Gay Rio de Janeiro: Its all about the beach

Brazils second largest city, Rio de Janeiro offers the heady buzz of a cosmopolitan city, the laidback vibe of a beach resort town and a nonstop gay night life scene--all rolled into one. The syncopated rhythm of the samba drum and the lofty melodies of bossa nova set the days pace, not the tick-tock of the clock, making it the perfect vacation spot for anyone looking for an escape from the daily grind. Of course it helps that this tropical South American jewel boasts one of the world's most open attitudes toward sex and sexuality--including homosexuality--making it a gay destination par excellence.

Rios beaches are among its greatest attraction. Here the temperature averages 7786 F (2530C), which means that the beaches teem with activity year-round. The best-known is Copacabana. This four kilometer stretch of blazing white sand, located in the southern zone of the city, is bordered by trendy Avenida Atlantica and draws people of all walks of life, offering lots of scantilly clad eye candy of every type and persuasion. The area in front of the Copacabana Palace hotel known as Bolsa is the gay zone.

Adjacent to Copacabana is the renouned Ipanema Beach, which is divided into a few sub-beaches that each draw different crowds. Arpoador beach is popular among surfers, while Posto 9 and Posto 10 draw a younger bohemian crowd. The gays are concentrated around Farme de Amoedo, also called Farme Gay, where the muscle men and pretty boys flock. At Farme Gay the vibe is cruisier than at Copacabanas Bolsa, so its easy to make new friends here. Beach goers will quickly notice that Rios beaches are excellent spots to lay out the game plan for the evening (which in Rio can stretch into the next morning). To find out whats happening on any given night, just grab flyers from any of the many gay party promotors who come out to the beach regularly to promote their events.

As one of South Americas most gay friendly cities, Rio offers a myriad of restaurants, bars and clubs catering to a wide range of tastes. Rios gay life is centered around the Ipanema suburb and the neighboring Leblon district where visitors enjoy the citys concentration of gay venues mixed among major art galleries, universities, theaters and lots of shopping. While samba and bossa nova music can be mainstays for many of the clubs in town, those who prefer to dance the night away to house, techno, hip hop and even rock music wont have any trouble finding the party scene they seek.

Rio de Janeiros Carnaval and gay pride celebrations are events that gay travelers will want to mark on their calendars. As the birthplace of Carnaval, an annual festival that kicks off the Mardis Gras season in mid-February, Rio explodes with color, music and dance for a week. Though Carnaval is celebrated throughout the world, Rios festival is the largest and wildest celebration, drawing millions of visitors with its host of masqarade balls, street parties and the famous samba parade. In early June hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians pour into the city for Rio de Janeiro Pride. The Rio gay community began throwing pride celebrations in 1995 and now boast the second largest pride in Brazil. But what makes this event unique is that its the only pride event with a parade route that marches along three miles of beachthe perfect setting for a huge gay party and a stunning exemplar of the quality of life in one of the world's great cities.

Restaurants to check out