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City Guide: Bogota with Silicone Soul

Silicone Soul takes us through the lush cityscape of Bogota.
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Legendary Glasgow duo Silicone Soul has announced a smoldering fifth edition of their longstanding Darkroom Dubs label mix series. Inspired by the sudden freedom of summer, Darkroom Dubs Vol. V brings us up to speed on the underground sound and instantly distinctive signature they have spent the best part of 20 years honing and refining. We invited the duo to take us on a journey through the lush cityscape of Bogota, Colombia, for the latest installment of our City Guide series. You can grab the compilation on Bandcamp. They've also provided a free download for the mixed version, which you can find below. 

Words and photos by Craig from Silicone Soul

Craig from Silicone Soul

Craig from Silicone Soul

We all like a good drink, so where are the top spots to head to before a night out?

My favorite spot is Bar Dońa Ceci, located on Carrera 4 in the golden triangle of Candelaria. It's a local institution for day drinkers and late-night revelers. Part drinking den, part dive bar, it's a place where the beers are cold, and the tequila shots are fast. Don't forget the salt and the lemon!

Bar Dońa Ceci

Bar Dońa Ceci

Tequila shots

Tequila shots

Bar Dońa Ceci

Bar Dońa Ceci

If you fancy a more British-style pint, just across the road is BBC (Bogotá Beer Company). It's a popular chain selling craft beer and lager. I recommend sharing a Jarra (carafe) between friends. There are BBC's over the city, with even one in the business lounge of El Dorado airport.

Bogotá Beer Company

Bogotá Beer Company

Bogotá Beer Company

Bogotá Beer Company

Where can you find the best clubs / late-night venues in town?

Bogotá has many great clubs spread out all over the city, but there are plenty of taxis and Ubers, so club hopping is easy. For some serious nightclubbing, go to Kaputt in Chapinero. I played in the main room last month for the first time, and the vibe was fantastic - proper darkroom style. There are another four rooms, and the music varies from dark disco and indie dance to house and classics.

Kaputt with Silicon Soul

Kaputt with Silicon Soul


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El Coq is another favorite to hang out and DJ, located in the Zona Rosa district. It's a bar/club with a relaxed living room feel, and the decor is reminiscent of a French country house with friendly staff and punters alike. The music is laidback on a house/ nu-disco/ Italo tip, perfect for some early weekend action.

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Craig with Álvaro Cabana)

Craig with Álvaro Cabana)

The Core parties (Calle 27) are a big favorite for that proper underground vibe, and the after-hours are particularly special. It's almost like a private party set in a converted restaurant kitchen with a very open-minded crowd.

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Also, Asilo on Avenida Caracas is another Bogotá institution and is the perfect spot to start the night. Expect anything from new-wave and post-punk to disco. They serve half bottles of liquor, perfect for sharing a Jack Daniels or two amongst friends!

Asilo

Asilo

Brunches are a weekend staple, which spots stand out to you?

In Bogotá, it’s all about the lunch (almuerzo) rather than the brunch, and I love the traditional menú ejecutivo which is available in restaurants all over the capital and is similar to a Spanish menú del día. My favorite spot is Doratto Restaurante, tucked away on Carrera 5. The staff is friendly, even if you’re struggling with your Spanish. Expect a two-course meal, starting with a soup (usually a sancocho or cuchuco), followed by meat or fish, accompanied by rice, salad, fried banana (patacon), and sometimes croquettes or fried yuca. I find it hard to see past the trout (trucha) or the mojarra (similar to red snapper). Muy Rico!

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Doratto Restaurante

Doratto Restaurante

Doratto Restaurante

Doratto Restaurante

If you have the opportunity in Bogotá, try ajiaco, a soup made from chicken and potatoes typically served with corn on the cob, chopped avocado, capers, guasca (herb) and a drizzle of sour cream. Soup is a popular breakfast after a heavy night in the discotecas, with even a beef rib soup (caldo de costillas) nicknamed levantamuertos (wake the dead).

Ajiaco

Ajiaco

Best dirty late-night street food option?

It has to be El Pastorcito on Calle 60 for tacos al pastor, prepared in a Lebanese shawarma style, perfect for the pork lover looking for a post-bar room snack. I highly recommend the vampiro with a crispy fried tortilla or the cerdo al pastor with pineapple.

El Pastorcito

El Pastorcito

El Pastorcito

El Pastorcito

Where can we shop for records and music memorabilia in Bogotá?

Discos Paradisco (Carrera 6) is a record store I try to visit at least once per trip. They have a wide selection of vinyl and a cool listening bar and radio station. You can find anything from Disco-Edits and House to Electro and EBM, and it's a great place to hang out and enjoy the sounds.

Discos Paradisco

Discos Paradisco

Uptempo rhythms are everywhere on the streets of Bogotá, so if you're in the mood and looking for more traditional Afro-Colombian, Caribbean sounds like Cumbia or some classic Salsa, try La Galeria Del Coleccionista on Calle 18. They have an astonishing collection of rare vinyl and vintage memorabilia from the golden age of Latin music like Fania at Carnegie Hall in their 70s heyday.

La Galeria Del Coleccionista

La Galeria Del Coleccionista

Your Sunday escape plan when you need to get away from it all?

I would head for Lake Guatavita around 1 & 1/2 hours from Central Bogotá for fresh air and nature. The lake was the inspiration for the legend of El Dorado and a sacred ceremonial site for the indigenous Muisca tribe who threw in gold objects. Centuries later, there were many failed attempts to drain the lake and find the lost city of gold. 

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Something everyone should do when visiting Bogotá, but probably hasn’t?

There is a neighborhood (Las Nieves) where all the shops are dedicated solely to selling music and recording equipment, sound systems, and making repairs. It is a paradise and a buzz to stroll around. Every lead, connector, and part you could ever need. I had a Technics SL-1210 and a speaker repaired in a workshop, with a skill that's been sadly lost in most other cities these days. 

Las Nieves

Las Nieves

Las Nieves music shops

Las Nieves music shops

A track that reminds you of the city?

It's one of our own, "Fahrenheit 625," named after the number of the apartment I was staying in. The track brings back some great memories of some wonderful times!

What are other great exports that come from Bogotá?

It has to be the music culture. It's no coincidence that Colombia is called the land of a thousand rhythms.

A gift you can’t leave Bogotá without taking home for friends?

I always try to bring back a bottle of aguardiente for friends. It's an anise-flavored liqueur made from sugar cane and served in a shot. Lovely! 

Grab your copy of the release here.

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