Imagine yourself arriving at a new destination after an exhausting day of travel. Next to the desk in your hostel, you find a poster for an LGBT event that is taking place… tonight! What a coincidence! As a queer traveler, an unexpected lesbian event in the town you’re visiting or maybe a pride can be a serious game changer. You’ll probably stay a little longer to get over your hangover and you’ll remember this town forever for holding such a pleasant surprise. I hope this ever happens to us! Usually, we have to do a lot of research without finding a bar or event after all. For many destinations, there seems to be a gap in online information for queer women. It’s probably not only the information that is missing, the bars aren’t there either. In 2015 we left for Mexico with no specific plans, just a small escape attempt.
Our decision to move to Mexico for a while was based on little more than an experiment. In our memory, Playa Del Carmen was a place where you could get moldy rooms, sleepless nights and expensive stuff everywhere. We believed that if we changed our mindset and gave the city a second chance at a first impression, it could still be good after all. It turned out that Playa wasn’t as bad in real life than it was in our memories. We found a cheap apartment, away from the crowds and we were living the life of full-time beach bums. Soon, we started appreciating Playa del Carmen lot. Our apartment was a short bike ride away from the popular Fifth Avenue and the vibrant nightlife of this Caribbean town. On the other hand, the beach was even closer. We didn’t skip a day at the water.
Going wild abroad
Partying abroad can be a lot of fun. Nobody knows you, your family or anybody you know. You’ll probably never see these people again. So basically, what happens on your trip, stays there. A lot of travelers appreciate this Caribbean beach town just for its party scene. You can get drunk in every street in Playa during the day. At night, most people go to Calle 12, where most of the clubs are. Just like everyone else, we went to the popular club Mandala. Getting in there is as pricey as we hoped the entire night should be. So we needed an ATM way too soon. A few beers did a good job at forgetting all about the money and most of the clubs on Calle 12 are perfect for a great night of fun.
What about the queer folks?
Most lesbians and gays never leave the standard party scene in Playa del Carmen as it is very welcoming and LGBT friendly. So we could label every bar and club in town as LGBT friendly. Problem solved. We no longer have to search for specific gay bars now, do we? Well, I’m pretty hard to please when it comes to such details. It’s just I usually feel like I’m out of context. I’m always experiencing bathroom issues and I dread going to public bathrooms in straight places. If this wouldn’t have been the case, Playa Del Carmen nightlife would have been just perfect. The atmosphere in the party joints in town is very open minded and we met a lot of gay men. So, if you’re being difficult, like me, you might be interested in specific bars as well. We decided to do some research.
We soon discovered most online information was outdated. If there was any information at all. How do you do this online research? You can’t keep making up new words and expect a different result. ‘Queer nightlife’, ‘gay clubs’, ‘lesbian party’, those all bring up the same results when information is scarce. I searched the same words as I did in the spring of 2015 again just now. I’m undecided about whether it’s funny or tragic, but the exact same articles appear. Nothing new has come up the last two years! It didn’t look promising.
Lesbian nightlife Playa del Carmen
When Googling “lesbian nightlife in Playa Del Carmen”, the first hit was a TripAdvisor’s forum question someone asked in 2008. Yes, in 2008. I need to suppress the urge to answer: We’re in Playa Del Carmen too! Wanna meet up? Luckily an admin had closed the topic due to inactivity. But there was one answer to guide us on our way. It had a link that led us to a website which no longer existed and the names of two bars. All right! Get dressed! We’re on our way to these places! Let me just check the addresses. The first bar didn’t exist and the other is a club for men. It became clear that there were no lesbian bars whatsoever.
Gay, Lesbian, anything will do
At this point, I realized I wasn’t allowed to picky and expanded the search area to: anything will do! I’ve been to gay clubs before and even though they are very different from clubs for women, the male gay scene is known for its memorable parties. The only thing we wanted was great fun and hassle free bathroom access. So the search continued. If we are to believe this article on gay life in the area, most of the clubs that existed, are closed by now. The most popular one still exists. That is exactly the one we went to, full of hope on a great night out.
A random gay club in Playa Del Carmen
Aside from the massively popular Coco Bongo, which is more of a show than a club, there seemed to be only one option in Playa del Carmen. I’m not sure if the place even has an actual address, but it’s conveniently located in a small alley next to a Seven Eleven on Fifth Avenue. We walked past some bins and back doors before we finally reached the entrance of the best gay bar in Playa Del Carmen. Even before entering, we could see there was nobody in there. But we decided to go in anyway. We didn’t immediately feel at home, probably because the bartender eyed us as if we had to be lost. Walls were covered in velvet drapings and mirrors. Some of the curtains were leading somewhere special, without a doubt. In every direction, you could worship your ass and your pecs in a single glance.
Did I say there was nobody there? Well, there was someone there. After ordering two of the cheapest beers available, we had to go with the only entertainment available: watching the other person go wild. This young gay man was clearly far gone, but he was having the time of his life and he obviously liked himself very much. He was dancing in front of one of the mirrors while trying to seduce himself with the horny look in his eyes. Quickly finishing our beers, we tried to decide which velvet curtain held bathroom access and thought about the other possible sights we might encounter.
Next door to the gay club, we found a cool rooftop bar without male entertainment which suited us perfectly. We didn’t undertake any more actions to find gay nightlife in the touristic center of Playa del Carmen. After all, our gay excursion in Playa del Carmen turned out to be a memorable night after all. I vividly remember the unsuccessful search and the exact moment we agreed on finding another place to go to. I would withstand the angry looks in binary bathrooms rather than search for the restrooms behind the mysterious curtains. There is one yearly LGBT event in June: the Playa Pride. We haven’t been yet, so can’t promise anything. But if you happen to be in the area in June, this could just as well be your happy traveler moment!