Centro Plazarte: A Cultural Exchange of Talents

Centro Plazarte
Samba away...
Centro Plazarte
The open courtyard where the acts are held

I’ve discovered a secret, a place away from the masses and crowds of people. A place where music and art comes together to create the perfect ambience. A place where only locals know (until now that is)…

So where is this secret place?

Tucked away in a historic neighborhood, the Centro Plazarte in Medellín is a cultural center developed to revive the area.

What makes it even more special is its architecture. More like a house than a theater, this 1930s abandoned mansion with Roman baths and a gorgeous courtyard has been transformed to maintain the city’s architectural heritage.

Centro Plazarte
An old Roman bath

For such a small venue, the diversity of arts here is very big. From poetry evenings and authors’ excerpts to Thursday movie showings with the best of the arty films.

Any form of expressing art is welcomed and experiencing a gig here is the most intimate venue I have found in Medellín.

From composers and guitar players to theater performances and electronic DJ’s, you can be guaranteed that there is something for your taste.

French musicians and a Brazilian band were just two of the acts lined up for the next month.

Centro Plazarte
A fusion of art

There are even art exhibitions too, showcasing the talents of budding artists, though the artwork of the building itself is enough to want to come and see.

Secret corners, dimly lit, create intimate spaces to chat and catch up with friends. Plus, there’s a bar where you can grab a beer or coffee.

Centro Plazarte
One of the cozy corners

With the clientele looking more like members of a youth club when I first entered, I was dubious about how the evening would unfold. And then… the people came, one by one until the courtyard was full with no less than 25 people, all eagerly waiting for the intimate gig to begin.

But we were on Colombian time, and as we patiently anticipated the evening’s events, I took the time to speak with the manager Mauricio Bevavides to find out more about this cozy little place.

The center was founded by Mirtha Burbano, and is one of only two spaces in the Prado area of downtown which opens at night.

“This house is everyone’s house,” Mauricio says with a warm smile. “It’s a house for the artists and a collective culture. People from all over the world come here from Iceland, New York, England, Spain, Mexico and Chile. It’s a cultural exchange of talents.”

And as the evening continued, I understood completely what he meant.

First up were three hip hop dancers who took to the stage, and just a few feet away from me, busted out their moves across the floor.

Then Big Boy Crazy took the stage with the MC shouting his name. Normally being a salsa-kind of girl, I found myself hand pumping the air to the bass coming from the amazing sound system.

Even though I had no idea what they were rapping about (these guys sing pretty fast), the hip hop actually sounded pretty professional and I was impressed when they showed their music video to accompany their new track.

Centro Plazarte
Getting down with some hip hop

Then, with a very long break in-between (this is Colombia after all), it was time for some drumming. Steel drums and instruments made from bottles from the musical Stomp were brought out to the stage and then the magic began…

Energetic, with a dance routine to match their beat, the place blew up and you couldn’t help but get caught up in the electrifying atmosphere.

Who needed to pay $50 for a theater ticket when you had this theatrical performance in front of you for just 10,000 ($5), including a free beer.

Playing pipes, old gas cylinders and swinging legs across the drums were just part of their act and even the hip hop dancers were dancing to the fusion of the samba and funk beats.

Centro Plazarte
To the beat of the drums

And then we were transported to the Rio carnival in Brazil, and treated to a dazzling display of samba. There wasn’t one still person in the house.

In white costumes and matching trilbies (hats) and feathers, this 10-plus group were just as energetic as the last.

Dancers in skimpy sequined costumes swayed their hips and danced amongst the intimate crowd as the tempo got faster and hotter.

Centro Plazarte
Samba away…

Was there anything these people couldn’t play?

From a group act of blowing whistles in unison to tapping of their bodies, they really knew how to put on a show.

Then as it all came together with the mix of hip hop, samba and funk, and as stars twinkled through the open courtyard above, I knew that I had found a special place.

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  1. Thanks for this Lisa. I have been to Centro Plazarte a few times, usually to watch films. People have always been very friendly and it seems to attract a wide range of users, very diverse and pleased to see the occasional expatriot. Usually the organisation of events is a little slow and you’ll struggle to find a cold beer, so better to visit the corner shop close by. The house is interesting and gigantic and if it were anywhere else would have been gentrified, sold off to developers and turned into spacious apartments. I suspect that some time in the future this part of Medellin will become desirable but for now it feels a bit sketchy and varied – I have never had problems but it doesn’t feel as safe as Laurales for example. Definitely worth liking their facebook page to keep up with their occasional events – a bit tricky to find and locals are not too aware of it.