Ready for a gay Madrid tour?
Ready for a gay Madrid tour? Here’s the interview with Frank, a local Gaybassador of the city.
Hello Frank, you are Gaybassador to Madrid. Can you tell us a bit about you?
I have been living in Madrid for 10 years. Since I arrived, I am an English teacher, and also an examiner for the Cambridge test of English. In général, I love hanging out with my friends, drawing and above all having fun.
To tell a bit more about me, I consider myself as a very active person in social networks, mainly on Facebook. Above all, with my partner, we are comic books lovers. We have a reasonably extensive collection of sculptures and figures. Our friends said our house looks like a small museum.
Why do you love Madrid that much?
Well, I first came to Madrid when I was 31 years, and I really fall in love with this City, so I decided to move here. Madrid is very dynamic, fun, safe, tolerant City. You can’t get tired of it.
Even after so many years, I still discovering hidden places and gems. And of course, people from Madrid are fantastic and very welcoming to travelers from all over the world. Should I mention that Madrid is undoubtedly the most LGBT friendly City in Europe, with the most important Gay Pride ever.
Your favorite local venues
In my opinion, Madrid gay life is just perfect. The City is tolerant, and the LGBT community is very well accepted. Obviously, some neighborhoods such as Chueca, Malasaña, Lavapies or La Latina are particularly popular with gay people.
All gay tribes can find a place for them here, from drag queen shows, to crazy after parties. But of course, the most popular activity is to go from bar to bars, drinking local beers and eating tapas.
As proper gay places are everywhere and easy to find, I would recommend you those very local options, which are not that obvious to know if you are not from the City:
Mama Framboise, by Alejandro Montes: This is a fantastic pastry, ideal to have a well-done coffee or hot chocolates with excellent cakes.
They prepare as well as Spanish specialties for Christmas or Easter.
You can even have lunch there with great sandwiches, quiches or salads, all prepared traditionally with quality ingredients. You can buy Spanish products to take away, which can be a good present for friends when you come back home.
This place was created by Alejandro Montes award of “Best young pastry chef” “Best master chocolatier” in Spain and “Open de France des desserts”. The place is a beautiful and well-decorated place, and it has 6 other different branches around Madrid.
Mama Ines: this is an institution in Calle Hortaleza, one of the main streets of Chueca, the heart of the gay area. The place was formerly a famous hams’ shop, and the beautiful old marble and wood decoration remain. It’s an excellent place to order delicious chocolate with churros, any sort of breakfast, and light meals all day round. They organize as well as very lovely and queer exhibitions from local artists, such as fetish paintings, or Barbies style photos.
La Ciudad invisible: This place is a café and travel book shop. It is very quiet, perfect if you just want to make a break after a busy day. Most people come here to read, work, study or to prepare for their next trip. You can borrow books and even use their free Wi-Fi. Staff is nice, and the food is tasty and original.
El Bistro de la Central de Callao: this is the restaurant of a very famous book shop. Here you can have a light lunch, in a beautiful design space. The place is especially famous for its brunch on Sunday, from noon to 5pm.
Your favorite places in Madrid, you like to show to your friends and travelers?
There are so many things to see in Madrid. So, when I have just a few hours to show the City to my friends, or to travelers, I usually follow this walking tour:
We start at the Puerta de Alcalá, continuing to the Plaza Cibeles, and then walk along Granvía. Then we go from Puerta del Sol to Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real, Latin quarter and Retiro.
Regarding museums, no one should leave Madrid without visiting Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofía.
Furtherùore, Sorolla and Costume museum are excellent alternatives too.
Bears’ bars in Madrid
Hot (Calle de las Infantas, 9, 28004 Madrid; 13h30-3h (-3h30 on weekends)
Hot is one of the most popular bars in the bear community in Madrid. Attended by a more or less young population, the place is often crowded, especially in the early evening or even in the afternoon, when the other bars are still empty. In the basement, darkroom and cabins to get down to business. The service is pleasant and the cocktails cheap and very tasty. The place offers a large bar with DJs for bears and their hunters : it is the perfect place if bears are your thing.
