There are more than 50 active volcanoes in Chile, but some of the hottest action can be found in its capital, Santiago. A cosmopolitan destination in South America, Santiago boasts a diverse gay community, with many visible bars and clubs.
Gays in the city tend to gravitate towards the bohemian sensibility of the Bellavista district (and some parts of neighboring Provincia), with funky shops and upscale restaurants wedged between after-hour clubs and bathhouses.
Although same-sex unions are not recognized in Chile, several bills have been introduced within the last couple of years to allow gay marriage–only to the diffused last minute by the strong right-wing religious will. However, homophobia is in a steady decline as several non-profit organizations work to bring a lively pride parade into the city and to foster equality. Recently, its current conservative president, Sebastian Piera, featured a gay couple holding hands in one of his campaign ads.
Banos 282 – Majestic baths
New kids on the block, take advantage of the under-25 discount. For older gentlemen, 282 also offers special deals for couples and entrance happy hours.
II Palantino – Discreet sauna
With dark rooms, videos room, this sauna has many places to get steamy sessions going.
Banos Metro – Plenty of services
Finnish sauna, Turkish steam bath, Massages, Sling rooms, Bear parties. This bathhouse in the Bellas Artes district has everything you could ask for in a clean, but still dungeon-like facility.
There is but one simple requirement to fall in love with Buenos Aires: blood coursing through your veins. A healthy blood supply will propel your feet as you walk for miles admiring the historic architecture and grand public spaces. It will feed your brain as the endless cultural offering provoke your imagination. And it will, of course, fuel your libido while dancing until dawn to sultry latin beats alongside the gorgeous Porteos (Argentines born in BsAs) and the cosmopolitan mix from around the globe.
In fact the Portenos joke about just how gay the great city has become in a relatively short period. In 2004 Buenos Aires became the first city in Latin America to legalize civil unions, and a steady sexual liberalization has allowed not only locals but also gay visitors to enjoy all the city has to offer without fear. The next logical step came in July 2010 when Argentina became the tenth country in the world to grant full marriage and adoption equality to gay and lesbian couples; a far cry from the fascist dictatorships that ruled the country in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.
BsAs is divided into 48 barrios, several of which gather the gay-friendly hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs into a few square blocks. Not surprisingly, they are also barrios where the historical sites and cultural offerings are clustered. Thus you will find yourself right at home in posh Recoleta, trendy Palermo, tango-inspired San Telmo, and the bubbling Microcentro (downtown). Other barrios such as Belgrano, Nuez, Barrio Norte, and even the traditional Colegiales are also of interest and increasingly gay-infused.
All of these barrios feature many strutting straight guys sporting skin-tight pink T-shirts, designer jeans and trendy haircuts. Don’t be confused: Native Argentines maintain a complicated relationship between outward appearance and inner machismo, a balance they claim women enjoy. Whatever! If there is one place that embodies the cultural tensions between European and Latin American societies, it’s Buenos Aires, so just savor the contradictions, including a social scene that defies the normal gay/straight conventions, Latin at heart and European in spirit.
Tom’s – Bathhouse with a bar
If subtlety isn’t your thing, this may be the bar for you. Grab a drink and explore – just be careful as you may find some trouble!
Zoom – A bathhouse with a trendy nightclub vibe
Zoom is a sex club with glory holes and a lounge bar meeting area in front.
If we missed anything be sure to bring it up in the comments section below. As well as recommendations for the next city we dive deep into.