It was a Wednesday night in Santiago de Los Caballeros. I wasn’t expecting much. I’d experienced some fantastic Dominican Republic nightlife in Santo Domingo, but the best nights were almost always on the weekend.
Still, locals kept telling my buddy and me about Levels Club on ladies’ night. Every single person we spoke with recommended the spot. From the hotel staff to the waitress at the bar – Levels Club was the place to be on a Wednesday in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
We decided to check it out. Hell, we were easily convinced. Enjoying a little rumba was always on the agenda.
Around 10 pm, we walked down the street to the local colmado and grabbed two grandes and a few cups.
We sat outside downing the brews and chilling. Once the beers were finished, we hailed a cab off the street to Levels Club.
It was 11 pm when we arrived. A gaggle of sexy girls in high heels were waiting in line outside the club.
Reggaeton in Levels Club.
A big ass smile stretched across my face. My buddy had noticed the chicas, too. Maybe the hype was justified. Maybe Levels Club was the spot to be.
Now, I’m not going to get into the gritty details of my first night enjoying Dominican Republic nightlife in Santiago, but let me tell you…
The hype was more than justified. Imagine thumping reggaeton music, sexy girls in cocktail dresses and high heels, cheap ass drinks, and lots of perreando dancing.
But, that wasn’t the best part. The best part was how friendly all the people were. I made friends with the bouncers, some Dominican gym bros, chicas, and the mother of the DJ.
The people in Santiago de Los Caballeros were so damn friendly. My buddy and I felt like they’d never met gringos before. We were treated like royalty.
Understanding Nightlife in the Dominican Republic
Now, not every night partying in the Dominican Republic will be as memorable as my first night out in Santiago.
But, you’re sure as hell going to have some fun times enjoying the nightlife in the Dominican Republic. Here are just a few reasons why:
Dominican Nightlife Culture
Nightlife in the Dominican Republic is a little different than back home. The music is different, the people are friendlier, and you have to keep an eye out for chapiadoras from time to time.
Ya tu sabes.
Overall, it’s a hell of a time. It’s still a Latin, Spanish-speaking country, but people here are more open and willing to talk with others outside their groups. While it’s a bit weird to go out hoping to meet other people in Colombia, many a Dominican is up for mingling while partying.
Crazy Friendly People
While you won’t notice this much in the tourist areas or Santo Domingo, you definitely will in smaller cities and towns. I made more friends going out one night in Santiago de Los Caballeros than I did the whole time I was in Punta Cana.
If you’re a normal person, Dominicans are absolutely thrilled to share their country with you. They’ll be curious what you’re doing in the DR and how you made it off the resort in Punta Cana.
Be prepared to socialize, talk, drink, and dance with a lot of people on a night out in the DR. Nightlife in the Dominican Republic is pretty damn social. People still speak to each other using words – not Snapchat filters 24/7.
With the homies!
There’s not a lot of “gringo” music in the DR. Sure, some of the bigger clubs in Punta Cana play electronic and even hip-hop on occasion.
Once you get to Santo Domingo or Santiago, you can expect nothing but:
It’s Latin beats all day, every day. Reggaeton tends to be the most popular form of music in the discos, although dembow and bachata can be heard from certain clubs. Salsa isn’t nearly as popular here as it is in Colombia.
If you don’t know how to dance, the Dominican Republic nightlife might be rough for you. The good news? You’ll get a whole lot of leeway as a gringo.
If you’re a gringo and can dance a few steps of bachata without looking like a dipshit, people will fawn. If you can grind a little perrenado, they’ll think you’re a damn tiguere in your own right.
Personally, I absolutely loved the dancing in the DR. Grinding to reggaeton is like dancing to hip-hop back home. Plus, bachata is way easier to dance than salsa and the music is better, too.
Spanish is Essential
The Dominican Republic is a Spanish-speaking country. Once you get off the resort, English levels are not going to be great.
You’ll meet a few English speakers in Santo Domingo, and surprisingly, many people from Santiago speak decent English after visiting their cousins in New York every summer.
Outside of these few people, you’ll need to speak Spanish if you want to fully enjoy the country, especially when trying to talk while bachata blares in the background.
Alright, enough with the cultural insights and tall tales, let’s dive into Dominican Republic nightlife and talk about the absolute best places to party in the country.
Here are the top 10 places to party in the Dominican Republic:
Onno’s: This place is absolutely legendary. If you’re in Zona Colonial on a Thursday night, then head here. It might not look like much, but many of my best nights in Santo Domingo started at this little nightclub. Onno’s is great on Thursdays and good on Saturdays.
Mamma Club: If you like large clubs and high-end nightlife, then head here on a weekend night. Mamma Club is located in Naco, one of the nicest neighborhoods in all of the Dominican Republic. It’s big and you’ll definitely want to buy a bottle here. One of the best clubs in all of Santo Domingo.
Zambra: A tiny club in Piantini, you wouldn’t think Zambra would be great. You’d be wrong! There’s something about this small club that makes it a great place to get absolutely wasted and mingle. I’ve been here at least a dozen times during my time in Santo Domingo.
Santiago de Los Caballeros
Levels: The best ladies’ night in the Dominican Republic happens every Wednesday night at Levels Club in Santiago. I couldn’t recommend it enough. The crowd is friendly and the booze is cheap. Weekends tend to be pretty decent, too.
