… Through Rose-Colored Glasses
– By Serena Makofsky
New York may be the city that never sleeps, but props go to Mexico City as the city that needs a quick siesta hour to catch a breath between daytime adventures and the hyped nightlife scene. World-class cultural attractions pack the daytime itinerary. For night owls, the party starts at 11pm or midnight and doesn’t slow down until the suits hit the subway at sunup. Trendy, young and buzz-worthy, Mexico City’s gay culture transcends a single area. Multiple neighborhoods have spots owned, operated by and serving the gay community.
The action has historically centered around the Zona Rosa, or the Pink Zone, named for its rose-tinted cobblestone alleyways. In the ’60s, at the apex of the area’s bohemian incarnation, Modernist painter José Luis Cuevas observed that the neighborhood “…is too naive to be red, but too frivolous to be white, for this reason it is precisely pink.”
The hustle and energy of the ‘hood radiates from Calle Amberes. Chilango magazine credits it as “little by little…converting into our Castro Street or Chueca or Le Marais.” Look for a rainbow flag to find one of many gay clubs, including the hybrid disco/cantina BoyBar (Amberes 14), with a dark room for private encounters. At Lipstick (Amberes 1), a lounge decor creates a plush backdrop for sipping trendy cocktails, listening to Mexican and English pop and watching the drag queen hostess preside over the dance floor and Go-Go boy shows.
Tear yourself away from Calle Amberes to explore the campier offerings at one of the series of Cabaré-Tito clubs. Cabaretito means “little cabaret” and happens to be the name of Mexico’s most famous drag queen and owner of the clubs. Go electronica at Cabaré-Tito Neon (Londres 161-20A) or catch a glammy show at Cabaré-Tito Fusion (Londres 77). The Cabaretito pages on Facebook have coupons that get you in without paying cover.
Drag performer Fiona Mallratte describes a typical night at the clubs. “It was packed. It was hard work to walk across the club and get a margarita…people are dressed to the nines, but very hip…By day, you wouldn’t even know there is a club there. By night, they put candles in bags and have greeters that beckon you to come in.” Martin Foreman comments on the shows, “the fact that the humor is predictable does not make it any less funny.”
A few blocks from the action, you’ll find the men-only 6M9 gay guest house. The Porfiriano period house got a full remodel in 2006 and has a swimming pool, steam area, jacuzzi, exercise room, terrace for sunning and a breakfast bar. After your neon fix, head over to the more stylish Condesa neighborhood. Amid the contemporary galleries, designer denim shops, boutiques, tapas bars, sidewalk cafes and hip cantinas, you’ll find Tom’s Leather Bar (Insurgentes Sur 357). The name is a bit of false advertising. The owner is Miguel, not Tom, and most people there are in dark denim, not leather.
A regular client who goes by the nickname of Happy raves, “The Go-Go boys dance on the bar and do take it all off,” and warns, “It’s not a dance club. It is a packed bar…narrow space, tables along wall and in free spaces. Then some back space. Cruisy and busy dark rooms and then the bathrooms. Very popular place. You will find a bit of everything there.” Flyboy is a fan, too. “This is one of the best gay bars in the world, rivaling those in Amsterdam or Berlin. Hot men, hot dancers, smoking DJ, hot porn, hot backroom.”
Miguel, who not only owns Tom’s but works the bar like a maestro, may look familiar. That’s his visage in every painting on the walls. He describes the club as “a postmodern cantina,” but the look is more English Gothic palace, with black walls, gargoyles, candelabras and a red ceiling. DJs spin pop, retro hits, classic blues and even numbers from Broadway musicals. Every 20 minutes, the music changes and strippers enter the bar areas. “Most of the time they begin dancing in a small thong or boxer but before the end of the first song, it will be gone and strippers become fully nude,” says Carl, a regular. At closing, the whole staff of strippers ascends the bar for a grand finale.
Take a ten-minute walk to La Estacion (Hamburgo 234). Here is your true leather scene, attracting a youngish, buff crowd. This sex club and disco features a dark room upstairs. Two other prime area spots for cruising are Calle Amsterdam and Parque México, which a local named Eliseo describes as “a gay village.” Condesa’s popular gay-owned bed and breakfast is the singular Red Tree House (Culiacan 6). Plush, eclectic decor and friendly hosts mean that rooms fill up over three months in advance.
Move a notch tonier than Condesa and you have Polanco. This is a epicenter of all that is “fresa,” which means strawberry but can also mean yuppie. In terms of shopping, it’s the Champs-Elysées. In terms of art, it’s Museum Mile, bordering the art-packed Chapultepec Park and the just-opened Museo Soumaya, a seven-story wonder housing billionaire Carlos Slim’s personal art collection. In terms of gay attractions, Polanco offers a little something extra. In a word, SO.DO.ME. This management of this bathhouse claim that it’s the first to open specifically to a gay clientele rather than being merely gay-friendly or hosting a mixed crowd. However, the management of Club San Francisco (Rio Panuco 207) and the three-story La Toalla VIP Spa and Gym (Avenida Alvaro Obregón 259) may beg to differ.
No sign announces SO.DO.ME., situated at Mariano Escobedo 716, so use the Hotel Camino Real as your guide. The bathhouse is on the same side of the street as the famous hotel, and across the street from the Chapultepec Sports Club. Clean and modern, SO.DO.ME. begins with the lounge and continues to a bar framed with video screens, onto a jacuzzi area and a line of showers, where–during select hours–Go-Go boys dance (you are welcome to join) to music played by DJs. A writer for BUTT Magazine promises, “There are always very hot guys there when I go,” recommending Friday and Saturday if you like crowds and Sunday if you want a 50 percent discount off the cover. And just when you thought Mexico City’s gay scene couldn’t get any hotter, an insider adds, “the cruisiest spot at SO.DO.ME.–the steam bath.”
© Copy Right Protected. All Rights Reserved. 5-12-2011