Zarpa (Calle de las Infantas, 26, 28004 Madrid; 22h-3h (-3h30 on weekends)
Zarpa reminds us of the bear bars that can be found in San Francisco or Los Angeles, with a fun and crazy atmosphere. Zarpa’s customers are ready for a pick-up and lots of fun. Music is popular with the gay community (Gaga, Britney, Katy Perry). Titanes gay rugby team members regularly frequent the bar, if you are lucky enough to run into them. In addition, the bar publishes an annual calendar with photos of the team. At Zarpa, bear paw T-shirts are almost an official dress code.
The Paso (Calle Costanilla de Capuchino 1, 28004 Madrid; 22h-3h (-3h30 on weekends)
The Paso is a very popular gay bear bar, but there are all kinds of people and not just bears. The bar is spacious, the cocktails are cheap, the music is great and the bar is well worth a visit. There is a small darkroom at the back of the bar for those who want to have even more fun. The Paso is home to locals and tourists alike, who gather there to spend a good evening and meet some boys.
Fraggel Pop (Calle Regueros 5, 28004 Madrid; 23:00 – 2:00)
Fraggel Pop is one of the favorite gay bars of the locals in Madrid. If at first we find bears and chubs, the population is well-mixed and we finally can find everything there. It is the ideal place to relax and spend a good evening with friends. Fraggel Pop has merged with the emblematic Búho Real (a renowned concert hall) in a renewed project that includes music, live performances and theatre. Coupons are very often distributed along Pelayo Street, so take a walk before you go.
El Bearbie (Plaza Vasquez de Mella 2, 28004 Madrid; 00:00–06:00)
Bearbie is a party that takes place every Friday and Saturday in Madrid. It is popular with the bear community. It’s the perfect night to dance and meet guys in a casual scene. Go late, the party really starts after 3:00 in the morning. There are two floors with renowned DJs who mix mainly pop. Videos on giant screens make the place really festive, as well as the darkroom in the background.
Kluster (Calle Covarrubias 42, Madrid; 00:00–06:00)
Kluster is one of Madrid’s most popular and famous gay nights. The place is especially popular with guys over 30 and one can attend superb shows and GoGos dances. The guest DJs are very good and everything is done for you to spend a good evening. The place is also known for gathering manly boys. We advise you to arrive before 2am, to avoid waiting in line. The entrance costs 15 euros and includes a drink.
Mad bear (across Chueca, Gay Madrid area)
Madrid has one of the largest and most active bears scenes in Europe. Mad Bear means 5 days of intensive party in the bars, clubs and saunas of Madrid’s gay district. Almost 3,000 people are expected each year and the festival is in full swing, between locals and tourists who have come especially for the occasion.
The event takes place on a 2-day bank holidays in Spain and tourists from all over the country are present. Book early if you are interested in the event: apartments and hotels are booked quickly. It is also possible to attend the final of Mr Bear Spain, for fans of the bears and the bear community itself.
Ready for a gay Bears bars and venues in Madrid ?
Here’s a guide of Madrid, the city of the bear and the strawberry tree, is one of the most welcoming places for the LGBTQ community in the world.
The iconic bear is not only the heraldic symbol of the city but that of the ever-growing gay bear community. Not coincidentally, many locals take this monument to pride themselves in calling this city as “the bear capital of the world.”
People from all over the world come to Madrid to enjoy one of the biggest, if not the biggest, pride celebrations in Europe, and despite the fact that Madrid caters for all physical tastes, it is the attractiveness of the big, burly, bearded men that catches everyone’s attention: “¡Es que los osos de Madrid son los más guapos!” (Madrid’s bears are the most handsome), says a friend of mine every time he comes to visit. And it’s probably that Mediterranean heritage, the Moorish blood, or the olive complexion that make gay bears so attractive.
