Nightlife in Madrid
A guide to Night Clubs in Madrid and Spain including link to a list of the top ten night clubs in Spain as recommended by El Pais newspaper.
Our guide to Rooftop Terrace Bars in Madrid, the best places to hang out if you're in the city during the hot summer and Autumn months.
For some Recommended Clubs in Madrid click here or please choose a theme as presented below:
Jazz and Blues - Magic - Fashionistas - Cocktails - To Take A Coffee - Open-Air Terrazas
To Have A Beer - An Exotic Night - For Those About To Rock - Salsa!
Flamenco - House Beats - For Artists - To Play Games - Chill Out
Sometimes it seems as if Madrileños don't sleep. These guys are bionic when it comes to partying and some say this is how they earned their nickname of The Cats, because they live at night. The younger Madrileños will often dance all night then go home, freshen-up and go straight to work and you can often find wizened oldsters wandering their way home at two or three in the morning after a 'session' as well! A listing of all the night-time venues, bars and clubs etc. would be pointless, there's simply too many to index, but here Madrid-Uno provides an overview of the main nightspots and party places that have come to his attention, plus some useful resources concerning night time diversions in Madrid.
Some useful pointers concerning Night Life in Madrid
- If you're in Madrid on a Friday you should pick up a copy of that day's El Pais newspaper (which contains a copy of OnMadrid which is a weekly listings magazine) or the ABC paper (its listings mag is called Madrid 360). Special events, clubs, bars, cinema, theatre, comedy, DJs, concerts, restaurants - it's all in there.
- Things start late, especially at weekends. Most clubs and bars don't start to fill up until well after midnight, so pace yourself because you're going to be partying until at least 3.00 am and more likely until dawn.
- Be cool. Whilst Madrid has its fair share of obnoxious pushy people, they're not usually aggressive obnoxious pushy people. There is very little violence and most arguments remain just that - arguments. In all the time Madrid-Uno has been in the city he has seen just one actual fight - and that was some East Europeans obviously in some local turf war.
- In order to make a night out more affordable many of the younger locals will, in the first part of the evening, meet up in various parks with their friends and have a drink together before going onto clubs or bars. This practice is called botellón (i.e 'bottling') and is often supplemented by ice cold beers sold by wandering Chinese immigrants out of specially adapted shopping trolleys.
- When you hear the locals discussing Afters they're not deciding on the dessert course, they're talking about clubs that start in the morning, like from 7.00am, and go on until the late afternoon.
- If you use the word clubbing in Spanish be careful in what context you use it - vamos clubbing has connotations of going to a bordel (i.e. 'sexy club') - which would probably be fun as well although doubtless hazardous to your credit card and your relationship with the gf / wife.
Fun Places To Go At Night
A famous and celebrated zone in Madrid, it used to be THE home of the trendy alternative scene, although now Chueca has superceded it a bit in terms of hip factor. Centred around the Bilbao, Plaza Dos De Mayo, Tribunal part of town, it's got a sort of Camden Town'ish feel but without the market or local chavs. Malasaña was the centre of the Movida Madrileña of the late 1970s and early 1980s so for many people who were young in that time it has a sentimental pull to it. 'Relaxed' would be the one word Madrid-Uno would use for this part of town. Grab a beer in a square terrace, smoke a joint, walk the dog, meet up with friends in the early evening, then drink late into the night at bars with DJs. The majority of places seem to play indie style music although you will get house, jazz, funk etc., plus a few heavy (i.e. heavy metal) and punk clubs too. Haven't seen any emo although there is a tinge of goth in the air.
Good bars and clubs to look out for: Nueva Vision / Freeway / Areia / Cafe La Palma / Tupperware / La Via Láctea / Démodé / Sala BarCo
This is the artistic / bohemian / gay quarter of town, so there's lots of trendy boutiques, hipster bars, modern restaurants, chic clubs, tranny / fetishist dives etc. Plus a weird agglomeration of evil grannies who wander around tutting at all the fashion weirdos. All the buildings round here are covered in graffiti, revolutionary posters and down with Dubya & co. stickers. Madrid's gay and lesbian community stages a large pride celebration every year in this area and partygoers from all across Europe descend on Plaza Chueca for a huge street festival, with numbers well into the hundreds of thousands. Madrid-Uno is an unrepentantly middle-class boy so is always slightly bemused and appalled when surrounded by shaven-headed, leather clad mincers and desperately fashionable metrosexuals but it's a good place to go at night if you wanna see Madrid at its most cutting edge.
