A Cartagena Local Tells Us About Her City's Music and Nightlife

By Cloclo Echavarria / As told to Abby Schreiber
Each week in our new column, "No Sleep Til...," we'll be talking to cool kids around the globe, asking them to fill us in about the bands, DJs, music venues and night spots they and their friends are obsessing over. Next time you visit their home city, leave your Fodor's and Lonely Planet guides behind and go party like a local instead.


Cloclo Echavarria



Where do you live?

Between Bogotá and Cartagena, Colombia and Paris, France

What do you do?

I bring fashion franchises to Colombia (so far we have Emporio Armani, Armani Exchange and Vilebrequin and we hope to bring more in the future.) I also like to plan events in my free time as a hobby.

What Colombian bands or DJs do you really like these days and that you think we should know about?

I really like ChocQuibTown, Superlitio, DJ Memek, DJs Gomez & Victoria, and J Balvin. I discovered ChocQuibTown and Superlitio through a friend who organizes this really cool music festival here in Colombia called Estereo Picnic. They always have a mix of upcoming local bands but also established international bands  like The Killers and MGMT. I discovered DJ Memek in New York through these underground DJ parties called Minimoo and now we've become friends -- I often hire him for my parties. DJs Gomez & Victoria are friends of friends and I have often been invited to parties where they play. J Balvin is everywhere in Colombia -- he's very mainstream but also fun to listen to.

DJ Memek and DJs Gomez &Victoria play minimal, electronic music and I would describe ChocQuibTown as a hip-hop group with a Latin influence. My favorite song of theirs is "Somos Pacifico." I love their music because it also touches on the history, culture and realities of Colombia. Superlitio I would say is more indie and my favorite of their songs is "Te Lastime." And J Balvin is reggaeton -- I'm currently obsessed with his newest song called "Yo Te Lo Dije."

Where are the cool places to see live music in Cartagena?

The best place for me to see live music in Cartagena is on the streets. All over the old town of Cartagena there are bands ready to play Colombian classics. On the street, music is played only for you and your group of friends so you can request songs and also have the band play and walk behind you while you dance to someone's house or to a bar. My favorite restaurant in Cartagena, La Vitrola, also has a live band come play. You'll find Colombians from all over the country as well as tourists at the restaurant. Although they mainly play salsa, they also mix in all types of Latin music. There is also Cafe Havana, which is a salsa bar that has live salsa bands come play and attracts a great mix of real locals and tourists.

Describe your perfect night out when you're in Cartagena.

If I'm not sleeping at the beach, my perfect night out would be to have dinner and drinks at La Vitrola followed by salsa dancing at my favorite salsa bar, Quiebra-Canto. If I want a change of music or if Quiebra-Canto is full (it is very small and very popular), I like to go to Bazurto Social Club. That place is a lot more local and "underground" then most places people know in Cartagena and it has a mix of different kinds of music from reggae, to reggaeton, salsa, etc.

What's your favorite bar/nightclub in Cartagena?

My favorite place is Quiebra Canto. Although there is no live music, for me, it's the original salsa club in Cartagena (Havana came after). I really enjoy it there and it's where I grew up going. The crowd is a mix of locals, young Colombians and tourists. There is also a balcony with a great view in case you want to have a breath of fresh air after dancing. Quiebra-Canto, along with Basurto Social Club and Cafe Havana are all in the neighborhood Getsemaní, which is the best area for young people. It's up-and-coming and although it's getting "cleaned up," it still feels very authentic.

What's a bar or nightclub you would NEVER go to in Cartagena?

In Cartagena there are a lot of bars and clubs that are now playing more international music to attract more tourists and I tend to avoid those places. I like to stick to the more authentic spots in which you feel like you are in Cartagena. There's one place that I used to go to when I was younger but would never go to now -- Babar. It's a very young crowd and the music is very mainstream.

Check out Cloclo's band and DJ recs:

ChoQuibTown -- "Somos Pacifico"

Superlitio -- "Te Lastime"

J Balvin -- "Yo Te Lo Dije"

DJ Memek -- It's Time For Dance Remix

Gomez & Victoria -- "i don't think i feel"

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