Summer is finally here in Bogotá, and while the constant climate of “la nevera” might not lend itself to bikinis, suntans or flip-flops, June brings wave after wave of quirky, alternative festivals and must-see events to heat up the city.
Kicking off the month with a bang– or perhaps a body-slam– is Colombia’s first national roller derby tournament, running from June 9-11 at the El Salitre Recreation Center Coliseum. Don’t be fooled by the all-female teams, roller derby earns its reputation as one of the more violent sports on eight wheels, a tongue-in-cheek mixture of rugby and speed skating worth checking out as much for the athleticism of participants as for their sense of humor.
No matter how impeccable your “spring cleaning,” remember that closets are for clothes and bust out your rainbow flags as June marks LGBT pride month. Bogotá’s annual gay pride march, one of the city’s largest parades, fills the corridor of Carrera Septima to the brim with tens of thousands of gay and straight revelers from around the world. Traditionally held on the closest Sunday to June 28, the anniversary of the Stonewall riots that catalyzed the modern gay rights movement, this year’s parade falls on July 1.
For this writer’s money, nobody throws a party quite like a city full of gays, so the nightlife during the last weekend of June is not to be missed, regardless of sexual orientation. The official after party takes place at The End, a nightclub in the top floor of the Hotel Tequendama, but local favorites Romeo and Theatron will surely be hotspots as well.
If, however, you prefer to party via local area network– or happen to know what a local area network is– then be sure to join up with thousands of fellow technology geeks at Campus Party, a weeklong, 24-hour-a-day festival-convention celebrating the year in digital technology held at Corferias starting on June 25. Buy tickets in advance, as participation in most events is limited, though the main convention hall will be open to the public all week.
Adding to the city’s already busy schedule, June’s end brings another edition of one of Latin America’s largest outdoor music festivals, Rock al Parque. Thousands of Bogotanos decked out with tattoos, hair gel and hipster glasses descend on the Parque Simon Bolívar for the four-day concert festival, which hosts an international line-up of bands and runs from June 30 to July 3. Notable guests this year include Argentine rocker Charly Garcia and US punk band NOFX.
Often left out of more “adult” offerings like Rock al Parque, younger Bogotanos can finally enjoy a festival all their own, with Young Fest, an event promising concerts, fashion shows, video game competitions and extreme sports, among other activities, all specifically designed for 11 to 17-year-olds. Cheeky San Andresano artist Jiggy Drama, an interesting choice given that his masterpiece of double entendres, “La Fuga,” was banned from a handful of radio stations, kicks off the festivities on June 16 in the El Salitre Recreation Center.
Seemingly eternal construction in downtown Bogotá carries the silver lining of opening up a chunk of Carrera Septima between Calles 19 and 26 exclusively to pedestrian and bike traffic as part of a “cultural corridor” that features free concerts, performances and art exhibitions on an almost daily basis. The newly implemented promenade deserves a visit if only to confirm that terms like “leisurely” and “pedestrian-friendly” can accurately be used to describe any part of Bogotá’s city center.
Whether your idea of fun involves girls fighting, marching drag queens, caffeinated computer nerds, blue mohawks or just enjoying a walk downtown without being hit by a bus, June promises something for everyone in edgy, diverse Bogotá.
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