by Don Church and Tony Schillaci 17 March 2013
The spirit of the legendary Spanish conquistadors was again present in the Americas as the Madrid Pride committee won the honor of hosting World Pride 2017 last fall in Boston, Massachusetts. The event is expected to draw more than two million visitors for the week-long Madrid celebration in 2017. Book early.
The vibrant, openly gay-friendly city of Madrid was unanimously chosen by more than eighty delegations from cities around the world that make up InterPride, the International Association of Pride Organizers.
Madrid’s winning proposal, including a dynamic video, was presented by Miguel Sanz, representing the city’s mayor and the CVB; long-time equality activists Juan Carlos Alonso and Carlos Sanchez, chair and vice-chair of Madrid Pride; and Monica Duce and Emilio Aguilera from AEGAl, a group of entrepreneurs and other professionals from the LGBT community.
The first LGBT associations and demonstrations began in the late 70′s, especially after the death of General Franco and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1975. Madrid’s first official Pride – Orgullo Gay – event drew 10,000 celebrants in the 80’s and grew to one million, including gay, straight, and their allies to celebrate diversity and equality in 2012. The mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, has thrown her support behind World Pride 2017, and one of the co-sponsors is The Office of Tourism of the City of Madrid and its director Miguel Sanz and his team of travel professionals.
This year, 2013, from July 3-7, Madrid and the LGBT community join forces for an action-packed week of festivals, parades, and cultural happenings, lots of fun for everyone – including families, gay and straight.
The summer fun begins in Madrid on July 3 with International Gay Pride Day. This is the day when streets in the Chueca neighborhood are decked with flags and bunting and good cheer in the local bars as crowds overflow into the street. The festivities reach their climax on Saturday July 6 when the parade is estimated to attract more than one million people from all over the world. The parade floats begin at Puerta de Alcalá (6pm) and finish in the Plaza de España (11pm). On Sunday the 7th it’s time for brunch and rejuvenation from the all-night parties.
Following tradition, a welcome address in Plaza de Chueca opens Pride Week. Squares across the neighborhood will be packed with cultural events, concerts, performances and music. Calle Pelayo is the setting for Madrid’s best drag queens to strut their stuff and is also where a riotous high-heels race is held, with men of all ages trying to outrun each other wearing tastefully elegant shoes. Plaza del Rey is hosting the MuestraT Festival, a showcase for young musical talent, jazz sessions and a hand-clapping Flamenco Pride night on Friday 5th.
From July 4 to 6, Plaza de Callao will showcase international DJs and guest appearances by pop artists, and the grand gala final of the Mr. Gay Spain competition. The biggest party is set to take place on the 6th in Plaza de España, where Soraya and Marta Sánchez will be making thousands of people get up and dance.
The whole Chueca neighborhood, which is located adjacent to the popular Gran Vía, is the epicenter of the festivities, is a good example of the tolerance and respect typical of an open and cosmopolitan city with a 21st-century sensibility. Chueca is open to a whole range of divergent lifestyles. The festivities that are celebrated by all people who want to live their lives openly and freely. Proof of the fact is that instead of calling them the “Gay Pride festivities,” all Madrilenos refer to it as “the Pride festivities.”
In 2009 and 2010 Madrid was voted Best Gay Destination by fans of MTV’s Logo channel. And, the Madrid Pride (Orgullo) party has also become the most popular fiesta for mainstream folks and families in all of Spain.
As well as open-air concerts, outdoor dining and drinking, myriad events and the madess typical of Chueca nights, MADO (Madrid Pride) is also a week packed with cultural and activist programs as part of the MUESTRA-T festival, hosted by different art galleries, cinemas, bookshops and associations that support equal-rights causes.
Gay tourists will feel especially comfortable in Madrid’s charming Chueca district. This traditional neighborhood has become a trademark for modernity, avant-garde fashion, the latest designs, the craziest parties, delicious cuisine and excellent music and clubs.