- Opera, Sol, Gran Via and Las Huertas
This is the historic centre of the city. The area covers the 'West-End' part of town, roughly equating to the Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden triangle of London. Filled with tourists by day and night (especially Las Huertas), you've got theatres, cinemas, bars, flashy discos, live music venues, grand hotels, sex shops and lap dancing clubs plus street entertainers in some of the plazas (beware the Mariachi bands if you want a quiet drink!). A lovely area for terrace drinking and watching the wildlife go by is Plaza Santa Ana. Feeling sophisticated? Head for early evening warm-up drinks and bopping at Suite at C/. Virgen de los Peligros.
- La Latina / Cava Baja / Cava Alta
Not really a night clubbing area this is more for the 9.00pm to 1.00am period for eating (some absolutely wonderful traditional tapas bars in this zone) and meeting up for a few whisky cokes prior to going dancing. Plaza Cebada has some good bars and on Costanilla de San Pedro there is Berlin Cabaret which puts on drag queen shows at the weekends followed by dancing 'til dawn, although to be honest it's a bit tacky and a real cattle market.
- Salamanca / Recoletos
Quite a posh area and family oriented so it's not what you would call hip and trendy. Nonetheless, the full gamut of night-time entertainment is available in this zone, from discos for the jet-set and super rich to late-night local bars to Afters clubs - and reputedly one of the best bordels in the city, though Madrid-Uno wouldn't know anything about that...(cough, cough). This is where Madrid-Uno lives so lots of places are featured in the blog section of this website. One of the best streets to explore is General Pardiñas which, going from South to North, starts close to Goya and passes all the way up to Avenida de America, with all sorts of entertainment possibilities on the way. On Calle Hermosilla you can find Madrid's premier comedy club, La Chocita del Loro, which also features magician shows.
Good bars and clubs to look out for: Cherry Bar / Gabana 1800 / Rastatoo / La Casa de la Cerveza / Loft 39 / Restaurante Estay
- Chamartin / Arturo Soria
This area is very much your Chelsea / Knightsbridge kind of zone. It's the Madrid 'Sloane Ranger' type of crowd - city boys in Burberry, Lacoste and Ralph Lauren Polo shirts or suits from work, well manicured girls, don't forget to park your Porsche somewhere visible type thing.
Good bars and clubs to look out for: Club Moe/ FIAT / Monet / Black Star / Space of Sound (a Sunday 'Afters' club close to Chamartin station - an institution)
- Moncloa / Argüelles
This is one of the best places to go in the summer for late-evening terrace drinking and eating (try the Paseo del Pintor Rosales for some lovely open-air cafes) plus some nice post-prandial strolling opportunities in the Parque del Oeste. For evening window shopping you have the Calle Princesa and Calle Alberto Aguilera to keep lady friends occupied. This area is close to the Ciudad Universitaria (the university campus) and is a popular meeting point for teens and freshers in the evening.
- Nuevos Ministerios
Built up from empty plains as a deliberate attempt by the government of the time to expand the city northwards during the 1930s the area became the financial centre of Madrid after the transition and lots of modern skyscrapers and commercial complex developments were constructed in the 1980s. Nowadays, however, many of the international finance companies and banks have now moved to the outskirts of the city and this has left some of the malls and underground passages searching for other businesses so you have a strange mix of pub / clubs for city-worker singles and rather shabby latino-style discos. Lots of neon and chrome in this mixed zone.
Club Moe (or 'Acerca de Moe')
- What: Night Club / Bar de Copas
- Location: Alberto Alcocer 32,
- Summary: One of the best places for live Jazz in the capital (mid-week usually) and at weekends very groovy DJ's.
Presented on two floors this club is possibly the best bet if you're looking to go out in the northern part of the city. Open from 1800 and closing at 0530 in the morning Club Moe on C/. Alberto Alcocer, is an excellent choice if you're looking for something a bit laid back but with cutting edge music. The place is best known for its live jazz sessions (including pick-up jam sessions on Wednesdays) but on Friday and Saturday nights you get house DJs on the ground floor and soul-jazz-funk in the basement. There is also a sister club on C/. Santisima Trinidad.
One particular night that Madrid-Uno attended will live long in the memory. The DJ, Marcos Aretio = Markmus (at least, I think it was him) was SUPER AWESOME. Madrid-Uno danced for 4 hours straight, with great abandon, surrounded by equally delighted funksters, and several lady partners who just picked up on the groove straight away. The DJ cannot be praised enough. He played great, rare tunes which were excellently programmed and delivered top-class technical skills. Easily the best session this Englishman has had since he moved to this city.
Calle La Palma
- What: A street that criss-crosses the Malasaña part of town
- Location: One end starts at metro Tribunal the other at 'Conde Duque' street
- Summary: A calle full of fun and friendly bars, cafes and clubs + boutique shops
This is one of Madrid-Uno's favourite streets in the city because he's never had a bad night here. It's quite long and on a short visit you won't be able to visit every place on it but here are some of the best:
Other good places to check out on C/ La Palma: Aroma+ (cafe), Lola Loba (bar), Louie Louie (bar playing classic Rock n' Roll from the 50s and 60s mixed with rockabilly and rock-pop - great fun!), 47 (cocktails and tapas), Bar Jose, La Palmera (bar)
- What: Live Concerts / DJ Bar de Copas
- Location: C/. del Barco in Malasaña
- Summary: Terrific sound system, live concerts in an intimate but well appointed bar.
