Tel Aviv Shows How Proud It Can Be: A Guide to Gay Pride Week 2012

The parade may not be till Friday, but the festivities are already underway; Haaretz and City Mouse Online bring you some of the best (free!) parties and events to look forward to this week.

The world's best gay travel destination, Tel Aviv, is about to show its true colors.

The annual Pride Parade will conquer the city's main thoroughfares once again this Friday (June 8), drawing gay and straight Tel Avivians alike, as well as thousands of tourists. The carnival itself takes place on Friday, but the city is already spinning in party mode.

Haaretz and City Mouse Online have compiled for you a list of some of the best (free!) parties and events to look forward to this week.

We'll start with the main deal, The Gay Pride Parade, the raison d'etre of Pride Week:

Gather with the thousands on Friday at 10 A.M. in Meir Garden (King George Street), home to Tel Aviv's thriving LGBT community. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai will be there, along with the hottest drag queens this city has to offer, as well as politicians MK Sheli Yacimovich (Labor Chairwoman) and openly gay MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz).

The rowdy morning happening will flow into the march at 1 P.M., along the already familiar route up Bograshov Street, over to Ben Yehuda and down Arlozorov. Young and old, male and female (as well as neither and both), religious and secular – everybody in this city comes out for this event. Don't miss it!

The march will culminate, as it does every year, under the burning sun on Gordon Beach at around 3 P.M. with a free dance party leading well into sunset, to the beats of such DJs as Ofer Nissim and Eliot (Forever Tel Aviv), Tal Cohen (FFF), Avihai Partok (PAG), the band TYP and singer Dikla with the debut of a special song written just for this year's Pride events.

If the Gordon Beach happening is too much for you, pop over to Hayarkon 70 (The Spaceship Gallery) for an alternative (also free) post-parade party to the groove of the elegant primitive pop artist Yoni Livneh.

But that's just Friday – the parties are already happening and will be all this week ahead of the big day. The hot new gay bar Shpagat on Nachlat Binyamin Street will be hosting its first Pride Week this year, starting with a special party on Thursday night at 7 P.M. complete with video clips and an open panel discussion on the drag queen concept as a method of protest. The events will be going all weekend at Shpagat, with a night of hip-hop, electronic and some happy mainstream dancing on Friday night, and another panel discussion on Saturday night on the Israeli Arab LGBT community (7 P.M.) followed by a raging Arabic hafla (party).

At the veteran gay bar Evita, the party gets started on Thursday night at 8 P.M. with a international 'networking' party, and picks up speed Friday and Saturday night with some ultimate dancing grooves.

The new Barvaz ladies club, at 10 Hamehuga Street in Florentine, is where the lesbian will want to be on Thursday night at 8 P.M. (and also Friday and Saturday nights at 9 P.M.!) The pre-party on Thursday will get you a meeting with the creator of the animated character Lizzy the Lezzie and a night of dancing to the tunes of DJ Keren Dotan; The music will return on Friday night for the post-parade "after party", and will keep on going strong into the Saturday night drag party. Entrance is free!

Before or after you check out the Barvaz, head to the Milk Bar at Rothschild 6 for another free ladies party (this one is for women only), where you can dance the night way to live disco, soul pop and Latino house music.

These parties are just the tip of the iceberg – there are tons more events to check out, some of them free, some of them not. The Tel Aviv gay community has put together a more-than-thorough guide to pride week, which you can check out here:

Let the festivities begin!

Tel Aviv pride parade
Nir Kafri (Archive)