An insight into the possibilities for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and adventurous types

Guide to Gay Granada

© Granadainfo.com

Written and researched by Pamela Lalonde.

Introduction:

"Spain has easily the richest homosexual history of any European country, except for Greece. [Federico García] Lorca's native Andalucia was the land of homosexuals, the inheritor of Greek culture and his Granada was, until it was destroyed by the conquering Isabela la Catolica in 1492, the final product of that tradition." -- Prof. Daniel Eisenberg, 1996

Welcome to Spain, considered by sociologists as well as some gay organizations to be one of the -- if not the -- most tolerant societies in Europe when it comes to homosexuality. Not bad for a country that until only 23 years ago was still jailing homosexuals under "social danger" and "public scandal" laws. Birthplace and home to one of Spain's most famous homosexuals, Federico García Lorca (see below), Granada offers the non-hetero traveler an open and accepting community, along with a wide variety of cafés and bars that cater to gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Historical perspective:

It was not that long ago, of course, that Granada and Spain, were less inviting to homosexuals, to say the least. The Law of Social Danger (Ley de Peligrosidad Social) gave the state the power to jail homosexuals -- along with other socially dangerous elements like vagrants and prostitutes -- and the state did so.

In a typical example, a 17 year old Spaniard during the final days of the Franco era was imprisoned after telling his mother he was gay, upon which his mother went to a nun for advice, upon which the nun went to the police, upon which the police arrested him and sentenced him to three months in jail. A Supreme Court decision from the same era upheld the arrest of two homosexuals who were reported on by a neighbor who witnessed them in a sexual act -- by spying on them through a keyhole -- and reported them to the police.

Luckily, things began to change quite rapidly after Franco's death. The social danger laws were unofficially shelved in the late 1970s and then officially taken off the books in 1995. Just over a year ago, the Spanish parliament voted to erase the criminal records of homosexuals jailed during the Franco era and agreed to consider compensating former gay prisoners financially for their time served. As the law now stands, there is no specific protection of homosexuality, but the Constitution's broad language concerning non-discrimination, which covers age, sex, religion, political ideology and "whatever other social or personal circumstances," has been applied in homosexual discrimination cases in the courts. The age of consent in Spain -- be it for hetero- or homosexual acts -- is a somewhat shockingly low 12 years old, although the Spanish parliament is will probably raise the age to 13, still relatively young.

Spanish society has loosened up beyond the legal realm, too, of course, and many of Granada's gays spontaneously bring up discussions of the difference, the change, the general sense of freedom and acceptance that has spread across the society since the end of the Franco era when it comes to all things homosexual (a general acceptance reflected in the success of Pedro Almodovar's films, for one). As with the United States, there seems to be a growing and open interest in bisexual experimentation, too, especially among the club scene group. A Granadino legal expert recently suggested that Spaniards today are not homophobic simply because they're enjoying their liberty too much and having too much fun to be bothered. While this comment is obviously somewhat tongue-in-cheek, a bisexual American visitor to Granada recently noted that there seemed to be a lack of that underlying, and at times extremely frightening, homophobia that can crop up at any point in the States. That's true. Spain -- and Granada -- are, basically, very comfortable places to be gay.

The scene: Bars and nightlife etc.

While in no way Ibiza, Granada does offer a fair variety of bars and cafes that range from gay friendly to exclusively gay. It's easy to find everything from sunny sidewalk tables for people-watching over coffee to wild, neon hotspots for letting loose and dancing to dark corners for hooking up with a new friend using a minimum of words. A general note about prices, exclusivity, etc.: Granada is a small city, inexpensive and not overrun by the type of tourist seeking the nightlife scene. Thus, the majority of the bars are both easy and cheap to get into. The ones that do charge a cover usually charge only the price of a drink (around 4 euros in the discos/dance bars) which you can immediately recoup at the bar. There's almost never a wait at the door (the one exception is Friday and Saturday nights at Fondo Reservado, which is a small locale) and nobody is ever turned away. Attire is totally up to you.

What follows is a fairly comprehensive list of the options:

Bars and nightlife: Places basically straight but comfortable for gays:


Candela (Santa Escolastica No. 9 -- Realejo Neighborhood)

Candela is a basic tapas place (each drink comes with a free little snack, like sausage or cheese on bread) with a nice atmosphere, very popular with the 25-45 artist, language teacher, journalist-type crowd that lives in the neighborhood. While by no means populated exclusively by gays, one of the two bartenders and a fair number of regulars are gay (or openly bi) and it's certainly a very comfortable place to begin the night (its prime hours are 10 to 1, before the dance bars get going).


