Madrid nightlife is a pretty serious phenomenon. This is one of the few cities in Europe where you can get caught in traffic jams in the early hours of the morning when the clubbers are either going home or moving on to the dance-past-dawn discos. As with everything madrileño, there is a bewildering variety of nightlife venues. Most common are the discobares – bars of all musical and sexual persuasions, whose unifying feature is background (occasionally live) pop, rock, dance or salsa music. These get going from around 11pm and stay open routinely until 2am, as will the few quieter cocktail bars and pubs.
For discotecas, entry charges are quite common (€5–18), but tend to cover you for a first drink. Free passes can often be picked up from public relations personnel who hang around in the streets outside, in tourist offices or bars. Be aware that many discotecas are fairly ephemeral institutions and frequently only last a season before opening up somewhere else under a different name, so it’s a good idea to consult listing magazines La Guía del Ocio, Metrópoli, esMadrid or the website clubbingspain.com for the very latest information.