My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!
Welcome to the party in Colombia
Everyone who has already traveled to Colombia tells of the local people who enriched the trip immensely. The Colombians are truly happy people and the happiness and zest for life are also reflected in the nightlife. In addition, the median age is only 31 years. This means that 50% of the population is under 31 years old. In a worldwide comparison, this is young. The median is over 38 years in the USA and over 47 years in Germany.
Accordingly, the relative dance-mad population in Colombia is much larger than in western countries.
Party culture in Colombia
To convey a clear picture, I first have to explain the connections between the family structures and the general culture.
Colombia is a very Catholic country and the family ties are very close. The family, therefore, plays a major role in society. Many families are also widely ramified, because previous generations in the cities are still very rich in children, with rural residents slowly following the trend towards smaller families today. Sundays and public holidays are therefore classic family days.
Also, family members are mostly friends and it is not uncommon for large groups of dancers to consist of siblings and cousins, although the definition of cousins can be very broad. Going straight to the next enlightenment, I noticed that Colombians mostly go out in larger groups, sometimes separated by gender.
All of this is also related to the fact that most Colombians leave home very late and it is not uncommon to leave home only shortly before the wedding. Or you study in a city, but then live with an aunt or live with family members, in a broader sense. All of this leads to some social control, with women more affected than men in this regard. Therefore, Colombians unanimously describe society as a macho culture.
Another aspect is the culture of short-term thinking. In Colombia, there is generally no long-term planning and if there is a celebration, then there is a party. Because what happens tomorrow is still in the stars anyway.
So people go out and party properly. This includes alcohol, of course, and Colombians who don’t dance are about as rare as vegetarian polar bears. However, Bogota is an exception at a high level within Colombia. More on that later.
When Colombians go out, they celebrate intensely. However, there is always some social control. Another one that works more for women than for men. People are in a group and so they enjoy a certain level of security, and this also makes great historical sense.
If you go out as a foreigner, then you might find interesting circumstances due to the points described. Colombians generally love foreigners and are very interested. Medellin and Cartagena now offer an exception, as there is now a certain degree of supersaturation and gentrification.
So one can get in touch quickly, but you should have some knowledge of Spanish. If communication is possible, you will be integrated into the Colombian group relatively quickly and, in my opinion, can celebrate the best parties of your life. And usually the next day you also have quite a hangover, because as a guest in the country you are regularly asked to drink.
However, if you have more in mind besides partying, it can quickly become frustrating for some foreign visitors. Colombia is not a country of fast sex. This is due to the factors described above, the mostly existing social control of the group and the Catholic upbringing, and that they usually still live with the family. Which, in this case, also affects Colombian girls more.
Incidentally, beer is drunk in all regions and also many women like it. Wine is not very popular. Every good party includes aguardiente in bottles. It is shared in small plastic cups. And all of you who don’t know how it tastes yet, you will quickly find out. Rum and whiskey as well as cocktails are also drunk.
Nightlife and going out in Bogota
Bogota is not only the political capital of Colombia, but also an economic center, and all the major universities are represented here. Bogota is therefore not only inhabited by those born here, but radiates its attraction across the country. With its approximately 10 million inhabitants, one should assume that there are corresponding offers. As a foreigner, you are still something special in Bogota, because we are only available in limited numbers.
And indeed, Bogota has something to offer for everyone. For the traveling foreigner, however, the areas are limited to the center of the city, namely La Candelaria, and then along the mountainside to Usaquen. To give a better idea of the expansion here, that’s from Calle 7 to Calle 120 or around 12 km (7.45 miles). The width of this corridor is approximately 3 km (1.86 miles).
This area is a residential zone of the middle and the upper class. I advise against everything that is further south and belongs to less wealthy areas. There are other nightlife areas further east or more in the north. To this day, however, I have found nothing worth mentioning in these areas.
In the specified area, the Zona Rosa around the Andino shopping center is the center of nightlife. There you will find restaurants, bars, clubs… basically everything you need. In terms of price, you can find all the local price ranges. As far as I know, there is not yet a club where the bottle of whiskey costs USD 500 or where you can order champagne for USD 2,000. Accordingly, most travelers will find relatively moderate prices in the best clubs and bars.
Except maybe Sunday evening, there is something suitable for going out every weekday. Classics are certainly the occasions where people from different language regions meet for an exchange and then party together afterwards. The most famous one takes place here in Bogota on Tuesday and is called Gringo Tuesday.
In contrast to other regions, the people of Bogota are not as enthusiastic about dancing as Colombians from other regions. Accordingly, they indulge less in couple dance than outside the capital. And since Colombia is the land of diverse music and dances, one can say that the Bogotans are at the lower end of the spectrum here. Of course, there are also many clubs where you dance salsa, bachata, merengue, champeta, cumbia or tango, but in most clubs, locals dance alone or freestyle with a partner.
