La Platea: Jazz, Salsa, and Rock in Casco Viejo, Panama
In a rennovated Spanish colonial building across from the Union Club in Casco Viejo you can have your pick of jazz, salsa, or rock music Thursdays through Saturdays at La Platea. Saturday night the bar was rocking around 1 am to the strains of the Queen stadium anthem "We will rock you" and the second set did not end until close to two. The space in front of the band was jammed with dancers, tables were full and it was standing room (or dancing room) only. If you are interested in bolero that just started on Wednesday nights. La Platea has been open for three and a half years and has become a must for those interested in good music in the city.
If you want a seat for the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday music at La Platea show up a couple of minutes before 10 pm or think ahead and reserve a table. The music starts at 10:30 pm and La Platea is jam packed by 11:30 pm. We went for the rock 'n roll Saturday night and were pleased to hear a very solid band (Undercover) with a strong electric bass beat, eclectic riffs on electric guitar, a professional keyboard, and a lead singer whose vocal performance electrified the room. There is a restaurant, S'Cena upstairs so you can eat there before the show or you can order from the bar menu and have food brought down.
The Platea has a mostly 30 to 60 year old Panamanian clientel with a sprinkling of North Americans of similar age. And, the Platea is a bar. When I left tfor Panama the first time a friend told me to have a mojito for him. I finally got around to this arduous task at the bar at Platea Saturday night. The bartender in the Panama hat, the wait staff all wear Panama hats, entertained us with shaking and tossing the mixture of rum, lemon juice, and crushed mint leaves before serving my $6 Mojito and my wife's $6 Bacardi cocktail. Cocktails range from $6 to $8 and the cocktail list includes you choice of sunset redbull, Manhattan, piña colada, deep blue (vodka, lemonade, curacao), and a dozen more. A cold Balboa costs $3 at the Platea.
Although the clientel is predominantly Panamanian-North American a collection of foreign currency on the back wall at the bar attests to large number of other nationals who have frequented la Platea. We left la Platea a little before 2:30 am promising ourselves to return on Thursday the night to sample the jazz. The bands are different each week. La Platea does not have a house band.
Web Site: www.scenaplatea.com