Dating in Cali and Colombia: Best Practice and Tips

in Culture/Dating

Boys are easy and a dime a dozen in pretty much any place I have ever visited. On top of that, most girls already know how to find and play a man under most circumstances. It’s like they were born with a natural instinct giving them the upper hand in the dating game. We men are different. We are like dogs, waiting to be let out of a hot car. Excited, unfocused and with a poor strategy, we just look for the nearest fire hydrant to relieve ourself. In other words, (many) guys do need a little bit of advice before playing the game in a new culture.

This article is for the boys, revealing what I found to be best practice for dating in Cali – a city that I’d argue is home to some of the most pretty and feminine women in the world. And really, it doesn’t matter what kind of women you like, because Cali has such a diversity in its population, that you are guaranteed to find someone you like: The northern European look with blond hair and blue eyes – check! A latina brunette, with dark brown eyes and mocca colored skin – check! Black beautiful women with green eyes – check! Indigenous girls with dark brown skin, petite bodies and black hair – check! Heck, Cali even has a big population of Lebanese, which means you can find your Arab princess here as well. The only women you’ll be hard pressed to find here are Asians – but hey – hopefully you didn’t come to Cali to pick up an Asian woman, when there’s a billion of them to be found across the Pacific?!

And here’s the best part. Out of a population of roughly 2.5 million, Cali has about 100.000 more women than men. Try doing the math: Most beautiful women in the world + an oversupply of them + rock bottom prices for living here (especially if you’re earning dollars) = unbeatable combination!

But, don’t get fooled into believing that your pale skin, blue eyes and gringo accent will get the job done alone. The days where promises of a US or European passport will get you laid are long gone (in most cases). Many Caleñas are well-educated, have high self-esteem and are very well aware of their attraction and appeal to foreign men. It will take more than that a few cheesy comments and a cold beer to impress your date. But do not despair. Although the culture here is different from what you might be used to, having fun on the dating scene in Cali is far from impossible and with a few of the tips listed below you’ll improve your “luck” considerably.

Places to meet women in Cali

Cali is known as the capital of salsa, and for that reason, many foreigners believe that the salsa clubs represent the best places to meet women. This is a big misconception. Although Caleñas LOVE to dance and the art of dancing will improve your odds, the salsa clubs can be a very poor choice for meeting girls. Here’s why… Caleñas go to salsa clubs to dance and for that reason they almost always go with a partner. It could be a friend or a co-worker, but in most cases it’s a date, boyfriend or husband. Latino men are as a rule of thumb very jealous and the Colombians are not exception, so making your move in a salsa club could be disastrous. Even if it’s a birthday party with a bunch of friends, a Latin man does not like for the party to be invaded by strangers. The only time I would recommend that you try chatting to girls in salsa clubs is when they are in the company of other girls or gays.

If you do insist on meeting girls at salsa clubs in Cali, I suggest checking out Tin Tin Deo or La Topa Tolondra, places that are more relaxed and where it is more customary for everybody to dance with everybody. Tin Tin Deo is great on Thursdays with free salsa classes starting at 8pm and La Topa is a great option on all weekdays, when the rest of the city is fairly quiet.

The following places I have found to be full of single women, many of whom are happy to meet new people:

For some reason the rock ‘n roll themed bars attract a lot of women that go out in groups. My favortites are El Faro Pizzaria Bar (in el Peñon or on Carrera 66), Bar Martyn’s, Bourbon Street or La Estación,

MiKasa Bar is another place that is often packed with a young and very beautiful crowd. The bar is informal and the theme changes almost every night. This is one of my favorite alround bars in Cali.

For the younger males visiting Cali, the small and cheap student bars located around Universidad de Santiago and in Parque del Perro are great places to strike up a conversation.

Especially Penélope Martini, but also Absenta and Malecon are good spots in El Peñon – go there for happy hour on Fridays just after work, and they will be packed with local jetsetters.

Several of my friends have been able to invite the waitresses working at Hooters in Granada out for a date. Go on Wednesdays, when they have a 2×1 special on wings. Juan Valdez coffee shop, also in Granada, gets packed almost every day with pretty people between 4 and 6 in the afternoon.

The bars in Chipichape and Unicentro shopping centres are not my favorites, but many expats that I know, swear that they are among the best places in Cali to meet girls.

Local festivals, El Petronio Alvarez, which takes place every year in August, and La Feria that starts December 25th bring out LOTS of local talent and what better event than a festival to strike up a conversation?!

Gyms have always been a great place to meet people, and the early Saturday / Sunday hikes up to the 3 Crosses have resulted in dates for several of my friends. It gets packed with fit and pretty women of all ages.

