This is a guest post from my friend Adrian Blackhurst. Adrian is a DJ and music producer currently traveling around South America in search of the best local music. He spent many months in Colombia learning about traditional music from the coast to the jungle. Hope you enjoy it!
Colombian music is as diverse as its people and geography. Like Brazilians, I found Colombian people to be very much a culture of Music. Literally, every local I met knew how to salsa dance like they were born with the skill. From the salsa capital of Cali, to the coast where cumbia and picó (sound system) culture rule, to Bogotá and Medellin where anything goes, Colombia has it all! Colombia’s music scene is full of DJ’s spinning the freshest electronic music and reggaeton, to live psychedelic cumbia bands, ska, and rock n’ roll. Here are the best places to see live music in Colombia!
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Best Places to See Live Music in Colombia
Bogotá is a city with over 9 million dancing souls! If you go with an open mind and truly seek out good music, I guarantee you will find it.
In La Candelaria’s historical colonial center you can find live cumbia, DJ’s spinning reggaeton, salsa and all things Latin music, as well as the many street performers located in Plaza Chorro de Quevedo. Fin de la semana (the weekend), most people head to Chapinero and La Zona T neighborhoods.
Best Clubs in Chapinero District
My favorite clubs in Chapinero are Latino Power, Boogaloop, and Video Club.
On Fridays and Saturdays Latino Power has a guaranteed good live band with a few DJs spinning diverse music. It has a great hipster type crowd, 98% locals, great vibes, and even greater murals on the wall of vibrant leopards, shamans, and a whale.
Boogaloop lacks the colorful murals but makes up for it with even better consistent live bands that grace the stage! I was a regular. The crowd is about 98% locals and a few fellow gringos meandering around.
Video Club is a huge club with 2 rooms and various DJs from Colombia as well as International talent. Think EDM, House, Techno, Drum n’ Bass & all things Electronic Music here.
Theatron is a massive club which features 13 rooms of noise, jam-packed to the gills with a friendly, mixed crowd. It’s an even split of foreigners and locals. It’s known as a gay club, but really everybody goes there. It’s a super popular place!
Best Clubs in Zona T
Zona T is the neighborhood to the North that has a very vibrant club & bar music scene.
Armando Records is one of the best clubs for electronic music complete with DJ nights, a rooftop terrace, and a cozy fireplace.
La Villa Club hosts Gringo Tuesdays, a popular event attracting 250+ people during peak hours. The event lasts from 5:30-8:30pm. It begins with a language exchange that usually attracts a nice crowd of 40-60 people of all ages and nationalities to share and learn various languages (Spanish, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and others depending on the crowd that week). It’s free before 9pm, but at about that time, the event switches into full-on dance party mode beginning with a free salsa lesson and then high-energy dance music by DJ’s until the bar closes.
Other things to note about Bogota; they love outdoor festivals! There are usually 1-2 big ones a month and they’re usually free events! These are the best – Festival del Verano, Parque Festival el Jazz, and Festival de la Luz. Bogotá knows how to party & celebrate Life!
For more information about live music and other events, check out my full blog post on Bogotá!
Medellin has quickly become the favorite tourist and expat city in Colombia. It’s becoming more famous for its nightlife. No longer the epicenter of violence and cocaine narco culture it was famous for in the Escobar days, it’s transforming into a diverse and innovative city.
Colombia’s “City of Eternal Spring” has around 3 million peeps, which guarantees there will always be somebody having a party any given day of the week! The two main ‘hoods where all the action is are El Poblado and Laureles. You will not get bored in either place as you’ll find many places to dance your buttski off and live la Vida Loca!
Best Clubs in El Poblado
El Poblado is the main hub of the Medellin music scene, especially centered around Parque Lleras. There must be over 100 bars & clubs pumping tunes of all kinds on the weekends! The crowd is 50% tourists, 50% locals from what I could see.
Victoria Regia is my favorite bar because of their consistently great live bands, classy atmosphere, and super cool vibe.
Octava is a rock n’ roll themed bar popular for its huge ball pit in the back room…so fun!
Best Clubs in Laureles
Laureles is a neighborhood that has truly blossomed into a new hangout place, with tourists slowly discovering this more local scene.
Carerra 70 – aka “Setenta” – has over a dozen bars, mostly salsa and reggaeton. No need to list them all, just go out for a stroll if that’s your kind of music or you just want to get a real local feeling for the nightlife there. The crowd is 10% tourists, 90% locals! There are plenty of restaurants open late along the streets as well for midnight snacks.
Check out my full blog post on Medellin here!
There you have it! Colombia is a wonderfully diverse country with something to offer travelers of all types. If you’re a live music fanatic like Adrian, Sasha, and myself you’ll love Colombia even more thanks to the diversity of options.
Special thanks to Adrian for this post! To read more about traveling in Colombia, check out Adrian’s site Remix The Earth!
Bio: Adrian Blackhurst is a multi-instrumentalist who played in various bands over the years and has lately been focusing on his solo projects, under the name Boogiemeister & Bionic Love Soundsystem. He has been producing music since the year 2000, with over 40+ songs on his discography, 2 full-length albums & 3 EPs.
His blog Remix The Earth is a cross-cultural experiment, a non-profit ongoing music, and a video project. Modeled after similar projects “Playing For Change,” “1 Giant Leap,” and “Critical Beats” (which Adrian traveled to Ecuador with in 2011).
Remix The Earth has the vision & dedicated goal to record talented musicians, bands & solo artists, both known & unknown talent, traveling the world to different locations 1-2x year.