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Costa Rica's Best Dance Clubs: Cut Loose and Chill Out



With so much to offer by day, Costa Rica also has dance clubs worth staying up late into the night for, too. Club Vertigo is the probably the hottest venue in the capital city of San Jose, consistently hosting an impressive roster of guest DJs from around the world and inspiring dancing into the wee hours under the club's soaring ceilings. Costa Ricans flock to the floors Miraflores, where each room plays a different music style. Fun awaits at El Pueblo, a colonial Spanish style landmark stretch of restaurants and clubs in San Jose- Club Twister is one of the best dance clubs. On the Caribbean coast, find Johnny's Place, a long-standing establishment on the beach in Puerto Viejo de Limon, for the best dancing late night - it really gets going after midnight and draws a casual crowd to a bumping dance floor- not for the faint of heart. The water's edge glistens steps away, and candle lit tables and chairs in the sand offer refreshing respites from the dance floor. A mellower scene is found at the Lazy Mon at Stanford's. Sundays after sunset, a live jam night begins that has become the best place to gather and dance to local and traveling musical talents.


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El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte


What was once a modest establishment for artsy types has become one of San Jose's trendiest spots for all walks of life, especially the young and hip set, who flock to El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte for the scene, the bar, and the live music, which is on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. One section of the old Costa Rican style house that was remodeled back in 1985 has been fashioned into its own little bar, called La Esquina, which is a nice place to tuck into an appetizer like green plantain ceviche or the Cuartel salad, and sip on one of the 200+ cocktails on the menu.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Dance with a well-heeled crowd at this chic San Jose club.

Sophia's expert tip: Don't forget the dress code, El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte is a hip place to see and be seen, and jeans and flip flops will not be tolerated. Get there early to nab a seat at the little bar, La Esquina.

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The Lazy Mon at Stanford's
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


If you've made it to Puerto Viejo, you must visit The Lazy Mon at Stanford's, day or night, before you leave town, and in which case, you may decide to extend your stay. The Lazy Mon is a casual beachfront- as in you can go for a dip in between drinks- bar with a laid-back nightlife that's inviting to all walks of life. Live music is on Sundays and whenever local reggae and calypso bands pass through town, and otherwise there's plenty to look at if ping pong's not your cup of tea. Two for one cocktails at happy hour are a nice way to spend the sunset, and if you stay, you never know what kind of harmless trouble you may get yourself into, but it's all in the name of la pura vida.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Dance to the beat of your own drum, or theirs, at this laid-back lounge.

Sophia's expert tip: Kick off your shoes and maybe even get your feet wet at this favorite beachfront spot for sunset and happy hour.

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Johnny's Place
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


Johnny's Place is Puerto Viejo's longstanding, landmark dance club. This beachfront spot has been the place to sway, bump, and grind for more than a decade, and it looks like it's here to stay. The digs are the epitome of non-descript, and by day it's hard to imagine the scene that unfolds in the beachfront establishment after dark. Johnny's Place is right next to Puerto Viejo's little police station, but that doesn't stop it from being a hot spot of debauchery. Roots, reggae, and dancehall beats make for good times, decent drink prices keep the party hopping into the wee hours.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Johnny's Place is Puerto Viejo de Limon's original dance club that still rocks.

Sophia's expert tip: Snag a table on the sand and watch the lights twinkle on the water before you step inside. Depending on the season, some nights are designated Ladies Nights for special hours when men are not allowed in and drinks are specially priced, or free.

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Sometimes a college crowd is just what the doctor ordered to get you in the mood to celebrate. Just a bit more than a stone's throw from the city center, Terra U is in San Pedro's bustling Calle de Amargura, and is the most popular spot among the local university students looking to dance and party. It features live DJs spinning Latin and reggae music into the early hours of the morning, and when the place gets crowded, which it often does, find fresh air on the patio overlooking the street. The bar serves decent munchies to soak up the sins of the night.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Good DJs and decent munchies make for fun times at Terra U.

Sophia's expert tip: Like most hotspots in Costa Rica, make sure to get there early or you risk not getting, or fitting in. This is a good budget option for hanging and dancing with friends.

