Many Porteños are decended from the massive influx of immigrants of the latter half of the 19th century through the mid-20th century. From Italy and Spain they came in their millions, encouraged by pro-immigration articles in the 1853 Argentine Constitution. There were also large groups of Germans and Jews among those who came from all over Europe, plus peoples of Russia, Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere in South America. Smaller populations of Welsh, Irish, and South African Boers, among others, were also culturally influential within their own areas of settlement. The Spanish language spoken here, heavily influenced by dialects of Andalusia, Murcia and Galicia, can also sound like Neapolitan Italian sometimes. Not surprising in a country where almost two thirds of the population claims Italian descent. Lunfardo, heard in tango lyrics, is full of Italianisms, and famous Italian-Argentines include Lionel Messi and Pope Francis.
Following independence, English and Scottish settlers arrived to invest in agriculture and industry. They introduced football to Argentina as they helped to build rail and banking systems, and British Shorthorn, Hereford and Aberdeen Angus cattle breeds, along with refrigerated train cars and ships, contributed to Argentina's position as a major world producer of beef. Tango, fútbal, and bife endure among the main passions of Porteños today, to which you might add pizza, pasta and wine.
Tango, the distinctive dance and musical styles that originated in working-class port neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, developed from the mix of these many sources. Spanish, Cuban and African influences, and the contributions of other European immigrants' instruments and techniques, produced the final definition that would become the craze of Paris in 1912, then London, Berlin, and the world. Argentine high society soon adopted this previously "low-class" dance as their own. Male-only groups of tango dancers had often practiced for years among themselves before their debut at a public Milonga, but military juntas in power from 1966, in the course of their "Dirty War," invoked laws against public gatherings to stop them. Tens of thousands of activists and political dissidents "disappeared" during these years until the military, defeated in the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas War, stepped aside after general elections of 1983. The modern tango rivival dates from 1980s Paris and New York.
The return to democracy also brought a revival in Carnival. Today, a million and a half Porteños take to the streets to enjoy the festivities in 37 gated-off street sections in neighborhoods around the city, each February or early March before Lent. Drummers provide the pumping beat for the costumed murgueros to sing, dance, wave flags and loadly express themselves concerning the general state of affairs in society.
The citizens of Buenos Aires seem unusually relaxed about matters of the heart. Gay people here are — like the city itself — sexy and sophisticated. Civil unions have been legal for gay couples since 2003, and the city has long been at the forefront of gay rights in South America. In 2010, the country passed same-sex marriage, making it the first country in the region to do so. Oddly enough, there isn’t just one gay neighborhood in Buenos Aires. Political change came so fast that there wasn’t time. Today you find gays living in almost every part of the city, rubbing elbows with their straight neighbors. “If you want to go dancing, you don’t need to go to the gay disco,” one local says. “You can go to any disco and you will find gays there. We didn’t need to create ghettos to feel free or to be what we are.”
International flights arrive at Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini de Ezeiza, located about 29 miles west of downtown. There are shuttle buses and taxis waiting to whisk you downtown. Minibus shuttles cost about US$12 and drop you at their downtown station - see reservation kiosks in the arrivals hall. Inexpensive public buses run to Monte Grande railway station or Plaza de Mayo, among other destinations. White Taxis are the fastest way into town, about 40 minutes time, costing around US$30 - also with arrivals hall kiosk reservations.
The city’s subway, called the Subte, is quick and convenient. Single-ride tickets costing less than a dollar get you anywhere in the system of 86 stations on six color-coded lines. The network is complemented by the Premetro line and the Urquiza suburban line, with another 17 stations between them. There are also connections to the rapid transport bus network - see their website for routes and schedules. Black and yellow taxis are always available, and surprisingly affordable - but don't take one to the airport unless the cost of the surchange is outweighed by convenience.