75 Grados: If you want to have a shitshow of a night, head to 75 Grados in Santiago de Los Caballeros on a Saturday. This tiny club plays dembow and reggaeton, but that’s not why I come here. I come for the blender drinks. You get a huge blender filled with vodka here for like $7 USD! They’ll get you drunk. If a Dominican comes to 75 Grados, they’re looking to party hard.
Partying at 75 Grados!
Imagine Club: This is by far my favorite mega-club in Punta Cana. The place offers an open bar and even plays hip-hop music on Sunday nights. Honestly, if you’re in Punta Cana and looking to party off the resort, this is the absolute first place you should go.
Drink Point: A great bar in Punta Cana where both locals and tourists congregate. The couple times I went the place was absolutely packed and the vibe was pretty damn fun. The music is Latin and the prices are way cheaper than the mega clubs in Punta Cana. If you’re looking to party without the “Vegas” club vibe while on vacation, check this place out.
Onno’s Cabarete: For a tourist hotspot, I found the nightlife in Cabarete a little lacking. The town is just so small that there’s really no one around except tourists and Dominicans working in tourism. Still, the one time I went to Onno’s Cabarete in high season, the place was absolutely smacking. If you’re looking to party in the beach town, this is the place to be!
Kviar Show Disco: Puerto Plata has a seedy reputation as a sex tourism hotspot, especially in Sosua. That being said – this good sized disco in Puerto Plata City was a damn good time. Here you’ll find more Dominicans than tourists, which is a great thing on the north coast. Kviar Show Disco may have been my favorite club on the whole north coast. Great music and a fun vibe.
San Fransisco de Marcois
Avalon Disco: I’ve never been here, but my Dominican buddy couldn’t stop raving about Avalon Disco in San Fransisco de Marcois. He claimed this was the best disco in one of the biggest Dominican cities no one has ever heard of. When I heard back to the DR, this is the first city I’m going to.
Dominican Republic Nightlife – Overall
If you don’t enjoy Dominican Republic nightlife, then it’s you. Because the clubs pop off here, the people are friendly, and the vibe is great. What’s not to love?
The further away from the tourist areas and the better you speak Spanish – the more fun you’ll have enjoying the nightlife in the Dominican Republic. This I promise you.
Sound off in the comments if I missed anything about Dominican Republic nightlife. I know y’all got some secret spots!
Don’t forget to brush up on your Spanish before hitting the DR!
It was like a dream. Something you only see in the movies. I was new to the city and didn’t know much about nightlife in Cali, Colombia. But my buddy had been taking Spanish classes and got invited to a party. He asked me if I wanted to roll. Of course, I did!
The taxi dropped us off in front of a random, large house in the south of the city. I knew nothing about the area at the time and there didn’t seem to be much going on from the outside. I gave my buddy a sideways glance.
It looked weak, but we had already taken a taxi twenty minutes south. We were going to check it out. We walked around to the side of the house and saw security. Huh? Two security guards with guns were standing at the entrance, along with one of the hosts. A bit odd.
Apparently, it was $12 USD to enter. That included an open bar all night. We chatted and I asked if there were people inside. We couldn’t hear or see anything. The party host claimed it was popping, so we paid up.
The host gave us wristbands and walked us inside. We headed down a long, dark corridor for what seemed like a minute before she opened a door and we finally witnessed the best party of my life.
My expectations were low. Hell, they were non-existent. I certainly wasn’t expecting what we were about to enjoy…
The open door led to the backyard of an old mansion that used to be owned by a member of the Cali Cartel. A backyard filled with a massive swimming pool, slide, hot tub, sauna, dancefloor, and more.
Reggaeton blared from an impressive sound system, as dozens of Caleñas in skimpy swimsuits darted around. The eye candy was more than enough to keep me around all night, and things just kept getting better.
Cali girls…Dios mio!
My buddy and I must have been drolling as the waitress walked up and asked if we wanted a drink. Yeah, something strong.
We followed her to the bar while picking our jaws off the floor. It was gonna be a great night.
And one hell of a night it was!
We drank way more than our $12 USD worth, flirted with sexy Calenas in bikinis, danced some salsa, abused substances well-known around Cali, and generally acted like abject degenerates until the wee hours of the morning.
I distinctly remember one point in the evening. In the midst of all the chaos, everything slowed down and I wondered, “Is this really my life?”
I’d enjoyed a few complimentary party favors with my buddy, headed straight to the dance floor to learn a little salsa, then jumped into the 18-person hot tub before making out with a stunning Caleña who spoke no English. Life was great.
Now, nightlife in Cali, Colombia isn’t always this amazing. In fact, I’d argue nightlife in Bogota is generally better than in Cali.
But, enough with my degenerate reminiscing, let’s dive into this piece and deliver the details on Cali, Colombia nightlife.
Dancing Salsa in Cali, Colombia?
First and foremost, you need to know one thing about Cali, Colombia nightlife:
Cali, Colombia is the salsa dancing capital of the world!
If you don’t like dancing salsa or aren’t willing to learn, you might not enjoy partying in Cali. It’s damn near impossible to enjoy a big night out in the city without salsa dancing.
Why? Because the vast majority of clubs are either salsa bars or crossover clubs. While crossover clubs claim to play a variety of music, they play generally play salsa a majority of the time in Cali, Colombia.
That’s just the way things go in the city. Luckily, there’s nowhere better to learn some salsa dancing than in Cali. There are over 200 salsa schools in Cali, Colombia (Source).
You’ll find classes to fit every budget here, along with reasonably priced private lessons – if that’s something you’re interested in.