The range of electronic music is also remarkable. But to put the previous statement into perspective again, the Bogotans dance many times better than North Americans, Germans or Swiss, but as I said, they are laughed at by other regions in their own country.
There are actually no dress codes and Bogota is casual. Because of the climate, you don’t see too many women with dresses or short skirts. The girls here are not as tough as the English, but they are prettier by galaxies. Anyway, as a man, you shouldn’t go out like a Clochard. Despite the foreigner bonus, it could happen that you are rejected at a door. And after all, clothes make people. So my tip is to go out a little elegant.
So, about tips for going out in Bogota I can say the following:
- Learn a little Spanish, although in Bogota people tend to speak English, the bilingual population is still ridiculously low
- It is always good to master a few dance steps
- The man is still a man here, so don’t be too shy (this also applies to paying)
- My favorites are Video Club, Theatron and Armando Records
- For the young party-goers there is a drunkard of students in the center on Fridays
- Should you be in Bogota on Friday or Saturday and have a lot of energy, Andrés Carne de Res in Chia is worth the trip
- Take care of your drink and don’t be drugged
Nightlife and going out in Medellin
Medellin is much milder in climate and the mood is very different. Many bars and restaurants are open. Medellin is also a lot smaller than Bogota. The local culture is not comparable to that of Bogota. The people of Medellin are much friendlier and more open-minded. Women also dress much more feminine and like to show natural or unnatural shapes.
Medellin has a lot more foreigners than Bogota. These are digital nomads, retired foreigners, backpackers, drug and sex tourists, and all sorts of other things. Every time I visit Medellin, I see the image of the ugly foreigner, whom I think is attracted to Medellin, like the moth of light. There are many foreigners who only adapt to a limited extent and still do not speak Spanish after staying for several years.
These foreigners mostly move around other foreigners and have no interest in integration or the local culture. They are mostly interested in their own well-being and consumption. As a result, there is already a certain level of rejection of foreigners at a very low level. This will surely increase in the next few years. To explain this briefly: If some of the foreign visitors are mainly interested in drugs, sex, and prostitutes and another part runs through the city with a romanticized picture of Pablo Escobar and announces this, this inevitably leads to friction.
Nevertheless, Medellin still warmly welcomes foreign visitors and the gastronomy, as well as the club and bar scene, are promising. Anyone who is in transit will surely enjoy a lively nightlife in Medellin.
Nightlife and going out in Cali
Cali is located on the Pacific coast and is also the world capital of salsa. The majority of the population is Afro-Colombian. A taxi driver once told me that men in Cali who can’t dance will never find a partner. Therefore, all men can dance in Cali at the highest level.
Cali is certainly not for everyone, but for those travelers who are interested in excellent food and salsa, Cali is paradise on earth. However, you should already arrive with some previous knowledge in dance or plan time to at least learn the basics of salsa in a few days.
It is certainly much easier for women here than men because if the man does not lead, nothing will move. Women who come totally unskilled can give a great performance on the dance floor after a short introduction.
In Cali, I saw that the female quota is actually at least 60% or higher everywhere. The Calenas confidently invite men to dance because they are in short supply. In general, less alcohol is drunk than in other cities, since dancing is usually in the foreground.
Cali is certainly one of my favorites and should I have time again, I want to refresh my salsa knowledge there.
Nightlife and going out in Cartagena
Cartagena is probably the closest to the club life we know from the world’s major cities. The weather on the Caribbean coast is hot and accordingly, many bars and clubs are closed and air-conditioned. You can also spend the most money in Cartagena by far because it is considered a luxury destination within Colombia.
Cartagena is also a popular national destination. Accordingly, you will meet many party-goers in the holiday mood. On the coast, they don’t shy away from physical contact and sometimes get so close when dancing that the friction almost creates fire. However, this should not always be overrated and is part of the local culture.
The jewel of the Caribbean, as Cartagena is also called, has its downsides. The gap between rich and poor is greater than in any other Colombian city. The nightlife for foreign tourists is therefore limited to the historical part and Bocagrande.
Also, prostitution is flourishing and Cartagena has developed into a sex destination. Not only do the senoritas are numerous in the evening at the main entrance to the historic center, but I am also generally very careful about who I get involved with. Although the fun factor in Cartagena can be huge, I am never sure if there is any particular motivation for acquaintances.
Nightlife and going out in other cities
In the rest of Colombia, there is of course a nightlife too, but I think that I have already created a good overall picture with the previous descriptions. In some travel destinations more is going on, in others less.
Colombia is certainly a great travel destination and nightlife should not be neglected.
Colombia Travel Guides
There is much more to see in Colombia, you can find everything in my travel guides.
- Colombia Travel Guide
- Bogotá Travel Guide
- Medellin Travel Guide
- Santa Marta Travel Guide
- Cartagena Travel Guide
- La Guajira Travel Guide
- Llanos Travel Guide
- Providencia Travel Guide
- Coffee Triangle Travel Guide
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