Do you love to dance so hard you feel like your soul is about to pop lock & drop it out of chest? Do you love music at intersection of African, Latin American, Asian and European Influences?
Are your friends scared your head is gonna fall off from so much swinging around on the dance floor? Do you ever find earrings or other party artifacts buried in your hair the morning after? (no? just me?). Last but not least, do you have tumbao?
If you answered yes to these questions, this list is for you. I have danced in many corners of the world, but these spots made the top 5 list for guaranteed gozadera:
- House of YES (New York, NY)
This place is LIT! This venue focuses on consent culture, sexual freedom, gender fluidity, diversity, and is probably the most expressive place I have every been in my life. Have you every wanted to dress up as a metallic alien and rip up the dance floor? Do you want to wear a cake on your head? Do you love lime-yellow colored wigs with even lime-y-er yellow matching feathers (my guilty pleasure)? Literally, let your imagination run wild and think about the weirdest thing you could (or not) wear, and then times that by 10, add in a few cocktails served by Drag Queens dancing on a bar, mix in some love, professional acrobatists, the the most down to earth crowd, and then add an exponent of 7. That is House of YES.
- CHILL Jamaica (Kingston, JA)
This is THE most surreal party I have ever been to. It’s outdoors, and happens once a year during Christmas time. Tickets can be pretty pricey, but it is SO worth it. The place is replete with all-you can eat gourmet food, open bar, dancing robots, drones from outer space, celebrities (Usain Bolt and Shakira were in the crowd last time I went) and the most gorgeous and well-dressed people you have seen in your life. Of course, the DJ’s play the most epic carnival-worthy dancehall you have heard, and by the end of the night your neck and abs will be sore from swinging your head and hips around allllll night. Ah. mae. zing.
- UNÏCO Shanghai (China)
Who needs cardio when you have Unico? Not even joking. I literally go to Unico every single Saturday. I don’t think I have never NOT had fun at Unico. They have live drummers, and the DJs there play the newest, hottest reggaeton and afro-latin beats, and mix and modernize some of the oldest Latino tunes (“like yo, this was my granddad’s jam”) to the point where you are just dancing your heart out. The current drummer, Thomas Dyani, used to play for the Lion King. I know this because I often shut down the bar and get to talk to the musicians after the party. (Something to brag about??? IDK #ItISWhatItIs). The place is full of mainly Spanish and Latino expats, as well as some Chinese and Europeans who will be in awe of your very mediocre Latin dancing skills. Love, love Unico!
- Salon Rosado de la Tropical (La Havana, Cuba)
Oh man. This place is so epically vintage. It is straight out of a 1950’s Cuban revolution movie. The place is old, I mean, really old. Its open-air, and now that I think of it, actually might just be an old baseball stadium turned into a party space, a lo “inventando“. Just a forewarning: this place is NOT your typical tourist spot. It’s is all local “repa” Cubans happy in their element. I went there several times and it never failed me. They play they latest Cuban reggaeton (often unavailable in the US) and salsa, have the cheapest beer, liquor, and the best #views. Also, no shy guys here- be prepared to be asked to dance, and make sure you can hold it down on the dance floor with Cuba salsa footwork. No messing around at Tropical!
La Tropical in Havana, Cuba
- Mehanata Bulgarian Bar (New York)
Mehanata is really special. If you get there early, the live musicians will be playing traditional Bulgarian tunes upstairs with reggaeton playing downstairs. Later in the night, Colombian-music-loving DJs blast the most amazing tunes mixed with some traditional Eastern European music which creates the most unexpected but beautiful combo! Downstairs, there is a communist-themed all-you-can-drink ice cage (LOLOL…. I know) and #2Poles with mirrors all around. Never fails, and if you’re lucky, you might just catch a few Greek dudes traditionally smashing plates. Not even joking. Mehanata def solicits the “how TF did this reggaeton/Greek/Bulgarian/afro Latin/communist era combo even happen?” kind of wonder. I don’t know the answer to that question, but the results are glorious.
Here you have it, folks! My top 5 favorite party spots (so far) in the world. Now go on, get jiggy with it.