Nightlife & the Arts in Santo Domingo

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Santo Domingo Nightlife

Santo Domingo's nightlife is vast and ever changing. To get up to speed, check with concierges and hip capitaleños. Get a copy of the free newspapers Touring ordr1guide ( www.dr1guide.com)—available free at the tourist office and at hotels—to find out what's happening. At this writing, there is still a curfew for clubs and bars; they must close at midnight during the week and at 2 am on Friday and Saturday nights. There are some exceptions to the latter, primarily for clubs and casinos in hotels. The curfew has put some clubs out of business, but it has also cut down on the crime and late-night noise, particularly in the Zone. You will also see a lot of action on weekends at the neighborhood colmados (grocery stores that can serve beer and rum) and at large liquor stores, where you can also buy chasers, plastic cups, and ice. The party goes on in the parking lot, with car stereos providing the music.

In the city's casinos the action can heat up, but gambling here is more a sideline than a raison d'être. Most casinos are in the larger hotels of Santo Domingo, and they all offer slot machines, blackjack, craps, and roulette. With a few exceptions, they are generally open daily until midnight (2 am on Friday and Saturday). You must be 18 to enter, and jackets are required at the chic casinos in the capital. In Santo Domingo, several upscale hotels have casinos: Barceló Gran Hotel Lina; Meliá Santo Domingo; Hispaniola Hotel & Casino (attracting a younger crowd); Renaissance Jaragua; and the Hilton Santo Domingo.

Dancing is as much a part of the culture here as eating and drinking. As in other Latin countries, after dinner it's not a question of whether people will go dancing but where they'll go. Move with the rhythm of the merengue and the pulsing beat of salsa (adopted from neighboring Puerto Rico). Among the young, the word is that there's no better place to party in the Caribbean than Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial. Cover charges on Friday and Saturday can range from free up to $20, which usually includes a drink or two.

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