Madrileños are people of this night, they eat late, party later, and come home still looking classy at 7am after eating two burritos and drinking a 1/3 of Tequila. This is why they’ve earned the nickname ‘gato’s’ (cats) for their ability to stay out all night on the tiles, and we’ve earned the nickname ‘guiri’s’ (foreigners) for our shameless ability to tap-out at 3am and stagger home before passing out with our shoes on! Therefore it’s time for the nightlife review…
Like the old woman that I am, going to a mega-club with preppy young Spaniards with their perfect skin and flashy outfits was the last thing I wanted to be doing with my Friday evening. With a line down the street and bouncers seemingly selecting people based on age, gender and good looks, I was NOT keen. I´d resisted this experience my previous 3 months in Madrid and laughed in the face of the leaflet people that hound you in the streets “guapa guapa, you want Kapital?… €15” Not likely mate. That’s 15 bottles of wine from Dia!!!
However with my arm twisted high behind my back, I´d caved! Kapital is one of the most famous mega-clubs in Madrid, if not Europe. 7 storeys of dance music each showcasing a different genre (electronic and Spanish pop being the most popular), and for those that hate dancing or have drunk 10 too many mojitos – there´s a Karaoke bar in the middle!
Each storey is situated like theatre terraces (perhaps it was an old Opera House?) where you can look down from each level to the dance-hall below where rampant dancers grind up on one another and proceed with some National Geographic-like mating rituals! Lights bounce around from the hanging chandeliers, acrobats hang from the ceiling performing some circ-de-solei type scenes, go-go dancers flaunt their bits on stage – shaking and gyrating consistently, and confetti and balloons rain down from the ceiling.
To be honest, I think I got my €15 worth of entertainment. While my previous misconceptions were somewhat true (too many young preppy girls being whiney and self-conscious), It was definitely an experience not to be missed when visiting Madrid (for the under-30).
My visit to Palace was somewhat unmemorable – however probably not due to the venue itself. This club is popular among expats and travellers and is the final destination on many of the cities pub-crawls. They host international student night on Thursdays making international relations rather fun, and I was lead here by the ´New Europe Pub Crawls´.
The crowds are young and rowdy, the queues are long, and the club is well-decorated. They play a popular mix of Spanish pop and other commercial music, and this has given it the ´Laura seal of approval´ “OMG THIS IS MY FAVOURITE SONG (every second track)”. However after another friend stated that my dancing was potentially the worst he´d ever seen (I move like Jagger I tell ya), and I found that retreating to the bar was more appealing than joining the masses!
There are several rooms to explore within this 16th century palace and it is complete with a curving marble staircase in the entrance which if I remember rightly is also surrounded in mirrors!
Also another pub-crawl destination, El Son is the spot to Salsa. According to Lonely Planet it´s the top place in town for Latin music and is very popular with the South and Central American population.
Shots of tequila flow freely and it´s a great place to go if you want to be humiliated by your all too familiar lack of coordination and style (I see a trend emerging). Being white and blonde was of advantage to Jamie and I because at least we were obviously Guiri. We snuggled up and danced a few steps but mostly it was a swervey stupor of swaying and laughing.
As for the locals, it´s an impressive spectacle and another true Spanish experience worth witnessing. Like a scene from “Dancing with the Stars”, the men (not so tall, but equally dark and handsome) whisk their partners off into the night, spinning and stepping, and leading, and impressing (how the hell does a foreigner begin to describe Salsa?) and put on a show not to miss!
This club can only be described as a party in a basement with an unequal proportion of South Americans, and overly priced drinks (€8 for a copa/mixed drink). It had a wicked layout with plenty of chill areas and couches (in Spain this = overly public displays of affection), and there was a trashy wee stage in the middle for the underage to get up on and make their parents proud. The light show was so intense I couldn´t see, and the male:female ratio was about 5:1 (sorry Jamie).
I would recommend going only if you want to stay up until sunrise with a friendly bunch of sweaty men who want to ´dance´ all night!
Fontana del Oro (Last and DEFINITELY not least)
How could I miss this one having an Irish flatmate? Fontana del Oro is quite possibly the greatest Irish `pub´ I´ve ever witnessed. It is also the oldest bar in Madrid (apparently) dating back to 1789.
This is a bar to please the masses. There is a perfect mix of Guiri´s and locals; they have a big screen on silent playing the football for the men; a MASSIVE dance floor sandwiched between two bars that serve fairly priced alcohol (€3 for a tinto de verano or cerveza); and often feature one of the coolest live pub-bands EVER! They don´t play those cheesy sing-a-longs like usual, and the vocalist is actually amazing.
Girls get in free to which is always nice (probably why the men feel some sense of entitlement)!
I really like this place cause it offers a friendly environment to speak Spanglish (my new official language) and you don´t realize you´ve made terribly offensive statements to innocent strangers until you relay their subdued reactions to your friends the next morning. It´s a rather polite crowd.
If you fancy a night out in Madrid and don´t want to do the typical pub-crawl following a leader like the Pied Piper then this list should set you right!!
[Other mentionable bars = Commo, Planet, and Pirate Bar]