Young People Are Now House-Hopping, Because Going to Bars Is Too Expensive


Remember when you used to bar hop in Las Mercedes in the early 2000s? Well, kids nowadays are doing something similar, only that now one must bring everything, including the ice and cooler. Chamos are now house-hopping with a drink in one hand and an ice box in the other.

During our college years, we partied at night clubs. This statement sounds obvious, but remember, this activity today is reserved for people with bodyguards and incomes in dollars, euros or pounds.

Back then, you’d park in a relatively safe street of Las Mercedes and “safely” bar hop from a nightclub to the other. If you went to Centro Comercial San Ignacio, the infamous “CSI”, you would take only five steps between tugurios. The biggest concerns for ladies were wearing comfy shoes and dodging — à la Matrix — the drunken advances of disoriented guys. For dudes, it was really all about the ladies and where to park.

Good old shallow Caracas with its wannabe first world problems.

Back then, gatherings at houses were reserved for the predespacho, to get a few drinks in your system before heading out. Although “bring your own bottle” (BYOB) was always appreciated, hosts were stacked with a full bar. Remember, these were the years of subsidised Scotch.

A junior analyst at Carlos’ and his friends host Bring Your Own Cava (ice box) Parties: every guest or group must bring their own ice, glasses, liquor, sodas and snacks.

However, as the economic crisis and crime epidemic accelerated, many came up with new ways to party. Some clubs went bankrupt, or relocated abroad. Partying in Venezuela is expensive and dangerous.

This was the beginning of the Una Parrillita en la Casa Era.

A friend with a relatively big house and a grill would invite you over for some parrilla or choripanes and beer. BYOB was encouraged.

We went from “I’ll provide snacks and you bring whatever you want to drink” to “let’s buy everything and split the bill” — and even further, to “keep the bottle for our next party” and “I’m taking my bottle with me.”

The scene for younger generations kept evolving.

A junior analyst at Carlos’ office told him that he and his friends host Bring Your Own Cava (ice box) Parties: every guest or group must bring their own ice, glasses, liquor, sodas and snacks. And if you have another party in your agenda, you take your ice box there too.

If you think about it, the bring your own cava party (let’s call it “Lacava Party”) is not just a reflection of the crisis; it’s clear evidence that Venezuelans are doing their best to keep each other company.

Evidence that Venezuelans don’t give up.

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  1. The difference in ages and generations. The Las Mercedes I lived in had no bars, no nightclubs, only a single Tolon (hamburguesas, papitas fritas, lisas) where the enormous CC sits today, a quiet place with red tile floors, light-colored wooden chairs with thin foam seats covered in a white faux-leather, open air. The only commercial places were a put-put miniature golf place, and the CADA just before the bridge. All of Las Mercedes was single-family houses with neat front yards, and a few apartment buildings. I can’t remember if they had stop lights along the Avenida Principal. We “friend-hopped” from house to house … now it seems like friend-hopping is back in vogue. Plus que ca change, plus que ca devien la meme chose.

    • It’s a shame that Las Mercedes became a commercial area. it was such a beautiful neighborhood. I was a kid when it started changing from mostly houses to restaurants, I can’t imagine how it looks right now.

    • We lived in that Las Mercedes for a while, until just after the 67 Quake. Mid 70’s it started the process to what it is today.

  2. I live in Marcaibo 38 years old, i was in college 20 years ago, and always partied at my friends house because bars and discos were really expensive, it was a once or twice a year experience.

    • Most of the parties we had at college age were at friends’ houses. Much less expensive to do a bring-your-own, and not a problem to get 40 of us together in one party. A disco would have freaked if we tried to make reservations for 40 people on a Saturday night, even if we did coordinate, and find places to park. They might have told us to get 10 more parejas and they’d reserve the whole place for us! Heck, a good record player, turn off the lights for candles, and bingo! – you have your own disco (parents included).

  3. A point of protest: bar hopping as I understand it does not involve either shopping malls, or valet parking, and what Caracas lacked during the period you refer to was exactly that: an inexpensive, informal, accessible, street level bar scene where a variety of people could randomly intersect at night and have fun at all hours. I suspect, thought I don’t know, something like that did exist in Caracas once, maybe in the 1970s and 1980s. I know I sound like a jerk, but CSI struck me as the most depressing place on earth to have a drink, while the ruins of another era of social life around Sabana Grande was rendered too dangerous.

    • What the fuck are you talking about?

      Sabana Grande wasn’t dangerous pre-Chaavez.

      Yeah, you do sound like a jerk, but what else is new?

      • Ira, it appears to me that half of the solution to your consistently misdirected and overblown feelings of anger is a pair of reading glasses.

