A tour through Latin America can expand your mind, delight your tastebuds, and brighten your Insta profile. Intrepid street art lives alongside pastel pink balconies and smoky street food stands. There’s as much to see as there is to taste, as much to ponder as there is to love.
But not every city has a gay club. Thanks to the pandemic, many cities have lost their gay establishments to the queerafter, leaving gay tourists and locals to fend for themselves. And as for the cities that managed to keep gay clubs around, they’ve still sustained wounds. Lima, a metropolis that can fit the entirety of Italy within its city limits, only has one gay club left in its city center.
But fret not, young Fagowan. There are still places to flaunt your mesh shirts and salsa moves. Just look beyond the yellow brick road and towards Latin America’s traveling gay parties. These wondrous events happen only once a week or once a month, then flicker away like a mirage of homosexuality. Sometimes, they appear in the same place; other times, they vanish without a trace, only to rise, rejuvenated, in a new city. But no matter where you choose to bathe yourself in drink and dance, you’ll be grateful for the fleeting glimpse of paradise.
Here is your guide to the best, brightest, and most bombastic gay parties in Latin America.
Once you bump and grind your way through Quito’s clubs, you’ll find a bonus party awaiting you at Secret Location. Well, maybe you won’t actually find it: Its location changes every month (hence the name). In fact, to make sure you don’t miss it, you’ll have to connect with locals on Grindr (we’re sure you’ll HATE that). Alternatively, you can inquire about Secret Location via their Instagram page. Either way, you’ll thank us once you get there. It’s not an accident that it’s the most popular gay party among Quiteños.
Slap on your sequins and break out the body paint: This is the electric dance party of your dreams. Well, maybe just one of your dreams. In Lima, where Downtown remains the only gay club in the city center, you take what you can get. Located in the boho-chic, art-infused Barranco district, Discofobia promises a night full of shimmering lights, energetic DJs, and outfits. This party titillates Lima’s power twinks as much as it does the creative elite. You’ll be entertained just watching the cavalcade of fashionistas: Gender is merely an artistic medium here. Dancing is the only directive. However, if you’re not a huge fan of electronic music, you can check out the equally fun Bulbo, Matadero, or La Santa Locura.
Despite all its coastal colonial charm, Cartagena is anemic in the club department. Many downtown gay havens have shuttered their doors after the pandemic, leaving just City Club and the distant Crazy Breeze Club to titillate local tios. Unfortunately, Cartagena is bereft of even traveling gay parties as well, rendering its label as a “gay city” fairly hollow in 2023. That doesn’t mean it’s bereft of things to do overall – the restaurants, cafés, shops, and street art will still entertain – but you shouldn’t count on a nonstop twerk fest here. However, its next-door neighbor Barranquilla is actually home to one of the best gay parties in Latin America: El Carnaval Gay, held during the city’s famous annual Carnaval celebration. On top of that, the gay part of the city is clean, organized, and clear of pickpocketing street vendors. In Cartagena, you can have a necklace ripped off your neck; in Barranquilla, you’re more likely to be complimented for it.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is alive with music and dancing until the wee hours of the morning, but that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to the usual bars and clubs. Fiesta Plop hosts regular parties at various locations that feature DJs, dancers, pop hits, and Latin beats. And while you can expect Fiesta Plop to provide an unfailing good time, you can also rely on Plop’s generosity during larger events like Pride and Carnaval. Soon enough, you’ll be prancing around and partying like a porteño.
Playa Zipolite, Mexico
Mexico’s famous gay destinations like Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta are at no loss for trendy parties, but Mexico’s smaller cities often feel somewhat straight. However, Zipolite – a former fishing village – has become an alternative destination for queer men making their Mexican pilgrimage. The queer-friendly, nudie-friendly o-gay-sis radiates body positivity and sexual openness. And while you’ll see and do plenty at the local nudist beach, you’ll also find warm bodies waiting for you at Casa Nudista every Saturday from 3 to 8 pm. This reliable pool party may not be the biggest festival in Latin America, but it’s reliably fun and a great way to meet like-minded people. Just be aware of the #1 rule: Nudism is mandatory.
Santiago is a lovely Latin American locale to live your truth in. There’s little judgment here in the City of the Island Hills – unless, of course, you’re bringing bad vibes. Plus, Santiaguinos are not only hot but humble, welcoming tourists of all types with soulful smiles and embarrassed, flirty glances. Plus, there’s plenty to discover in terms of salacious Santiaguino partying: You’ll be able to walk that duck in both Santiago and the surrounding region. Among the most famous parties, though, is Súper Fiesta Barcelona, which continues to provide electro-pop, EDM, and Top 40 bliss year after year.