Standing in a puddle, purchasing tickets through a grated window, one hears the muffled sounds of percussion and brass inside the adjoining building. The night is cold with a steady drizzle but the soul emanating from within Galpón Victor Jara is unmistakable.
Tonight El Galpón happens to feature a gypsy festival, but it could just as easily be a reggae or cumbia show. As a venue, Galpón Victor Jara is known as a popular live music and performance space within the heart of Barrio Brasil, looking directly out onto Plaza Brasil itself.
After passing through a stripped down entryway, an even more spartan (yet welcoming) space is found. Vaulted ceilings and gray-painted plywood walls enclose the large and dimly-lit warehouse-turned-dancehall. Multi-colored lights adorn both a bar to the left and a matching merchandise booth to the right. Pisco is the equivalent of US$ 4 (CLP 2,000), wine a bit less, and beer half that amount.
It is almost 11:00 p.m. and despite a respectable crowd, the party has not yet truly begun. People dance tentatively as one of the opening bands plays from the dancefloor, leaving the actual stage vacant. There is a general air of good feeling; fellow concert-goers are friendly and a stranger may even request a sip of wine, offering to return the favor later.
People begin dancing in earnest around midnight, concentrated around small mountains of jackets scattered about the smooth concrete floor. Energy increases with each successive band, resulting in a bona fide dance party as the headliner takes the stage to properly finish the concert.
The remainder of the night is a haze of dancing and laughing set against a backdrop of good music and cheap drinks. For a first-timer, Galpón Victor Jara proved to be memorable, and the destination is now firmly entrenched on the list of Santiago must-see’s.
Thursday through Saturday offers the best opportunity to see live music at Galpón Victor Jara. Shows typically cost US$ 8 (CLP 4,000) and begin around 10:00 PM. El Galpón is located three blocks from Metro Cumming at Huérfanos 2146.
By Michael Sun