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TLDR? Tango and Bolero are two artistic forms of dance that form a part of Colombia’s rich artistic and cultural heritage.
Tango bars usually have a very distinct vibe and ambiance that the establishments put on. This is to prepare the audience for the intense performance that awaits them. The performance usually involves low lighting, dark colors, and candles.
I love tango bars and the dances they honor, so I was quite delighted when I found a very high-quality one not far from where I’d been staying in Medellin.
It’s called Bolero Bar, and here’s everything you might need to know to plan a trip there.
Bolero Bar is a real hole in the wall that is tucked into the corner of the northern end of Laureles/Estadio. It’s right under the beautiful forested park Parque Natural Cerro El Volador.
The bar itself is a thin, tightly compacted space with tons of old decorations painting the wall. The decorations depict some of the prestigious customers who have gone through the place. They also display some of the notable tango performers who have displayed their skills in the establishment.
The bar itself is a classy thing made of old hardwood. The entire place just oozes class and atmosphere. It was made all the better at the time for me because I had no idea what I was walking into.
The bartenders were extremely friendly and made me feel right at home immediately. They took a stool out for me and offered me some snacks while I perused the extensive menu.
Around me, old men sipped on Coca-Cola and red wine, downed shots of Antioquenian liquor, and tapped their feet as they anticipated the emergence of the tango dancers.
I took it upon myself to give the heartily sized drink menu a real thorough review. For professional purposes, you understand.
The bar offers dozens of spirits and wines, mostly imported from various areas of South America. I found that the variety of drinks they had on hand was one of the most extensive that I had found in Medellin thus far.
There were even a couple of drinks that I had never even heard of before. This included the mysterious Chuchuwasa, a sort of Amazonian moonshine. It’s made by made from distilling the allegedly medicinal bark of the Chuchuwasa tree in clear alcohol.
A couple of shots of that later, and I was being quite friendly with my neighbors at the bar. I cleared my palette with a couple of local beers that were quite tasty. The prices were all very reasonable, and the atmosphere of the place encouraged a long-haul attitude in terms of how long one would want to spend there.
I would recommend adopting this attitude anyhow because the performances and evenings there tend to start late and last a long time. I think that the evening I went, the performances went around 10 pm and continued until the wee hours.
On the night I went, a Tango performance was happening at Bolero Bar. The dancers wore immaculate costumes in the traditional way of Tango dancers.
The man was sharply dressed in a dashing black suit, and the woman wore a shiny sequined dress. The dress served to accentuate the twirling and spinning that she was about to engage in.
The dancers came out promptly and engaged in an initial performance that was quite breathtaking. The tightly compacted bar, lit only by candles, served as an amazingly intimate venue. It was the perfect venue to observe Tango’s intense and passionate art.
The dancers took a break after a well-received performance and came back for a second performance after about half an hour. The whole time there was a modest crowd, which helped to make the entire experience feel very personal and special.
I felt like I had stumbled upon a locals-only style secret in Medellin, one slightly off the beaten path from the central tourist districts. Seeing the passionate Tango performance in such an up-close and personal setting was great.
Bolero Bar is named for another kind of Latin American art form, the Cuban style of singing, Bolero.
Boleros are often considered “The quintessential Latin love song.” They oftentimes explore themes of heartbreak, longing, passion, and unrequited love. I was sad to have not gotten the chance to see a Bolero performance that night.
But luckily for me, my Bartender informed me that Bolero Bar has live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. At least one of those nights a week features a live Bolero performance.
Although it feels like a secret clubhouse, Bolero Bar isn’t far from one of the main centers of Medellin’s nightlife. This is the fabulous neighborhood known as Laureles!
When I went to see the performance, I was staying at Casacol’s flagship Laureles property, The Factory Lofts.
My journey to the bar took me down the length of the notorious La 70 (possibly one of the most riotous party zones in all of the Americas) and past the stadium. All in all, it was about a 15–20-minute walk.
Walking to the bar was quite pleasant in the earlier stages of the night. But, if you plan to stay throughout the entirety of the performance at Bolero Bar, you’ll probably end up wanting to take a car home at some point.
The chances of this multiply exponentially depending on the number of Chichawasa moonshine shots you enjoy. All as you make new friends and observe the fantastic performances!
Medellin’s nightlife is so fully realized that it has something to offer anyone. This is true pretty much regardless of what you might be interested in exploring.
I found Bolero Bar to be a wonderful distraction that was a little more lowkey than the nightclubs on La 70 or in Poblado. I also thought it would make a killer date spot if one was in the market to look for something like that.
With its affordable drinks, impeccable atmosphere, and fabulous dancers, I think Bolero Bar is a surefire night out, whatever your mood might be.
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