Swinging into San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city, early on a Saturday evening, we chucked on the nearest things to posh frocks we had. We were eager to explore the cosmopolitan life on offer after three weeks of beautiful beaches and colonial cities.
Around 10pm we took a taxi out to Centro Commercial El Pueblo on recommendation from our tour leader. It’s a warren of bars and clubs at night, some linked together, some hidden round corners, some that you can’t get to without walking through another and out the other side. There was a small charge to get into some of them.
We chose our first stop for a drink, the promoters still shouting “free party” as we ducked inside. The music was a mix of hip hop, reggaeton and (showing my lack of music knowledge here) more dance music that sounded like pitbull that wasn’t. This bar was pretty dead. Don’t believe the guidebooks that tell you it gets going here earlier than other countries.
A lot of the clubs and bars had the same set up with a stage at the front. On stage was a bulky looking guy shouting every other word to whatever rap was currently being played, sort of like the hype man rappers have at concerts. He’s accompanied by just one girl in her bra and knickers, pulling moves I can only dream of. Every so often there’s a break in the rap and the shouty guy and the dancer girl break into what looks like is a preprepared dance routine that you’d laugh at on Britain’s Got Talent.
So there’s four of us sat in this bar, sipping on our beers, being shouted at by a man desperately trying to get a party started whilst we try really hard to not stare at the girl dancing. (Are you supposed to stare? Why is there only one girl dancing? Why am I so British?) Just us four.
It took us time to leave – because there’s nothing more awkward than being the only people in a bar and then leaving when someone’s in the middle of a performance – but eventually the couple stopped for water and we made our own break for it, back into the centre of the city where it was a bit busier.
I had a few too many daiquiris to remember the name of the bar we spent the rest of the night at (I must say, I was loving table service) but it was much more like the capital city we were expecting of San Jose. We made up for the lack of dancing girl on stage by trying our best to imitate the moves we’d already seen. I’d like to take this moment to apologise for all latin blooded people who were repulsed by my dancing that night. My hips do lie.