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Enter Madrid's red light district

Just north of Gran Via, you'll find all the leather, sex toys adult novelty items, prostitutes and hook-up bars you'll need – whether you're in Madrid for a few hours or several months. For wholesome distraction, however, look elsewhere. The narrow streets and tight alleys can frustrate navigation and make a sketchy space feel even more confined. A mere two blocks from my hotel, I found an "erotic boutique," "Bears Bar" (which is not a celebration of Yogi or Winnie) and several posters advertising all manner of gratification.

So, why would you hit this neighborhood?

Aside from the obvious anonymous lust-fueled jaunts into a neighborhood designed to satisfy with minimal effort, the bars may be worth the trip. There is an evident party scene in this corner of Madrid, and it's not limited to the Bears' niche. After 9 PM, the restaurants and bars along Calle des Infantes [verify street name], especially, attract a young, energetic crowd. Stop by El Tigre for tapas (and be prepared to eat standing), and then crawl from one dive bar to the next ... there are plenty to occupy your evening. Finally, in a drunken stupor (or, "stooper," as a commenter on one of my previous stories put it), decide whether to hunt or pay for an evening's companionship.

A word of caution: I've read that this part of town can be dangerous for accompanies women after dark. While I've made light of some of the risks in this neighborhood, please be smart. Both prostitution and drugs, I understand, are common just north of Gran Via. There is a cool bar scene up there, but you probably don't want to check it out alone.

Filed under: Europe, Spain, Nightlife

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