    • Back in the 80’s, geologists and engineers had to go, for a month, to PDVSA headquarters for training. I was in my early 20s and used to walk that boulevard, by myself, at night and felt perfectly safe!

    • Bar hopping back in the day usually meant a car, given that there really wasn’t a “bar scene” per se at the time.

      Sabana Grande always was a bit risky at night, but by and large it was a pretty cool place to have a drink at the many sidewalk cafes that used to exist there.

      Plenty of great places, but my favorite was a little salsa dive bar called EL Mani es Asi, right by where the boulevard began and Chacaito ended.

      You might be in there on Saturday night at 2 am and all of a sudden Oscar D’Leon or Ruben Blades would do a set with the house band. It had like 6 tables and a small stage but man the music was good! Plus, the management were hardliners when it came to drugs, the slightest suspicion someone was up to funny stuff and they were bounced out lickety split. Kept the place sane that way…..

      • I went to El Mani a few times before it closed. I could imagine a whole neighbourhood of places like that in some distant past, but when I went it was just a tiny island of friendly fun in a tricky area to be walking around at night. Great spot though.

  4. “The biggest concerns for ladies were wearing comfy shoes and dodging — à la Matrix — the drunken advances of disoriented guys. For dudes, it was really all about the ladies and where to park”.

    What a misandristic little rampage there! As an insidious experiment, let’s flip it over into its misogynist counterpart, just for kicks:

    “The biggest concerns for gentlemen were paying for the expensive drinks for drunken sifrinas and finding good parking. For chicks, it was all about flirting to get free drinks from the gentlemen, and flashy shoes.”

  5. This article is ridiculous. I grew up in a middle class family (4 bedroom flat, pool, live in cleaner, etc) in Venezuela and was there from 1982-1993 (aged 11 to 22). Going to bars was out of the question -I could not afford it- most of my peers at UCAB could but then again they were more affluent. Note, we were not poor, just that spending money in bars was not possible for me or many of my friends with our allowance. My eyes roll over when I read stories like this from clearly well-heeled people that extrapolate their statistically insignificant personal reality. What did we used to do? Gather at our friend house or by the pool, play domino and drink our own beers there. Las Mercedes every weekend? Yes sure if you grew up in La Lagunita, Prados del Este, La Castellana or Caurimare.

    • You didn’t have a clue then. I was in the Cafetal/Las Mercedes/Bello Monte areas those years, and would spend all night bar hoping, then out to a party or for some Reina Pepiadas or Pollo Rivera, often ending in the infamous “Dog&Fox” for some pathetic pool games.. We would mix the bars with “gasolinear por la Cota Mil”, home stops at friends houses for the occasional spliff and snack, then back out all night. A few beers plus tip were easily affordable back then. We had what most teenagers there had, not much, a meager allowance and a Fiat Uno, a beat-up Dodge or Ford, or the parent’s SUV to share.

      Not to mention those nights around La Calendaria, awesome Tapa bars with live music and all.

      • I insist I could not afford it – question how did you afford this? Where you a teenager and working? Or was daddy bank rolling all the fun? (For me hands up, the little money i had was my allowance) Just asking – its fine some people had a good time but dont extrapolate your small universe into some pan-adolescent we all had a good time bar hopping myth.

      • I remember that Las Mercedes was beautiful to go to during Christmas. And between 1988 and 1989, there was a franchise American steakhouse on the major strip/street.

        Damn, can’t think of the name now.

        • I think it was Outback Steakhouse. It was there at least until the early 2000s, if I recall correctly. Probably gone now.

    • Well, I was looking for a video of Las Mercedes and found this: There is an overhead picture of it, and a lot of other photographs, too, from all over Venezuela, in the 1950’s. It’s almost eight minutes long, and I don’t know who can get it or not. There are a lot of photos and stories that may surprise the jovenes de edad, si no de espiritu, aqui. It was probably done by someone loyal to Perez Jimenez, but I know some people here who will really like / hate the ending moments of the presentation – Ulamog especially, since the Cuban influence and orchestrated chaos … well, the video tells the story and leaves little doubt. (This is not just nostalgia, this time. I’ll nose around some more for the vid of Las Mercedes for Capa1010.)

  6. I won’t stop to read the whole piece since the FB post summed it pretty well, and it has a specially vexing point that I HAVE to gainsay:

    “…these were the years of subsidised Scotch”

    It’s funny to note how prevalent has become that chavista language that equates “subsidy and thus gubmint’s help” with “buying power”

    People could afford Scotch, sodas, meat and all that other “rich boy shit” in previous years not because they were “subsided by the wondorous socialism”, but because the bolívar had an actual worth to buy any crap in the country, worth that was destroyed as a GOAL of the cuban invaders because that way people would be mired in extreme poverty and could be controlled through the regime’s monopolies.