In Buenos Aires you’ll spot gay men strolling through many of the city’s upscale enclaves, especially in Palermo, Recoleta, and Barrio Norte. Avenida Santa Fe in Recoleta, and Palermo to the north with gay bars and nightclubs, are the gayest areas, and the historic San Telmo district is a magnet for gay couples looking to nest.
Less than an hour by boat up the Río de la Plata from Buenos Aires, Tres Bocas is near Tigre. The delta area, once known for elaborate Carnival boat processions, is now a relaxing weekend getaway for gay men from the city. It's also home to older guys who fled here to avoid police persecution or murder during the 1970s dictatorship, and then stayed on.
Currency and Money
The Argentine peso is the local currency. ATMs are common downtown, so there’s no need to carry lots of cash. Check with your bank before leaving home for advice concerning withdrawal fees and credit card purchases.
Media and resources
The Gay Guide is the most useful resource in town, with business and services listings, events, maps and articles in English and Spanish. Besides suggestions of what to do and see, and how to get around, they'll help you find a new friend, choose among local bars, clubs and restaurants, and book a hotel room, or short term apartment rental.
Defunct gay periodicals include: AG Magazine, formerly with gay news and infomation for all of Argentina, now with just a few postings on facebook; and Revista Imperio, which ceased publication a few years ago.
SentidoG, the Spanish-language Buenos Aires portal, aims "...to inform and entertain, and to promote the visibility and social inclusion of diverse sexual orientations, identities and gender expressions of gender within the LGBT community, at local, regional and international levels."
The City of Buenos Aires official tourism website has Turismo LGBT pages (be patient, it's slow), including information on gay marriages. For their Buenos Aires general tourist information, sports and cultural events, see BuenosAiresTurismo.
Festival Internacional de Cine Asterisco, the LGBTQ film festival, is a six-day series of screenings in early November, and the Pride March, since 1992, has usually filled the streets of Buenos Aires on the first Saturday of November.
The English-language Buenos Aires Herald daily newspaper has been published here since 1876, during Victorian times, when Britain played a part in the development of railway and tramway lines, banking, agriculture and commerce.
For map locations and website links to businesses listed below, and more, see our gay Buenos Aires listings pages. For a look at some of the faces around town at the clubs, see our Buenos Aires gallery photos.
Going Out - bars & cafes
Buenos Aires Club (Perú 571, San Telmo), Tango Queer classes, open to anyone who's friendly, each Tuesday at 8:30pm, with both roles taught. See details of the November International Queer Tango in events listings.
Cafe Tortoni (Av. de Mayo 825), artist/intellectual hangout of stained glass, wood, marble and bronze since 1858, cafe/coffeehouse with breakfast, lunch dinner and late evening menus, near Plaza de Mayo.
Casa Brandon (Luis María Drago, 236), "Club de Cultura Queer" -- something for everyone with restaurant, movies, books, art events, music and performances; open daily to 2am, Saturdays until 4am, special Sunday events from 5pm. BrandonGayDay queer dance dance parties take place every month or so at clubs around town, including Niceto Club (Niceto Vega 5515).
Contramano (Rodríguez Peña 1082, Recoleta), midnight to 6am men's bar, Friday/Saturday gay pop/Latin/electro parties; Sunday bears, older crowd and their younger friends. Last entry at 4am.
Croque Madame (Av. del Libertador 1902), garden cafe tables set around fountain at coach house of the elegant grand mansion at the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo; beverages, toasted sandwiches, salads and pastries.
Flux (Marcelo T. De Alvear 980, Center) lounge bar, popular with expats, men, women all ages 18+ crowd, break the ice on arrival at happy hours from 7pm, earliest in city.
Jungle Bar (Honduras 4184, Palermo), downstairs cocktail lounge, free pizza nights, upstairs cruise bar, dark room.
KM Zero Bar (Av. Santa Fe 2516, Recoleta) small popular nightly gay bar, drag and stripper shows, dancing; tourists and locals.
