This gay guide comes from two of our GayTravel Gurus, the Nomadic Boys. Stefan and Sebastien are a Greek/French gay couple who left their lives in London in 2014 to travel the world together. They write about their experiences in each destination they visit on their gay travel blog.
Ecuador has come a long way over the past 20 years with LGBT rights. Until 1997, gay life in Ecuador was tough: it was an extremely conservative country, where just being caught in a gay bar could get you in trouble. In 1997, the constitution was changed introducing some of the most progressive gay-friendly legislation in the world.
- Full anti-discrimination laws on grounds of sexual orientation were introduced.
- The age of consent for both straight and LGBT was equalized (to 14 years old).
- Steps towards equal marriage have since been implemented and from 2015, any same sex couple in Ecuador can legally register their “civil union” and receive the same rights/benefits as straight couples.
The capital city, Quito has a fun and vibrant gay scene, with a handful of gay bars and discos, largely based in the touristic Mariscal area, located North from the city’s UNESCO listed Old Town. This is our favorite gay hangouts in Quito, after basing ourselves here for 3 months during our big trip around Latin America.
Gay Hangouts in Quito
A common theme we noticed traveling in Latin America is the lack of a pub/bar culture in each LGBT community we’ve visited. There is usually a large number of gay clubs (Discoteca) and very few gay bars. In Quito, there are no gay bars at all, but instead a handful of clubs which double up as bars, but don’t get busy until after 11 pm.
El Hueco / Tercer Milenio / Evolution
El Hueco is the city’s largest club. Confusingly, it has 3 different names, but despite this, it is locally referred to as El Hueco. It attracts a very mixed crowd and plays a mix of Latino and commercial pop. Some of our local friends in Quito turn their noses up at El Hueco, but we had a great time here: it’s a lot of fun with zero attitude. Go with an open mind and you’ll love it. El Hueco is located at Baquedano 188 y Reina Victoria and is only open on Saturday evenings.
Those friends of our who turn their noses up at El Hueco prefer to hang out at Kika. This is where the cool kids of the city come to play. It’s smaller than El Hueco and more trendy. It has an open bar with entrance fee before midnight and then turns into a disco playing the latest Latino pop hits. If you love Latino pop music like we do, you’ll want to have your Shazam app to hand here. Kika is located at Japón E569 with Avenida Amazonas and is open Thursday to Saturday from 9 pm to 4 am.
Capri is a new gay club in Quito, just minutes walking distance from the Plaza Foch in the Mariscal area. It has the same concept with Kika, offering a free bar from before 1:30 am for $10 entry, however, it doesn’t attract as many people as Kika does. Capri is located at Avenue Joaquín Pinto E515 with Juan León Mera street and is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 9 pm to 2:30 am.
La Disco Bitch
The twinks of Quito come to La Disco Bitch on Fridays to party and dance the night away to Shakira, Ricky Martina, Maluma and more. As thirty-something-year-olds, we felt a bit out of place here because the crowd was much younger, mainly teenagers and early twentysomethings. Disco Bitch is located at Avenida 6 de Diciembre with Avenida de la Republica, diagonal to La Paz Ecovía station and is only open on Friday evenings after 11 pm.
Organize Your Own Gay “Chiva” Party
An alternative to going out to a gay club is to arrange a Chiva with your friends. Chivas are small commuter buses that have had their seats removed and converted into the ultimate party bus. They are really popular in Ecuador and in neighboring Colombia, although many locals dismiss them as trashy.
We absolutely love Chivas. Nowhere else in the world are you going to be driven in a mini bus through a city, with unlimited amounts of canelazo (the local fiery sugar cane based alcoholic beverage), complete with live DJ, a stripper dance pole and if you’re lucky, a live band. It has to be seen and experienced to be believed. Nothing beats getting a group of your friends together on a Saturday night and organizing your own gay chiva through the streets of Quito!
TIP: when going out in Quito: always take your passport with you. The doormen are very strict and won’t accept a photocopy. Instead, they want to see the original document along with the immigration stamp!