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What's New, Buenos Aires? Discovering Argentina's Hot Spot

by Mark Chesnut
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Jun 1, 2018

It's been more than 80 years since Eva Perón (the subject of Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical "Evita") first arrived in Argentina's capital to pursue her acting career, but LGBTQ travelers still find Buenos Aires just as alluring as that legendary first lady did. There's just something about Buenos Aires.

For queer travelers, Argentina itself is a standout. It's one of the most progressive countries in the hemisphere when it comes to LGBTQ rights; it was the first Latin American nation to legalize same-sex marriage, and also has a comprehensive transgender rights law. Combine this forward-thinking attitude with world-class cultural institutions, thriving gay nightlife and amazing hotels, and you've got plenty of reasons to put Buenos Aires on your wish list.

Some foreigners like it Buenos Aires so much that they move here. Such is the case for Kurt Sammons, a 20-something Jamaican who was looking for a place to live that would be more accepting than his home country. "I chose Buenos Aires because it's a very gay-friendly place," he said. "It's a very open city, and there's lots to do." Now, Sammons offers free gay nightlife tours through GuruWalk, a tour company that provides a variety of tip-based walking tours in Buenos Aires.

Perhaps no one knows more about the evolution of LGBTQ Buenos Aires than Pablo De Luca and Gustavo Noguera, who operate GNetwork360 (a fast-growing annual LGBT tourism conference. "It's incredible how much it's changed," De Luca said about the event's popularity. "Growth has been fast. Since starting, we've attracted 10,000 people with various topics related to gay tourism."

The Best of Buenos Aires

This bustling metropolis has so much to offer that a strategic approach is crucial. It's a long trip from most English-speaking countries, so the best way to arrive is by treating yourself to the front of the cabin; I tried the new Polaris business class service on United Airlines, an indulgent service complete with lie-flat seats and luxe Saks Fifth Avenue bedding. Arriving refreshed after a good night's sleep in the air means you won't waste your first day.

When it comes to accommodations, Buenos Aires offers something for nearly every style and budget. Top luxury choices include the Four Seasons Buenos Aires, which has its own Beaux-Arts landmark building on the premises with a palatial presidential suite, and where the elegant spa offers a porteño tango massage treatment set to the beat of tango music. "Evita" fans take note: the Four Seasons is where Madonna herself stayed while filming).

Noteworthy mid-price hotels include the NH Collection Buenos Aires Centro Historico, which is steps from many downtown attractions, including the Casa Rosada and the cathedral. The hotel itself is modern and fresh; splurge on a junior suite and you'll be treated to a large and luxurious bathroom with a standalone tub that's perfect for indulgent soaks.

For a fully gay ambiance, consider Lugar Gay, a guesthouse for gay men in the historic San Telmo district. Also, campy glam night in BA, consider the Barbie Room at the Hilton Buenos Aires (Available only through the end of 2018). This fanciful guest room features décor inspired by the Barbie DreamCamper, including toys, amenities and a special Barbie Breakfast menu.

To get the best rates on airfare, hotels and tours, companies like Borello Travel & Tours are often the best equipped to create complete vacation packages. Borello's team also provides insightful restaurant recommendations, which are especially helpful in a city renowned for cuisine. Beef, pasta, and empanadas are among the local favorites; one of the best introductions is offered at the Argentine Experience, a restaurant concept that also teaches guests about Argentinian culture as they learn to make empanadas and sample local wines.

Exploring Gay Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires has more LGBTQ excitement than you could ever discover in one visit. To get an overview of life after dark, consider a free gay bar tour from GuruWalk or the Buenos Aires Out and About Pub Crawl, which takes groups on Saturday-night visits to some of the top bars and clubs.

Among the must-see hotspots for night owls are Amerika, one of the city's largest clubs, Contramano, which attracts bears and older guys, and Glam, one of the trendiest dance clubs. Learning the tango, Argentina's most legendary music and dance, is also a must. Two venues -- La Marshall and Tango Queer -- offer lessons and dance parties for the LGBT community.

Anyone looking to revel in LGBTQ Pride should visit Buenos Aires in November when the Marcha del Orgullo takes place on the first or second Saturday of the month. November is also filled with other noteworthy LGBTQ events, including the Asterisco LGBT film festival, BA Diversa LGBT festival, GNetwork360 tourism conference and Tango Queer Festival.

Buenos Aires is even home to the first subway station dedicated to an LGBT activist Carlos Jáuregui. In 1982 he led the city's first LGBT pride parade, and in 1984 he became the first president of the gay rights organization Comunidad Homosexual Argentina (Argentine Homosexual Community). The city renamed the former Santa Fe station on the H line after him just last year. Buenos Aires is so cool, it even knows how to make mass transit gay.


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