Bear RunsEvents

The Official BWM Recap of MAD.BEAR 2023

MAD.BEAR 2023 took place from December 5 through 11. It was a week of partying and for bears and their admirers which attracted several thousand gorgeous men from around the world to Madrid for a week they won’t soon forget. Our very own Beltran Horisberger was in attendance both as an official gogo dancer for the event and as our correspondent.

Get ready to sip on the tea and soak in the bear juice from my unique vantage point as I go-go and shake it up as one of the entertainers at the official MAD.BEAR: Madrid Bear Week events. For the second year in a row under the spotlight, I’ve got all the juicy gossip, insider tips (sorry, not the money ones) and behind-the-scenes info on this wildly entertaining week for our beloved gay bear community.

Welcome to the beating heart of Madrid where the annual Bear Week brings an exciting atmosphere, drawing bears and enthusiasts from every corner of the globe. This gathering transcends boundaries with over 4,000 people converging each year from various parts of the world, not just Europe.

Pack your bags for a wild week of activities where the steam rises, the beats drop, and the bear community comes together for an epic celebration. The lineup includes bars, clubs, saunas, dinners, contests, trips, and a fantastic adventure of food and culture, cementing MAD.BEAR’s status as one of the coolest bear events in Europe and beyond.

From the intimate confines of the local Sauna to the pulsating energy of the nightclub, this is an all-day-long experience for all those seeking non-stop adventure. So, my friends, whether you’re a seasoned bear or a curious admirer, MAD.BEAR will captivate you from noon till the wee hours of the morning.

Thiago (Hottie Alert) was a newcomer to MAD.BEAR events, and throwing a few questions at this New York City cutie brought a fresh perspective to my article:

“Madrid has a charming and cozy atmosphere, and with MAD.BEAR taking place in a two-holiday weekend, the city is even more vibrant. The streets are adorned with Christmas lights, creating the perfect scene for a nice scooter ride and adding an extra twist to experiencing Madrid during the festive season.”

In September 2022, Thiago stumbled upon these bear events after attending Urban Bear Week in New York City. He learned about Spanish events like MAD.BEAR and Sitges Bear Week, another bear gathering in the sunny beach city of Catalonia, from people who had just returned. “This was my first winter attending a bear event. Although I missed the beach and pool vibes, overall, it was a pleasant experience. The bars, while not very spacious, caused some frustration since we had to wait in line. Going to the bars a little early and buying advance tickets proved to be a smart move to avoid the wait.”

And he closed with a warm remark: “What makes these bear weeks truly amazing is the sense of community they foster.”

For those who are energetic enough to wake up and go for a lively daytime trip, this week offers a wide variety of events. Enjoy hopping around bars in the afternoon, known as tardeos in Spain, or make the most of the city’s vibrant cultural offerings. Sightseeing and museum visits await you, which is an experience that Santiago, one of the head organizers of MAD.BEAR, doesn’t miss the chance to mention in the short interview that I had the opportunity to conduct with him while backstage at one of the night parties.

We have been organizing MAD.BEAR for 23 years. In the early years, we were a group of 100 friends, and the festival has grown rapidly since then. Currently, the festival lasts for six days and includes six parties featuring international brands.

It attracts around 5,000 people from diverse locations such as the Middle East, America, and Europe. The excitement begins even before we open doors, with long queues forming to enter the club and enjoy the experience we’ve prepared.

He continues, “What makes this event special is the opportunity for all of us connected through social media and the Internet to come together face-to-face, not just virtually, and enjoy several fantastic days in the charming city of Madrid, right?”

“During the day, attendees can participate in cultural activities, such as visiting museums like the Prado, which is considered one of the best museums in the world. As evening falls, they can explore around 8 to 10 bars that cater to the bear community in Madrid before making their way to the club for the main party.”

The official OCTOPUS Sauna, situated at the heart of the festivities, becomes a haven for those seeking an adventure, a foggy retreat, warmth (of steam rooms AND bearish bodies) or just relaxation.

At nightfall, the official MAD.BEAR parties take center stage at the YA’STA CLUB, the official venue chosen by the organization. Kicking off on Tuesday, December 5th, the week dives headfirst into the festivities. The first night party is sponsored by the electric vibes of the WOOF BEAR party LUXEMBOURG. The dance-filled get-togethers showcase gogo dancers (one of them being yours truly), pulse-racing beats, and an atmosphere charged with the spirit of community.

The midweek momentum persists on Wednesday and Thursday, each night resonating with rhythmic beats and laughter (along with the occasional moan) echoing through the streets and emanating from  hotel bedrooms. In this case, it is Bearsurrection Fort Lauderdale and Beef Dip Bear Week Puerto Vallarta’s turns to sponsor the nights at the official venue, which turns into a melting pot of global bear culture.

