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It's not as famous as Puerto Vallarta for LGBT vacations, but Guadalajara — which is located in the same state of Jalisco — is a rewarding place for gay globetrotters who like culture, history, cuisine, style and a healthy dose of after-dark fun.
During my most recent visit to Guadalajara, I checked into Casa Alebrijes, an attractive bed and breakfast in the historic city center, which proved to be a great base camp for investigating some of the city’s best LGBT offerings. Unfortunately, I missed Guadalajara’s pride event, aptly named Guadalajara Pride, which takes place in early June and could certainly be worth planning a trip around. But I uncovered plenty of vibrant, year-round nightlife, which also attests to the city’s gay-positive vibe.
Here are a few of the top spots for LGBT travelers to toast after a full day of touring this historic metropolis.
OpenLocated in the upscale Chapultepec neighborhood, Open is an expansive and attractive antro (as dance clubs are called in Mexico), attracting a mostly young and good-looking crowd with its high-tech lighting, electronic dance music and male and female dancers. The club is a bit regimented; upon entering, you need to decide whether to take a table (which requires a purchase of a full-size, large bottle of liquor) or wander the venue — but only the bottle buyers have access to seating. With its dance floor packed on the weekends and limited places to lounge, this is a high-energy venue for revelers looking to keep the night moving.
El CondadoDowntown Guadalajara is home to the city’s largest concentration of LGBT bars and clubs. They are typically less glamorous and less expensive than those in Chapultepec, but they are usually more diverse in terms of ambiance and clientele.
A good example is El Condado, a cowboy bar where western-style garb is a common fashion statement for both waitstaff and patrons. Music tends toward Mexican genres such as banda, which features wind instruments. I attended a drag show hosted by a lovely drag queen named Monica, who lip-synched as she worked her way around the small audience, asking where each of us was from. When she found out I was a foreigner, she asked me to get on stage for a free tequila shot, which I happily accepted.
La MinervaDrag and talent shows are a draw at this tiny bar as well, where the weekend cover charge includes a free drink. I enjoyed a lengthy show hosted by a fast-talking performer, who introduced a dazzlingly dressed man who lip-synched songs by Colombian reggaeton heartthrob Maluma. Again, I was called to the stage when the hostess realized I was foreign, and she also gave me a free shot of tequila.
California’sThe largest antro in the city center, California’s charged a cover of $2.50 on our Friday night visit. It’s set in a gorgeous historic building but, once inside, you won’t be thinking about its history. Flashing lights and typical bar furnishings fill the various rooms and overtake the small-but-manageable main dance floor. There’s a second, less-crowded dance floor in another room, as well as a small second floor with seating.
Part of the allure here is the diversity of people and music. I saw both male and female patrons that seemed to range in age from 18 to about 70. The music was equally diverse, representing a compendium of nearly every danceable song produced in Spanish, English and Portuguese, from just about every decade between the 1970s to the 2010s. The DJ even reached further back to the 1950s for an Elvis Presley medley. In Guadalajara, there’s something for every taste.