Welcome to Perro Negro, the Colombian temple of reggaeton

(This article can be found in our special issue “Cities, everything that vibrates”, on sale from May 29 at your newsagent and on our site.)

Everywhere, bodies stuck together, clumped together. There seems to be a lot going on on the darkened dance floor. Friends pass around a bottle of strong alcohol and drink straight from the neck while singing the lyrics of the great reggaeton classics at the top of their lungs. A couple of young people in their twenties dance sensually; they exchange a kiss then smile at each other. We see that they are in love. A handsome, tall, muscular young man makes the girls dance one after the other. She’s the star of the evening. A young girl has been dancing barefoot for at least two hours in a corner. Nothing seems to be able to stop her: she moves as if there is no tomorrow.

Suddenly, the DJ changes the song, the lights come on and hundreds of people take out their phones to record the scene: the moment they have been waiting for has arrived. They sing at the top of their lungs, in unison with Bad Bunny: “Vi que te dejaste de tu novio, baby me alegro. Let’s celebrate in Perro Negro” (“I saw you got rid of your boyfriend, baby. That makes me happy. We’re going to celebrate at Perro Negro”). The crowd is frenzied with a thunder of shouts. Bodies rub against each other. Young people jump into the air and hug their friends. The alcohol is flowing freely and it’s complete chaos.

Full every evening

Welcome to Perro Negro, “the temple of perreo (a sensual dance style from reggaeton), according to Alejandro Cardona, its owner and founder. Despite its small size (according to the owner, the dance floor is only 100 m²), this Medellín nightclub has become, in recent years, a legendary place for reggaeton fans. In fact, one of the leading figures of the genre, the Puerto Rican Bad Bunny, released a song that bears the name of the disco with Feid, an artist from Medellín. Alejandro Cardona says he cried with joy the first time he heard it. “It was already full every night, but with this song we reached another level,” he says with a smile.

At first glance, there is nothing particularly remarkable about Perro Negro. Hidden in the basement of a commercial building in the Provenza district, one of the most touristy in the capital of the province of Antioquia, the nightclub occupies a damp and austere space with a capacity of no more than 250 people. . There we find a “very small” dance floor, as Alejandro Cardona describes it, as well as two bars, some tables, a DJ booth and a lighting system “pretty cool”. That’s all.

With this minimalist decor, you would think you were in a Berlin discotheque rather than a Latin American nightclub frequented by reggaetoneros the most famous in the world. That’s exactly how the owner imagined things:

“I am passionate about electronic music, but, as I come from Medellin, reggaeton has always been part of my life.”

He thinks what gives Perro Negro a unique touch is the fact that it combines the vibe of electronic parties and respect for reggaeton – a genre that has taken the city by storm in recent years. “There is this incredible density of energy,” he says.

A feeling of freedom

It is this energy that Laura comes to find there

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