Along the years, the city has fully embraced its bear culture. It is now quite easy to find bars, pubs and discos for bears if you ask a gay local. However, getting a comprehensive list of trustworthy places isn’t that easy, unless you can speak Spanish and know the ins and outs of the web to find information. So, we at Gaybassadors decided to give you a virtual tour around the different options where bears can find their kindred souls.
Let’s start at 9:00 pm, which is dinner time for Spaniards. You need to find a place to eat and charge your batteries for the night ahead.
(Calle Hortaleza, 52) is one of the most popular places for gays to have lunch or dinner. The restaurant offers an inexpensive all-day menu with home-cooked Spanish food, so if you’re more gourmet inclined, this may not be the place for you.
This place is a classic from Chueca, which is probably why it’s usually packed with people. Waiting times can exceed the 90-minute mark during high seasons (pride week, MadBear in December).
You can’t book tables by phone so it’s mandatory to be there and wait, but at least they have a bar where you can enjoy your favorite drinks while you wait. Vivares is the place for those who want big portions at a very good price.
(Calle Pelayo, 4) is located at the very heart of Chueca. Pelayo street is a must for gay bears as many bars and pubs line up along the street. With a renovated place and menu, this restaurant has an incredible fusion of Spanish, Mediterranean cuisine with more international flavors and vegetarian options.
The menu can be seen on their website and reservations must be made by phone or directly through their website as it always gets crowded. It’s a small and cozy place with an incredibly friendly staff that will make you want to come back. Although not a cheap option, the food is reasonably priced.
What now? Once your stomach’s full, let’s take a stroll through the best bars, pubs and clubs for bears.
(Calle Infantas, 8) As its namesake, this pub is hot, hairy, the gay bear haven. It is a fun bear’s den for those who are already in their late thirties and forties. Things get even hotter on the ground floor: the dark room. You usually have drinks on offer at the bar, they usually have a buy 1 get 2 drinks discount until midnight.
You can have a relaxing drink on the first floor if you want a quiet night’s talk, but if you want more action, go down to the basement, where the movies are more suggestive and the lights go out. It is also the bears’ bar par excellence. Sometimes they have fun parties for leather addicts to get their best clothes out of the closet. This bar might well be considered the Spanish “Cheers”, where “everybody knows your name.”
(Calle Infantas, 12) is right “in front of” (as its name says in Spanish) the Hot. It is the most modern bear bar which aims to renew the gay scene with different ideas and new airs, from corporate image, merchandising and flyers to music and decoration. Much more avant-garde in the style of the gay bars of Lavapiés.
The most alternative DJ’s play all kinds of styles: pop, rock, indie, brit pop, soul, Spanish electro, international electropop, funky and house of last generation. They also organize art exhibits and even publish a calendar every year. The most alternative bears tend to go there and the average age (around 35 years old) is somewhat younger than that of the Hot. Within the ‘bear’ circuit, it is the most modern bar.
(Calle Infantas, 26) is located right past Pedro Zerolo square, across from the Oscar hotel. It is one of the last bars to join the bear world, and one of the most popular. Decorated in the purest style of bear bars in Los Angeles or San Francisco, it is frequented by people with a desire for fun and flirting.
They continue with the formula of playing music videos of gay icons, including the queens of Rupaul Drag Race, Britney, Madonna, Lady Gaga, but dare to play music by queer rappers as Cazwell or Big Deeper. They also publish a calendar of solidarity with the photos of the players of the gay rugby team, the Titans, who are regular customers of the bar.
(Calle San Bartolomé, 8) If you think you read the name well and said “Bananarama”, read again. It’s an intended pun in which the owners cleverly mixed the words barba (beard) and the name of the British female vocal group.
In Barbanarama bears are welcome, but also girls, trans, drag queens, and twinks without caring about the fake masculinity trend that has been installed in Chueca, and especially in the bear community.
It’s a fun place, with a pop and queer inclination. They broadcast RuPaul’s Drag Race every Saturday at 10 pm, a true celebration of “fag culture.” The look of the place is reminiscent of Miami Beach, with its palm trees and mojitos. Without a doubt, one of the best options offered by gay bear night.
