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Best Rock Bars in Bogota 🇨🇴
Rock out in a city known for "la rumba" and "perreando"
P.S: This is a guest post from @scotian and his musician buddy living in Bogota.
P.S.S: This is a bit different than out usual content, but quite interesting nonetheless.
I'm very happy to be writing this article to let people know about the history of rock music in the city of Bogota. This is in no small part because, as a professional musician and singer, I have been a part of this history since I came here, on and off since the year 2005.
Some people may be surprised to hear this, but Bogota has a very very strong creative and artistic side.
It's chock full of great restaurants, art galleries, live theater of all kinds, and, yes, lots of places to hear great local bands perform!
This particular article will focus exclusively on bars and clubs within the city that regularly offer live rock music. Of course, there are literally thousands of places in Bogota where you can go to eat and drink and hear all types of rock music, so I've focused on the places that focus on having live bands.
Naturally, this list is far from exhaustive, and places are closing and new places are opening constantly in this city.
I hope this guide serves as a good starting point for people who want to venture out and dig beneath the surface of the typical "bubble" in the north of Bogota, which I frankly find to often be pretentious, boring and usually way overpriced.
Best Rock Bars in Bogota 🇨🇴
Generally, these types of places offer live shows from Thursday to Saturday, sometimes just Friday and Saturday. On long weekends, sometimes shows will happen on Sunday nights as well.
Show times are usually from 8-10pm, and by 12am or 1am the band is usually done. Most of these bars, however, will stay open till the legal time of 3am. A few of them even have after-hours licenses and will stay open, crowds permitting, until 6am or later.
I have included places from one end of the city to the other, without prejudice. I personally don't consider any of the neighborhoods in which these places are located to be especially dangerous.
As always in Colombia, any kind of nightlife does attract thieves and others who aim to try and take advantage of people who have been drinking, so common-sense precautions should prevail at all times.
This is probably the most iconic place to see live rock music in Bogota, hands down. It regularly puts on big shows with some of the city's most accomplished musicians.
This place started out in the far west of the city, in Fontibon, but in 2010, it moved to its current location on Avenida Boyaca. The original location was bigger, but was grimier and was located on a very sketchy block. The new location was a vast improvement, and its clientele moved upscale with it.
A few years ago, the original owner, Alex Garcia, sold the place to a consortium spearheaded by Felipe Gutierrez, an extremely accomplished local musician who even has a Grammy to his name. Many of the big shows at Ozzy Company are now put on by his band, called the Royal Project. However, sometimes the Royal Project plays in other places, and sometimes other acts play Ozzy Company.
If you are planning on going to a show here, be sure to book in advance, as they frequently sell out quickly. A nice touch that has been added in recent years is that Ozzy Company often puts on afternoon all-ages shows. This is great for people with families, or people who love seeing live bands, but are not night-owls.
Jackass has been a staple of Bogota's local music scene since it first opened its doors just shy of 20 years ago. It has even been the subject of songs written by local musicians.
As is a common theme with Bogota's nightlife, a famous spot often moves locations. The landlord raised the rent on Jackson, the owner, in 2013, forcing him to move from the original spot on Carrera 16 and Calle 82 to Calle 53, between Av. Constitucion and Av. Boyaca.
This is probably the only rock bar you will ever see where they actually have a pole for pole dancing in the middle of it. Jackson is very proud of the pole, and wants patrons to know that they can try it out any time!
Jackass currently features rock karaoke on Thursdays, and live local bands on Fridays and Saturdays.
Canterbury started out as a little hole in the wall right in the middle of what is called "cuadra picha" which is a bunch of bars that sprung up out of nowhere two decades ago near Av. 1 de Mayo and Av Boyaca. It has also moved around a bit, and at one point there were four branches of this place all over the city, but three of the four branches eventually closed.
Canterbury consistently serves up some of the best local rock bands, and, while there is usually a small cover, this amount is redeemable for drinks. A nice touch of Canterbury is that you can get coffee-based drinks here as well as alcoholic drinks.
Stones started out just a few doors down from Canterbury, and its original location has continuously been active since 2003. It has also since expanded to Modelia's Zona Rosa, where they now have two locations, including a larger Stones Gourmet which offers craft bar food and beer.
Terra is probably the most unique bar you will ever walk into. Helver, the owner, is more than a little bit hippie, and applies his philosophy to his now not one but two places. You are expected to say hi to the staff upon entering, for example, instead of vice-versa.
The locations differ, with the Av Boyaca location offering live music, comedy and poetry every night (another long-standing Terra tradition), and often featuring bands. The Calle 53 location has solo artists on the weekend.
This is probably the least "rock" of all the options here, as the music can vary widely in style at Terra, but local rock bands and musicians do play here regularly, and I feel it belongs on the list for that reason.
Found at Av Boyaca and Calle 51, Ace of Spades is a newcomer to Bogota's scene,but has taken it by storm. Despite only having opened slightly before the pandemic began, it managed to survive the long period in which Bogota's nightlife wasn't allowed to operate, and came back with a vengeance as soon as it was legally allowed to open again.
Ace of Spades features local rock and metal acts, and heavily favors tribute bands.
Venezuelan immigrant Alberto Hernandez fled his home country in 2013 and landed in Bogota, where he promptly re-founded the live music space he had been proud to operate back in Caracas.
The Grange. located in the heart of Chapinero on Calle 64, currently features both local musicians from Colombia, and also acts who have come to Colombia from Venezuela.
Believe it or not, rumor has it that there is a ghost in The Grange, with numerous people claiming to have spotted it!
This place is a legit biker bar, and is, in fact, located in 7 de Agosto, right across from the new headquarters of the Bogota chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle club!
Owner Frenan Cardona tells me that he founded the bar in 2017 after having worked a stint as the service manager for first Harley-Davidson and then Suzuki. The current location is just two doors down from the first location; he had to expand to meet growing demand for space.
Sturgis Place, as well as a comprehensive selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, also offers an array of aged steaks, and in fact has a full-fledged restaurant inside.