Open most nights it's best known for live concerts on the funky-jazz-blues side of things, with some flamenco fusion. But after 1.00am it's DJ time, playing laid-back funky hip-hop with a latin tinge (think De La Soul if they came from Rio de Janeiro). 8 euros to get in but you get a drink with that. The crowd is mostly 20s to 30s and cool. I mean this in the sense that there's no coke-heads (rare in this part of town) and people are dressed casually but fashionably. Plus, they dig the music, which again is rare because at times, and I say this with a deep love of the people, most Madrileņos are more interested in the sound of their own voice than the entertainment, whatever entertainment it may be. Can get absolutely rammed at weekends, which is a downer.
One major positive about this place is that it has the best acoustics and best sound equipment. The ceilings have been properly covered with sound insulation materials and the speakers, amps, mixing desks etc. are top drawer. Clear, crisp top notes, satisfying mid-range, profound and well formed bass - it really augments the experience.
Sala La Riviera
- What: Concert Hall / Discotech
- Location: Paseo Bajo de la Virgen del Puerto
- Summary: One of the best and largest concert venues in Madrid and good clubbing venue with an outside terrace during the summer.
One of Madrid-Uno's favourite DJs was headlining down at La Riviera tonight - Wally Lopez. Located down at the Paseo Bajo de la Virgen del Puerto this is one of the best concert venues in Madrid, with a most excellent soundsystem, although on the approach it can seem a little unprepossessing since the never-ending building works on the ring-road by the river Manzanares mean the surroundings are one big mess of dust and concrete. 20 Euroweenies entrance fee and once inside you are presented with a large oval shaped hall, with a bar in the middle set-up with palm trees and tropical plants. There are more bars around the side which are set into the tiered ledges (+ more tropical scenery - you feel like you should be wearing a flowery shirt and sandals) and Madrid-Uno takes a cerveza from one of these and takes a perch looking down on the main stage.
The warm up DJs are playing, Luque and Vitti, but they're not paying attention. Madrid-Uno hates it when a DJ turns his back on the audience and chats to his mates instead. With mp3's and CD mixing software the art of mixology is much simplified and anyone can drop a couple of tunes together, but there's still scope for playing around with the levels etc. and interaction with the crowd. These guys are taking the piss. Not good. Madrid-Uno takes the time to explore the place further and finds a smaller room playing more hard-housey stuff tucked into a corner by the stage. There's also more, err, naughty stuff going on in here and the strobes and UV pick out various sniffing and popping action. Let's leave 'em to it shall we? Mind you, the action back on the main stage isn't getting any better. The music is great, how Madrid-Uno loves 4 to the floor house, but we now have podium dancers, they're called the Demoniaques apparently, and they're thoroughly disinterested too. Why do clubs and promoters insist on employing pro-dancers? Don't they understand that the punters just think they're a bunch of annoying poseurs?
Eventually, by about 3.00 am, the main man appears. And proceeds to screw up the 1st mix when the sound levels drop very low. Wolf whistles ensue and he's quick to fix it but it's kind of symptomatic of the whole night. Even the reserved area on the main dance floor, where the VIPS get to sit, is rather pathetic - being just a cordoned off area where those who have the right tickets get to be stared at by the rest of us, and they still have to get their drinks from the public bars. LOL. Madrid-Uno gives up by about 4.30 am and is pleasantly surprised to find a hot food fry up stall operating just outside the venue. It's a bitterly cold night, the breath almost freezing when you exhale, but a generously filled bacon sarny for only 2 Euroweenies warms the insides and probably rates the best part of the evening.
In summer La Sala is transformed into a minimalist superclub (capacity for well over five thousand people) with outdoor terrace area and tropical gardens. Fancy a dance around a flower pot, love? Often features live gigs of latest English and American bands as well as top Spanish acts. Very popular in the summer for the late twenties to thirties disco boppers when it opens at midnight until 5.00am Tuesday to Sunday through the season.
- What: Warehouse Club
- Location: Out in the suburbs (you'll need a car or taxi to get there) - Avenida de la Industria, 72 -Cta. de Fuenlabrada a Moraleja de Enmedio
- Summary: Massive aircraft hangar converted into a 'super club' it's well known for attracting some top international DJs.
Rather than describe it, here's a clip of Tiesto playing Fabrik in June 2007. This should give you an idea of what it's all about.