As a final note, don’t waste time on traditional dating sites. If you’re too shy to start a conversation face to face, then use the Tinder app. It’s the new online meat market and is rumoured to be very effective indeed.

Conversation starters

If you speak no Spanish whatsoever, it should come as no surprise that you will be disadvantaged. It does not mean that you should give up though. As a rule of thumb, the more expensive the venue, the bigger are your chances of meeting women who speak English or even French. The reason is that many wealthy Caleño families send their kids to bilingual schools and the girls (and boys) that do speak English are usually eager to practice it. A little Spanish will get you far though. If taking classes is out of your budget, then try duolingo.com – it’s a free service, where I learned all of my basic Spanish. Works on any computer, smartphone or tablet. Highly recommended.

Security is still an issue in Colombia and for that reason many girls will be hesitant to talking to strangers on the street. Foreigners seem to be an exception, as they are not perceived to constitute a threat, but still, do not get offended if a girl does not want to talk to you on the street.

One thing that I’ve found to be true all over the world, is that making friends with local boys can be a great advantage. Not only is it usually way easier for most men to start conversations with other men, but once they know you, they can introduce you to local women. This way you will have already become an accepted member of the group and the conversations with the women will be way easier start. They may even actually start speaking to you first out of curiosity.
A few tactics for talking to the boys.. Fútbol (soccer) is loved by everybody here and always topic to be discussed. When the national soccer team is playing La Avenida 6N turns into one massive street party. It’s a crazy place and if Colombia wins it gets even wilder. Bring a national soccer shirt and celebrate with the locals. If Colombia is not playing, then games with América, Deportivo Cali, Chelsea (Falcao) or Real Madrid (James) are also good options. All bars will be showing the games. Don’t get into a heated argument about soccer with a Colombian. Calling them VERY passionate about the game is an understatement.
Other places to make friends with local men is couchsurfing.org or any of the bars/places listed above.

There are plenty of websites dedicated to the art of picking up women. If you are totally lost for words and don’t know where to start, I suggest that you teach yourself a few bar tricks or card tricks by watching how-to videos Youtube – they are easy conversation starters and most people like the engagement and challenge.

Don’t be afraid to have a waiter or bartender send drinks to girls on your behalf. Or even better, deliver them yourselves.

If you can dance, then you are way ahead of the game in Cali. Asking a girl to la pista (the dance floor) is an immediate conversation starter. Just make sure you’re not asking somebody else’s woman out. ¿Hola! Quieres bailar? Simple as that.

Dress nicely. Most Colombians do. You’re not in Koh Samui and flipflops, tanktops and sweaty armpits here are a huge turnoff here.

Smile! – And remember that the easiest way to be interesting is by being genuinely interested.

Dating etiquette in Colombia

So, now that you have won your date there are a few things worth knowing. It’s far from rocket science and maybe a given for many men, but first off, don’t expect sex on first date. It’s not part of the culture here. Trust is everything and Colombians have been brought up with the mentality that you never trust a stranger. In northern Europe or North America one-night stands are very common. Here everything from business to love is based on confidence and good relationships. Go slowly. It’s a process, but will be worth it for the right girl. If you’re just passing through, your chances will automatically be smaller. But, if getting laid on your first night here is your mission, then you’re better off chasing tourist chicks in hostels than wasting time on the Colombian girls.

Girls here like to be wined and dined and it is expected for you to pick up the bill. After dinner, they would love to go dancing. Caleñas like for you to show the world that they belong to you. Once you have gotten your first kiss, don’t be shy. Kissing, hugging and holding hands in public is very common and maybe even encouraged. Colombian women like to be loved and for the whole world to see it. Don’t be afraid of showing up at her workplace with flowers, if you start dating seriously.

Be fun and creative when you go out with a girl. Remember a date doesn’t have to be dinner and dancing, but could also be a show like Delirio (where the picture of me and Jessy was taken), a concert (here’s a link to events in Cali, Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena), a visit to a waterpark, a day trip to San Cipriano or a hike up to the 3 Crosses.

Many women live with their parents until they get married. For that reason it may not be convenient spending the night at her house. However, if she does invite you to home to meet her parents, consider it a massive compliment. If you eventually get invited to spend night, don’t be surprised if that includes sleeping alone in the guest room. The older generation is quite conservative here.

Because so many Colombians live with their parents, Motel rooms rented by the hour are plentiful. Many of them decorated with mirrors, jacuzzi, love swings and selling condoms, sex toys and alcohol. They are scattered all over the city with the biggest concentration being in Menga, close to many of the late night discotheques. Names like Paraiso Romano, Karma Sutra and Motel California make sure that you don’t mistake them for regular hotels.

Again, dress well and keep a high personal hygiene. I guarantee you that she will. This should not be necessary to mention, but many Colombians think that especially Europeans don’t shower as frequently as necessary. They even joke about French people always smelling bad. Caleñas shower minimum twice a day.

There you have it. All of my best advice and recommendations for playing the dating game in Cali. Remember, that just like in business, ideas are worth nothing. It’s all about the execution. Don’t give up just because you go home empty-handed the first few nights. Comfort yourself with a cold beer for the night and get back at it the next day with renewed spirits 🙂

Good luck!

P.S. I’m talking a gay friend of mine into writing a post about the gay community and dating scene. Stay tuned.

P.P.S If there’s an older gentleman out there reading this, my mother in-law needs a date! She’s 58, good looking, is a great cook, love steaks, dancing, beers, aguardiente and has been single for what seems like an eternity. She lives in Cali and only speaks Spanish. Send me a PM. I’ll throw $100.000 pesos in the party pot. Ha! (she’s gonna kill me when she hears about this!)

Passed through Cali for the first time in 2011, on his way from the US to Brazil on a motorcycle. Ended up kissing a caleña on his last night and the rest is history. Has been a resident of Cali, Colombia since 2013 and currently living in Barrio Bellavista with his girlfriend and 2 daughters.

21 Comments

    • Hi Robert,
      Besides the places to meet women that I list, the rest of the tips are pretty universal and can be applied to the rest of the country.

      Regarding places to meet women in Medellín you may also use this article as a template to get started.
      Find the bars where people gather for happy hour after work. Figure out which coffee shop is the best in town between 4-6pm.
      Join a crossfit or regular gym.
      The rock ‘n roll bars or places like BBC may be good options as well in Medellín.
      Is there a place, like a hike or park where everyone goes on Saturday / Sunday to work out?
      Local festivals in Medellín include Festival de las Flores in August, which I’m sure is an amazing place to meet women.
      Parque Lleras gets packed with pretty girls, but I’m confident that Medellín has several such places.
      Good luck!

    • That’s easy Michael, we don’t need a whole article about that. If a foreign woman sees a local man that she likes, all she has to say is “¿Hola guapo, quieres bailar?” or if she’s in the naughty mood she could spice it up to “Te quiero comer YA!”. In either case the answer will be “Sí Mammi, con mucho gusto”. Next stop will be the motel 🙂

    • A ella le gusto mucho la idea que yo estoy patrocinando la noche! “Que yerno tan hermoso” fue lo que dijo!

  1. The best place especially in Cali, and in the whole world : the street, the bus, the shop in the center, to make a naturel meeting. More for europeean than gringo who need a specific place and spend a lot of money for the most natural and older thing.
    If you walk alone with normal cloth, there is a lot of chance that a girl come to speak to you.

    One thing : the poorest district you walk, the most beautiful woman you find. If you walk on the village, like Felidia or puerto Tejada, woman watch you like caleñas ten years ago. Paradise.

    Best place, off the beaten track : barrio Libertadores at 7-10 PM. Barrio Napoles no est mal.
    Worst place : nowhere, maybe the cementery ” Jardin del Eden”.

  2. Here is a tip: If you are at a club and meet a single lady, do not accept a drink from her or leave your drink unattended. Gringos are frequently drugged. It has happened to people I know, even expats with a lot of experience.

  3. Haha. The part about Colombian men not being easy is not true. Every guy I have known has gotten lucky the 1st night when meeting girls at bars, clubs, etc. This includes Calenas.

    • Colombian men? I don’t have much experience with them, but they seem be easier than stealing candy from a kid 🙂
      But if you’re talking about the woman, then like anything else in the world it’s “easy come, easy go”.. just like the money you spent on her.
      You might wanna think twice about marrying one of those.

  4. Haha that post is perfect. My first trip to Cali with my girlfriend, there was no sleeping in the same bedroom, although we had lived together for 2 years in Santiago and Lima. So true

  5. ¿Que más, Patrick? I have just arrived in Cali, aiming to teach English, master salsa and Spanish, and yes, meet las caleñas bellas. I don’t know if you’re in the business of meeting up with blog fans and readers, but maybe I could treat you to lulada one of these days for some insight! Gracias!

  6. Patrick,

    What are some tips on re-locating permanently such as your self as i have spent many months in Cali, and am going for 2 more soon. I always hate leaving, but all I can gather about work there is long hours and low pay. Any help is appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Dave

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