Top Twenty LGBT Cities, According to ’Gay Hot Spots: Spartacus Gay Places’
As editor-in-chief Dirk Baumgartl notes in his introduction to Gay Hot Spots: Spartacus Gay Places, a trip to the nearest big city is essentially part of every gay man’s coming out. Who among us can ever forget those earliest ventures - hailing a train or a bus out of our dreary suburban hometowns and into the heart of some pulsing metropolis, where culture, nightlife and the chance to mingle with any number of handsome men abounded?
While those carefree days of journeying into Manhattan or South Beach aloft on "A Star is Born"-style fantasies have given way to sobering realities of a 9-to-5 job, travel remains an established part of many gay men’s lifestyles. Whether you’re planning a weekend in an exotic port-of-call or just an hour or two away, Gay Hot Spots: Spartacus Gay Places offers a smart, easy-to-read overview of 20 gay-friendly cities around the world.
True to the book’s name, urban gay hot spots are truly the emphasis here, and while many choices -from San Francisco and Miami stateside, to London and Paris in Europe - may seem tried and true, there are a handful of surprises. Baumgartl wisely nixes stoic Brussels in favor of the more vibrant Antwerp, which he describes here as "sinfully sensual," while contributing author Peter Rehberg offers a scintillating look at Tel Aviv’s party scene, with an emphasis on the non-family-friendly.
As for the other locales, each of the four authors offers quirky, sassy anecdotes that just might inspire you to plan a return visit. Baumgartl describes bars in the Canary Islands as places where "you’ll be served by fresh-faced waiters in skimpy shorts." He also offers an affectionate nod to many a theatre queen in the section on Buenos Aires, referencing the chestnut "Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina" just paragraphs before a segment on gay tango lessons. Rick Steves only wishes he could be so witty.
Unlike other travel guides, the 223-page book makes little attempt at offering a comprehensive history of each locale. Instead, each city entry is broken down three distinct segments: a introductory essay highlighting not only tourist sites catering to gay travelers but also some background on each city’s stance on LGBT rights, followed by a Top 10 list for each location, comprising attractions, nightlife and Pride or other gay events.
Those hoping for spontaneity and maybe even a little sexy fun while on vacation can skip ahead to the all-inclusive index that concludes each entry, listing addresses and contact information for everything from general bars and nightclubs to fetish shops and cursing areas. Speaking of sexy, the book also includes full-color photographs of scenic vistas along with snapshots of hunky travelers catching rays poolside or grinding hips at a discotheque.
Best for gay travelers with limited time in their destinations, Gay Hot Spots: Spartacus Best Places offers a nicely compact overview of some of the world’s best-known LGBT meccas, along with a few surprises. The book begins with a classic Oscar Wilde quote: "Travel improves the mind wonderfully, and does away with all one’s prejudices."
So whether your interest is scintillating nightlife or purely just taking in sun, sand and surf, there’s no better way to re-charge by planning a weekend in any of these exciting cities.