The oldest remaining gay bar in Rio de Janeiro is worth a visit if you are staying in Copacabana.  There is often no cover, or the cover includes two free beers.  La Cueva (Spanish for “the cave”) is located below street level and has a cavernous look and feel.  The bar (with a small dance floor) markets itself as a bar for ursos (bears), but it is extremely popular with maduros (older guys) as well.

Papa G

Travessa Almerinda Freitas 42
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil      Google Map »
Located an hour away from the tourist zone of Copacabana, Papa G rewards gays and lesbians who are up for the trip with big parties Wednesday through Sunday.  Musically, it’s a great place to party to Brazilian beats like pagode and funk from both DJs and live performers.  Strong drinks, and outrageous drag shows, make Papa G a club to remember.

Sinônimo Lapa

Avenida Mem de Sá 118
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil    Google Map »
With two levels of dance floors and a rooftop, Sinônimo is the biggest gay option in Rio’s bohemian Lapa neighborhood.  The crowd tends to be 60% gay guys, %30 lesbians, and %10 straight boys and girls.  The first floor often features live music.  Fridays are recommended … Maybe after leaving Buraco da Lacraia at 1:30AM semi-wasted on free beer?

TV Bar

Avenida Nossa Sra. de Copacabana 1417
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil    Google Map »
This relatively small bar with a dance floor is located inside a former TV network facility.  The crowd is young but with enough tourists sprinkled around to make everyone will feel welcome.
Read our full review of TV Bar »

Up Turn Bar & Lounge

Avenida das Américas 2000 
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil     Google Map »
Very lively bar on Saturdays for anyone curious to visit the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood.  Get more info and view photos on the Up Turn Facebook page.

The Week

Rua Sacadura Cabral 135
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil    Google Map »
The place to be every Saturday.  You will have no complaints about the high cover charge once you see how The Week brings together the best DJs, performers, and boys in Brazil.  Highly recommended!
Read our full review of The Week »

SIM Cards & Mobile Plans for Tourists Visiting Brazil

Millions of foreign tourists visit Brazil every year.  A large percentage come to celebrate Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.  Others take to the streets of Sao Paulo for the world’s largest gay pride parade.

As a tourist, staying connected to essential travel apps like Google Maps, WhatsApp messenger, and (let’s confess … Grindr) can be difficult, because unlike most countries, Brazil remains a difficult place for foreigners to acquire a SIM card with a mobile data plan.  In preparation for World Cup 2014, Brazil’s mobile companies released special packages targeting international visitors.  However, after the World Cup games, these are now almost impossible to find.

To help foreign visitors (gay and straight) find the best options, VamosGay researched all of the pre-paid options (also known as pre-pago) available in Brazil via the nation’s four biggest operators: Claro, Oi, TIM, and Vivo.

Factors for deciding the best option for foreigners included:

  • ability to acquire without a Brazilian national ID number (CPF)
  • availability of short-term plans (daily and weekly, not monthly)
  • ease of recharging credits
  • stores with English-language staff
  • price
  • bonus wi-fi hot spots

Details for each operator is listed below, but the clear winner and the provider that we recommend is Claro.  Read more about all four below and please leave a comment if you have updated information.

Claro

Our first, and most important criterion was the ease of purchasing a SIM card without a CPF (the Brazilian national ID number.)  To acquire a Claro SIM card and mobile data plan, just take your passport to any Claro store.  You will find one at most airports and shopping centers.  Unfortunately, it’s rare to find English-speaking attendants in any of Brazil’s mobile stores. However, Claro and TIM stores located in the tourist centers of the country’s biggest cities are the most likely to have helpful associates who fala inglês.

The Claro team is the friendliest and will most likely direct you to their “Internet Turbinada” plan which delivers 50MB per day for the low  price of R$0.99.  The deal gets event better with data used by WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter being thrown in for free.

Heavy data users can upgrade to daily packages of 65MB for R$1.29 or 85MB for R$1.99.  The SIM card itself from Claro will cost you R$10, but its a powerful 4GMax chip that includes automatic connections to wi-fi hotspots throughout the city.

One downside for tourists: Claro like all Brazilian operators offers no English-language customer support.  With that said … go get a Claro SIM card and get online!  (And remember, newsstands and grocery stores can sell SIM cards and are convenient places to buy credits, but you should make your initial SIM card purchase at a Claro store since only they can activate your line with your passport.

Oi

Beware of the pre-paid plan which does not require a Brazilian national ID … but does require a Brazilian credit card.  That’s a nasty surprise for tourists who sit down at an Oi store and start the paperwork with their passports in hand.

There is such a thing as the “Oi Visitor” package.  For R$40, the user gets a SIM card and R$30 in free credits.  It was a popular option when the World Cup games brought millions of foreigners to Brazil … but now, good luck finding an Oi location which carries it.

Currently, rates for Oi are nearly identical to Claro (R$0.99 per day) but without the perks.  For this reason, Claro remains a better option for foreigners.

Vivo

The only mobile company that didn’t bother targeting World Cup tourists plans to ignore their needs for the Summer Olympics too (as far as we know.)  It’s a shame since Vivo offers great service, and used to be available for foreigners without a CPF number ten years ago.  However, as of today, Vivo is not an option for international visitors.

TIM

Spotty service and shady billing are the hallmarks of one of Brazil’s most popular cellular service companies.  TIM mobile gained a huge market share thanks to advertising and its early success offering unlimited calls and messages between TIM customers.

For foreigners, the company offers TIM Visitor, a special SIM card with 1.5GB of download data.  The package lasts for 7 days and cost R$24.  Like all of the operators listed, add-ons such as international calling and SMS can be added for additional fees.  In the case of TIM, international calls are R$1.00 per minute and SMS is $0.50 per message.  Despite being a partially European company, contacting Europe via TIM does not deliver any special discount.

operadoras-brasileiras-vivo-tim-claro-oi-showmetech

In conclusion, Claro wins.

Load up your phone with our best apps for gay travel in Latin America, get a cheap Claro SIM card, and have a fun (and safe) time in Brazil. And, don’t forget to make sure your apps are not draining your battery and mobile data. Here are a couple of articles with useful tips … Android and iPhone

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.

And, don’t forget … our list of gay friendly hotels and places to stay in Buenos Aires will give you the best perfect spots to rest between parties.

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

⛔ Closed
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 »

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 2018 »

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 2018 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 2018 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 »