If you’re looking to take lessons or join classes, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sabor Manicero. Click here to learn more.
World famous salsa bar in Cali, Colombia.
How Important is Speaking Spanish?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it, again – Cali, Colombia doesn’t see nearly as many tourists as Bogota or Medellin. As such, English levels aren’t great in the city.
You’ll want to speak a little Spanish before you arrive in Cali. It’ll make your experience in the city so much better, especially at night. Salsa bars and clubs are made for dancing, but they’re generally easier to have conversations in, too. The music isn’t as loud as it is when they play reggaeton or electronic music.
Learn a little Spanish. If you’re ever in a sticky situation, you’ll want to understand what people are saying. By understanding a little Spanish, you can keep a sticky situation from turning dire.
Don’t underestimate the importance of being able to politely tell that friendly fellow in Spanish that you weren’t staring at his girlfriend’s gigantic Caleña ass but simply admiring her salsa dancing skills 😉
While we’ve discussed safety, salsa dancing, and the importance of speaking Spanish while partying in Cali, Colombia – there are a few more things you should know.
First, nightlife culture in Cali is a little different. Where people in Bogota enjoy mingling around, Cali is the exact opposite. If you roll to a bar or club solo and trying to chat up strangers in groups, they’ll look at you like a damn leper.
Cali is a big city, but most Caleños still hang out with people they’ve known their whole life. You’ll see more big groups at bars and clubs here than almost anywhere else. Suffice to say, it’s not a great place to “Conquistar” – if you know what I mean.
Hell, some clubs won’t even let you in unless you have a date with you, especially if you look gringo.
If you’re going out alone in Cali, Colombia, I’d recommend sticking to some of the gringo-friendly spots and the mid-week salsa nights. Click here for gringo events in Cali, Colombia. If you roll up to Menga solo, it’ll end up being a huge waste of time.
You’re much better off trying to get a date or putting together a group to hit the bars and clubs on a Saturday night. That’s just the social norm here.
A Gringo’s Guide to Nightlife in Cali, Colombia
Below you’ll find the best places to enjoy the nightlife in Cali, Colombia. While this whole piece could be about salsa bars, your boy enjoys a little perreando from time to time. So, I tried to include a little variety here:
La Topa Tolondra: Famous salsa bar that’s popular with gringos andCaleños. Weekends are good, but I’d recommend checking this spot out any Monday night you’re bored. La Topa Tolondra is the best thing to do on a Monday night in Cali, Colombia!
Tintindeo: Another famous salsa bar in Cali around the Parque del Perro area. You’ll find gringos here, but not as many as La Topa Tolondra. Overall, Tintindeo is a great place if you’re serious about salsa dancing. If not, don’t come.
Zaperoco Salsa Bar: While Zaperoco isn’t as famous as the other popular salsa bars above, it’s located in Granada – the best neighborhood in Cali for travelers. If you want to dance a little salsa while staying in Granada, start here.
Granada is a neighborhood in Cali, Colombia that’s ideal for gringos. There’s bars, clubs, gyms, cafes, and restaurants. You can walk to everything if you stay here and it’s pretty damn safe. Highly recommended.
Here are a few solid nightlife options in Barrio Granada:
Quickly Shots: I almost got jumped at Quickly Shots after an unfortunate encounter with a Caleña while her boyfriend watched. The worst part? It was all her fault. Soy juicioso. That being said – this is a reggaeton and trap club in Granada. It gets packed on the weekend, but it’s small. Bring a date or a few friends.
El Viejo Barril: My buddy swears by this bar in Granada. The open-air spot is well-known and always full, but the vibe never enticed me. Still, it’s a great place to start a night before heading out to Menga.
Antaño Cervecería Artesanal: My favorite craft beer spot in Granada. If you’re looking to have a few beers with buddies or a date, Antaño Cervecería Artesanal is the place to go in Granada.
Bourbon St.: This is the gringo hangout in Granada. Bourbon St. is a rock bar that usually has live music on the weekends. While it’s never too wild here, there’s typically a pretty good crowd. A great place to start the night. Just don’t eat here. The food sucks.
Bourbon St. in Cali, Colombia.
Menga is an area to the north of Cali. The neighborhood is filled with some of the biggest and baddest clubs in Cali, Colombia. Most clubs and bars in Menga claim to be “crossover” clubs, but they generally play salsa and more salsa.
Here are some of the famous clubs in Menga:
Café Mi Tierra: My absolute favorite club in Menga is Café Mi Tierra. The open-air club gets absolutely packed with middle-class Caleños on the weekend. People are friendly here and prices are cheap. Highly recommended.
Living Club: Giant club in Menga that’s pretty damn famous. You won’t get in here without a date, especially if you’re a gringo and it’s a weekend night. Expect a lot of salsa here.
Lolas: Another large club in Menga. While similar to Living Club, they actually play crossover music here. Again, don’t expect to get in without a date or a group of girls with you. For the most part, packs of horny gringos won’t be allowed in. My buddy and I got denied entry with the swiftness.
Other Clubs in Cali, Colombia
La Purga: If you’re looking for a decent sized club that plays reggaeton and trap music in Cali, Colombia – La Purga might be your best bet. Just to let you know – it attracts a lot of the LGBT community, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I had a hell of a time here, as the vibe is pretty damn fun.
Levels Rooftop: Supposedly this place hosts a “Gringo Wednesday” that occasionally attracts a crowd, but I’ve never been. My buddy went a few times and said the setup is solid, but it’s hit or miss whether Levels Rooftop gets a crowd.
