Havana’s Gay Scene

Only the lights of the long strip of buildings along the Malecon are visible.

View of the Malecon in Havana all lit up. Photo by Paul Keller licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Gay life in Havana has expanded noticeably in recent years, although homosexual venues remain subject to police crackdowns. There are no established gay bars or clubs, which are banned, and the gay “scene” revolves around “hangout” street locales. Most venues attract male prostitutes, called pingueros (from the Spanish word pinga, or prick).

Most nights there’s one or more gay parties known as fiestas de diez pesos at private venues (entrance typically costs 10 pesos, or sometimes CUC1–2). Havana society is non-exclusionary, however; everyone is welcome, and the mix usually includes a sprinkling of straight, lesbian, and even transvestis. Private parties often feature drag shows. The “floating party” venues change nightly as they try to stay one step ahead of the police.

To find out where the night’s gay party is, head to the Cine Yara (La Rampa y L, Vedado). However, in 2009 this area had cooled and Havana’s main nighttime cruising spot is now the Malecón, opposite Fiat Café near the foot of La Rampa.


Bars, Cafés, and Clubs

A transvesti show is hosted at the Sociedad Cultural Rosalía de Castro (Av. de Bélgica #504 altos, e/ Máximo Gómez y Dragones, 07/862-3193).

In Vedado, Café Fresa y Chocolate (Calle 13 y 12, Vedado) and La Arcada (Calle M y 23, open 24 hours) are effectively the only gay bars in town. The cramped, humid Club Tropical (Línea, esq. F, 07/832-7361, daily 10 p.m.–3 a.m.) occasionally acts as a gay venue, as does the steamy cellar bar, Club Saturno (Línea, e/ 10 y 12, 07/833-7942, daily 11 p.m.–2:30 a.m.).

Bar de las Estrellas (Calle A #507, e/ 15 y 16), in the Lawton district, south of Cerro, is a paladar (private restaurant) with a transvestite cabaret at 10 p.m.


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Cuba.


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2 Comments

  1. pierre says:

    Are there any gay places in Varadero or Matanzas?

    • Kimi Owens (admin) says:

      Hi Pierre,

      The content in Moon Cuba for LGBT travelers is primarily centered in Havana with some additional resources given in the back of the book. Christopher does run his own website, if you’d like to reach out to him directly.