Tuesday. 21.05.2024

Chueca neighborhood, the epicenter of the LGBTI movement in Madrid

Nowadays Chueca is world famous for its lively nightlife and has leisure options for all audiences, from the best gay bars to spicy shops and bookstores
A view of the Madrid Pride celebrations in the Chueca Neighbourhood in 2015. Photo: Tedeytan, via Wikimedia Commons.
A view of the Madrid Pride celebrations in the Chueca Neighbourhood in 2015. Photo: Tedeytan, via Wikimedia Commons.

Chueca is often described as the most cosmopolitan neighborhood in Madrid.

This gay-LGBT epicenter, located at ​​the Justice neighborhood (Barrio de Justicia), is nowadays specially know as the heart of the Madrid Pride festival celebrated every summer. Filled with hundreds of shops, restaurants, bars and events, it is a must visit for tourists.

However, Chueca was not always such a happy and colorful place.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, Chueca was known in Madrid as a neighborhood that bordered on marginality, with high mortality rates especially among young people. At that time, the systematic discrimination suffered by the LGBT community in other areas of Madrid caused an internal 'migration' rarely seen in the Spanish capital. During the 80s, the LGBT community started to settle in Chueca, where rental prices were very low. The deterioration of the houses in the area, together with the scarce sense of security, were characteristics of the neighborhood in those difficult years.

Chueca was still known as an unsafe area which scared tourists away at the beginning of the 1990s. The high damages caused by heroin in Spain among the young people transformed its squares and entire streets into improvised markets, where drug use was common. However, the changes that were to decide the fate of this small cute neighborhood had already begun to take place in the late 1980s. 

In 1986, a seminar on homosexuality was held in Chueca and laid the seed for the creation of the Collective of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals of Madrid (COGAM). By 1989, the neighborhood had become the 'headquarters' of the LGBT community for the Pride celebration, which gradually started to take on a festive character. 

In 1996, the Shangay magazine introduced the first float in the march, with the Spanish artist Alaska animating the parade. From then on, the number of people participating in Pride increased ad infinitum.

In 2005, the law that allows same-sex marriage came into force in Spain, after its approval by Parliament. The edition of Madrid Pride celebrated the same year was a huge success, attracting two million participants for the first time.

Madrid was designated as the European capital of Pride in 2007, when more than 2,5 million people from all over the world attended the event. Since then, the Madrid Pride has become one of the most massive LGBT events in the world, being the European city with the highest number of attendees, well above cities like London or Paris and only behind the LGBT Pride March of San Francisco.

Chueca gradually abandoned the marginal neighborhood label and became one of the busiest and most exclusive areas of Madrid, with rainbow flags and other right-claiming banners flooding shops, balconies, bars and bookstores.

Best gay bars in Chueca

Nowadays, Chueca is world famous for its lively nightlife and has leisure options for all audiences, whether it is to have a few drinks on a terrace or dance until late at night. Of course, you can also fin there the best gay bars in the Spanish capital.

Just 5 minutes from the Chueca metro station you can find Bears Bar (Pelayo street, 4). As its name suggests, this place attracts the 'bear' crowd of the city.

Another famous bar is Thick Bar (San Marcos, 16), where you can find good vibes, good music and good prices.

In the heart of Chueca you can also visit a small nightclub called Delirio (Libertad, 28), which is usually packed to the brim. In addition to enjoying good music, there you can enjoy a great time with their drag queen shows.

In the Organic Madrid Men's Club (Pelayo street, 30) you can find a nightclub but also organic men's clothing and accessories. And for those nights of sheer debauchery, Organic also has a dark room...

Kluster (Covarrubias, 42) is one of the best known and most frequented gay venues in Chueca. In Kluster you can enjoy a good session of electronic music, especially House and Dance genres.


In addition to the colorful nightlife, Chueca also offers many interesting shops to see and visit during the day.

The Berkana bookstore (Hortaleza, 62), opened in 1993, was the first LGBT bookstore in Spain. In addition to a wide variety of books and magazines, Berkana is one of the most important spaces for the gay community, being one of the most frequented centers of LGBTIQ+ culture in Madrid.

The bookstore has two floors. It offers more than 5,000 titles of novels, essays, photographs, calendars, DVDs, pornography, T-shirts, etc., in Spanish, English, French and Italian, among other languages.

On the upper floor there is a small cafe where cultural events and book presentations are held weekly. Another bookstore worth visiting is A Different Light (Pelayo, 30). This is a bookshop specialized in gay-related books, DVD’s, adult toys, gifts and accessories.

Erotic shops, spicy underwear

In Chueca you can also find the best erotic shops of Madrid.

At Amantis (Pelayo, 46) you can find toys from the best brands on the market, besides its own brand. Amatis also organizes workshops and conferences.

SR Leather Shop (Pelayo, 7) is dedicated to leather, fetish and bondage.

The Bronx since 1976 Madrid (San Bartolomé 7) is a lifestyle boutique dedicated to the LGBT community. There you can find a variety of intimate, sexy and party clothing (underwear, jockstraps, harnesses, swimsuits) as well as erotic products and sex toys, condoms and lubricants, hygiene products, dildos, masturbators and cockrings, among other items.

If you are interested in men's underwear, you can find a good selection at XXX Madrid (San Marcos, 10) or Boxer Madrid (Pelayo, 3). Both are specialized in underpants, slips, thongs, jockstraps and swimsuits in spicy prints, with or without padding. Boxer also sells gay adult toys and leather BDSM products.

Deffort (Loreto y Chicote, 10) sells a large selection of men’s clothing and underwear from many international brands.

Before leaving Chueca, it is worth visiting Rotunda Warning (Hortaleza, 29), an original gift shop where you can find rainbow merchandising, collectible dolls, pop and retro objects, portraits of Frida Kahlo and casual t-shirts.

Chueca neighborhood, the epicenter of the LGBTI movement in Madrid