Sonido Central: The spot for electronic and house music in Cali, Colombia. Located in the center near Granada, you’ll want to take a taxi to and from this club. The area is sketchy, but expect a good crowd on weekends.
Mazao Park: I was surprised the first time I went to Mazao Park. It was a damn good time. The nightlife here is the best you’ll find on Tuesday nights, as the club hosts a cultural exchange that turns into a party. I’ve never been on weekends, but it might be alright on Saturdays, especially if you’re staying near Parque del Perro.
Nightlife in Cali, Colombia – Overall
If you’ve ever wanted to party in the salsa dancing capital of the world, this post should help you do it. I detailed every single thing I know about nightlife in Cali, Colombia.
If I missed anything, let me know. Sound off in the comments and let this gringo know what he missed. And of course, I can dance a little salsa. Don’t doubt these gringo hips, maricas.
Ya Tu Sabes.
Don’t forget to learn a little Spanish before you go!
The nightlife in Peru is something I’ll never forget. I remember my first trip to Lima like it was yesterday. I went to Gotica Club in Larcomar every weekend for months on end. The place was truly legendary.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the giant club overlooking the Pacific Ocean would fill up with gringos and Peruvians looking to have a good time. The music ranged from reggaeton to salsa to electronic. Hell, sometimes they even played a little hip-hop.
I became a regular. Well, more like an alcoholic. But that’s beside the point.
Gotica was one of the best clubs in Latin America. It may have been one of the favorite clubs I’ve ever been to.
Now, it’s closed. I was damn depressed to hear Gotica had shutdown upon arriving in Lima for my second trip.
I had no idea where I’d party in Miraflores any longer. While Lima nightlife certainly has a variety of options, I couldn’t imagine anywhere being as fun as Gotica.
Luckily, I found some of the best nightlife in Peru during my second trip. I’m talking places that even rival my beloved Gotica.
Understanding Peru Nightlife
Before we dive into the absolute best places to party in Peru, let’s dig a little deeper. Here’s what you can expect when enjoying the nightlife in Peru:
Nearly all of the four million tourists that visit Peru each year end up in Lima and Cusco. That means many a business in both cities caters to tourists and gringos.
As such, there’s a distinct international vibe throughout the bars and clubs in Miraflores, Cusco, and even Arequipa.
The bars and clubs in Peru tend to be Western-style if you stay in the upscale, tourist areas. This means more open spaces, more mingling, and people engaging with each other around the bar.
This isn’t small town Colombia where all the clubs are filled to the brims with tables and big groups of co-workers.
Types of Music
As the international vibe is strong throughout Peru, you’ll find a variety of music. It’s not like Cali, Colombia where all you’ve got is salsa and more salsa music. Lima and Cusco have everything.
Typically, I found reggaeton and electronic hits were the most common types of music played here. A little hip-hop and rock are played at certain spots, while you can find salsa and Bachata in others.
Safety in Peru
Is Peru dangerous? Personally, I’ve never had any safety issues in Peru. If you stay in tourist areas like Miraflores in Lima or Cusco, you shouldn’t have any problems. Places that make money off tourism tend to focus on keeping travelers safe.
Common sense should keep you safe while partying, too. There’s no culture of drugging unsuspecting tourists in Peru – like there is in Colombia.
Is Spanish Important?
You’ll find a number of Peruvians that speak good English while partying in Miraflores, Barranco, and Cusco. Peruvians that work in tourism make more money when they speak decent English.
Once you get outside the most touristic areas of Peru, you’ll find English levels are abysmal. While speaking Spanish isn’t a requirement for partying in Peru, it definitely helps.
It’s incredibly frustrating to try and have a conversation with that cute local while at the bar – only for things to fizzle out because you can’t speak a little Spanish. Instead, learn a little Spanish before you go to Peru!
Best Nightlife in Peru: Top 9 Places to Party in the Country!
Enough with all that jazz, let’s get to the good stuff. If you’re about to head to Peru, you want to know the absolute best place to enjoy a little rumba while on vacations. I get that!
So, here are the best places to enjoy a little nightlife in Peru:
Bizarro: This Miraflores club is a classic. If you want to party on Wednesday or Saturday, then Bizarro is the spot. I’ve been here over a half dozen times and the place never disappoints. While it’s not my absolute favorite club in Lima, it’s damn close. No matter what, come here on Wednesdays!
Lima Bar: If I could only choose one place to party in Lima, Peru on a Saturday night, it might be Lima Bar. This place is located where Gotica used to be in Miraflores. While it’s not quite as reckless, there’s still a lot of fun to be had at Lima Bar. This is an upscale club, so dress appropriately.
Help Disco: For many gringos, Help Disco is their favorite club in Lima. The rock club is located in Barranco and can get pretty rowdy on certain nights. The best night to visit Help is on Thursdays, where the club is host to the best Thursday night party in all of Lima.
Ayahuasca Bar: This might be the coolest bar I’ve been to in all of Peru. The vibe at Ayahuasca Bar is just perfect. It’s relaxed and bohemian – yet still upscale. If you want to unwind with a few cocktails or bring a date somewhere nice, this is the ideal spot in Lima.
Lima nightlife picks up once the sun goes down!
