“Hey man, where is the party at tonight,” I ask him in Spanish.
“Well, you can go to Lala’s, then to Cima Club, then to 4 Brothers,” he tells me while deftly weaving through traffic and pedestrians in his taxi.
I asked him knowing the answer, but I had new friends in tow who were keen on experiencing nightlife on the coast, and I was eager to confirm what I had been bragging about.
The night started off good at Lala’s with drinks and dancing with new acquaintances from the next table. We moved on to Cima where the Socca music was ringing and the dance floor spread all the way to the front of the bar. A little after midnight the last few hardy souls from our group decided to head to the famous 4 Brothers ranch.
4 brothers has been around as long as anyone can remember. Supposedly there are only two brothers left, one died in the 90’s and one died ten years prior in the civil war. And the ranch has been open far longer than that. 4 brothers isn’t just a local reggae dance hall, it is an institution on the coast, Nicaraguan famous and a must-visit if you spend a Saturday night in Bluefields.
But…why? It is nothing more than a wood-plank building with a palm-leaf roof (rancho in Spanish, ranch in Creole English). Show up late Saturday night, pay the door man C$10 to enter and you will find out. The first thing that strikes you is that it is dark…very dark…inside. The only illumination comes from a small television behind the bar and a string of red Christmas lights over the back wall. Along the sides are long benches with tables placed in front and a few scattered chairs facing the dance floor. Beyond the bar in the back you find one of two bathrooms just outside and a small patio with reclined benches for cooling off or just to catch a breather. Back inside, when the latest Dancehall Reggae hits start to spin, you find the big floor is often dancing-room only, which means everyone has just enough space to bend over and grind to the rhythm of the music.
Visitors to the coast are ill-advised to leave without dancing with a local in a ranch. The females often shake what god gave them as if to take away the guy’s virginity, only to walk off when the song finishes because the intimate moment on the floor was no big deal. And, after all, it is just dancing, right? Guys can be forward, often taking the lead and pulling their partners close, grinding slow, then jumping back to show off fancy footwork or to admire his partner’s sexy moves.
The vibe that makes 4 Brothers famous is hard to describe…the club feels dark and dangerous, but the atmosphere is usually electric and thumping.
Check out this clip to hear what has been filling the floor recently: