The focus of Quito’s nightlife is La Mariscal, particularly the streets north of Wilson between Juan León Mera and Diego de Almagro, which are crammed with small, steamy disco-bars and clubs pumping out high-decibel dance music. It’s not all ear-shattering volumes and seething dancefloors, though; plenty of bars are geared more for drinking and chatting and others put on live music, often Cuban, rock, jazz and especially salsa, which is played almost exclusively in the ever-popular salsotecas, while peñas specialize in live folklórica (traditional folk music).

Most places tend to be fairly quiet through the week, totally packed Thursday to Saturday, and closed on Sundays. Bars are usually open from 8pm–3am, while clubs stay open from around 8 or 9pm until around 4am or longer, but often only from Thursday to Saturday. Although cover charges are usually minimal, some disco-bars and clubs have a small cover, which sometimes includes your first drink; others may have a consumo mínimo, meaning you have to spend a specified amount at the bar, usually the price of one or two drinks. Remember to take a taxi when travelling around Quito at night.

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