Mama Africa: I’m not sure there’s a more icon club in all of Peru. Mama Africa is the popping nightclub in Cusco. The place has been around forever and many a gringo has popped their Peru nightlife cherry here. I’ll never forget my first night in Mama Africa – but that’s not a story for this article 😉
Wild Rover Hostel Bar: This large hostel bar holds nightly theme parties almost every day. If you’re looking for a great place to start off a night of partying in Cusco, look no further. Many a wild night has started at Wild Rover Hostel Bar. Typically, the party starts here and then rolls over to Mama Africa once it gets later in the evening.
P.S: When I was enjoying Cusco nightlife, Temple Club was still open. It’s closed now, but there’s no doubt the club was one of the best places to party in Peru!
Deja Vu: If you’re a gringo who goes to Arequipa, there’s a damn good chance you’ll end up in Deja Vu. This club is the spot for gringos and Peruvians to party in complete harmony in Arequipa. It’s a staple of the nightlife diet in Peru’s second biggest city. If you’re looking to party in Arequipa, I recommend starting here.
Loki Hostel Bar: Honestly, if I had to pick only one place to party ever again in Peru, it would be at the Loki Hostel in Mancora. The pool, the beaches, and the hostel party here is amazing. To say this spot is legendary would be an understatement! Just come here in high season and see what I mean. Don’t plan to get a ton of sleep, though.
Noa Iquitos: I’ve never been here, but a buddy told me he had a couple crazy nights at Noa in Iquitos. Hell, he hyped it up so much that I’m planning to book a trip to Iquitos the next time I’m in Peru. Noa Iquitos is the biggest club in all the city and filled with Peruvians and some traveling gringos.
Everything You Need to Know About Peruvian Nightlife
That’s about it. The top places to party in all of Peru. If you wanted to know where to enjoy the nightlife in Peru, I hope this guide helps.
Peru is a fantastic place to party because the locals are friendly and the nightlife caters to tourists. You’re never far from a good party in this country. Trust me!
It was rough. Well, that would be an understatement. My buddy and I had been rolling around Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It was a Saturday night and we were looking to party.
Being our second week in the country, we were just walking around the area and checking out any bar or club we heard music from. After a half dozen attempts, we didn’t find anything that looked half decent.
Then we turned the corner to see a line. A line filled with good looking Dominican women dressed to kill. We immediately hopped in line.
Our hopes were high seeing the stunners outside while hearing the blaring reggaeton inside. Could this be the best Santo Domingo nightlife spot around?
Sadly, it wasn’t. The night was brutal. The spot was filled with upper-class Dominicans standing around tables in huge groups.
My buddy and I posted up at the bar. We grabbed a few beers and glanced around the room. No one was mingling. All the conversations were happening within their groups.
No puedo conquistar esta noche ;(
Hell, no one was even dancing. A bar in the Dominican Republic where no one dances? That ain’t right! Still, the night was young and we’d already downed a few too many beers.
It was time to socialize. Being the gregarious gringos we were, the plan was simple. Make some friends and hit on some women. Nothing too complex.
I tried chatting up a girl that came to the bar. She looked at me like a was a leper before moving to a different part of the bar. She didn’t even use words when responding to me. Just an eye roll before getting as far away from me as possible. Painful.
The night didn’t get better from there. No one in this club wanted to chat with the gringos. Dominicans are known for being friendly, but this place was high-end and snobby as hell.
At one point, my buddy and I got separated. After a few unsuccessful attempts to mingle solo, I found him tonguing down a girl that could only be described as big boned.
She was literally the fattest girl in the bar. Hell, she might have been one of the fatter girls in the whole country.
And she was the only person in that snobby ass club that would even have a conversation with us…
While bumping rhythms, delicious rum, and good looking Latinas come to mind when talking about nightlife in Latin America, the reality is it can sometimes suck.
Click here to learn more!
Why Nightlife in Latin America Sometimes Sucks
The tale above illustrates some of the varied problems with partying in Latin America. While I fancy myself a connoisseur of nightlife in Latin America, it can be damn difficult to find a good spot to party in many cities throughout the region.
People tend to go out in big groups when partying in Latin America. While certain cities are exceptions to the rule, things just aren’t like the United States.
In the U.S., you might roll to the bar with a few buddies and plan to meet up with friends or meet some chicks while there.
In Latin America, people often go out in groups of 5-8 people. They’ve typically known each other for years or maybe work together.
While you think of the bar or club as a place to mingle with others, many a Latino views a night out as time to spend with close friends, family, and co-workers.
Personally, I hate this. Why do I want to go pay for overpriced drinks to have conversations with people I actually like? We can do that anywhere and sober.
If I’m flushing money down the toilet on overpriced liquor, I’m only doing so because I need the excitement of meeting new people. I want to flirt with some women and make bad life choices – not listen to gossip about people from my high school or co-workers.
Too Many Tables
As most people go out in big groups while partying in Latin America, many bars cater to their clientele. This means bars and clubs are filled with tables.
It’s common to see a massive bar and dancefloor completely covered with tables on a Saturday night. Instead of socializing and mingling with others, people buy a bottle of liquor and stand around their table all damn night.
The music blares and you have half-hearted conversations by yelling into someone’s ear. Dancing is secondary unless you’re with the girlfriend and a whole lot of posing occurs.
These days I legitimately won’t pay cover before going into a new place – unless they let me view the bar before paying. Why? Because I know the bar will suck if I walk in and it’s filled with tables from front to back.
Typical club set up in Latin America.
The Danger Issue
Many places in Latin America are quite dangerous. In fact, somewhere like 42 out of the most 50 dangerous cities in the world reside in Latin America (Source). Common sense tells us that a majority of crimes are committed at night.