Bars and nightlife: Gay friendly/mixed:

Fondo Reservado (Cuesta de Santa Inés, No. 3 -- three blocks upriver from Plaza Nueva, up the hill to the left) see map

This is a favorite bar for gays, bis, and straights and always popular with foreign visitors. Long and narrow with really creative and constantly changing decorations, Fondo offers a mixture of house music (it's worth the trip just to watch DJ Kuko do his thing) and drag shows performed by Melania, who does Spanish pop stars with an occasional Cher number thrown in, and La Pompino who specializes in black American disco icons like Donna Summer. There's a thematic party every other Thursday and it's one of the few places in town that does Carnaval right.

El Rincón de San Pedro (C/Carrera del Darro no 12 -- upriver from Plaza Nueva on the right) see map

This lovely, deep blue bar with a back terrace under the Alhambra is an especially nice place to go during the off hours, either before things get crazy and loud or really late, for a last drink at 3:30 or 4, when you can truly appreciate the décor and the view. The bar offers a coffee hour at 4 and then, as the night picks up, plays dance music and sometimes has drag shows -- it's more or a place to dance than to score and caters to a broad age range.

Perfíl (c/Rosario at the intersection with C/Navas -- Realejo neighborhood)

Perfíl is probably the most club club in Granada -- with all that that suggests. There's lots of loud music in an atmosphere that is about 50% gay/bi and 50% straight. This is the bar where people seem to care most about attitude and attire, so if you want to look hot, dance to rave-y type music, and find a friend for the night, Perfíl is the place for you.

6 Colours (c/Tendillas de Santa Paula 6 -- near the San Agustín market) see map

6 Colours is the latest addition to Granada's gay scene, having opened in 2004 with a colorful, crowded party. The bar is a dance club with a camp atmosphere -- bartenders dressed as heavily made-up Egyptian slave boys, etc -- and definitely a good place to go if you want to pick up men; fewer women go there and the majority of the ones that do are straight friends of the boys. A straight, female visitor who did the rounds of the gay bars recently declared 6 Colours to have the most attractive and best-smelling guys in town and the bathroom chat is really friendly and upbeat. It's a fairly young scene.

La Gayedra (c/Tendillas de Santa Paula 6 -- near the San Agustín market) see webpage
The restaurant part of the 6 colours. At the weekend there is an expensive menu de dia at 30 euros but it includes a drag queen show.

 

 

Gay exclusive (or almost so)

The Tic Tac (Horno de Haza 19 -- near to the Plaza de los Lobos): see map

While offering a coffee hour starting at six in the afternoon and advertising itself as open to all, the Tic Tac has a reputation -- and deservedly so -- for being a place to "ligar," i.e., to pick up and be picked up, with minimal trouble. Its clientele is largely male, and of all ages from late teens to much, much older men. The atmosphere is a little seedy, beginning with the two sets of padded doors and doorbell at the entrance and revolving crowd passing through the velvet curtains to check out the scene in the dark back room. (Authors note: when running around Granada recently with a gay friend who was on the prowl, this was the most successful site for him. Within about two minutes of entering he had made critical eye contact and was off in the back room with his new friend (despite their having no shared language), leaving the author the lone female twiddling her thumbs in a packed bar).

El Angél Azul (C/Lavadero de las Tablas no. 15 -- near the Plaza de los Lobos): see map

The "Blue Angel" is around the corner from the Tic Tac and similar in its clientele and offerings, though a little more upscale and a little less seedy.

El Zoo (Moras 2 -- behind the Fuente de la Batalla)

El Zoo is the dance place that opens the latest and stays open latest. It's similar to Perfíl in being very clubby, but it is more gay and a bit more seedy. Spacious, with a remote, underground feel and a big, central dance floor, el Zoo is the place to go after you've hit a few other bars, but you still have a lot of energy or simply haven't scored and aren't ready to head back to the hotel just yet.

