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Photo Essay: Nightlife in Cali, Colombia

Cali is Colombia's 3rd largest city and regarded as the country's capital for salsa dancing.

Amongst backpackers traveling through the country, Cali has a reputation for being a party destination.

After a year and a half of working on my salsa skills, I felt it was finally time to put them to the test. 

Along with Troy and another friend, I flew the 30 minutes from Medellin via Avianca for a 5-day weekend focused on sampling the nightlife in Cali, Colombia myself.

Zaperoco salsa bar

Red neon glows throughout Zaperoco, a popular salsa bar in the city's popular nightlife district, La Sexta.

A live salsa band in Zaperoco.

A live salsa band entertains the Thursday night crowd at Zaperoco.

The large neon sign of Las Cascadas Discoteca on La Sexta advertises 7 large video screens and 4 dance floors.

The large neon sign of Las Cascadas Discoteca on La Sexta advertises 7 large video screens and 4 dance floors.

The Latin Palace on La Sexta reflects a typical club design: multiple=

On the 2nd floor of the Latin Palace, early on a Saturday night, the dance floor is still warming up.

On the 2nd floor of the Latin Palace, early on a Saturday night, the dance floor is still warming up.

Chivas are a dance party on wheels. Buy a ticket, hop on, and you can start drinking and dancing as the bus rolls throughout Cali's most happening nightlife districts.

Chivas are a dance party on wheels. Buy a ticket, hop on, and you can start drinking and dancing as the bus rolls throughout Cali's most happening nightlife districts.

Salsa dancers

With the wealth of talented salsa dancers in Cali, it's common to see professional level performances in the local bars.

Discotecas in Menga

Menga, a neighborhood in northern Cali, is filled with late night discotecas.

Bottle service in a Menga discoteca

Unlike the USA, bottle service is the norm at Colombian bars and clubs. Get a group of friends together, order a bottle of rum or aguardiente, and you're set for a fun night.

Inside one of Menga's giant discotecs

Inside one of Menga's giant discotecs, sometime around 3am on a Saturday night.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking uses and recommends:

Dave

Sunday 9th of March 2014

JM or anyone else, If La Sexta should be avoided, what do you recommend?

J.M. Porup

Wednesday 19th of September 2012

I lived in Cali for many years, just a five minute walk from la Sexta... have to say, the bars and clubs on la Sexta are the worst in Cali... general rule of thumb: avoid any bar on la Sexta like the plague. I can't recall meeting a single expat in Cali who didn't think the same.

J.M. Porup (Coordinating Author, Lonely Planet Colombia, 5th ed.)

Dave

Wednesday 19th of September 2012

Hey JM, thanks for checking out my Cali photo essay.

In general, I think the expats avoid the Zona Rosa in the bigger cities. That's the benefit of living in a place, you get to know the city much better.

Medellin has tons of nightlife districts beyond Parque Lleras, where most of the tourists still go.

Andrew

Thursday 4th of November 2010

Can you actually salsa? Have you taken lessons?

Dave

Thursday 4th of November 2010

Hey Andrew, yes, I can dance salsa. I started almost 2 years ago when I got to Colombia, first with friends, then group lessons. Back in the USA, I'd go out a few times a week, and now that I'm back in Colombia, I'm taking private lessons.

Phil

Sunday 24th of October 2010

Dave, Looks like a blast. I can taste the aguardiente!!! Could you see yourself living in Cali at some point? I suppose Medellin would be a pretty hard place to leave... B well, Phil

Dave

Sunday 24th of October 2010

Hey Phil, I'm too happy in Medellin to consider moving over to Cali. The metro system here is too convenient to pass up, plus the temps in Medellin don't get as high as they do in Cali during summer/dry season. Also, while Cali has mountains, they don't surround the city in the same way they do in Medellin.

Adam

Thursday 21st of October 2010

Looks like a great time, Dave. I wish we could have made it to Cali when we were in Colombia. My wife would have loved it there. So did you put your salsa dancing skills to the test with the locals? You'll have to get some video and show 'em off sometime. :)

Dave

Thursday 21st of October 2010

Hey Adam, for a bunch of reasons, I didn't actually dance a lot of salsa with the locals, which is why I'm planning to go back next month. :)

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