Thus, nightlife in Latin America is hindered by the looming danger. Like previously mentioned, people tend to go out in big groups.
Women also rarely go out alone. Most girls prefer or their families force them to go out with a brother, cousin, or male co-worker when they want to party. Again, leading to large groups at the bar.
But that’s not the only way danger plays a role. People are also more wary of strangers. At night in many Latin American cities, everyone is a threat – unless your group knows them.
So, people are naturally more closed off. This factor is more pronounced in some areas than others. For example, I’d say the nightlife in Cali, Colombia has been hindered by this factor for years.
Due to the disparity between rich and poor in many Latin American countries, you’ll also find a lot more girls turn to sex tourism to make ends meet. This means you’re more likely to run into a girl who is working at the bar.
If a girl goes out alone in Latin America, you can almost guarantee she’s working. Even girls out with only one other friend are often “prepagos” in places like Colombia or the Dominican Republic.
While you can avoid this pretty easily in most places by simply going to the right venues, it ruins the night when you’ve chatted and danced with a girl for an hour or two – only to find out she’s a hooker at the end of the night.
Cities Where Nightlife in Latin America Doesn’t Suck
Now, this article might be depressing but fear not. There are tons of places in Latin America where the nightlife is bumping and traveling gringos can have a damn good time.
You just have to know where to look.
Certain cities offer better nightlife than others, especially for gringos used to partying in the Western world.
If you like to party, I recommend places like:
Playa del Carmen
Rio de Janiero
In all of these cities, you can escape the woes of nightlife in Latin America – while still enjoying most of the benefits.
Why? Because big cities allow people to get away from their high school friends and mingle with new people. As you may have noticed, most of the cities on that list are some of the biggest in Latin America – sans Playa del Carmen.
Personally, I’ve found the nightlife in Bogota, Colombia and Lima, Peru to be absolutely spectacular. If you speak a little Spanish and like to party, these are two cities I’d start in.
Nightlife in Latin America Sometimes Sucks?
There’s no doubt nightlife in Latin America can sometimes suck. The big groups, tables, and working women can ruin a big night out before it even started.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. By traveling to big cities and selecting the right venues, you can find some of the best rumba in the world throughout Latin America. I certainly have!
I was hammered. Three sheets to the wind. The nightlife in Colombia had gotten the best of me. The sexy bartender with the cute accent who kept “practicing” her English had gotten me drunk. Hijo de puta!
Midnight was fast approaching. It was time to bounce from the rooftop bar to a club. So, my buddies and I paid our bills and hit the streets.
There were a few clubs down the road and we were anxious to check them out. A little perreando was on our radar. Ya tu sabes.
There was only one issue…
I forgot to hit the restroom before leaving the rooftop bar. Being hammered, I had to piss. Waiting simply wasn’t an option. I quickly scanned the streets in my drunken state.
There was an isolated area about 20 feet away. I sprinted over and whipped it out. The relief was instant, as I began urinating on the stone wall in front of me.
But an abrupt noise prematurely ended my damn near orgasmic state. My buddy was yelling:
“Jake! What the F*%K are you doing?! You’re pissing on a church and the police are walking this way!”
Oh, shit! I cut it off mid-stream, quickly zipped my pants up, and tried to act like nothing had happened. Luckily, the police didn’t catch me and the night went on as planned.
Now, before you go pissing on churches and attempting to dance salsa, let’s talk a little more about nightlife in Colombia and what you can expect:
Colombia Nightlife Culture
In most Colombia cities, nightlife involves going out with a big group of friends you’ve had since high school. Colombians go out with old friends, share a bottle of booze, and dance salsa, bachata, and reggaeton.
While many Westerners prefer to go out and mingle with new people, especially those of the opposite sex, that’s simply not common in Colombia. This is especially true in smaller cities and towns, like Ibague or Armenia.
Types of Music
Colombia is a Spanish-speaking country, so you can expect the vast majority of the music to be in Spanish. Electronic and techno are popular in certain clubs, but the majority of the places focus on salsa and reggaeton.
Outside of Bogota nightlife, most places are “crossover” discos. This means they play a variety of genres throughout the night. Typically, a crossover club will play salsa, merengue, reggaeton, and maybe some electronic music.
Always Go Out On Payday
This is a major key in Colombia. If you really want to have a good time, always go out on payday or around it. Colombian payday is always on the 1st and 15th of every month.
On the flipside, if payday lands on a Saturday, I’d suggest showing up a little earlier than you normally do. Shit will be packed. Some of my best nights partying in Colombia occurred when Saturday was also payday.
Spanish is Important
In tourist bars that are gringo heavy, you’ll find a lot of Colombians who speak English. Hell, in Bogota and Medellin, you have a decent shot at meeting English speakers on any night out.
Once you get into smaller cities, you’ll need to speak some Spanish. I wouldn’t venture to somewhere like Pereira, Colombia without some Spanish skills.
Luckily, it’s easy to learn Spanish these days. With a few months of study, you’ll think you sound like Rico Suave en Espanol – if you’re drunk enough.
If you get an Airbnb apartment in these neighborhoods, you’ll be able to walk around all day and night without much worry. You’ll also be within walking distance to some of the best Colombia nightlife spots known to this gringo!
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Best Nightlife in Colombia: Top 11 Places to Party in the Country!
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. The absolute best places to enjoy a little Colombia nightlife.
