East London meet Santiago: the new place to party

Santiago, Chile Photo: Renata Carolina

The New York Times chose Chile’s capital Santiago as its top place to visit in 2011, and – not wanting to be outdone  – ELL brings you its guide to partying in Santiago. There’s more to Chile than the miners, you know.

Looking around, it is easy to see the reasons why the NYT chose it. The city is modern and in constant development, the economy is stable and keeps growing, and there are more tourists on the streets than ever before. There is a growing art industry and also “smartly designed hotels and sophisticated restaurants”.

The 8.8 earthquake that shook Chile last February causing hundreds of deaths and major structural damage left Santiago largely untouched. (There is some damage to the old buildings in the Museum of Modern Art – not the Museum of Fine Arts, as the NYT said – but the city fared well.)

ELL wanted to go beyond that and find out if Santiago was actually a place that could interest readers who follow our Pick of the Line listings and listen to our music tips. And, after careful and studied research at fun bars in temperatures of 25º, we decided it is definitely a place you could love.

We found cool pubs and clubs like Bar Constitución, a trendy club in the Bellavista neighbourhood that is frequented by fashionable locals as well as in-the-know tourists. There are also more underground venues like Cellar, a former squad house now run by a group of young people and used as an art gallery and concert and party venue.

Music-lovers might want to catch a gig at Club Mist, or make their way to Bar Loreto, a place run by a group of friends which is always full of their friends, and their friends´ friends and so on.

The bands playing in these venues are from a variety of backgrounds – indie through electro, onto folk and beyond. Electro pop outfit Denver (the people behind the beautiful Los Adolescents video); old school rockers Howlers, who won Spin magazine’s contest ‘Free the Noise: a global search for the next great rock and roll band’ in 2009; the jazz and hip hop of Cómo Asesinar a Felipes,  who are signed to Faith no More’s bass player’s record label Koolarrow Records; and Gepe’s revival of Chilean folk, mixed with pop and electronica.

But parties and music are not everything. After a hard night’s play, ELL readers might want to investigate the thriving Santiago art scene.

From small galleries like Plop, which shows the work of young illustrators as Tomas Ives, to more mainstream galleries like Animal, exhibiting the most acclaimed Chilean artists’ work, like the controversial Carlos Leppe.

Santiago isn’t the only place to go in Chile though and there is a lot to discover outside the capital city. The country’s geography is amazing and varied. It is a long country – 2700 miles long in fact – so if you go to the north you can see the Atacama desert, the driest desert in the world, and if you go to the south you can see the glaciers.

It’s also a narrow country, so if you travel an hour and a half west from Santiago you’ll be at the beach; an hour and a half in the other direction and you’ll be at the mountains.

Already packing? Here is everything you need to know.

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