You gotta hand it to Costa Rica’s gays: They run some of the best dance clubs in San José. They’re straight-friendly too, which explains why there are usually lots of women and couples on weekends. The three clubs listed here are the current hot tickets.
El Bochinche (Calle 11, Aves. 10/12, tel. 506/2221-0500) tends toward the upscale. The bi-level nightclub has a large-screen and multiscreen panel on both floors. Time your visit for Thursday night for the popular drag show, which attracts both women (straight and lesbian) and men (predominantly gay).
Club Oh! (Calle 2, Aves. 14/16, tel. 506/2248-1500) is considered the top club in town and draws an elegantly dressed, upscale crowd. The two DJs spin great tunes, with something for everyone (from 1980s faves to techno). The club has special events, great variety shows on Saturday, and talent competitions on Friday nights. Its huge disco is lit with laser lights and spinning globes. (Update: permanently closed)
La Avispa (Calle 1, Aves. 8/10, tel. 506/2223-5343) caters to both gays and lesbians. Passing through its unassuming doors in a low-class barrio, you’ll be amazed to find a top-notch disco on two levels playing mostly techno and Latin music. There’s also a pool room, a bar, and a big-screen TV upstairs. It draws fashionistas, both gay and straight, and drag queens flock on show night.
Most gay clubs are located in a rough part of town south of downtown; whatever you do, take a taxi.
A U.S. travel agency, Colours Destinations, operates Colours Oasis Hotel (tel. 506/2296-1880, toll-free from North America tel. 866/517-4390, $79-179 s, $89-189 d year-round; lower with Internet specials), a small gay-owned colonial-style property in the quiet residential Rohrmoser district. It has exquisite contemporary decor. There’s a pool, a whirlpool tub, and a TV room, plus a café, a restaurant, and a bar. Other gay-friendly hotels include Hotel Fleur de Lys, Hotel Kekoldi, and Hotel Santo Tomás.
Gay-friendly spots include Café Mundo (Ave. 9, Calle 15, tel. 506/2222-6190) and Café La Esquina, in Colours Oasis Hotel. The latter has gay theme parties monthly.
Joseph Itiel, author of ¡Pura Vida!: A Travel Guide to Gay & Lesbian Costa Rica, strongly advises against “cruising” the parks, where “you can get yourself into real trouble.” Transvestites hang out at night around Parque Morazán and “Gringo Gulch” downtown. Gay saunas are a particularly popular rendezvous, notably at Hispalis (Ave. 2, Calles 17/19, tel. 506/2256-9540) and Paris (Calle 7, Ave. 7, tel. 506/2257-5272).
Excerpted from the Ninth Edition of Moon Costa Rica.