You cannot really have low expectations of the home of the tango, can you? Just the sinuous, intimate passion that is synonymous with the dance form, Buenos Aires has a character that will cling to you like a long lost lover, one that you do not ever want to leave again.
Buenos Aires – or BA as it is lovingly called – developed a reputation as a gay mecca for travelers in the early 2000s. Quite apart from the overt attitude that is the norm in the other prominent Latin American gay destination, Rio, BA’s gay culture is more understated, low-key and perhaps more sophisticated. Either way, the LGBT presence is visible and the community accepts it without ado. Gay visitors are sometimes surprised to find that the city’s vibe is akin to that in many large European and American cities. BA even hosts an annual Pride parade every November.
Three main localities get the lion’s share of BA’s gay action – Palermo, Recoleta and San Telmo which are situated adjacent to each other, north to south overlooking the Rio de la Plata.
Palermo is home to unending streets of trendy bars, clubs and eateries as well as boutique shopping outlets. Recoleta, one of the city’s wealthiest barrios lies further south, and is a popular gay haunt with the main draw being its exquisite historical architecture. San Telmo, being the oldest barrio in BA, shares a similar architectural heritage; within its boundaries are museums, antique shops and regular fairs to pique the interest of history buffs and knickknack collectors.
Hollywood glamour, Argentinian history and gay icon, Madonna intersect through a decidedly unique confluence of events at Casa Rosada in the Plaza de Mayo. Yes, this is where Eva Peron – played by Madonna in the 1996 biopic, Evita – called from the balcony on the country to not cry for her. An interesting fact is that the country introduced laws against sexual discrimination the same year the movie was released.
One thing that throws visitors off about Buenos Aires is how late the night scene kicks off – 10 pm is when most people have dinner and the gay clubs only start to heat up after 2 in the morning. Of course, when Aireans do party, they leave little to the imagination.
January and February host the peak summer crowd and are best avoided for the higher rates and longer queues. The April to June and September to December months offer a cooler destination and beautiful spring and fall foliage.
Buenos Aires seems to be geared more towards the gay male and offers rather less variety when it comes to lesbian entertainment. However, the overall welcoming attitude that the city emanates is a great backdrop to any vacation here.