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Night Life in the New Millenium

My, how things keep changing in our favorite little piece of Paradise! Spending a week in Huatulco during the little high season, I was unable to find EVERYplace in town with a rocking jukebox, loud stereo, or guy with a guitar, but I like to think that I got MOST of them accounted for!

La Tropicana

It seems like there was only one piece of consistency, and that is where you would expect it: the best place to hang out. As is, was, and ever shall be, Lalo's bar, La Crema, is the best place to soak up some rock, meet people, carry on a conversation - and now, even one of the better spots to eat! I'll be talking more about the food in the dining out section, but the addition of a wood-fired brick-and-adobe beehive oven has made all of the difference in the world. Lalo also has a corner with four PCs, making his one of the ump-teen zillion Internet Café sites in town - but at this one, you get great music, too. So if you need to spend an hour or so catching up with your e-mail - or just hanging in cyber-space - and if you can do so with a LOUD soundtrack in the background, then La Crema will be just the spot. He's over the La Tropicana restaurant on the corner of the Zócalo, across the street from Hotel La Flamboyant, caddy-corner from Hotel Mission Los Arcos, just around the corner from the Cathedral - well, he's not hard to find! His brother Mario, complete with guitar, is hanging in effigy - larger than life - on the outside front of the building. The real Mario moved to San Cristobol Las Casas with his girlfriend and opened his very own bar and restaurant. Quite successful, too, I understand.

Bar La Crema on the Zócalo in La Crucecita

La Crema offers a grouping of tables in the archway windows out front, overlooking the Zócalo. Plenty of fresh air. In the interior of the bar, most of the tables have two chairs and a comfortably upholstered loveseat. Cozy. Romantic.
The booze list is very extensive. If you know a drink the bartenders don't, feel free to teach it to them. There's also a boutique with t-shirts, folk art objects, even some limited head-shop items. Good Cuban cigars, too!

Lalo of Bar La Crema

If you REALLY like the bar, make him an offer! Lalo really misses the old Bar La Crema. He is a little put off by the stress of managing all the employees the new place requires. If he wanted stress, he would've kept practicing law in Paris, after all!. If he knew it was falling into good hands, he would THINK ABOUT retaining the boutique, selling the bar, and opening a palapa with no more than two employees. Of course, this is just what he says, and his girlfriend does seem to be having some big fish in small pond feelings, so one never really know now, do one? to quote the late, great Fats Waller. And whatever he decides to do, he has a proven track record of success. Even the palapa bar below Shambala in Zipolite was doing well until a certain lady named Pauline came through and blew it down!
The above glowing tribute is partially the result of three factors: 1) La Crema has always been my favorite place to hang. In the old La Crema, Lalo and Mario had a chair for me with a reading lamp so I could sit around and enjoy the rock while reading whatever book was at hand. I am just as comfortable in the new La Crema, and I think you will be too - especially enjoying the musical ambiance while cyber-surfing! 2) Lalo has always treated me like one of the family. My return to La Crema had quite a bit of Prodigal son feel to it. And Lalo is one of the great human beings in this world. 3) This one is for all you cynics out there. My money was no good at Lalo's place - except to tip the hired help. Id have written all this glowing stuff about it anyway because of reasons one and two, but I'm throwing in reason three for those business owners who may wish to pay attention next time I'm planning a trip and were out on the metaphysical street corner in our equally metaphysical tube-tops and micro-minis looking for a date for dinner!
A hundred and eighty degree around the Zócalo, upstairs on the corner, lies the closest competition to La Crema as a hangout bar. It is called Bar La Selva. Also with tables hanging out over the Zócalo and music 'til all hours. While we were in town, they were doing a lot of the "two guys with a guitar and keyboard"-type stuff.

The Disco Bus

"But NO, John," you cry, "we want the real MEXICAN night out stuff. You know, loud music and dancing 'til dawn with all the most attractive locals out in their best party clothes! You know, DISCO!" (For those of you unacquainted with clubbing throughout most of the world, the word "disco" is not used herein to refer to a Studio 54 type establishment but rather any dance club with recorded music rather than live.) Well, it may not be Acapulco or Cancun, but Huatulco will not disappoint the "boogie oogie oogie 'til ya just can't boogy any more" crowd.
If you're starting in La Crucecita, the best way to get boogeying is to jump on the Disco Bus! This is a brightly-painted double-decker with the roof cut out and it carries the party from one section of Huatulco to another, Loud music, flashing lights, a crowd of young bodies jammed together dancing down the road...only in Mexico! It stops at various scenic overlooks and even some of the other discos. $60N cover.

