Last week celebrity Felix Bergsson declared the Icelandic gay scene as good as dead. And since, Facebook has been buzzing with comments from those who either agree or oppose. Many of whom want to see some kind of changes brought about. But how exactly do you please a target group which is both small and extremely diverse? And at the same time maintain a profitable business? To get some answers we decided to call in the experts, namely the people who’ve already been in the business of running gay bars.

Diversity and discrimination don’t go along

Eva María Þórarinsdóttir and her girlfriend Birna Hrönn Björnsdóttir were managers of Trúnó, a gay café, and Barbara, a gay club, from 2011 to 2012. Both places closed down when they left to work full-time at their travel agency, Pink Iceland.

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When it comes to the gay scene Eva María thinks that the younger and older generations might be after different things.

“At that time, Trúnó was a great addition to the gay scene in Reykjavík because there hadn’t been any official gay café here for years,” explains Eva María. “Barbara was very much like Kiki is today, a great place to go dancing. Therefore the only way to meet others like you was on the dance floor. Whereas with Trúnó, you could go there for a lunchtime pizza and possibly meet the love of your life too.”

Eva María says that when you’re running a gay bar, it is impossible to exclude those who’re not part of the target group. “It can be very difficult to control the traffic in a place like Kiki, which is supposed to welcome everybody and embrace diversity. So how can you discriminate against people and not allow straight people to enter? There’s a fine line there that you have to be careful with.

Also, if you’re running a club where people have a good time and feel safe, it’s bound to happen. I know from experience that the straight girls flock to the gay clubs because there they feel safe and can party with their friends, who may or may not be gay, without worry.

“So how can you discriminate against people and not allow straight people to enter? There’s a fine line there that you have to be careful with.”

But the atmosphere has changed. I think that the older gay guys have more need for special gay places whereas the youngest generation of club goers is now going to almost any place, partying with their group of friends. That’s simply the way society has evolved, overall it’s much easier to be gay these days and that’s a fact.”

Now, Eva María and Birna organize tours and events for gay tourists and are very much in touch with the demand during the tourist season. “What is lacking the most is a café. Our customers would really like to mingle with their own kind when they’re over here and it’s a shame we can’t send them to nice café or sit-down bar to hang out.”

Gay bars need to be gay operated

Óli Hjörtur Ólafsson, was manager of Q Bar for two and a half-year, from 2007 to 2009, and later Dolly from 2012 till 2014. Both places have now closed. He admits that running a bar which is exclusively aimed at gay or rather queer people is quite challenging but says it’s definitely doable.

“You need to be on your toes all the time, trying to accommodate your target group, which is very diverse. There’s not that many of us here, we are a minority but such an incredibly diverse group. It’s very hard to try to please everybody, that’s what we tried to do at Q bar.

Óli says that he girls thought there were too many guys and the guys complained about all the girls.

Óli Hjörtur says that you have to be on your toes all the time, trying to accommodate your target group.

I found that choosing the right music was the most difficult part. That’s what people got mostly upset about and complained about! But I also hear that the girls thought there were too many guys in there, and the guys complained about all the girls being there. I mean, you know that a huge part of clubbing is to hook up with someone and obviously, people want to go somewhere where they can be sure to meet someone of the same kind.”

Óli Hjörtur says part of the problem might be that not enough gay people are in the business of managing bars and clubs in general. “I think it’s essential that such a place is 100% gay operated. But you need to be ready to make sacrifices, it takes up a lot of your time and energy and it wears you out in time. So I really think we need more gay people who are ready to do the work too. There could be a big group doing it together.

“I also hear that the girls thought there were too many guys in there, and the guys complained about all the girls being there.”

I think the best idea is to have a café/bar, a bit like Trúnó was (why did it close down?). That’s a great concept, a café aimed at lesbians and gays and open till 1am just like the bars.

In addition to that, it would be great to have another little place, a private club even, where you can walk in, not having to wonder whether a guy is gay or not but simply have the freedom to try to hook up with anyone in there. Because let’s face it, the clubbing scene is largely driven by people’s desire to hook up with someone, it’s the same in homosexual and heterosexual culture.”

Those who complain the most don’t attend anyways

Hjálmar Forni Sveinbjörnsson is one of those who have tried to run a gay club in Reykjavík. It lasted for about six months. “In 2013, I revived the Men Only club (i. Strákaklúbburinn), which had been part of a bigger club, called Gay 46 on Hverfisgata, but I renamed it The Male Box. And it wasn’t a great success. I got rid of the dark room, put tables and chairs in there and painted the walls in lighter colours to lighten the atmosphere. I knew that many people had found it uncomfortable and thought the place was too much about just sex.”

He still doesn’t think that’s the reason The Male Box didn’t last. “I don’t think there’s much need for dark rooms and such places nowadays because of apps like Grinder and stuff. I know there were some guys who missed the dark room but they still came to the new place. And most of those who did come were happy with it.

“I love Kiki and that’s a great place to go dancing,

“I love Kiki and that’s a great place to go dancing,” says Hjálmar, former manager of The Mailbox.

I took on this project because there were so many guys encouraging me to reopen the club, saying there was so much need for it, but then many of them never showed up. The place just about broke even but I didn’t have enough revenue to expand or do the things I wanted to. I had ideas about opening another place in connection with this one, or move altogether to a bigger space but the rent downtown is just too high.”

Hjálmar says there’s a possibility that times have simply changed; that today the demand for strictly gay clubs maybe isn’t as much as it was 20-30 years ago. “It’s not that many who show up at special events for gays. And usually, those who complain the most are those who don’t attend anyway. And the gay community in Iceland really isn’t that big; not everybody goes out both nights every single weekend, and within the gay community, people are after different things too, so you can’t really run a profitable club unless trying to appeal to everybody.

“I love Kiki and that’s a great place to go dancing.”

Also, it’s illegal in Iceland to open an actual night club that’s exclusive to a certain group,” Hjálmar points out, “so unless it’s a private club, we for example couldn’t have a men-only club even if we wanted to, on those grounds.”

How would they do it?

Hjálmar thinks the solution might be a diverse club for both genders. “Maybe now is the right time to set up a new place for gays and lesbians, partitioned up so that everybody can find something to their liking. And then there could be special events and themed nights and stuff, and people would possibly pay a monthly fee. But it would be best if quite a large group of people would get behind it, rather than expect one person to do all the work.”

Óli Hjörtur believes there’s plenty of scope for exclusive gay clubs in Iceland. “Not too many, obviously. They need to make profit and there aren’t that many of us here. And also, we can’t discriminate against straight people, so I really like the idea of a gay café/bar and then more scenes for gays and lesbians, perhaps with a monthly fee or something. Yeah, I guess I’m talking about a private club of some sort.”

Eva María says that Kiki is great as a dance club but there are so many various minority groups, within our minority group, that need something different. “I think a private club might meet some of the demand, and it could be operated in such a way that it’s at least sustainable, giving members special offers etc. It could be the answer to the demand for a traditional men-only gay bar.

Our Pink Parties possibly meet some demand too; we hold them twice a year and really make an effort to create a high-quality event with emphasis on outfits and performances, so they’re nothing like your regular club night. Such events are very well attended but then again, they’re quite rare.”

Time again for a queer café?

Time again for a queer café?

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


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