Mundo Bizarro (Serrano 1222, Palermo), gay-friendly retro (40-50's) cocktail lounge, unusual music, visuals mix; burgers, sushi and Mexican food.
Niceto Club (Niceto Vega 5510, Palermo), gay-friendly lounge and dance club, DJs, multi-media shows, singers, live bands.
Peuteo (Gurruchaga1867, Palermo), 7pm-3am gay bar, sexy staff, shot boys, mixed/mostly young male crowd, theme parties, performers.
Pepo Pepona Resto (José Antonio Cabrera 4014, at Gascón), Wednesday-Sunday gay resto-bar dining, late night well-endowed male strippers perform for customers at their tables.
Pride Cafe (Balcarce 869, San Telmo), daytime through evening hours cafe and bar, laid-back mixed crowd, sidewalk tables.
Tom's (Viamonte 638, basement), bar, lounge; 24-hour cruise maze for men, dark rooms, video porn, cabins, j-o area and glory holes.
Zoom (Uriburu 1018, Recoleta), men's sex club, bar and lounge, maze, video porn, cablins, glory holes, open 24/7.
CLOSED: Bach Bar (Cabrera 4390, Palermo) long-time gay favorite of 19 years, women's nights, drag, cabaret and comedy shows; Inside (Bartolome Mitre 1571, Center), restaurant and bar, nightly male strippers.
Nightlife & dance clubs
Amerika (Gascon 1040, Almagro), the big gay Thursdays through Sundays dance club, different music on each of three dance floors, chill-out lounge; mix of all ages 18+ especially on Saturdays.
Angels (Viamonte 2168), intimate dance floors, weekends midnight to 7am, electronica, Latin & pop music varieties, mostly gay men but everyone welcome.
Esquina Carlos Gardel (Carlos Gardel 3200, Abasta), fine international dining, wines and cocktails; classic Tango performances/ on stage dinner shows with resident orchestra.
Fiesta Eyeliner at Barra Libre (Av. Córdoba 543), Brit Pop, young/queerpunk alternative Saturday dance party nights.
Glam Disco (Cabrera 3046, Recoleta), small dance boite, occasional gay dances with crush of hot and sweaty young guys and electronic/Latin pop music downstairs; chill-out lounge upstairs.
La Marshall (Riobamba 416), gay Tango classes and late night dancing each Friday. Tango Queer has Tuesday classes at Buenos Ayres Club (Perú 571, San Telmo), and Thursday classes at Escuela Argentina del Tango, (Viamonte at San Martín, Racoleta). Dancing continues late into the night.
La Warhol at Barra Libre (Av. Córdoba 543), every Friday night gay/mixed pop dance party, men/women, high energy klub-kidz, divas, campy theme dress-up parties.
Ma.Cho itinerant gay fiesta nights between Buenos Aires and Montevideo clubs - see their twitter for upcoming dates and locations.
María at Ugarte (Manuel Ugarte 1640. Nuñez) or M.O.D. (Balcarce 563, San Telmo), periodic women-only disco party nights for lesbians, with shows and live music performances.
MostraFest at Palermo Club (Jorge Luis Borges 2450), divas and dancing Saturday monthly high-energy theme party spectaculars; go-go boys, stage shows, carnival/freaky dress-ups, wide ranging sex/genders, ages, and types.
RHebel at Bayside Club (Acceso Punta Carrasco), once or twice a month Friday all-night outdoor summer parties, waterside at the Costanera Complex in Punta Carrasco; mixed, mostly young and male beautiful crowd, shows and exotic dancers.
Sábados Rheo at Studio Crobar (Marcelino Freyre, Arco 17, Palermo Park), gay/alternative fiesta every Saturday night; terrace, multiple bars, VIP area, visual shows, go-go boys, performers, electro-pop music, and cute guys.
Sitges (Av. Córdoba 4119, Palermo), popular club, dancing until 5am Fridays and Saturdays, free pizza or pasta nights, strippers, drag shows, drag and game nights.
