Gay Pride, Spanish Style

Day Two: Seeing Sights, Getting Down
Yeah, hangovers suck, but no one wants to sleep the day away while visiting España. After a quick breakfast of pills and OJ, Matt and I decided to take a break from the upcoming week’s prognosticated debauchery with a quick side trip to the UNESCO Palacio Real de Aranjuez.

The site, located just outside the city center, remains famous for its royal history, complete wit an opulent 18th century palace, lavish furniture and other antiquities. For those of you with more of a yen for green will love the lush, enchanting gardens lining the tranquil Tajo River, while small orchard paths lead viewers to exquisite fountains and sculptures. It’s fun for the whole gay family!

After cleaning up at the hotel, we jetted over to gay-friendly boutique hotel Oscar’s Restaurant Gift for a quick bite, but spent most of the time eating up the gay pride view. Closed exclusively for VIPs for the weekend, the hotel was right at the main square in Chueca, and the restaurant on the second floor sported the best vantage point for the festivities outside.

Unable to control ourselves any longer, we ditched dinner and dove into the night. The entire town had been turned into a party, pure and simple. And not just the gays. It seems everyone in Madrid jumps at the chance to celebrate in the streets, no matter what the cause or company. As my new Spanish friend Miguel says, “Here in Madrid, you can go anywhere by yourself and you’ll be adopted within minutes. Everyone just likes to have a good time.”

And they’ll show it to you, too.

Day Three: Pride Cummeth!

There’s gay pride, and then there’s Madrid Gay Pride, which–after experiencing the parade and late-night festivities–should be its own entity.

Unlike most pride marches Stateside, the Madrid March starts at 6 pm (which is actually 7:30 pm on Spanish time). Eager little beavers, we headed down early to check out the scene and were lucky enough to meet this year’s Mr Gay Pride winner, gaying his way through press and aficionados in ass-hugging swim shorts and sash. No doubt he was incredibly gorgeous with a killer smile, tight, hot body and a butt that didn’t stop but that wasn’t the only criteria that crowned him the winner. “They judge everything from personality to charm, so its kind of like your Miss America pageant,” he told me. “The judges look for the whole package.” I went to take a closer look at said package, but the pride participants were told to take their mark. And a good marcher knows not to miss his mark.

Rather than getting crushed on the street, Matt and I snuck on to the Shangay float, a double decker booze bus. Within minutes our queer comrades were screaming, whooing, cheering, jumping, dancing, chug-a-lugging, sashaying for the countless thousands lining the Gran Via. Did I say “thousands”? That may be conservative, because it seemed like millions.

It was a truly ridiculous moment. Whether I was on a float or not, drunk or sober, there was something particularly special about this pride, as if the whole country had dropped everything to come celebrate an honored, respected culture. The rest sure does have something to learn from this preciously progressive country.

Night had fallen when we reached the finish line three hours later and, quite drunk, we headed to Chueca for more outdoor fiestas. Club hopping was essential, including the popular Ohm with a line-up that makes Sunday nights at Hiro look just plain scant.

At 7 am, we closed down the club and spilled out into the still-crowded streets, some of us disoriented, some looking for the next party. Matt and I headed back to our hotel with a group of new Madridellenos amigos, and the rest is history. Or, rather, not fit for print.

One thing’s for sure, I plan on returning for next year’s festivities. Care to join me?