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El Pueblo is one of those quintessential Costa Rican tourist destinations that fits many attractions under one red adobe roof; there are restuarants, shops, and dance clubs within this Spanish Colonial style complex, and any time of day or night there is bound to be some hustle and bustle, and the crowd is mixed. Young and old, Tico and tourist come to El Pueblo to dine, dance, and shop for souvenirs of Costa Rica. It's not until after 10pm that the dance clubs really get started, and then there is a wide variety of music to choose from, and sometimes live DJs.

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If you really want to dance in San Jose, Castro's is the place. The music ranges from salsa to reggaeton to electronic trance selection, though it's always upbeat and focuses on latin music and moves. From its humble beginnings as a little hideaway bar to its expansion in size and stature, Castro's continues to feel like a good old fashioned latin disco. Action at this classic discoteque is spread throughout different rooms and thre levels, each with parquet wood dance floors perfect for showing off fancy footwork. Lots of couples come to Castro's together, but singles will have no trouble fitting in alone or finding a partner to swing and sway the night away with. It's not a fancy place, but sometimes folks get dressed up, and you definitely won't see flip flops and t-shirts, unless they've slipped past the doorman. True to its traditional roots when Costa Rican dads and grandads used to come to dance, Castro's still offers little snacks with drinks, and a quiet corner may be found to catch your breath between numbers.

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One of Puerto Viejo's most popular spots to party after dark, Cafe Mango, formerly called the Sunset Bar, has maintained its old-school vibe and infused new life into this open-to-the- ocean-front beach shack. Inexpensive drink specials such as $1 Tequila and Guaro shots, rotating DJs, and free cocktail hours for ladies have kept Cafe Mango on the local nightlife map. This is a fun and very casual place to have a few drinks, mingle with locals and tourists, and dance. Flip flops are de riguer, costumes are encouraged, and pretentions don't exist at Cafe Mango; expect to make friends and have fun, if not fall in love.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Drink specials and great DJs get the dancing started after dark.

Sophia's expert tip: Cafe Mango is a good place to drink on the cheap and party with a young and casual crowd of locals and tourists.

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Just when Puerto Viejo was in need of a little more night music, Bar Maritza has stepped up to the plate with a remodeled interior and a shiny new facade, bringing life after dark to the otherwise quiet stretch of beachfront it occupies. Maritza is attached to the front of a hotel of the same name, and encompasses a long wooden bar, a dance floor, and several cocktail tables. The theme is black and white, and it works nicely with the rainbow of disco lights that make this one of the best places to get your groove on in Puerto Viejo.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: One of Puerto Viejo's original bars still draws some fancy footwork to its cozy dance floor.

Sophia's expert tip: Seek out little beachfront Bar Meritza for the best dancing and drinks after dark.

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Miraflores Disco Club has been the hottest spot to dance and party in the otherwise subdued suburb of Heredia, a short ride from the capital city of San Jose, for more than forty years. This legendary dance club is only open on the weekends from Friday to Sunday, from 9pm to 6am. Hi-tech lasers, plasma screens, and s state of the art sound system enhance the experience, and two DJs spinning dancable electronic and Latin mixes keep everyone at Miraflores Disco Club on his toes. Two bars serve thirsty patrons, and a newly installed kitchen means you can satisfy cravings for a midnight snack and work up an appetite for breakfast on your way out.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Dance and party all night long to Latin and electronic rhythms.

Sophia's expert tip: Ladies Night once a week (usually Wednesdays) means the fairer sex get in free from 9pm to 12am.

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Club Vertigo will have your head spinning and your feet moving in no time. With expansive dance floor and high ceilings, Vertigo is the ultimate party spot in San José. This popular dance club features special events throughout the year with skilled DJs spinning the hottest house, techno, and hip hop music. Although it's located in San Jose's business district, Vertigo's modern rave atmosphere makes for an out of this world party experience. As one of the leading clubs in Central America, Club Vertigo has hosted some of the best parties with the world's top DJs and has recently undergone a major makeover including a brand new state-of-the-art sound system.

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Meet Sophia LaMonica

On Sophia's first trip to Costa Rica, she came face to face with white-faced monkeys, gasped at the sight of giant purple crabs, and rode horseback through plunging waterfalls. Costa Rica...  More About Sophia

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