El Dex-kit

Going towards the beach, we find ourselves at the newest of the Huatulco clubs, El Bar-Co. Located in the basement of the Hotel Alergheti, it's right next door to the Best Western Posada Chahue (so much for THAT being a nice, quiet hotel!) For now, they are promising live music - and they had a full rock band the night I visited. I fear consistent live music will prove very hard to provide over the long haul in Huatulco, though. $50N cover.
But the biggest surprise of all may be that "Disco Central" for Huatulco is actually in Santa Cruz, Huatulco, one of Mexico's oldest cities! Next to the Hotel Marlin, in the former location of the old Magic Circus, is "Acqua". For those of you old enough to remember John Revolta dancing in "Saturday Night Fever", this will come closest to your image of a disco. Glitzy and polished, built around a huge "bar in the round" in the center of the room, this place pumps out the techno complete with elaborate lighting and disco-balls. $60N cover.

Ven Acá

Just down the street is "La Tropicana". This is NOT a disco, but rather a nightclub featuring Salsa, Meringue, and other Latin-style music played live. This is an interesting place, well worth the $40N cover.
On the main street of Santa Cruz you'll find the "Ven Aca". This is also NOT a disco, but more of a piano bar, of all things. Guitarist & keyboards with vocals while I was there. The young lady tendin' bar also joined in on vocals. Had any of the three been singing in the same (or any recognizable) key, I probably would have enjoyed it more!
If you follow the side street in front of the Hotel Marina all the way to the end, you'll find the best disco by far, "El Dex-kit". This one is as much fun as a Zipolite disco! The building is open to the beach - allowing you to dance in the sand, should you choose. There's a great little hamburger-hot dog - taco cart next to the building for late night grub. And the locals were voting with their feet and their pocketbooks - there were far more people enjoying THIS disco than any other place in town! $30N cover.
Speaking of Zipolite discos, Zipoli still has the best location, with nothing between it and the surf but sand. But Bar La Puesta still has the better mix of music and in my opinion, a better crowd of people. But should you plan to go to Zipolite for a night at the disco, please remember to watch out and PLEASE grab a room in Zipolite or Puerto Angel rather than trying to weave your way back to Huatulco. No cover.

Balcony at Bar La Crema

Okay, I've talked about reggare hangout bars, piano bars, latin music bars, and discos. What AM I leaving out. Oh. Yeah. Bar La Entrega. The easily offended and politically correct may exit out of this article now. Y'all gone yet?
Now, we all know that Mexico has a male-dominated, exploitative culture. So naturally there is a place in town for those who wish to see women in the degrading act of disrobing for a crowd of cheering males. Bee-YOO-tee-ful young women practicing the ecdysiasts' art. Now, I do have to interject that when the Chippendales' show makes its periodic stop in Huatulco, it is always a sell-out. After all, for every married man with a mistress there's a married woman with Sancho - all part of the culture, don cha know. But unlike Chippendales, Bar La Entrega is there 365 nights a year - right over in the industrial part of La Crucecita, next to the chicken plant. After you pay your $40N cover and walk in, you'll see a unique feature: a glass dressing room! Tables near this wall may very well be better than the ones right next to the bar, as the dancers will often try on several costumes before picking out the one to take off to the music! Now of course, my visit there was purely in the name of research. You all know me to be far too politically correct to visit such a sexist venue - at least until Edie picked out a night to go to bed early and left me with the VW!
Something for everyone. But all in a fluid state of continual metamorphosis as is the Bahías de Huatulco resort area itself. I urge all of you to keep checking out new venues and telling us what you think about whatever entertainment you try. And while I hope to visit again before the end of the year - the first half of December is the BEST time to be in Huatulco - I may well not be down 'til ext year, so your reports are beyond all value.

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The Pacific Coast of Mexico www.tomzap.com Tom Penick:  tom@tomzap.com