Chueca unites people who have been living here forever and people who are new to the area, and all of them coexist with the thousands of visitors that arrive daily. The neighborhood’s two main avenues are Calle Fuencarral and Calle Hortaleza, which are home to the most trendsetting fashions. It’s not just about fashion – there is also furniture, gifts, books, interior design, exquisite perfume shops, and designer, luxury and affordable hotels. In a nutshell, Madrid is a most beautiful, all-inclusive major world capitol.
The first thing you need to do before you set out to visit Madrid is to find an accommodation suited to your tastes and needs. This city is truly open to diversity. You’ll feel at home anywhere, so there’s no need to look for a “gay hotel” just to feel comfortable. However, if you want to make the most of the gay scene and everything else the city has to offer, you’ll probably prefer gay-friendly accommodation located in or close to Chueca.
When it comes to luxury establishments, The Westin Palace (Plaza de las Cortes, 7) is noteworthy for the special attention it pays to LGBT guests, who often celebrate weddings here (check out their facilities and services). Built in 1912 in the Art-Nouveau style, it has famously put up such famous figures as the spy Mata Hari, Pablo Picasso, Federico García Lorca, Salvador Dalí, Buster Keaton, Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth and Ernest Hemingway. To protect the privacy of their guests, Palace hosts don’t name those who’ve stayed there lately, although we did hear that Jennifer Lopez was a recent guest.
La Zona www.hostallazona.com offers reasonable prices and is owned by a gay couple who decided a few years ago to create an easygoing atmosphere. Situated in the heart of Chueca, the hostel offers cozy en suite bedrooms in a truly friendly welcoming environment. Complete with breakfast service, the hostel also offers apartments for clients looking for a little more independence or extended visits.
Another good budget option is the Hostal Puerta del Sol at Puerta del Sol 14, a long-standing establishment in the heart of Madrid, offering basic comforts, including breakfast, at reasonable prices.
For visitors who like to stay in hotels where design is everything, try the Hotel Room Mate Oscar Plaza Vázquez de Mella 12, [+34] 91 701 11 73) in the heart of Chueca. It has state of the art interior design and is also one of the trendiest establishments in which to have a drink, lunch or dinner in its second-floor Paris-Tokyo restaurant overlooking the busy street action. It serves superb French-Asian fusion cuisine in a glamorous setting. The personable host, Pepe Eiroa, makes sure that everyone of her guests is treated like a rock star.
For help in finding just the right hotel for you, contact Ian Karlsson (a hard-working gay activist) and his team of international specialists at www.bookingay.com. It’s a world-leading online booking system for more than 1000 gay, lesbian and gay-friendly accommodations and events all around the world.
For nightlife, a fun and crowded bar in Chueca is Liquid, with video screens, a DJ and dancing – Liquid heats up later than 11 p.m. http://www.liquid.es/ Another option is Delirio Live, a Chueca club with a fun party vibe. http://www.deliriochueca.com.
In the Lavapies neighborhood, the newest lesbian club is Club 33. With cultural events every Sunday, (http://club33madrid.es) it is close to the Anton Martin metro station.
For the Circuit followers who prefer huge venues with 4000 revelers, a monthly rave is the LGBT big party WE Party. (http://www.wepartyontour.com) The website will show where in the world, in addition to Madrid, the parties are being held.
And the grandpapa of them all, Museo Chicote www.museo-chicote.com on the Gran Via has been around since Hemingway decided to sit in a corner and write his Spanish Civil War dispatches while drinking. Chicote serves giant cocktails, and only cocktails. Have a Singapore Sling or a Bahama Mama for about 10 – 15 Euros. Listen to great jazz while you chat and drink. Everyone meets at Chicote for before and after dinner cocktails. It’s just the best. The owners also manage Ohm Dance Club (http://www.ohmclub.es) one of the main clubs for LGBT people in Madrid.
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Written by Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Out and Travelin’br>
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