La Sal (Santa Paula 11 -- near the San Agustín Market)see map

This bar, which started as a largely lesbian gathering place, is Granada's oldest gay bar still in existence, having just celebrated its 15th anniversary. It's a cozy dance bar whose DJ plays a mixture of house music (and the bartendress is really attractive). The door is manned by a Gallega whose main job is to keep out troublemakers -- there's never a wait and if you look like a normal liberal person, you'll be let right in. The atmosphere recently has changed a bit as the bar has become more and more popular with a kind of young, preppy gay male type, but it is still a comfortable, fun place for women of all ages.

Al pie de la Vela (C/Carrera del Darro 135 -- upriver from Plaza Nueva)see map

The rainbow colored Venetian blinds signal this establishment, which is just down and across from El Rincón de San Pedro and similar in being very tasteful and upscale, with the only real difference being that the crowd is more purely gay and a bit younger.

Cruising

According to local sources, the two top cruising locations in Granada are the train station (especially around the restrooms) and the Jardines de Triunfo, a large park with a colored fountain that lies at the intersection of the city's two largest streets: Gran Via and Avenida de la Constitution. Additionally, during the summer, the younger gay men of Granada can often be found sitting in a long line on the wall that runs along the Carerra del Darro, up from Plaza Nueva. Since a couple of the bars listed above (Al pie de la Vela and El Rincón de San Pedro) are right around here, this makes for a fairly concentrated gay zone during the warmer months.

Gay Associations in Spain

 

COLEGA - Colectivo de Lesbianas y Gays de Andalucía

http://www.colegaweb.net/granada.htm

COGAM - Colectivo de Lesbianas y Gay de Madrid

www.ctv.es/USERS/cogam

Coordinora Gai-Lesbiana

http://www.cogailes.org/

 

Abridged Bibliography


Bergman, Emilie L. and Paul Julian Smith, Entiendes! (Essays on homosexuality in Spain, including history), 1996.

Blackmore, Josiah and Gregory S. Hutcheson, eds., Queer Iberia: Sexualities, Cultures and Crossings from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, 1999.

Cleminson, Richard and Francisco Vázquez García, 'Los Invisibles:' Hacia una historia de la homosexualidad masculina en España, 1840-2000,

Eisenberg, Daniel, Articles on Granada, (Sephardic) Jews, Juan II, Enrique IV and Antonio Pérez in the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, ed., W.R. Dynes, 1990.

Sahuqillo, Angel, Federico Garcia Lorca y la cultura de la homosexualidad: Lorca, Dali, Cernuda, Gil-Albert, Prados y la voz silenciada del amor homosexual, 1991.

Stainton, Leslie, Lorca: A Dream of a Life, 1999.

Granada's most famous homosexual: Federico García Lorca

One of Spain's most admired artists and now Granada's favorite native son is Federico García Lorca. Playwrite, poet, artist, theater director, and more, Lorca's artistic legacy to the 20th century is one of Spain's greatest -- and one that is regularly and loudly celebrated in Granada.

As a figure almost as well-known for his homosexuality as for his art both now and during his lifetime, Lorca was not always quite so celebrated in his hometown. In part this was because he sought to be open not only about his sexuality but also about the existence and value of homosexual love in general during an era when homosexuality in Spain, and especially in conservative Granada, was generally, and preferably, hidden. In Granada, Lorca spent a lot of his time in gay circles that met openly in cafeterias and also in closed theatrical group that explored -- at times in a fairly pornographic way -- homosexual themes. Lorca also included homosexual themes in a number of his works, openly in pieces like the clandestinely published Sonetos del amor oscuro and Poet in New York, and more obscurely in the theater piece, Yerma.

As the 1930s progressed, and as homophobia became more open and more repressive, Lorca began to be attacked in the rightwing press. His legal status in Granada also became tenuous after he was denounced to the police for being a communist and homosexual. Shortly after Granada fell to the falangists in July of 1936, Lorca was hunted down and shot. His homosexuality almost certainly played some role in his death, though nobody -- this is a death shrouded in substantial mystery -- is certain of how great a role. There are rumors that the sister of Lorca's assassin had been spurned by the author as well as reports that his killer boasted, after the assassination, of having "put two bullets in his ass for being a faggot." Certainly, other factors were at stake (his close friendship with key leftists in Granada, for example), but his homosexuality inflamed the negative feelings that many Granadinos already had towards Federico García Lorca.

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