Every year, on the first weekend of July, Madrid Gay Pride draws thousands of people to the Spanish capital. If you're planning to go this year, here are some tips for your trip
Queens from all over Europe will once again be flocking to Madrid for Gay Pride on the first weekend in July. It attracts thousands of people every year, so if you're planning to go for 2009, you'd better get your act together and book your travel pronto! Here are a few tips on a possible itinerary for your trip...
The celebration is already at full speed by the middle of the week when people start arriving. I like to get there on Thursday after work, just to be able to have a full day of shopping, sunbathing and clubbing on Friday. My friends and I usually stay at the Hotel Senator Gran Via, which is conveniently located right by the Gran Via metro station and across from the gay quarter, Chueca. Prices run from €80 to about €150 a night, which is not too bad considering the convenience, especially if you share the room with one of your mates.
Don’t feel bad if, over the next three days, you fall into a cycle of getting up late, shopping and sunbathing during the day, followed by dining, disco-napping and clubbing until you pass out. In fact, that sounds like the perfect holiday! You are welcome to venture off to get some culture during the day. I personally skip all that, as I figure I will do that when I’m old and tired.
During the day
With all the adrenaline of excitement running through my body, I can’t help getting up early. After having breakfast at the hotel or any café in the area, I head out to my facial appointment at Navarro Estilistas in Chueca (Calle de San Marcos 34). Yes, I’m one of those queens who likes to get their face cleaned, squeezed and moisturised regularly, and Navarro gives you a pampering experience worth your money. They use a rounded-edge heated metal rod that works a moisturising product into your skin. I don’t know how this device works but it leaves your skin looking smooth as a baby’s bottom. Be sure to book your appointment in advance (+34 913 604 759), as you don’t want it to conflict with your other important gay activities.
After my facial, I walk over to the hotel to get my sunbathing gear and head out to the Lago swimming pool by Casa de Campo (Avenida del Angel s/n). I don’t know who orchestrated this, but year after year, gay visitors and locals spend their afternoon sunbathing in the public swimming pool located at the top level of this public facility. You will find hard bodies parading their bathing attire and frolicking randomly around the swimming pool. Don’t forget to carry sun protection, especially if you had a facial earlier that morning. This queen takes his skin seriously, so take my advice and don’t neglect your skin if you don’t want to look like cardboard when you turn 40.
Where were we? Ah yes, about the pool... Have a snack here when you feel peckish but don’t expect an award-winning paella, as the food is somewhat bland and uninteresting. Then again, you shouldn’t be eating much if you expect to take your shirt off later that night...
Around 4 or 5 in the afternoon you can start thinking about heading back into town. Summer sales often coincide with Gay Pride, which results in a shopping frenzy for a lot of us thrifty queens who want to look fashionable without paying high street prices. There are tons of shops on Calle de Fuencarral with mainstream brands such as Diesel, Energy and Gap, just to name a few. There are several El Corte Ingles department stores that also have an assortment of well-known brands. After your shopping experience, have a coffee and enjoy the festive vibe in Chueca.
Around 7pm you have two choices. If you are more of a bar person, feel free to stay out, have dinner and then proceed to your favourite bar for an all-night drinking binge. The organisers will surely have several stages with live performers and entertainers. It does get very crowded, so be prepared to get pushed around. Do keep an eye on your wallet, as we don’t want any negative experiences on this trip.
If you are more of a clubber, like me, it's time to feed yourself, rest and get ready for clubbing. There are lots of places to eat in the hood if you are looking for ambience. If you are looking for reasonably good food at a good price but don’t care about being in the heart of the gay area, go to the Vips restaurant on the corner of Calle de Alcala and Calle de la Virgen de los Peligros (which, curiously enough, translates into Virgin of Danger Street; I might make that into my stage name for the weekend). Be sure to get lots of carbs; you’ll thank me the next morning.
The clubbing itinerary is as follows:
- Friday: Bravo
- Saturday: Infinitamente Gay
- Sunday morning: Space
- Sunday night: Supermartxe
All of these parties are guaranteed to be lots of fun. Infinitamente Gay is humungous, with hundreds if not thousands of people congregated under one roof. The music is not the best in the world but that’s not really the main reason why you go there. You are sure to meet lots of people who are feeling as much in a jovial mood as you are.
Space is worth seeing, as the music, fabulous shows and good-looking crowd make it a world-renowned club. The downside is that tickets are overpriced and it is excessively crowded, to the point that you can barely walk without stepping on someone’s foot or beverage bottles. It also gets extremely hot and getting a drink is a difficult task. If you are rehydrating by filling up your bottle in the toilets, the tap water might be hot. I think they do that to encourage people to buy. A word of caution: some urinals look like drinking fountains. I discovered this when I was filling up my bottle there one time and felt the disapproving stares of the people in the queue. Luckily, my friend David pointed out my error before I drank from the bottle.
If necessary, you can have a couple of hours rest between Space and Supermartxe and skip the swimming pool altogether. You’ll need the energy if you can’t resist doing all the parties.
About tickets: be sure to get them way in advance online. Ontickets (www.ontickets.es) will sell tickets for Bravo, Infinitamente Gay and Space. Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.es) will have tickets for Supermartxe.
Enjoy your Madrid 2009 Gay Pride experience! Ta dah!