As Friday dawns, the energy remains infectious, reaching a crescendo with the POSH bear party (BEIRUT), an international infusion of flair at the nightclub where every night madness erupts.

Saturday’s agenda mirrors the preceding nights with the added allure of the FURBALL bear party (NYC) sponsoring the nocturnal escapade at the central hotspot. The beats, the company, and the unapologetic celebration of bear culture reach new heights.

Bearly Athens hosted a delightful tea party and night bar gathering at the local bear/daddy hotspot, HOT Bar. The atmosphere was lively, complemented by the talented DJ Robin Skouteris spinning the beats. Courtesy of the Greek bear get-together, here are some snapshots capturing the vibrant moments from this unofficial but fantastic side event.

Gerardo, a 31-year-old bear chaser, enjoys attending events organized for mature and aged men. “These events attract a type of man that I find appealing and provide an opportunity for socializing, while smaller “Bearbie” style parties are less crowded. The more the merrier you know?” Gerardo shares referring not only to the Madrid gathering, but also MAD.BEAR Torremolinos (The Summer gathering of the same organization that seems to bring  bears to the beach like bees to  honey)

“These events are unique because they attract bears from both the local and international bear communities. This creates an opportunity to meet new people, make lasting friendships, and expand one’s social circle.” Gerardo doesn’t miss the chance to show his preference for the annual Pool Party at MAD.BEAR in Torremolinos, which combines fun, good vibes, summer weather, pools, and a diverse crowd of bears and bear enthusiasts.

Finally, as Sunday unfolds, the city bids farewell to the week in style at the MAD.BEAR CLOSING PARTY. The nighttime hub transforms into the epicenter of emotions, as the community wraps up a week of laughter, connection, and memories.

Since it’s a Wednesday-to-Sunday bank holiday in Spain, bears seize the opportunity to explore other events happening during the same weekend in Madrid. There’s something for everyone’s taste: techno parties, events that typically cater to  more of a musclebound audience throughout the year, and the vibrant energy of gay clubs that consistently guarantee a fantastic time; there’s nothing quite like  madrileña nightlife.

Mad Bear Madrid Bear Week isn’t just a series of events; it’s a journey through the rich tapestry of bear culture. Each moment is a testament to the warmth, inclusivity, and unfiltered joy that define this annual gathering.

Jay, a regular attendee of MAD.BEAR events from Ireland, shared his experience. According to him, even if people aren’t attending MAD.BEAR events, the crowd is still in the area. Other events like M3N or My Pleasure also attract a predominantly bearish crowd, showing that Mad Bear’s influence extends beyond its official events.

It’s the people and the international audience that attract me… I’m grateful there were numerous venues to choose from, so I never felt overwhelmed nor did any one place becoming stale or repetitive.”

Picture yourself navigating the city’s vibrant streets, popping into Bear Bars for packs and tickets, then dancing the night away infused by the vibes of global bear parties. The week isn’t just a sequence of events; it’s  a jam session of awesome moments where everyone adds their vibe to the groove of Mad Bear Madrid Bear Week.

For more information on MAD.BEAR and their upcoming events check out their website.

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Beltran Horisberger,

Beltran Horisberger, originally from Paraná, Argentina, immersed himself in rugby from a young age. During his university years in Buenos Aires, he came out as gay, navigating the challenges of aligning with the jock stereotype while embracing his true identity, ultimately emerging as a sports activist. Currently residing in Barcelona, Beltran wears multiple hats as an LGBTQ+ activist, journalist, gogo dancer, and content creator. His advocacy extends beyond rugby, actively contributing to Panteres Grogues in Barcelona, promoting inclusivity in sports. Beltran has served as a spokesperson for the UN's Spotlight Initiative campaign, advocating for violence-free masculinities. With a wealth of experience in LGBTQ journalism on Argentina's national TV, including hosting segments on Altavoz, he has recently co-hosted Scruff Latinamerica's Podcast. Additionally, he runs his own YouTube series, Unicornio de Troya, featuring interviews with activists and change-makers. Beltran has contributed articles on activism, body positivity, and new masculinities for digital magazines worldwide. Simultaneously, as a gogo dancer and performer, Beltran has graced stages globally, participating in iconic bear community events and international circuits in cities like Barcelona, Milan, Athens, Luxembourg, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Fort Lauderdale. Beyond dance, he engages as a BDSM performer, dragqueer , and model for body-positive fashion. Beltran leverages his diverse experiences to champion inclusivity, education, and dialogue within the LGBTQ+ community.