This article originally appeared on Out & About PV.
In 1982, a young lesbian named Vicky Macedo made history. She converted her family home, where she had been raised at Juarez 182, Centro, into the first openly gay bar in Puerto Vallarta.
Her beloved father had died some years before, and her mother subsequently moved to Colonia El Cerro. The house was vacant, and needed a purpose. Vicky decided to give it a big one, and by doing so, she and her bar are now forever a part of the gay history of Puerto Vallarta.
Vicky was a writer, an artist, a theater performer in Mexico City, and above all else, a kind and fun loving person. She wanted to create a welcoming environment for the increasing number of mostly gay male tourists who were, at that time, beginning to discover this Pacific Coast gem.
Los Balcones, in English, the balconies, had five balconies, all with an incredible view of the streets below. Two looked down onto Libertad, and three looked down onto the busy street of Juarez.
I learned the history of Vallarta’s first bar on a steamy night in early August, 2023. I had the pleasure of visiting with Osiel Echeverria, a former Los Balcones regular, Tom Finley, Owner of Bar Frida 4.0, and Victor Ceja, a Los Balcones employee from 1986 until the early 2000s. Happy memories were shared about a time now belonging to the storied past.
Puerto Vallarta, even at that time, was more open to differences than most other Mexican cities in the region.
Therefore, Vicky gambled that her idea of a bar catering to a gay clientele would be accepted, or at least tolerated by the local power structure. She had a beautiful circular bar constructed that placed the handsome bartender right in the middle of all the action.
“It had a carousel feel,” recalled Tom, “and was the perfect design for cruising.” Tom continued, smiling “the bartender had his own unique way of mixing cocktails.”
The bar became an instant hit, it was friendly, welcoming, and was known as the perfect spot for Americans to meet locals. Patrons would arrive, buy a ticket from the cashier, and then take the ticket up to the bar to get a drink. After grabbing their drink, guys were then able to find their favorite perch on the balcony, just in time to view the abundance of scenery below.
You could hoist a drink to an appealing young man standing across the street, and if he was interested, he would climb the stairway, and join the revelry on the balcony above.
“We all knew each other,” recalled Osiel, “it was like a reunion every day,” he said smiling.
Victor reminisced how the rest of the staff routinely called him by the nickname of Vicky, as he was known as Vicky Macedo’s right hand man. His favorite memory of Los Balcones was from 1995, when Drag Queen Nights were introduced. They were incredibly well received, and according to Victor, they were the first drag queen contests open to the public in all of Puerto Vallarta.
The bar was popular beyond belief for many years, but as time passed, competition increased into the market that they alone once inhabited.
In 1997, Vicky sold the bar to her sister in law, named Magali.
In 2000, Los Balcones changed to more of a club style atmosphere, playing techno music and other rhythms of the day.
With that change in mind, the much beloved circular bar was removed. The 2000s passed quickly, and as the later part of that decade arrived, the bar’s popularity started to decline. In 2008 the bar was named “Room Service” and promoted itself as a “ new lesbian-owned club, trying to carve out a space for local queer women.”
Vicky died peacefully in Puerto Vallarta in 2008, the city where she was born.
In 2009 the well known landmark closed permanently. In 2011, for a brief period, a gay bar by the name of Creama occupied the space. In 2012 a straight bar opened there called “Rock Show Bar” and closed in 2017.
Though gone, nothing can diminish the incredible memories of that time long ago, and the proud designation of Los Balcones, Vicky Macedo’s dream, as Puerto Vallarta’s very first gay bar.