(Calle San Bartolomé, 16) has been part of the bear circuit since 2015, with all the typical party fun that seems to work out in all pubs in Chueca. Music by Gay divas (hits from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, from Italian diva Raffaella Carrá to Spanish singer Miguel Bosé).
Queer themed parties for those who seek the same fun that straights get in straight bars. The decoration is very much like that of the Hot, Zarpa or The Paso. Which means that they don’t break their heads and use the typical teddy bears and bear flags, but decided to choose the favorite pet in the bear community: a French bulldog. A lot of chasers and bear admirers crowd it every weekend.
(Calle Constanilla Capuchinos, 1) is right in front of Pablo Zerolo Square. This small bar is another one that is usually packed every day of the week and is one of those chosen by bears to have their drinks. Flirting, music videos, booze and a very varied gay audience, with a predominance of tourists and Latinos.
It could arguably be described as the Latin gay bar in Chueca, because both the music and style would be very similar to those of a gay bar in Miami or the Jumbo shopping center in Playa del Inglés (Canary Islands). As there are always people, it is usually the recurring site for bears, if they have not been able to find a trick before.
(Calle Pelayo, 4) is located right before Gastromaquia if you’re coming from Barbanarama. It is one of the most obvious bars for the bear community: the name, logo and their regulars are 100% bear, with the flag and a bear with strawberry tree included. Normally the most faithful patrons are over 200 lbs. (90 kg), who shamelessly boast their huge love handles, their careless beards, and dress in checkered shirts and jeans bought at Primark.
It is the most radical haven in the bear world and its thick walls are covered with bear art (e.g. horoscope symbols represented by fat, furry people, or Japanese bear manga such as Tagame’s Massive). Even so, they differ from the rest of the bars for their geeky parties like Bear Rock, where they go dressed as rockers and play Metal music, or the afternoon sessions of 80’s music by DJ Oscar.
It’s ideal for feeling thin, especially if you feel ashamed of your “dad bod”. The funny thing is that if you’re not too big and overweight, they don’t look at you or talk to you, but mobile apps like Growlr or Bearwww burn from the number of messages received. They organize Mad Bear week in December and have even brewed their own beer.
(Calle Regueros, 5) is one of the essential bars in the bear world. Fraggel Pop has merged with the emblematic Bar “Buho Real” (Eagle Owl) in a renewed project that includes music, live performances, literature, theater. It continues with the legacy of Buho Real offering concerts every day and permanent events such as the ‘open mic’ on Wednesdays, comedy nights in English offered once a month by ‘Stand up Yours’, the monthly literary event by ‘Poetry without gags’, book presentations, or the Sunday micro-theatre with the revolutionary ‘Fraggel Off’.
Added to all this are the good vibes and “chupitismo” (i.e. Bourbon shots of cinnamon or “fire balls”) and the nightly sessions of retro music by its resident ‘VJs’ Ismael, David, Miguel and Toñín. The most delightfully geeky bears crowd it every weekend.
And to finish the night of ‘bar hopping’:
(Plaza Pedro Zerolo, 2) is another clever pun (Bear + Barbie), hence its logo with a bearded Barbie. It is Chueca’s most popular bear nightclub and is attracting more and more gay stereotypes. Located where the legendary 70 Long Play boite was, every weekend from 3 am (when the bars close) is filled with a varied atmosphere.
It has two floors of differentiated styles: above more pop and party music, bear queens (bearded drag queens) with DJ’s as Las Juannetes, Vurdalak, La Petit, etc. Below, something more techno and trance music in an attempt to make the club the favorite of bears who take off their t-shirts. It’s practically the only gay disco in Chueca and it’s a safe bet to have a good time with the most party and beefy bears.
And then when Bearbie closes, which is around 6 am. You’re ready to go where your desires take you, whether it is to hit the sack and recharge for the next day. Or keep on partying until you drop, as Madrid still has more surprises for you.
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