); The best gay friendly places in Havana (2017) | Visit Cuba

Gay/LGBT Havana

The best gay friendly places in Havana (2017)

By Samuel Rivas / Posted February 14, 2017

dragqueens showgay modelsThere are no huge gay discos, pubs, saunas, or cruising nightclubs in Cuba. Neither gay magazines, newspaper, of new reports that would reflect gay life in the Island. Cuba still has no Chueca or English Soho, neighborhoods with a wide amount of options for the gay community, with lots of parties and gay bars, but that is about to come. Here is a small list of the most frequented spots.

Humboldt 52: Opened in May 2013, the hot staff, comfortable setting, and welcoming vibe at this, Havana’s first full-time, openly-gay bar, make for a fun night out, regardless of orientation. There’s plenty of seating, big screen TVs showing music videos (Cuban artists are well-represented), and don’t be surprised if you find the decent-sized dance floor swirling with men dancing some serious salsa. A talented opera duo performs Wednesdays; other days you’ll find karaoke and drag performances. (Humboldt #52, e/ Infanta y Hospital, Centro Habana)

Cabaret Las Vegas: This state-run joint is a bit scrappy, but has long been a gay hangout and the stomping grounds of Divino, one of Cuba’s most accomplished drag acts. In the great tradition of queer dives everywhere, this place is dark and smoky, which keeps many people away. However, the show (11pm) is worth catching. (Infanta draq-queen-cuba#104, e/ 25 y 27, Vedado)

Café Cantante: Just in front of the Revolution Square, hundreds of gay men gather every Saturday to spend their time at the most popular nightclub in Havana. Beautiful men and women from Proyecto El Divino, professional dancers and models accompany artists, singers, and musicians, offer their art. Perfect space for flirting and having a great time. (Paseo and 39St, Vedado)

Bar Karabalí: La Rampa, those erotic blocks that leads you to the Malecón, has a gay friendly bar which one of the latest establishments for the LGBT community in Havana. The best models and male strippers in Cuba can be seen there, together with comedians and singers, also members of Proyecto El Divino. (O and 23, Vedado)

El Divino modelCine Club Diferente: A monthly happening at Cine 23 y 12, this is one of the biggest regular gatherings of LGBTI Cubans and friends. Hosted by noted film critic Frank Padrón, the cinema packs in folks eager to see movies tackling themes of sexual diversity—some quite polemic. Past screenings have included Outrage, Harvey Milk, and Verde Verde, the 2011 Cuban film which shows how far things have come since Fresa y Chocolate (and how far we still have to go). Stick around for the lively audience debate following. (Calle 23 e/ 10 y 12, Vedado)

Fashion Bar Habana: Cuba’s first drag supper club/bar, the setting here is a superb example of queer class meets camp, accompanied by a fantastic floor show. Nothing short of gorgeous, especially when performing scantily clad, which happens after the 11pm drag show in a rare homoerotic dance spectacle. (San Juan de Dios, esq. a Aguacate, Habana Vieja)

Escaleras al Cielo: This disco is transformed into a hopping hot spot every Friday night when LGBTI Cuban youth and friends hit the big dance floor to get their groove on to a live DJ. There’s a disco ball, naturally, and a surprisingly sophisticated (for Cuba) laser light system. This is one of the few places with pole dancing, replete with provocatively dressed performers—both men and women. Stairway to Heaven indeed. (Zulueta #660 e/ Apodaca y Gloria, Habana Vieja)

Café Bar Madrigal: Feeling more like San Francisco than Havana thanks to its pop décor, fancy cocktails, and the gay partystaff’s (occasional) supercilious attitude, this second-floor hangout is a gathering spot for all types of folks, including gay men and women. What this place has going for it are the comfortable seating areas—especially the terrace balcony and the living room in the back—cool music, arty atmosphere, and yummy desserts. (Calle 17 #809, e/ 2 y 4, Vedado)

Café Fortuna: This wonderful, off-the-beaten path find is as cozy as a West Village flat, with the interior décor to match. There are ancient typewriters, radios, and other curios hanging from the walls, a bathtub for two (they lay a board across it for easy access to your cocktails), and an old American car for kicking back with a cappuccino. The seamless combination of comfortable and funky works well here, where you’ll find a very mixed, welcoming crowd. This is one of the few places in Havana where you can still smoke; there’s a full bar in addition to a wide variety of coffee specials well-made. (Avenida 3ra, esq. a 28, Miramar)

Bar Bohemio: Laidback, chill and tropical chic atmosphere in Havana. Owned by a pair of retired Danza Contemporanea de Cuba dancers, this bar/restaurant housed in a Vedado mansion epitomizes sophisticated casual, with its plant-filled wraparound terrace, warm lighting, and individual couches and seating areas. It is as comfortable for a first date as a regular tryst meet-up, testifying to its welcoming, inclusive feel. (Calle 21 #1065, e/ 12 y 14, Vedado)

Samuel Rivas