San Juan ’s hippest nightclub scene revolves around electronic music and reggaetón, and there are any number of clubs devoted to the forms. Old San Juan’s veteran nightclub is Club Lazer (251 Calle de la Cruz, 787/725-7581, www.clublazer.com , Wed.–Sun. 10 p.m.–3 or 4 a.m.). The three-level 1980s-era disco complete with a light show is popular with both gays and straights. The hottest DJs spin here, and Sunday is reggaetón night.
The hottest new dance club for the young techno crowd is Milk (314 Calle Fortaleza, 787/721-3548, www.myspace.com/clubmilkpr , Thurs.–Sat. 10 p.m.–5 a.m.). The narrow, two-level spot sports a chic minimalist look, and patrons are expected to dress to impress—no baggy jeans, baseball caps, flip-flops, sneakers, or tank tops allowed. DJs spin all night long, and there’s great people-watching from the balcony. Reservations required for table service.
Raven Room (305 Recinto Sur, 787/667-9651, www.ravenroompr.com , Wed.–Sat. 10 p.m.–3 or 4 a.m., $7), formerly Oleo Lounge, is a popular new club for the 21 and up set featuring minimalist decor and DJs spinning everything from the latest dance tunes to hits from the ’70s and ’80s.
The Noise (203 Calle Tanca, 787/724-3739) is a white-hot club in a former house in Old San Juan , where reggaetón keeps the beat going until the wee hours. Popular with the 18–21 crowd.
Blend (309 Calle Fortaleza, 787/977-7777, Tues.–Sat. 5 p.m.–3:30 a.m.) is a chic restaurant and lounge centered around an indoor patio and dramatic wall fountain. Local and touring DJs spin all forms of techno.
Another popular late-night bar for the casual bohemian crowd is Galeria Candela (110 Calle San Sebastian, 787/594-5698 or 787/977-4305). The space is a hipster art gallery by day, but at night DJs spin into the wee hours.
If you need a place to rest your feet and just chill with a cool beverage, there is a wide variety of bars, both casual and upscale, where you can actually have a conversation, at least in the early part of the evening. The later it gets, though, the more crowded and louder it gets.
Although primarily an Indo-Latino fusion restaurant, Tantra (356 Calle Fortaleza, 787/977-8141, fax 787/977-4289, www.tantrapr.com , Sun.–Thurs. noon–11 p.m., Fri.–Sat. noon–midnight) turns into a late-night party spot for the hip and trendy after-dinner crowd who flock here for the sophisticated ambiance, the creative martinis, and a toke or two on one of the many hookahs that line the bar. The kitchen serves a limited late-night menu.
For something completely different, frozen tropical drinks and old kitschy decor create the perfect place for a shopping break at María’s (204 Calle de la Cristo, no telephone, daily 10:30 a.m.–3 a.m.). The tiny, pleasantly seedy bar primarily serves a variety of frozen drinks—piña colada, papaya frost, coconut blossom, and so on (with or without rum). Avoid the pedestrian tacos and nachos ($3.75–7) and check out the cheesy celebrity photos behind the bar. If the dark, narrow bar is full, there are a couple of tables in the back.
Looking for all the world like an old jail cell, El Batey (101 Calle Cristo, 787/725-1787, daily noon–4 a.m., cash only) is a barren dive bar covered top to bottom with drunken-scrawled graffiti and illuminated by bare bulbs suspended from the ceiling. There’s one pool table and an interesting jukebox with lots of jazz mixed in with classic discs by the likes of Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone. If you order a martini, they’ll laugh at you. This is a beer and shots kind of place.
The barred windows and garish orange exterior don’t offer much of a welcome at Krugger (52 Calle San José, 787/723-2474, Thurs.–Sat.), but the word is that this loud dive bar is the place to go for karaoke.