Teatro Vorterix (Federico Lacroze & Alvarez Thomas), refurbished grand cinema, young mixed dance crowd, shows, performances, wide variety of music; Fiesta Plop Friday nights with drag and elaborate stage shows; and Fiesta Puerca Saturdays, also with stage shows and a young crowd dancing to techno, reggaeton, and cachengue.
No longer active: ClubLand (Av Rafael Obligado Costanera 6151, Costanera), former Pacha, Saturday electronic dance club, 3 lounges and terrace; Fiesta Troya Friday drag divas, young/mixed, mostly guys, was at Amerika; and Pink Just For Us (Esmeralda 1040), mostly young lesbians' parties.
Saunas and sex
A Full Spa (Viamonte 1770), men's sauna, steam, Jacuzzi, gym, games, cabins, massage, sun beds, bar/snacks, "relax" room with porn videos.
Homo Sapiens (Gascon 956), warm-up space next to big dance club Amerika; bar and dance floor, cruise cabins, sauna, open daily noon until midnight.
Kadú (Sanchez de Bustamante 1633), Wednesday and Friday through Sunday men's cruise bar; Friday naked nights by invitation only, Saturday leather dress code. Website down, status uncertain.
Prostitution is not illegal in Argentina but pimping is, and solicitations should not take place within two blocks of residential areas, schools or churches. Street hustlers, known locally as "taxiboys" are less common in these days of apps such as Grindr, but may still be seen around Avenida Santa Fe. Your service provider will know a hotel by-the-hour nearby.
As a North American website we cannot now link to escort services. See local Argentine media for information about escorts and massage services such as Soy Tuyo, Leonos, Revista Ratones (also with print edition), and Foro Escort where freelancers post listings, ads and photos.
Hotels & Guesthouses
Bayres B&B (Av Cordoba 5842; 54-11-4772-3877), six-room gay B&B in Palermo Viejo, balconies, art-deco house, breakfast, internet access.
Be Hotel (Venezuela 649; 54-11-4136-9393), San Telmo gay-friendly hotel, former Axel Hotel, rooftop pool, sauna/spa, restaurant/bars, massage services, tour arrangements, Wi-Fi.
Buenos Aires Gay B&B (Uriarte 2363; 54-11-4775-0509), gay-owned urban resort, two rental units, large heated pool, gym, full breakfast.
Lugar Gay Bed & Breakfast (Defensa 1120; 54-11-4300-4747), 8-room 18+ men-only San Telmo guesthouse, budget to moderate rates, leather room, bear cave, breakfast, High Tea, drinks and snacks; cable TV, common kitchen-dining room, video library, intenet access.
Rosario: 300km northwest of Buenos Aires on the western shore of the Paraná River, the city is an important metropolitan area with a growing gay scene.
AquaMan (Maipu 1282, Rosario), men's bathhouse, earlier crowd beginning at noon, dry and steam saunas, whirlpool, massages, refreshments, free internet, bar with food.
Gotika City Club (Mitre 1539, Rosario) to the north of Buenos Aires, stylish building, chic and beautiful crowd; full schedule of fiestas and shows includes skate night.
Sana Sana Estar Natural (Alvear 14bis), gay-friendly whole foods restaurant; crepes, salads, veggie/vegan daily specials, fesh juices.
Mar del Plata: Resort on the Atlantic coast, four- to five-hours drive southeast of the capital with nearly 750,000 year-round residents that swell to millions in summertime, November to March, busiest in December and January. Much of Buenos Aires’s cultural scene moves here for the season, with summer stock theatre and other entertainment, along with DJs who travel the beach scene circuit.
Clip Club (Santiago del Estero 2265), gay/straight-friendly disco club, impressive sound/lights, VIP and dark rooms, shows/performances.
Extasis (Corrientes 2044), weekend gay dance club, men/women mostly young mix, go-go dancers, shows.