I’ve spent many a night abusing substances and attempting to move these gringo hips properly. Never works well, but I always have a damn good time. After extensive research, here are my favorite places to party in all of Colombia:
~ Bogota ~
La Villa: Home of the legendary Gringo Tuesday, this is a must visit club if you’re in Bogota. Obviously, you’ll want to come here on Tuesdays, but I also enjoy La Villa on weekend nights. If your budget is tight, La Villa is one of the cheaper spots in Zona T, too.
Armando Records: Another classic Colombia nightlife spot, Armando Records is one of the most famous clubs in Zona T. The club is decent sized and tends to play electronic music. Drugs certainly aren’t uncommon here. Wednesday nights can be good fun here. Weekend nights will almost always be solid here.
Mint Social Club: This is the late night club in Bogota. Some of my best Colombia nightlife memories started in this after-hours club. Mint Social Club is open from 3-6 am every weekend night. If you want to stay out late and mingle with some of Bogota’s rumberas, this is where to go.
Hotel V: If you’re looking to buy a bottle and enjoy a big Saturday night out in Bogota, there’s no better option than Hotel V. The large club is located in the heart of Zona T and packed with people looking to have a good time. They typically play reggaeton music and the party tends to pop around 1 am on weekend nights.
Hotel V in Bogota, Colombia.
~ Medellin ~
Bendito Seas: While Babylon used to the ladies’ night spot in Medellin, Bendito Seas has taken the cake. Come here on Thursday night. This is one of the few spots in Medellin where people don’t necessarily go out in big groups. They play reggaeton, electronic, and even a little hip-hop on occasion. You won’t find sexy Colombian girls dancing to “Back That Ass Up” too often, but it’s commonplace here!
Son Havana: Now, we’re getting to Colombian-style music and nightlife. I couldn’t write a guide to nightlife in Colombia and not include a few salsa clubs. That’s just not right! If you like salsa music and are in Medellin, Son Havana is the best spot to go. Highly recommended bar in the Laureles neighborhood.
~ Santa Marta ~
La Brisa Loca: La Brisa Loca may be my favorite place to party in all of Colombia. This place truly is one hell of a time. Basically, it’s a hostel bar that turns into a raging nightclub on Saturday nights. It’s on the roof of the hostel and fills with people from all over Colombia and the world. The DJs play all types of music and the drinks are damn cheap. The breeze rolls in from the Caribbean and people dance the night away. Again, drugs certainly aren’t uncommon here.
La Brisa Loca in Santa Marta, Colombia.
~ Cali ~
La Topa Tolandra: I’ll be honest. I don’t like salsa. Hell, I’d say I hate it. But, even I had a damn good time partying in La Topa Tolandra in Cali, Colombia. This small salsa club is world-famous and fills up on Mondays when Calenos basically offer free salsa lessons to the gringos in Cali.
La Purga: Ok, this spot is a little weird. Hell, it’s a lot weird, especially when talking about nightlife in Colombia. But, if you’re looking to party in Cali without salsa music, it’s your best option. La Purga is a good sized club that plays reggaeton and trap music. Just make sure you come here with some friends, as this place is a little more aggressive (in every which way) than others on this list.
Cafe Mi Tierra: A gigantic, open-air crossover club in Menga, to the north of Cali, Colombia. If you have a group of friends or a date, this place is absolutely ideal. It’s cheap, big, and the music is fantastic. I’ve spent more than a few fun nights here during my months in Cali.
~ Cartagena ~
La Jugada Clubhouse: It can be hard to find good nightlife in Cartagena. The city is filled with hustlers and many locals tend to stay away from the tourists when they’re not trying to rip them off. That being said – La Jugade Clubhouse can be a lot of fun. The club features five levels and an international ambience. It’s not cheap, but it’s definitely the best place I found to party in Cartagena.
Everything You Need to Know About Colombia Nightlife
While some complain about the big groups found in most clubs and all the salsa music, nightlife in Colombia can be amazing. You just have to know where to look!
That’s why I created this list. To give you the absolute best places to party in Colombia. If Colombia nightlife is a priority while you’re on vacation, you needn’t look any further.
There’s levels to this. Santa Marta can be one hell of a good time, but you can’t expect a city of 500,000 to offer as many nightlife options as a city of 10 million. The numbers just don’t add up.
What you can expect is a beach city filled with backpacker-style nightlife and a mix of tourists and locals. The parties rage on, but the scene is laid-back and you certainly wouldn’t want to rock a custom suit here.
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What Makes Nightlife in Santa Marta So Much Fun?
There’s a little more to it than that. So, let’s dive in and take a look at what makes nightlife in Santa Marta, Colombia so damn fun. Here are a few things I noticed while staying semi-sober and going out in Santa Marta:
~ Lots of Foreigners
Santa Marta is one of the backpacker hotspots in Colombia. The city boasts beaches, Parque Tayrona is just an hour away, and Taganga is a mecca of drugs and partying. As such, most places you go to in Santa Marta will have other foreigners enjoying a little rumba. Normally, I’d hate this. But in Santa Marta, it actually makes the nightlife more fun.
~ Cover Isn’t Common
Certain places charge cover around Parque de Los Novios, but the spots catering towards backpackers tend not to. That could always change, but I only remember one spot asking for cover when I went out.
~ Pretty Safe
I found Santa Marta to be a pretty safe city. Even at night, the center of Santa Marta didn’t seem sketchy at all. You shouldn’t have many safety issues enjoying the nightlife in Santa Marta. Someone could always drug your drink, as it’s still Colombia, but you have fewer worries here than in Bogota, Cali, or Medellin.
