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When In...

When in...Bogota

When in...Bogota

Bogotá is cleaning up its act -- and getting gayer by the minute.

Originally published in OUT April 2009, issue 183

Just a five-hour flight from New York City (seven hours from Los Angeles), Bogot? is nestled between the lush mountains of Guadalupe and Monserrate, nearly two miles up in the Andean high plateau. By turns colonial and modern, this city-in-transition is frequently dubbed the ?Athens of South America? for its dense concentration of museums (of gold, colonial art, and modern art, plus one specializing in the artist Fernando Botero), libraries, and universities, not to mention its thriving gayborhoods like the Zona Rosa and Chapinero.

The 8-million-strong metro area was once notorious for crime and drugs, but wildly popular president ?lvaro Uribe has bolstered Bogot?s civic pride by increasing security and adopting strict crime-fighting tactics used by the NYPD. In 2007, he sponsored a bill that paved the way for this year?s constitutional court ruling that same-sex couples must be granted the same rights as heterosexuals in common-law marriages. But discrimination, violent crime, and rebel activity elsewhere in Colombia contribute to national image problems.

Most recently, Colombia has been hit with global economic woes, but Bogot? seems to be weathering the storm. This is most visible in the bohemian Candelaria district and the more modern Gourmet Zone (Zona G), where chefs and restaurateurs from all over Latin America are taking advantage of the colonial capital?s affordable rents and setting up camp. Plus, the city?s bustling Juan Valdez coffee shops, thriving emerald market, booming medical tourism business, and leather handbag shops -- stuffed with buyers from all over the world -- all suggest the city is doing quite well.

STREET GUIDE

THE DRINK
Brokeback Mountain Caf? and Bar
Cra. 9A #60-25; +57-1-542-5683
This unlikely newcomer is named after Ang Lee?s homo-western flick, but you won?t find any cowboys thumping to its background disco and house beats. Pastel couches are strewn around the lounges, while karaoke and wireless Internet keep the gay boys busy.

Blues Bar
Cl. 86A #13A-30; +57-1-616-7126
The gays come to this Zona Rosa bar to chitchat and shake their hips to electro and pop. Open Tuesday through Saturday, with an open bar all night for a mere 15,000 pesos ($6).

THE GROOVE
Theatron
Cl. 58 #10-34; +57-1-235-4227
TheatronDePelicula.com
The heart of the gay ghetto of the Chapinero, this gigantic former movie theater is the city?s premier gay dance club. Its various dance floors cater to everyone from househeads to lounge lizards.

Part One | Part Two

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