The presence of a multi-colored light strobes shines around the somber lit metal room were the walls are painted in bright colors of red, yellow, and blue. A live band fills the hull with the rhythmic beats of cumbia, salsa, and reggaeton entices couples to swing each other around in the tight enclosing.
An occasional drink of rum or coke is offered to help you stay cool while you dance the night away and receive a little jolt from a passing pothole. No, pothole is correct because this nightclub is a moving one. Unlike the ordinary school buses that bring kids to school or on field trips, these banana yellow school buses are given an extreme makeover of bright paints of yellow, blue, and red to take party-goers on a night out on the town. Literally.
Mainly popular in New York City, these brightly colored buses known as Chivas were
brought over along with many Colombians when the community began to grow in the big
apple. The Chivas come from Colombia, and while they are use as a means of public
transportation like the MTA buses here there is another use for the rustic buses.
Aside from taking people from villages into the city or from village to village, in
Colombian cities like Medellín, Cali and Barranquilla these buses can be rented out
for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions where you can spend some
time having a unique party experience. While this trend made an appearance in NYC
back in the 80s, it hasn’t been until 2008 that the party-buses became noteworthy as
a hotspot around the city.
For four hours or more, these club-on-wheels can pick you up at your desired
location and take you on a party-filled tour around the city. In Queens, Chivatazo
Bar, a restaurant and bar, owns a Chivas and caterers to partiers who want to have a
drink before heading out onto the bus that is willing to take you were ever it is
that you want.
The bus can usually drive around roughly 30 people, with bartender,
guide, DJ, and Band included all easily identified by the brightly colored shirts
and sombreros vueltiaos (Colombian straw hats) that adorn their heads like a crew of
The Chivas crew shaking of tambourines and maracas with the nourishing taste of
aguardiente, anise-flavored alcohol, has attracted numerous party-seekers from local
New York residents, visiting Colombian soccer team, Colombian beauty queens, and
even stars like Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu who rode a Chiva to the
New York City premiere of “Charlie’s Angels.”
With music blasting from the metallic hull on wheels, you may find yourself catching sight of these traveling discotheques driving through Times Square. Don’t be shy and wave!