Entertainment and Events
Amador Causeway has become a nightlife destination for Panama City dwellers, and on the weekends traffic there can be a nightmare. Panama’s biggest concert venue is also in Amador, and there are a few other places to see live music and theater. Restaurante Pencas (Amador, tel. 211-3671, www.pencas.com) has típico performances on Wednesday nights. During the dry season, a concert series is held on the steps of the Panama Canal Administration Building in Balboa on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
Concerts and Theater
Amador’s glitzy Panama Canal Village (tel. 314-1414) contains the Figali Convention Center, Panama’s largest venue for extravaganzas. It hosts major international rock and pop acts—ones that have gotten local fans revved up in the last few years include the Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shakira, Paulina Rubio, and the Jonas Brothers.
Teatro Balboa (tel. 228-0327), an aging former movie house off Stevens Circle in the heart of the Canal Zone townsite of Balboa, hosts concerts and the occasional play and special event.
The Theatre Guild of Ancon (tel. 212-0060, www.anconguild.com) is the only English-language playhouse in the country. It somehow survived the demise of the Canal Zone’s once-thriving community-theater scene and still puts on the occasional play. The rickety old wooden playhouse is next to the police station at the base of Cerro Ancón, just off Avenida Frangipani and Manzanillo Place. A bit of Hollywood gossip: Jennifer Aniston’s dad, John Aniston, was an actor at the theater in the 1950s.
Bars and Clubs
There are plenty of places to booze and schmooze in Amador. Flamenco Shopping Plaza, the shopping and dining center on Isla Flamenco, has several shoebox-sized bars/nightclubs on the ground floor at the back of the complex. Each has a different theme—e.g., sports pub, Egyptian, “ciber”—but they’re pretty interchangeable. Sometimes people dance a bit, but the clubs are usually too crowded for that. These are mostly places to have a drink and hook up. The common denominator in all of them? Deafening music.
Some of the restaurants on the 2nd floor of Flamenco Plaza have live music groups on weekend nights and Sunday afternoons. Chances of hearing “Margaritaville” are good, though the combos I’ve heard haven’t actually been that bad. A folkloric dance group sometimes performs in the plaza when a ship is in port.
More ambitious clubs come and go elsewhere on the causeway and on the “mainland” around the Figali Convention Center, but these rarely last long. Those with their own transportation or a patient taxi should just troll along and follow the crowds.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition