What makes nightlife in Metro Manila interesting depends on one’s interest and taste, including, of course, the people that one goes out with.
But if a club, bar or restaurant (most of the time they serve all three functions) would be measured chiefly by the live music it offers, here then is a random list of the places that kept us raving, dancing, or simply wide awake into the wee hours this year.
Aruba (G/F, Metrowalk Commercial Complex, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City; tel. 6364702). Holding court every Wednesday is the electrifying Hammilan Pavoreal, whose band Milan plays upbeat ’80s classics. The bar and restaurant boasts of yummy crispy pork tenga and beef salpicao; its greatest asset is manager Jokz Aquino, who personally attends to everyone’s needs like a perfect host.
19 East (Kilometer 19, East Service Road, Sucat, Parañaque; tel. 8376903). Every respectable band wants to play there because the audio system is heavenly—meticulously set up by 19 East owner and musician Wowee Posadas. The club and restaurant sits on a hill overlooking Laguna de Bay—the ambiance in the garden outside is so cool it makes one linger long after the show is over.
Balete@Kamias (175 Kamias, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City; tel. 0917-7565708). This old house has become a home to the country’s group of top session musicians, the AMP Band, with maestro Mel Villena at the helm. The orchestral sound of jazz standards as well as pop and rock hits is so groovy it makes us dance like we are at a high school party.
Martinis (Mandarin Oriental, Makati Avenue, Makati City; tel. 7508888). Arguably the best hotel bar in the city, if only because it features The Blue Rats, a band that plays blues and jazz with elegance. Martinis also serves tasty Margherita pizza and fine red wines.
Strumm’s (110 Jupiter St., Bel-Air, Makati; tel. 8954636); ’70s Bistro (46 Anonas St., Project 2, QC; tel. 4343597); Conspiracy (59 Visayas Ave., QC; tel. 4532170). What these three clubs have in common is the will to survive and keep the faith in showcasing the best of Filipino musicianship—be it pop-jazz bands at Strumm’s and folk-rock acts at ’70s Bistro and Conspiracy. Trends come and go, but these three seem likely to live on.
URBN Bar & Kitchen (3/F, Fort Pointe Two Bldg., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; tel. 0917-5649333). Dance music (disco to baby boomers) is all the rage, and URBN is one club that we won’t think twice of going back to, because the crowd seems to drop all pretense outside the door.
Cheers to a more exciting nightlife next year!