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Panama Too Cool for Scool

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Written by Matt   
Friday, 21 August 2009 07:44
There are the increases in Panama's luxury real estate market: the prices that went from delicious to cruel in a span of a couple of years. There are the prices of hotels: which started around a giggly forty bucks for decent sheets and a warm shower, no rx then rose to something that could be interpreted as a cruel joke. And then there's the pseudo-cool haunts on Calle Uruguay, physician which have climbed like nocturnal beasts riding Panama's inflationary rocket into a stratosphere entirely of their own. I returned to Calle Uruguay the other night the way a retired pitcher might revisit the mound after about a year hiatus. The feeling that ensued was creepy.  At first it fit into the category of entertainment. It was a strip of cheap, indelibly fun bars and clubs - the wannabe sisters of Miami fixtures lost somewhere in an interpretation of what exactly is considered cool, the gathering place of anyone and everyone in the know, the hub of delight in Panama City's nightlife scene. You could go to Calle Uruguay, grind on its chic dance floors and drinks its $2 beers, feeling somehow not guilty about the indulgence of it all.

The days of endless Calle Uruguay clemency have since been replaced, as I found out the other night, by something that most closely resembles scorn. The crowds have genericized, the prices have shot up, and the hassles of thieves, police officers, and non-existent parking spaces have given way to a new Calle Uruguay generation.

1.    Cover charges: $30 cover charges. I don't know bars in New York or Paris or Madrid that ask $30 cover charges. I don't know bums that ask for $30 for shitting in your hat. But put a thug in a suit affront a velvet rope on Calle Uruguay and its somehow justifiable. $30 cover charges. If you repeat it enough times out loud, it actually starts to sound like the Spanish word for larceny.
2.    Attitude: The Beverly Hillbillyesque transition from "please visit our fine establishment" to "you wish you and your jealous ass friends could get in here" is nothing short of supernatural. Not only have Calle Uruguay's bouncers and bar owners started to think with a swag, they've started to walk with one too. Think you're getting in with those sandals? Try Rock Café buddy.
3.    Drink Prices: Since when does a bottle of domestic beer cost $5? This is almost comical in its theory - like the rock on eBay that sells for $1,000. Only the rock kinda looks like Mother Theresa and has a good story attached. $8 shots (I know because we had 5 of them), $7 Red Bulls, and my personal favorite $300 bottles of champagne: who needs highway robbery when there's Pure and Loft?

If the changes here happened for a particular reason - like there was a liquor shortage for instance - I might understand it all. Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

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I hear ya
written by Dead On , August 21, 2009
Matt you are dead on. Calle Uruguay, when I first arrived, was a nice spot to see and be seen. Now, it's who can mingle with cholos and stand in the longest lines. The prices: I don't know how middle class Panamenos can afford these places?! Go to any of the top haunts on payday and its almost impossible to get inside (not to mention the hefty entrance fee as you point out). I seriously think Calle Uruguay is near its breaking point. I hope to see some new areas in San Francisco, Casco Viejo, and El Cangrejo picking up where they left off and offering what people come to Panama for in the first place: outdoor patios, inexpensive booze, and good looking girls. Haha. I had hope for the Causeway's new Zona Viva but it was like the evil brother of Calle Uruguay - expensive, attitude, and really far away!!! - J
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Call them out
written by Evan Forbes , August 22, 2009
We can start advocating cool bars and shunning the shitty ones.

Evan
EyeOnPanama.com smilies/grin.gif
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boycott uruguay in favor of argentina
written by casey , August 23, 2009
Great article!

I really hope that with ONE more good bar, Via Argentina could become a viable alternative to Uruguay. You can walk the area, there are several pretty good bars (Taberna 21, Rancho Paisa, Pavo Real Pub) with outside seating, and prices are a fraction of the cost.

Uruguay is in desperate need of some competition. I rarely even bother going there anymore... I think the new bar in Luna's Castle gives us all hope that something even remotely unique can be a huge hit for the crowd who doesn't want $10 cocktails and mind-numbingly-loud electronic music.

As for the Causeway...it's a bridge too far, literally.
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Calle Urafool
written by The Daywalker , August 24, 2009
Somewhere I hear the little sheep bleating. Hang at the Relic instead, or try Vía Argentina. Calle U is lame.
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where is good for clean, safe, adult fun?
written by Gerrit Ryit Upye , February 22, 2010
Is Panama any good for adult nightlife? Is it expensive? What about seedy and unsafe? What sort of age group are the workers in? Thanks for some info, might help my choice of where to buy (Mexico, CR, Panama).
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