    • “People could afford Scotch, sodas, meat and all that other “rich boy shit” in previous years not because they were “subsided by the wondorous socialism”, but because the bolívar had an actual worth to buy any crap in the country…”

      Isn’t it the same? The bolivar had an artificial value due to govt subsidy through the exchange rate and other measures. Venezuelans were living in an economic bubble funded by the govt and when oil money ran low the bubble collapsed.

  7. “Evidence that Venezuelans don’t give up”

    Giv’em the whole damn country, but at least leave me with my travellin’ Cava.

    • Yeah, they sure don’t “give up”. Either they join Chavismo as Enchufados in countless “ministries’ and shit, by the millions, or they leave the ravaged country first chance they get, also by the millions. Why do people have to constantly defend and find excuses for the “bravo pueblo”, always the innocent victims? They are more often than not highly complicit if not outright culpable and deserving of Klepto-Cubazuela’s debacle. Not all, of course, but most, so cry me a river and deal with the cavas.. Be glad you’re not in Haiti or Syria yet, they ran out of cavas and bar hoping too.

  8. House partying for some time has been in vogue, without even the hopping, frequently with sleeping over until daylight–not even for the lower cost, but for the DANGER of being anywhere on the streets of Caracas at night.

  9. I know this blog is for free and as Francisco said, we should not complain if we do not pay, but seriously, this is the most pointless post I have seen in months.
    Staying indoors because of crime is indeed a tragedy only shared by few other countries but for the rest, seriously…a lot of young and not so young people do the same even in countries that are not at the bottom.

    What we need to talk about is all the rest.

    And as a suggestion also: who are the SEBIN, how many are they, whay kind of support they have from abroad, what is happening with the GN, etc

    • Exactly Kepler, obviously Falson dropped some dollars the way of the Arepa (at Dicom III rates).

      Nevertheless, what is going on inside of the military is a huge question right now. This whole thing could fall like a house of cards at any time, while the Falsonistas are are playing to the tune of their fiddle: “dude, wheres my caña”. Public finance, demoralized inept institutions, PDVSA bond payments, a crumbling infrastructure, geopolitics/international pressure and what is going on inside the military are the big stories right now.

      Obviously there are lots who go straight to the comments section to know what is going on in Venezuela in English. Furthermore, we have lots of “informal reporters” (some actually boots on the ground in Kleptozuela, others with experience in oil/gas or finance) who contribute for free (and anonymously) and we cannot discount those informal contributions as well.

      That said, Naky does a good job on keeping us informed on the headlines and I like the articles on the Petro, or any article that is backed up by economic data and statistics. …When you have great articles and great comments– that is when greenbacks will start to roll in.

      • Guacharaca – I don’t mean to be disagreeable, but I think CC does a good job filling in gaps in news coverage.

        The way I read CC is that it covers many different and important aspects of actual life in Venezuela. People complain that the “news” is all about murders and fires and other horrible things. CC gives a real life perspective on what “statistics” mean to the individual, and that gives a sense of what people who live there go through every day.

        What they put up with is almost inconceivable to people in the U.S. – we get conditions like that during and after big storms (empty supermarket shelves, no water, no gasoline, no electric power, scarce repair crews), but we know the causes and things get back to functional normal within days, insurance covers costs, and when we get incompetence like New Orleans after Katrina, we raise hell about it. Things like driver’s license renewal take maybe an hour (and it’s a pain in the neck here, too), and passport renewal can be done easily by mail in two weeks. No matter how much you try to study a country and imagine what it will be like to go there, you have to be on the ground to see how things work. In my opinion, CC covers some of that aspect of things, and you don’t get that from the “news”.

        I’d love to read a CC headline like “Maduro Crashes: Regime Over”. And the rest: AN takes control appoints interim president schedules elections for July CNE replaced TSJ returns from exile peace on the streets OAS Almagro calls for IMF and IMF responds medicine shipments arrive. And part of the reason is we know what it’s like now.

        I’d still like to see someone come up with an article analyzing agriculture in Venezuela, comparing past production with present production, giving numbers on arable hectares and what farmers needs are. That’s “too dull” to be news – until one is hungry and there’s no food.

        Just my two cents.

  10. I used to own the biggest nightclub in Puerto la Cruz, 96-01. In Puerto la Cruz the night scene collapsed in 01 when authorities allowed people to gather in streets and parking lots to drink. Music and a cooler were enough, heck, girls in high heels brought to dates on the street. In a span of three months all the nightclubs closed, then the talibans started to decree dry Easter Week, dry Carnival, dry Christmas and the market never recovered.


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