- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
Santo Domingo boasts a great nightlife scene, from casinos to pubs and karaoke bars to dance clubs. As of 2007, the Dominican Republic has had a curfew on establishments that serve alcohol. Bars and clubs now close at midnight Sunday through Thursday and 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. This does not apply to resorts and casinos. While the curfew law worked, the stringent closing time is overlooked by many establishments much of the time. You can expect that bars will remain open until around 2 a.m. almost every night.
Most dance clubs feature Latin music mixed in with American and European club-style house dance music. Women traveling solo or with other women should know that it is not uncommon to be asked to dance by a man you don’t know. If you do not wish to dance with him simply say “no gracias.” Even though Dominican men are very persistent and might not take your first answer, simply repeating it politely will probably work. Still, it is best for women to keep track of each other (as in any city). Many establishments have a dress code that doesn’t allow you to wear jeans, T-shirts, or tennis shoes. If you don’t abide by these dress codes, you run the risk of being turned away at the door.
The Ciudad Colonial in particular has a plethora of nighttime entertainment options worth visiting. Independently owned bars and restaurants are tucked into the centuries-old buildings all along the cobbled streets. Exploring these options is a major part of the charm.
It is a relatively safe area to walk around in the evening, provided you do not walk alone and you stay on the well-lighted streets. Take a taxi late at night, though (whether alone or with others). Taxi rates go up (not much) around midnight, but it’s worth your safety; haggling for a price is harder at night.
One of the most long-standing Dominican establishments is the car wash, also called a colmadon or parada. These are essentially open-air beer joints; perhaps they have a colmado (store) attached, maybe a restaurant as well—sometimes they are literally car washes that sell beer. The point is, they are meeting places where people gather, socialize, listen to music, push tables aside, and even dance. They are a phenomenal way to get the true feel for the Dominican culture; flirt in the sultry night air, perhaps practice your Spanish with the locals (this is a slang hot spot after all), and try your hand at a game of dominoes.
Often, paradas are the jumping-off point for the night, where plans for the evening are laid out, or where evenings wind down since most are open until the last person leaves (officially, they are supposed to adhere to the curfew law as well, but they are quite relaxed in that regard).
You can find these colmadones and car washes scattered throughout every city and even along the highways. They are a Dominican tradition. Cute names make them memorable—like El Dugout, which is one block away from the baseball stadium on Avenida Tiradentes in Santo Domingo. Watch for signs along highways and along main roads in the cities; many times very famous Dominican singers will be booked for appearances at car washes and paradas. That is how beloved these establishments are.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition