‘So this is Colombia,’ I thought, after urinating into Minnie Mouse’ mouth and watching a clown, a little person and a woman with a painted unibrow dance on stage. Minutes earlier, we had celebrated New Year’s…in the middle of August.
So this is Colombia. More specifically, this is Dulce Jesus Mio, perhaps the most eccentric bar I’ve ever experienced.
For weeks, I’d been told about this strange place where they celebrate the New Year daily at midnight. Eventually, my gringo friends and I decided it was time to see what the fuss was about. We asked Colombian amigos to come along but they declined, citing the murky underworld of the bar. Apparently it is a hotspot for mafiosos and their very young lovers. While we did spot a load of elderly men with girls almost half my age (I’m 24), we didn’t feel at all intimidated during the evening. It’s more Looney Tunes than Goodfellas.
The bar is way up in Las Palmas, on route to the airport in the outskirts of the city. We shared a taxi up winding roads with striking views of the city lights. At our destination, more light awaited us. The façade of the building looks like some sort of Christmas nightmare. Familiar cartoon characters with laughing faces illuminated by neon lights are scattered among childhood souvenirs, such as model cars and a rocking horse. Surgically enhanced women in skimpy outfits greeted us at the door. It has an uncanny effect, the debauch atmosphere mixed in so blatantly with innocent childhood souvenirs.
We sat at a table with mountains of popcorn and crisps and bought a few rounds of drinks. A trip to the toilet prompted the most absurd part of my night. I found myself sharing a dream-like realm with strange men lurking around cartoon figures from times past. I wondered if Stanley Kubrick had been influenced by places like this or the other way round.
The toilets are full of further childhood references. Disturbingly, the urinals in the men’s room have large cartoon faces with gaping mouths. The toilet is Bugs Bunny. And tap water flows from crouching Wonder Woman and Batwoman. But the peculiarities didn’t stop there. As the clock struck midnight, fire displays and dancing troops kicked off New Year’s with a bang. It is the only time I’ve ever celebrated it in August. Not so, for the staff who go through the same routine every single night – it must scar them for life!
Round tables of drunks leered at the curious stage entertainment. A little person dressed as Super Mario danced awkwardly with a hairy woman in pyjamas, while a clown jumped up and down. The act is supposed to be a caricature of a typical small town from the area. Having been to a few quiet ‘pueblitos’ in the area, I can safely say that they bare very little resemblance.
Balloon hats filled the room and punters joined in the dancing, myself included. Games of limbo commenced and the whole room got to their feet to join in the fun. After a while it became a bit much for me, this space between heaven and hell. So I went to join some pals in the outdoor section for a quiet beer.
All in all, it was a pleasurable and enlightening experience. I’m not sure it’s somewhere I would go too often, but I would definitely recommend it for a one-off, crazy night that’ll stick in the memory. Or you could always stay in and watch The Shining for a pretty similar effect.
About the author:
Andrew is a freelance journalist who lives in Medellin. He holds an NCTJ qualification and worked as an online reporter for The Sun and several other publications before moving abroad. His passions are travel, football and languages – he speaks French and Spanish. He is constantly astounded at how much Colombia – and Medellin in particular – have to offer.
- Day Trips from Medellin: Guatapé and Santa Fé de Antioquia (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Things to do in Medellin (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- “Museo el Castillo” in Medellin (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- The Flower Festival in Medellin (www.uncovercolombia.com)