Casco Viejo, Panama City’s Hot Spot

Published Date Author: , October 28th, 2013
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You don’t need much time to process what’s going on after the elevator door slides open onto the rooftop at the Tantalo Hotel in Panama City’s Casco Viejo neighborhood. If you’re heading out during the day, the mind-baffling proximity of Panama City’s expansive, modern skyline across the bay from the hotel, which is itself surrounded by anachronistic, red-tiled roofs will trigger your camera finger instinctively. It almost looks like a real-time Photoshop job with Casco Viejo’s colonial homes and churches flaunting themselves before the dazzling array of 21st-century skyscrapers.

The Tantalo’s Rooftop is one of the best spots to capture on film the depth of the city’s old-world/new-world character, and maybe catch a few rays while doing so. After dark this is one of the city’s most lively rooftop lounge/bar/clubs. Which is where I found myself one night, next to a very sexy, gay Honduran medical student. I had been relaxing in my room a few floors below without much of a plan and decided to go on a far-flung adventure…to the roof. As soon as I walked into the club, Ismael Ortiz, The Tantalo Hotel’s nightlife coordinator spotted me and made sure I didn’t have to wait for a drink, a perk guests at the hotel will enjoy at the packed bar. Moments later, I was talking with the Honduran and his sassy group of Panamanian friends, no doubt intrigued by my finesse at quickly acquiring a beer. “Look at the view. Listen [to] the music, the crowd is so, what you say, cosmopolitan and fun,” one of them tells me, “This is where we take our friends when they come to Panama City.”

The Tantalo Rooftop isn’t a gay bar (nor is the hotel specifically queer), but it didn’t take a sociologist to figure out that there were plenty of gay guys and their female friends sprinkled about the place. The first thing I noticed upon arrival was that a classic Pink song had just been seamlessly mixed into a La Roux jam–an aural equivalent to pasting a gay-friendly rainbow sticker to your front door. (Later, the tunes went hip-hop, then reggaeton and a bit of classic NYC house). Besides, it’s the newest property from one-time Fire Island Pavilion developer Matt Blesso.

Authored By Matthew Bell – See the Full Story at Passport Magazine

Click here for gay travel resources in Panama.


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