La Santanera Playa del Carmen

Playa player

Photography: Bennett Sell-Kline for

There was only pop music and raves at Playa Del Carmen before La Santanera. Now the club leads the way in the party city

Beachfront fun was very different when La Santanera opened its doors in Playa del Carmen, in Acapulco, just over 10 years ago. Most of the party places there were run-of-the-mill. “There were no alternative places to have a good time around here,” says Alejandro Gamez, owner of La Santanera. “Most of them played nothing but very mainstream pop. The only other option was nearby raves, but they only played trance or progressive house.”

La Santanera manages to be kitsch yet sophisticated, a bit sinful, very playful.
Alejandro Gámez

Enter Gamez, who bet against the house and instead made his La Santanera a place of electronic dance music, which at that time was just breaking through. His club was unlike anything in Playa. “We created a funky setting on an open-air terrace, with a dancefloor inside that feels more ‘underground’. ” La Santanera manages to be kitsch yet sophisticated, a bit sinful, very playful, with a Caribbean vibe. People instantly loved it, and it changed the musical culture of the city. It remains one of Mexico’s top clubs. “We try to be one step ahead,” says Gamez, “and people really respond to that.”


© Foto: Bennett Sell-Kline for


La Santanera newbie: Here’s what you do


The owner recommends to dump the margaritas and go for the really good stuff: “Mezcal Papadiablo straight,” says Alejandro Gamez, “and maybe a beer as a chaser.” 


“People often try to impress by dressing up. Here, that won’t cut it,” says Gamez. Instead, he suggests to be true to yourself and “then everyone will notice you.”


Because there are people from all over the world here, the all-time classic “where are you from” is a cast-iron conversation-starter. “Also,” Gamez says, “be kind and have fun.


That mezcal got to you?

Try three typical Mexican hangover cures



Maybe beef tripe soup doesn’t sound too great now, but this very spicy and heavy broth filled with soft meat and served with tortillas has magical powers. 

© Photo:



The pepper broth made with corn, meat (usually pig’s backbone), oregano and radish is an extremely popular cure for all ailments, especially alcohol-related.

© Photo:



You can’t go wrong with tortilla chips, very spicy sauce (green or red chillies; as long as it burns) and protein, like fried eggs or chicken, all covered in fresh cheese. 

© Photo:

Read more

Next story