Pin Up Club (Olavarría 2170), gay/straight DJ-driven techno/trance music summer season weekend dance club.
Córdoba: The country's second largest city at the geographical heart of Argentina has the country’s oldest university and a large student population. Che Guevara’s family moved their young and asthmatic son from Rosario to nearby Alta Gracia in 1932 for the drier air, to a house that's now a museum. The small gay scene is mostly in the Güemes neighborhood.
Beep Pub (171 Sucre), weekend gay club until 5am, drag shows, karoake and theme party nights.
Capitán Cervaceria (244 Achával Rodríguez), 6pm-midnight student-popular mixed restaurant/ bar with terrace and craft beers.
Dorian Grey (Bd Las Heras 150), Friday/ Saturday heterofriendly cabaret nightclub and bowling alley; DJs play electronic music.
Milk (139 Laprida), Wednesday-Saturday gay-friendly/mixed cocktails bar.
Zen Disco (Av. Julio A Roca 730), Friday/Saturday dance club and resto-bar, young mixed crowd; Reggaeton and Latin music until 5am.
by Michael Luongo
Brazil does not have a monopoly on Carnival in South America. Argentina’s Gualeguaychú, a town of about 100,000 people in the province of Entre Ríos, approximately 230 kilometres northwest of Buenos Aires in the subtropical Mesopotamia region, hosts the Carnaval del Pais (in English).The six-week extravaganza, held weekends in January, February and March (the southern hemisphere’s summer), is full of feathers, sequins, floats and a flamboyant energy quotient that should put it on every gay traveller’s wish list.
Like Rio’s parade, the main events are held in a stadium, called a corsó-dromo, built over what had been the town’s train station. Various comparsas, or schools, compete and are judged based on style, theme and performance, with Mari Mari and Papelitos two key competitors. Throughout the summer, nearly 500,000 tourists will come to watch or take part in the events, party in the town’s bars and swim at Nandubaysal beach, on the Uruguay River, with its view to neighbouring Uruguay. Naturally, wherever there’s an opportunity for dress-up, semi-nudity and feathers, you’ll find plenty of gays and lesbians, many coming each weekend from Buenos Aires for the festivities.
One gay tour company that sells trips to Gualeguaychú is BueGay, based in Buenos Aires and run by Alfredo Ferreyra, who is also the Argentine representative for the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA). Ferreyra’s company offers weekend or one-day tours; it can procure tickets for events and can provide English-speaking tour guides.
A frequent visitor to Gualeguaychú himself, Ferreyra says, “North Americans should visit Gualeguaychú to get acquainted with local culture and a different carnival from the one of Rio.” He adds that while Carnaval del Pais might not be as large as the more famous Brazilian event, it is still “quite outstanding ” and offers a welcome change for tourists, many of whom limit their Argentine visit to Buenos Aires, perhaps adding only Mendoza or Iguazu Falls to their itineraries.
There are a few gay-friendly places in Gualeguaychú, but the most famous is El Angel, an important part of Argentina’s recent queer-rights history: it’s the drag bar where trans-gender performer Florencia de la V got her start. She eventually became a wealthy and powerful activist who helped spur the 2012 change in the country’s identity law, allowing those who have transitioned to change their identity cards to match their new gender. “Nowadays,” says Ferreyra, “Flor de la V is a woman according to the law and is married and has two children.” She also hosts a popular TV show and is a regular fixture in Argentina’s celebrity publications.
Beyond Carnaval, Gualeguaychú is known for the hot-spring resorts that surround the town. These, along with horseback riding at nearby estancias, or ranches, and other rural activities, are popular for longer stays. Ferreyra can arrange these, hotel rooms, house shares or other accommodations. Be aware that rental spaces are tight during the season; some people choose to go rustic by camping on the beach.
The town’s proximity to Buenos Aires, and the night bus system, allow you to come, see the parades, party in the clubs afterward and hightail it back to Buenos Aires in the morning. See Gualeguaychú Tourism for more information.