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Don't cry for Out UK's Adrian Gillan, as he heads south for a full-on summer of macho Latinos in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina.
Roll-over Rio! Boys in the know fly three extra hours south to Buenos Aires where the mighty River Plate empties its load into the Atlantic Ocean and passions flare in a land of Polo and Tango, still sore with memories of Juntas, Falklands and financial despair.
The age of consent is 18 for all persuasions here, but BA itself is generally relaxed about sexuality - they allow full-on gay partnerships here. Spanish-speaking Argentina, though officially Catholic, doesn't suffer from the same religious hang-ups you'll find around many parts of the world.
Guests at Lugar Gay Guest House.
And rest-assured, this friendly nation certainly love their Brits: the relationship between our two countries goes back centuries and the odd war or football match is hardly going to unsettle that.

First things first: for Europeans and North Americans at least, Argentina is silly cheap. You can stay in a fab hotel inexpensively and eat out royally with wine quite cheaplyNaturally, do still keep an eye on your wallet, but - with police on every corner - you're probably safer here than you are back home. And you'll certainly be warmer in a southern summer that spans November to March, especially amidst humidity which bubbles up frequent refreshing thunder storms.

The 3 million inhabitants of central BA bustle about its American-style grid street system with wide avenues and tall Deco thirties scrapers. And, States-style, there is also one psychotherapist for every thirty of the population - Freud has seen off the Pope. That said, the people themselves, and much of the colonial architecture, are unmistakably European: essentially a heady mix of Spanish and indigenous, with a large scoop of Italian thrown in - as you'll tell from the local district names, mamma-mia cadences and sizzling pizzerias. They also famously like their meat - with or without a pulse.
Which brings us onto the gay scene.

The queer quarter mainly spans the Recoleta, Barrio Norte and Palermo Chico districts just north east of the city centre, and falling into two distinct clusters where it's easy to combine a couple of bars with going onto nearby clubs. A word of warning: Argentineans eat around 11pm, hit the bars around 1am and will rarely enter a club until after 2am. You will need your early evening 'disco nap' if you are to last the course.

EATING

Andy's maybe a relative newcomer on the block, but it does offer unusual specials such as lamb couscous, goulash with spaetzle and Brazilian-style grouper. It does a good brunch on Sundays but is closed on Mondays. Open Weds to Sun from 9pm, nearby Chueca - in a lovely old refurnished house near the club GLAM (see below) - has great atmosphere and good service. But perhaps the best eatery of all is gay-friendly Farmacia in the bohemian old 'Gas Light' district of San Telmo, south of the main gay areas. A café by day from 10.30am onwards; by night a fab restaurant with great food, ambience and service - a must! Open for meals Tue - Sun from 9 pm.

BARS

The first main queer quarter cluster is to be found in streets off Avenida Santa Fé. Check out stalwart Punto G, open every day with stripper and drag shows - staple parts of BA's bar life. More of the same can be found in the nearby stylish basement dive that is Search, in a little street were rent commonly roam - open daily from 11pm.
More fun and more obvious than both is Titanic Club in a side-street yet further along Santa Fé. Sink down into a metallic, grey, gay pre-dance basement bar with - you guessed it - strippers, who use the entire length of the stage-cum-bar to strut their stuff. Shows all end in the same naked hard-cock action, but these muscle boys ring the costume changes to death along the way - anything from animals to spacemen, via Ancient Egypt. Again, open daily but this time from the dazzlingly early hour of 7pm.

You are now well placed for one of either two nearby clubs. Contramano - open Tue-Sat from 12am and Sunday from 8pm - has one mid-size dance floor, surrounded by mirrors and full of 30-somethings. There are some nice cosy tables back near the main bar, and you can head upstairs to another, slightly darker bar, and then up once more to where it's darker still! Pretty cruisy and unpretentious all said.

Equally cruisy but completely different is nearby Angel's with its two dance floors and two bars open Thursday to Sunday from 12am and catering for a mix of young disco boy babe bunnies, TVs and TGs. You'll either love it or hate it.

The other main bar-club cluster is to be found just north at the junction of Avenida Cordoba and the street called Gascon. You'll see some of the same TV's that were at Angel's at the Bach Bar on Cabrera, open Tues-Sun from 10pm. But the main style haunt is definitely Sitges on Cordoba itself, open Weds-Sun from 10.30pm and - reaching far back, bar beyond bar - is packed with pre-club posers propping up walls or lilted at tables.

Many are just itching to get down GLAM, back on Cabrera again but much further down than Bach Bar. Open Thurs-Sat from 1am, GLAM has one dance floor playing all the latest tunes, two bars, a pleasant patio where you can actually talk and a dark room upstairs where there isn't much talking. Cheap, the place gets very crowded on Saturdays, not least because some use it is a springboard onto the other club in the area - Amerika, back on Gascon.

Ah, Amerika: the biggest gay disco in BA, open Sat 1am-8am, and a bizarre experience. The truth is that it has a very mixed clientele, with lots of straight lads looking for easy girls and free booze - as it has an open bar policy once you have paid your entry! There are two dance floors - the main one with house music, the other one above with Latin music - and three bars. With capacity 5000, they really cram punters in, so much so you often practically get pushed around, rather than actually going where you want to. There's little respite in the heaving dark room above where only the most experimental 'straight' boy might dare stray.

OUT AND ABOUT

But there are many other ways to meet men and have sex in BA. Tom´s, just off the long Avenida Florida shopping street in the centre, is basically a venue for horny men with only one thing on their minds. Open Mon-Thur 12pm-3am and Fri-Sun 24 hours, it has one bar, lots of DVD booths with glory holes and special windows, an intricate maze, a darkroom and a basement for leather lovers.

Or to let off more steam, try A Full Sauna near Cordoba and Callao. Similarly open Mon-Thur 12pm-3am and Fri-Sun 24 hours, it has a gym, dry sauna, wet sauna, massage, sun beds, bar, Jacuzzi, labyrinth, cabins and lots of saucy vids screening. Talking of which, porn cinemas are very popular here - especially at lunchtimes and just after work! Try 4-screen ABC near Tom's - open Mon-Fri. 9am-6am and Sat-Sun from 12pm-6am; or 2-screen Box back up near Punto G, open Mon-Sat 2pm-6am; or 2-screen Eden on Santa Fé, open 24 hours daily.

Heading outside? San Telmo's Plaza Dorrego Antique Fair is awash with queers on a Sunday morning, looking for fleshy boyish bargains. The city's green Reserva Ecológica, between the likewise cruisy Puerto Madero docks and the River Plate, gets busy daily with wildlife of another sort.

BED

Near the San Telmo Market, the Farmacia and Palacio, Lugar Gay is the only gay men-only hotel in town, with spacious rooms, hearty breakfasts and hosts who do everything to make your stay special. Lugar is as much an LGB community hub as a hotel, offering a range of activities - you haven't really arrived until you've tried the Gay Tango classes held here every Sunday 5pm-7pm. You can also check out the deals with out hotel partner Bookings who have a big selection of gay-friendly Buenos Aires hotels.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Andy's (J.L.Borges 1975, Palermo; T: 0054 11 4833 9597)
Chueca (Soler 3283; T: 0054 11 4963 3430)
Farmacia (Bolivar 898; T: 0054 11 4300 6151)
Punto G (Anchorena 1347; 0054 11 4829 0664)
Search (Azcuénaga 1007; T: 0054 11 4824 0432)
Titanic Club (Av. Callao 1156; T: 0054 11 4816-1333)
Contramano - (Rodríguez Peña 1081; no phone)
Angel's (Viamonte 2168; no phone)
Bach Bar (Cabrera 4390; no phone)
Sitges (Av. Córdoba 4119; T 0054 11 4861 3763)
GLAM (Cabrera 3046; T: 0054 11 4963 2521)
Amerika (Gascon 1040; T: 0054 11 4865 4416)
Tom´s (Viamonte 638; T: 0054 11 4322 4404)
A Full Sauna (Viamonte 1770; T: 0054 11 4371-7263)
ABC (Esmeralda 506; no phone)
Box (Laprida 1423; no phone)
Eden (Santa Fé 1833; no phone)
Hotel Lugar Gay (Defensa 1120; T: 0054 11 4300 4747) Website

Hotels in Buenos Aires from Bookings

Revised April 2016.

 

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