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You don't have to experience 5 days of Carnaval to know that Panamanians are party-loving people. When the sun goes down, Panama City lights up with a vibrant scene that caters to all ages, interests, and levels of stamina. Nightspots are concentrated in four neighborhoods: Bella Vista also called Calle Uruguay , the Amador Causeway, Marbella Calle 53 Este , and Casco Viejo, but underground dance clubs pop up across town like mushrooms, and can be best found by asking your concierge or checking out the Weekend supplement in Thursday's La Prensa newspaper.
Also try the Calendar at www. Visitors should be aware that Panamanians are more open-minded about sex than Americans. Prostitution is legal in Panama, and therefore it is common to see prostitutes not just on seedier streets and in brothels but in the nicer parts of town such as El Cangrejo.
They're also often at hotel-lobby bars, or employed by one of the many "anything-goes" massage parlors across town. Government authorities demand a weekly health check for all prostitutes, among other regulations, but cases of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are swiftly multiplying in Panama.
Theater tickets can be purchased by calling the theater directly, or you can buy tickets at Blockbuster locations and at the bookstore El Hombre de la Mancha or Exedra Books. The guild normally produces contemporary dramas and comedy with a mix of native English speakers and Panamanian actors trained in English-language schools. Classical music productions, plays, and ballet take place at Panama City's turn-of-theth-century National Theater, on Avenida B in Casco Viejo, but shows are infrequent. This cultural center was founded to promote and develop the art of theater in Panama, and they receive acclaim for their nightly performances of well-known plays and children's theater.
Check www. The historic Teatro Anita Villalaz tel. The nightclubs listed below open at 10pm but don't really get going until midnight or later; during the first hours of operation, however, nightclubs typically offer drink specials. Ladies' night specials are a bargain for women, giving them free drinks and entry. Nightclub partiers tend to dress smartly for the occasion, so don your slinkiest or sharpest outfit or risk being refused entry or just feeling out of place.
For schedules, call or check La Prensa 's weekend supplement. Differentiating between a bar and a nightclub can be difficult these days in Panama City because so many bars have live DJ music, occasional live music, and maybe even a small dance floor and chill-out lounge. Happy hours are the norm here. Office workers spill into bars after work for their 5 to 7pm happy hours; the best deals, however, are at bars that cater to late-night revelers: To reel people in before the late crowd, these bars offer happy hours from 10pm to midnight, and even free drinks usually for women.
The Amador Causeway is an up-and-coming nightlife spot, with new bars and restaurants opening monthly. As a nightspot, the area tends to draw groups of friends, and an upscale, older crowd. The Wine Bar has the same offerings as their El Cangrejo location, but with a better view located at the Brisas del Amador area. At the end of the Causeway, within the Flamenco Shopping Plaza, are a handful of bars, dance spots, and live-music venues such as Traffic Island, with Latin music and cocktails, and a windswept veranda with city views; or try Bar Baviera, the Ancla Sport Bar, or Karnak.
These nightspots are all next to each other in an American-style minimall -- you could head here and stroll around until you find something to your liking. Closer to the city and the Figali Convention Center is Las Pencas, with live music on weekends and folkloric presentations every Wednesday at 8pm. Bennigan's Irish Grill at the end of the Amador Causeway is also a well-known nighttime hotspot with Panamanian's and foreigners alike. Panama is a mostly Catholic country and although the gay and lesbian scene here is not underground, it is discreet.
There are a couple of clubs in the city that operate without much fanfare, and attacks, raids, harassment, and so on are thankfully not very common. For a calendar of gay and lesbian events, check out www. There are few, if any, venues or events directed at the lesbian-only scene, yet lesbians are welcome at gay venues.
Early arrivals can take advantage of happy-hour drink specials. The largest gay dance club is called Glam: The Club tel. To get here, you need a taxi; the club is at Tumba Muerto in the Urb. Gambling is legal in Panama, and virtually every major hotel in the city has an ading casino.
You'll find slot machines, video poker, gaming tables, sports betting, and special shows and parties. The Veneto has a sophisticated gaming area and often hosts over-the-top parties such as E! Entertainment's Wild On. There is a sushi bar here, too. El Panama Hotel has one of the newer centrally located casinos, which offers cheap drink specials for women.
The Sheraton Hotel and Convention Center hotel has a large, elegant casino, but its out-of-the-way location means it's really only visited by guests. The bar here, though, is popular with young Panamanians. Note : This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
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