Ever celebrated happy hour in a castle? Well, at After Office you can, and you won’t even need a special security clearance to do it. Just make sure to leave your flip flops at home if you want to cruise past the event’s ice queen receptionists. Casual dressing is a capital offense at After Office.
Photo by Kendal Montgomery
Every Wednesday evening about 1600 Santiaguinos, and a good handful of foreigners, make their way up the picture-perfect stone steps of Castillo Hidalgo nestled atop historic Santa Lucia hill to attend After Office.
Anyone can enter this party (as long as you follow the dress code of no jeans and mandatory dress shoes) but for free access you’ll have to find yourself on the VIP list.
Sounds complicated and pretentious? Well, it may be pretentious, but it’s certainly not complicated. Just find one of the many After Office promoters in attendance. They love to meet foreigners, so with one slip of your foreign accent you will probably be recruited to a promoter’s VIP list. After just a quick exchange of contact info, you’ve got your in. However, if it is your first time there, be prepared to pay the non-VIP cover of CP$5,000 to $10,000 (or US$9.89 to $19.77).
Part of the fun of going to After Office is getting there. Spruced-up partygoers congregate near the entrance of the Santa Lucia park at the bottom of the hill, waiting for a shuttle to the top. Squished arm-to-arm with strangers, the free ride up the hill will make you feel like a giddy 7-year-old on a field trip. Alternatively,you can walk up the hill, but the cobblestone road can become a treacherous assault course for those ladies in heels!
Unlike most Santiago events, partygoers arrive at After Office somewhat early (between 7 and 9 pm) to sip cocktails on the castle’s romantically torch-lit terrace, the sounds of an idyllic stone fountain punctuating the convivial mingling. It is movie-set perfect.
Drinks there can be expensive by Santiago standards (CP$4,000 or US$7.91), but arrive early enough and often you will find two-for-one and early bird promotions available for around CP$2,000 (US$3.95).
At about 9:30 pm guests head into the multi-tiered castle—which was originally constructed as a fortress—to get the party started. The VIP section on the top two levels has an alluring ambiance, the exposed stone walls and marble steps reminders of the old-world surroundings. White leather couches splayed throughout the VIP add a modern twist but without the cold impersonality of most clubs. It’s fortress chic.
The main dance floor is in the middle of the building. Go there to get down with the slightly less elitist crowd and dance shrouded in the masses. Or kick it in the elegant foyer on the bottom floor. It has a classy bar that offers a low-key respite from the top floor’s movers and shakers.
If you’re like me you’ll love the mix of karaoke-tastic pop and dance hits they blast at After Office. If you’re like some of my friends you’ll tire of getting hit on by egomaniacs on the prowl, but brave the flurry of suitors in the name of cultural exploration. But if you’re like most people who go to After Office, you’ll just want to have fun and meet new people in a unique and beautiful setting.
Whether you love it or hate it, you’ll be sure to remember glitzy After Office.
When: Wednesdays from 7 pm to 1 am
Where: Castillo Hidalgo – Santa Lucia 299; Santa Lucia hill
Metro: Santa Lucia
Cover: CP$5,000 to $10,000