Buenos Aires has a thriving gay and lesbian scene that's the most impressive in South America. Though there's no official gay neighborhood, much of the action is in Barrio Norte, Palermo, and San Telmo, whose gentrification has been accompanied by an influx of gay men and is the site of the city's main gay hotels, El Lugar Gay and Axel. Gay nightlife begins late, with nightclubs opening around midnight, picking up between 2 and 3am, and closing around 7am. Bars might open as early as 8pm. Pick up a free copy of GMap (www.gmaps360.com) or the city's own gay map at tourism kiosks and other venues, or buy La Otra Guía (www.laotraguiaweb.com.ar) or Imperio magazine (www.revista-imperio.com) at newsstands. Gay welcome center Pink Point, Lavalle 669, Luxor Galería shop 24 (tel. 11/4322-1343; www.pinkpointbuenosaires.com), provides information and offers nightlife tours.
Buenos Aires: Latin America's Gay Tourism Capital
For the past few years, Buenos Aires has reigned as Latin America's preeminent gay travel destination. Gays and lesbians are estimated at 15% to 20% of international tourists, and many mainstream venues stress their gay friendliness. Legal advances on the national level have helped: In 2003, Argentina legalized same-sex civil unions, and in July 2010 it became the only country in Latin America and one of the few worldwide to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill was signed in the Casa Rosada by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who expressed at the event her hopes that other Latin American countries would soon follow Argentina's example. She also commented to this writer that the new law might influence Americans to move to Argentina seeking a freedom unavailable in the United States. While discrimination against the transgendered remains a serious problem, in 2010, Florencia de la V, a transgendered celebrity and event promoter, became the first to have her identity card changed to match her new gender, representing a major leap for transgendered rights.
With its enormous collection of bars, dance clubs, restaurants, and tango halls catering to the gay and lesbian community, Buenos Aires is rivaled by no other Latin American city in terms of its offerings for visiting gays and lesbians. The Buenos Aires Tourism Office, the Ronda (www.theronda.com.ar), and G-Maps (www.gmaps360.com) all publish maps detailing the gay scene. Check out La Otra Guía (www.laotraguiaweb.com.ar) or Imperio magazine (www.revista-imperio.com) at newsstands, or the websites www.gayinbuenosaires.com.ar and www.sentidog.com.ar, for more listings and news. The Comunidad Homosexual de Argentina (CHA; tel. 11/4361-6382; www.cha.org.ar) and the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals (www.lgbt.org.ar) are additional resources; together, they also organize the annual Gay Pride March, known as Marcha del Orgullo Gay, always held the first Saturday in November.
A number of international resources for LGBT travelers also provide information on travel in Buenos Aires, including the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA; tel. 800/448-8550 or 954/776-2626; www.iglta.org) and the websites www.PlanetOut.com and www.Outtraveler.com. Spartacus International Gay Guide (Bruno Gmünder Verlag; www.spartacusworld.com/gayguide) and Odysseus (Odysseus Enterprises Ltd.) are annual English-language guidebooks targeting a gay male audience, with some information for lesbians. Look for them at gay and lesbian bookstores or order them from Giovanni's Room, 1145 Pine St., Philadelphia, PA 19107 (tel. 215/923-2960; www.giovannisroom.com). In Buenos Aires, visit the gay bookstore Otras Letras and purchase Historia de la Homosexualidad en Argentina, by Osvaldo Bazan, for a better historical understanding of gay Argentina.
A resto-bar is a restaurant-bar combination. You can come for a meal or for drinks only. In general, the bar portions of resto-bars don't get busy until after 11pm. These are more relaxed than traditional bars and it's easier to chat with locals.
Tango Salons and Lessons
Tango was originally danced by men together, because the form was at first considered too obscene for women to dance with men. In the modern era, gay Porteños take this a step further, with three gay tango salons bringing back old-fashioned, same-sex tango.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.