Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Lisbon Venue Guide - No 1: Bar Lounge

I'm afraid today's blog isn't going to be very easy to write for two reasons: firstly I am in a state of extreme excitement - two of my favourite bands are coming to Lisbon in the next few months, December will see both The Dodos and Public Enemy coming to town! Secondly - in my continuing war with the cleaning lady in this office (which started because I persisted in making coffees just after she had cleaned the coffee machine) she has now upped the ante by deliberately turning the spacebar on my keyboard upside down. It took me a while to fix but I have done so in the end but it's not as good as it was, it's loose and clicky and she knew this would put me off my rhythm.


On to the business of the day which is a description of the bars, clubs and artistic spaces in, and around, Lisbon where you strangers to the 'scene' might like to enjoy some ear candy.

I start things off with quite possibly my favourite little place in Lisbon, Bar Lounge.

For those of you who know Lisbon reasonably well you will be aware that the nightlife (at least what might be called the 'popular' nightlife) is concentrated in a few locations, primarily Bairro Alto, Santos and riverside. This lively little club stands perfectly placed between these three areas, a short walking distance from all three yet provides, in my eyes something quite different. BA has an amazing atmosphere with dozens of tiny bars but they're often often so small that they simply provide a counter to buy drinks from, the streets are crowded and lively, but they're not really places to go to dance, or even really to listen to music (with a few exceptions that I'll come to later in this series). The riverside bars often have big dancefloors but can be pricey (both in terms of drinks and cover charge - although if there is a cover charge you usually get it back in drinks) and the clientèle can be a little posey. And Santos, this is the place to go if you like cheap beer and young kids.

Deceptively large Lounge provides some of the coolest dance/electro nights in Lisbon with DJs whose skills are invariably impeccable. The space also provides a venue for live acts, both local and visiting who will usually play before the DJs come on. One of the real bonuses of Lounge is that unlike most of the places in BA there is actually room inside to listen to music and dance as well as providing some space outside for people to congregate and drink (a Lisbon tradition that I'm still yet to adapt to - I'd much rather be near the music). The other important quality is that you don't have to pay for the privilege of having somewhere to dance, the drinks aren't the cheapest in Lisbon but they're not going to break the bank either.

Lounge is a great place to people watch and the crowd seem particularly musically savvy. The nights are pretty varied with a great eclectic mix of acid, techno and house nights combined with some more experimental nights and if you're lucky enough to catch Mario DJing you don't know what you'll get (last time I saw him I got Dolly Parton, Devo and the theme from cheers). There is also a monthly newcomers night where the bright young things of Lisbon can try their hands at the decks, a night, which for some mysterious reason, I have yet to be invited to participate in!

Lounge has now become a regular feature of my weekends out, placed usually between drinks in BA and dancing to the wee hours in Lux but it provides a great night out by itself, the bar staff and DJs are friendly there is a pretty young crowd (but not too young) and great music.

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