No visit to Venezuela is complete without a visit to Caracas, and no visit to Caracas is complete without Saturday night at El Maní es Así, a veritable institution of Latin American salsa.
Called El Maní (the peanut) for short, it is simply one of the greatest salsa clubs on planet earth. Located in the heart of Caracas in Sabana Grande, nearly every taxi driver can take you there. It’s Metro accessible, but you’ll need to take a cab back, since the Metro shuts down before the party does.
Admission to El Maní is usually free, and the crowd is diverse and friendly. Get there early to nab a table. The caraqueño nightlife custom is to purchase a bottle of liquor (with mixers) or mini keg of beer to reserve your table for the night. The waitstaff is attentive and quick, so tip well! The place is full by 9 pm, but the dance floor always has room for another couple.
Top Latin American salsa bands perform there every weekend, and even party goers without skills will be tempted (and invited!) to dance. Don’t worry — someone will offer to teach you the steps. The rhythm is hard to fight, the rum is superb, and the house lights will come on before you know it.
El Maní is a great place to see the real Caracas, and a wonderful place to fall in love — with Venezuela, of course!
Check out this great photo montage of the club with music by salsa legend “la voz” Héctor Lavoe.