How to Party Like a Paisa (Part 1)
One of the first things you might hear about Colombian cities are that each of them contain a Zona Rosa, or main nightlife district. Inside here, you’ll discover a wide variety of bars, discotecas (clubs), and restaurants.Medellín’s Zona Rosa is Parque Lleras in Poblado. You’ll find plenty of action here, with the most activity around the main park. Poblado is also the place we recommend you stay when traveling to Medellin. It’s safest, and you’re in easy striking distance of anywhere in the city. If you want to see what accommodation option are available check here.
What Nights are Hot?
Sunday through Wednesdays, your nightlife options in Medellín are not hopping, but with the help of this guide, you’ll know where to find some action seven nights a week!
Wednesdays and Thursdays bring in the ladies with the ladies night specials (which also bring the locals out of the woodwork) so expect lots of fun these nights. One of our favorite spots for Ladies nights is Musica Tremenda.
Friday nights are great, while Saturday nights are totally off the chain. Get there early (before 11 p.m.) so you can get a good table at discotecas on the weekends, and avoid the long lines at the more frequented places.
Closing times vary wildly; many bars close at two in the morning, while discotecas with late-night licenses keep it rocking till 4.
Bonus points if you can find the spots (they exist) where the party goes till the sun comes up.
What to Wear
Dress codes? Who needs ‘em? You know how to impress, and dress codes only are in effect for a small minority of high-end clubs.
Men and women can wear nice jeans, a stylish T-shirt or top, and sneakers. Colombian women take great care when it comes to their appearance and tend to dress up more than the men.
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A majority of bars and discotecas in Medellín, play what’s known as “crossover” music. All this means is that the DJs mix up the popular genres of Latin music, including salsa, merengue, vallenato, reggaeton, bachata, and cumbia. It’s a little confusing if you’re not already familiar with Latin music, but the variety is appreciated by most Colombians (versus going to an all-reggaeton or all-salsa club).
This too might be a little-off putting at first. There’s a family element here that might not exist where you come from, the result being that you might find a group of people sitting together in a club that includes cousins, sisters even aunts or mothers all together, drinking and having fun.
At the beginning of your night (9‒11 p.m.), everyone will typically be inside the discoteca drinking and talking within their social groups. As more alcohol is consumed, and the place fills up, you’ll experience what can only be called a tipping point where more and more people start getting up to dance.
It’s here you’ll make your move.
With people on the floor it gets far easier to break the ice with the girl or guy you’ve had your eye on. Giving this atmosphere the relaxing time it needs to warm up, and an hour or two later, your patience will be rewarded, usually with the girls dancing on the tables and chairs without a care in the world.
We strongly suggest you go with the flow in these situations, and appreciate the differences of it, rather than wish for what you know. Patience and observance will lead to interaction. And when all else fails, try to buy a few shots for the table next to you.
DancingEven if you were born with two left feet, you’ll quickly realize you’re in a country where everyone dances. It’s been life-changing for many visitors who bite the bullet and spring for a few private lessons. They’re cheap, they are fun and just do it. ($10‒$15/hour for private lessons). Once you learn a few steps, you’ll discover that Colombians are polite, and most will dance with someone when invited (out of proper etiquette).
For the guys, reggaeton music is quite easy to dance to—just ask the woman to dance (bailamos?), or dance up next to her and (hopefully) she’ll do the rest! For foreigner women, Colombian guys might feel uncomfortable if you approach or ask them. You can get around this by sending nonverbal cues, such as making direct eye contact and smiling.
Bars and Discotecas
Medellín’s nightlife is one of the things this city is known for, and there is no shortage of neighborhoods packed with bars and clubs where you can drink and dance with paisas.
Keep in mind
The farther away from Parque Lleras and Poblado you travel, the less likely you’ll be sharing the bar or club with other foreigners. Most discotecas card patrons, so always bring photo ID, and if you’re not keen to carry that with you, take a photocopy of the information page in your passport.
One other point to keep in mind is that the KEY to having fun in Medellin is to work from a great home base. Check out these apartments, available from short to long term rentals here.
This first list are a few “sure-bet” bars that will get you started:
Sunday: Karma or Tropical Cocktails
Monday: La Octava
Tuesday: El Eslabón Prendido
Wednesday: B-Lounge (ladies night)
Thursday: Bendito Seas (ladies night) Babylon, or 3 Cordilleras brewery
Friday: Dulce Jesús Mío or Cien Fuegos
Saturday: Luxury Discoteca or Trilogía Bar Barrio Colombia (Poblado)
Barrio Colombia is a small industrial area within walking distance of the Industriales metro station. Every year for the last several years, new discotecas have opened their doors here. There are now more than a dozen clubs with differing themes to choose from within a few square blocks. Most are open until 4 a.m.
Carrera 43G #27-10
Believe it, this is an Egyptian-themed discoteca — for that reason is hard to miss! (Just look for the sphinxes on the facade.) As silly as the concept may seem to foreigners, the atmosphere is fun and exciting. If you get through the door before midnight you can catch bellydancers performing on the bar.
Calle 25A #43B-264
Here’s one of the longer-standing staples of Barrio Colombia. They play lots of reggaeton and hip-hop only and have a huge crowd on Sunday evenings.
Carrera 43G #24-15
American-owned, this place is for the younger scene – late teens and early twenties – and also plays reggaeton and hip hop.
Mia VIP Room
Calle 25 #43G-25
Do you like a modern look? This might be your type of bar. USA owned and operated, you’ll get excellent atmosphere, and clean bathrooms.
Calle 25A #43B-199
Huge, reggaeton only space.
Calle 25 #43G-70
Here again, a reggaeton only DJ spins that record all night. There is a large trend toward “crossover bars” that combine the popular styles, but this isn’t one of them.
Carrera 43G #24-08
Do you love hearing live bands? Here you’ll get that with popular Latin and rock cover songs on a rotating stage, while a DJ plays crossover music between sets. This bar is an old paisa favorite and the crowd is mixed and fun.
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