~ Mingling Made Easy
Since Santa Marta is a tourist spot, it’s pretty easy to mingle in the clubs here. People go out to meet other people. This isn’t like Cali, where people go out with huge groups of friends they’ve had since middle school. Personally, I enjoyed this aspect of the nightlife here.
Nighttime at La Brisa Loca.
~ Spanish Needed?
Since Santa Marta nightlife is fairly international, you can definitely get away without speaking any Spanish. Most of the people in the tourist areas can speak a little English. However, you’ll definitely make things easier on yourself by speaking some Spanish. If you’re looking to learn, I recommend starting here.
Costs of Santa Marta Nightlife
Honestly, it’s pretty cheap to enjoy a big night out in Santa Marta. Many of the clubs cater to the backpacking crowd and we all know these types aren’t big spenders.
As such, you won’t have to spend too much money to have a great time partying in Santa Marta. Here’s a quick look at some cost estimates:
Beer in bar/club: $1-4 USD
Drink in a bar: $2-6 USD
Drink in a club: $4-8 USD
Cover charge: Many places don’t have cover in Santa Marta. The ones that do tend to charge between $3-7 USD.
Bottle of wine at bar: $15-40 USD
Bottle of booze at club: $20-100 USD
These are just estimates, but overall, everything is pretty damn cheap in Santa Marta. While you could spend a lot of money on a night out, you could also have a great time for under $20 USD!
While I won’t go too deep into this topic, it should be noted that drugs are cheap and common in Santa Marta, especially in Taganga.
Where to Party in Santa Marta, Colombia?
Santa Marta isn’t a huge city. In fact, I was surprised how small the place was. As such, Santa Marta nightlife is fairly concentrated around a few areas. If you’re looking for a little rumba here, you’re likely to end up at:
Santa Marta Center: This is where I spent a majority of my second trip to Santa Marta. You’ll find solid nightlife here, especially around Parque de Los Novios. While Santa Marta doesn’t have a Zona Rosa, this is the closest thing you’ll find to one.
Taganga: The backpacker mecca of cheap drugs, scuba diving, and nightlife. If you want to get into something, this is where you go. The nightlife here can be hit or miss, but when it hits you’re guaranteed one hell of a night.
Rodadero: People party on the beach a bit in Rodadero and there are a few bars, but I’ve never been to a club here that was popping. Overall, you’re better off in the other two areas.
Rodadero at night!
A Gringo’s Guide to Nightlife in Santa Marta, Colombia
Now we’re getting to the good stuff.While I’ve been to the city twice, nightlife spots always change. So make sure to ask around. New bars and clubs open up every month.
Alright, let’s dive in and take a look at some of the nightlife hot spots in Santa Marta:
La Brisa Loca, Santa Marta Center: This is my spot in Santa Marta. If you want to party in the centre of the city, this is where you want to be on Friday and Saturday nights. The huge rooftop bar turns into a dance club and fills to the brim with backpackers, travelling Colombians, and locals. Highly recommended, especially in high season.
La Puerta, Santa Marta Center: If La Brisa Loca isn’t your speed, head over to La Puerta. This is a Santa Marta classic and most of the locals that come here enjoy hanging out with travellers. Beers are cheap and it’s one of those bars that has a club feel to it when it gets full.
Crab’s Bar, Santa Marta Center: More of a dive bar than a nightclub, Crab’s Bar plays rock music and caters to a local crowd. The people are friendly and this is the ideal place to start a big night out while in the center.
La Azotea, Santa Marta Center: A small rooftop bar/club near Parque de Los Novios that connects to a club below. This place isn’t packed with foreigners, as the crowd is a bit more local and the prices are a bit more expensive. I only stayed here for half an hour, but the spot had a good vibe to it.
Santa Marta at night.
El Mirador, Taganga: While I checked out Sensation Club during my first time in Taganga, I heard it had since closed down. Not sure? However, the other popular club in Taganga is El Mirador. Offering amazing views harbour harbor in Taganga, this is said to be the hot spot right now. Definitely worth checking out.
La Escollera: This is a club in Rodadero. I never went, but it’s apparently an amazing place when they bring DJs and reggaeton artists in town. The club is massive and considered high-end for Santa Marta. If you here of an event here while you’re in Santa Marta, make sure you check it out. An epic night of partying awaits!
Bars and Clubs Around Parque de Los Novios: There’s legit at least two dozen bars and clubs around Parque de Los Novios in Santa Marta Center. If you’re unsure where to go, just head here and walk around on a weekend night. You’ll find somewhere that’s popping. Plus, this Zona Rosa is a five-minute walk from La Bris Loca. So, you could easily just go back and forth between this area and that fantastic club.
Parque de Los Novios.
Nightlife in Santa Marta, Colombia: The Verdict
That’s it! Everything you need to know about Santa Marta nightlife. Honestly, I was surprised how amazing the nightlife in this small city was. If you love to enjoy a little rumba, you’ll have a great time here.
Overall, this would be my plan if I were to come back. I’d go out every Friday and Saturday. I’d start in the center of Santa Marta and have some drinks at one of the bars around Parque de Los Novios.
Then I’d bounce to La Brisa Loca around 11:30 pm. If I was bored around 1:30 am, I’d head back to Parque de Los Novios from 1:30-3:30 am and hit one of the clubs there. Guaranteed to be a great night!
Hell, you could always just head out to Taganga, too. Parties, booze, and party favours always await you in the backpacker mecca of Taganga. Either way…