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For the last 20 months Bogotá’s only regular quiz (trivia) night, IQuiz, has been on the go. It’s still quite a niche event, a nature of the ‘beast’ that it is perhaps. Nonetheless, as a labour of love, it’s been relatively successful and, going by the reaction of those who participate, an enjoyable, fun and lively event, which is what we want it to be.

From an organisational and venue-sourcing point of view, it’s been quite an experience. You see, for us, IQuiz is not meant to be exclusive, set aside for just a certain sector of Bogotá’s inhabitants. Yet, in such a disparate, economically unequal city, balancing the needs of IQuiz with the desire to make it accessible to as many as possible has been tricky.

Pub House, Bogotá, Colombia.

There’s plenty of drink, there’s just nobody to drink it …

Generally speaking, the spacious, bar-style venues IQuiz requires are only to be found in the more affluent parts of the city, and that means paying multiples of what you’d pay in a more bog-standard setting (Colombia’s strata system, where certain parts of the city pay much more for services, plays a part in this). Or if they’re not in exclusive areas, such places usually sell their refreshments far pricier than the establishments around them. A case of ‘give it a Western tinge, increase the price’.

More than just giving a place a Western flair (in music and style), the more Westerners or foreigners with money who frequent it, the greater justification for price hiking. Fair enough, if the clientele are happy to pay, repeatedly, your prices with business going well, why would you consider lowering them?

Indeed, in many of the pubs we’re referring to, those clientele are people earning salaries that would be considered decent in more ‘developed’ countries, with some being paid in dollars or euros. Also, there’s the strategy, so it goes, that maintaining higher-than-average prices helps to keep undesirables away. Yet, for the likes of Bogotá’s Zona T and Parque 93, it’s unlikely that the ñero types will flock there to socialise, whatever the price. They might come, as some already do, for less innocent reasons. (In any case, gomelos — Bogotá’s ‘posh’ — can be just as unbearable as their opposites, the ñeros.)

Obviously it’s a numbers game on two fronts: if people are still coming and you’re in the black financially wise, then great. However, from what we’ve witnessed, it appears that some of these ‘finer’ watering holes aren’t exactly fulfilling their potential. It’s actually difficult to see how they are making money at all. It’s either a case of the owners having deep pockets or the business is being used for more sinister reasons.

Not only are the places that fall into this underperforming category overpriced and generally underwhelming, they charge for service to boot. Now tipping for a job well done is one thing, but almost forcing people to pay extra for being served when, more often than not, the ones doing the serving behave as if they’d prefer to be doing anything but, that’s just a deal-breaker. We’ll take the personal touch of the local tienda over such coldness any day.

It would be interesting to see some of these stale Western-style pubs adopt a sort of Ryanair approach: Cut back the prices substantially to get customer numbers up. The arrival over the last couple of years of the Bogotá Beer Company (BBC) bodega franchise in the city was a half-turn in that direction. However, considering these bodegas only sell the ‘fancy’ BBC beers, they’re still somewhat exclusive.

A lack of start-up capital is why the Wrong Way Pub hasn’t opened its doors yet. Of course, were that to happen, we might just find that running a bar à la Ryanair wouldn’t be viable. Be that as it may, for the moment, we’ll try to keep bringing IQuiz and its associated discounts to a venue near you!
Facebook: Wrong Way Corrigan – The Blog & IQuiz “The Bogotá Pub Quiz”.

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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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  1. Ñero actually is a very derogatory word. It’s not a poor or lower class individual. It’s a trashy person who’s more like a gang member. This isn’t even close to a chav, even more so. Complaining they are priced out of chico or chapinero is honestly ridiculous. I go out with strata 1 and 2 individuals who are very nice all the time in the north in more affordable zones. There are plenty of nice places if you want to leave the “rock bars” and gringo traps. Bogotá isn’t cheap, but to say it’s gentrified or not so “price smart” is ridiculous. If you immerse yourself into the city it’s not expensive. It’s about living life as a colombian would, not as a gringo.

    • I think you’ll find I’ve immersed myself in the city to quite an extent, largely in strata two and three. Most of my Colombian friends come from those strata. I’m very comfortable socialising in such barrios, I feel very much at home. I am a tienda man through and through, Poker grande for no more than 3.500 is what I’m all about.
      Now if you took from the article that I’ve something against the lower-to-working class barrios, you’ve completely misread.
      The point being made is that there are ridiculously overpriced places in this city — do remember we are talking about one of the most unequal countries in the world. They’re out of my price range and that of most ordinary Colombians, the people, contrary to what you’ve written above, I hang around with on a daily basis.
      There are a host of posts on this blog that show the type of social life I lead here; it is very much in the mould of a standard, working-class Colombian, and I am very content with that.

  2. juanitatoroo0525

    You are right, in my place at Canada McDonalds means: my very last option for junk food where there is no money, and btw Thanks for the ñero’s English translation. I will try it and then I will let you know. 🙂 have a nice week, until your next history.

  3. juanitatoroo0525

    It is kind of funny the word -ñero types- and I wonder: how to explain accurately to my Canadian coworkers about this stereotype, I mean, Which realy means for Colombians (native). In Any case, yes, I coincide whit your assessment about new international brands opening in big cities of Colombia, just ask how was the arrival of McDonald’s, Friday’s, hooters wings, Starbucks. That is not a big deal for foreign people but for a native Colombian classiest, that is just so cool.

    • In Ireland we would (or at least might) say ‘knacker’ for a ‘ñero’, in England ‘chav’, that might help to explain it to your Canadian friends!
      And yes, I always find it funny here that people see going to McDonald’s as a treat as it is relatively expensive compared to a standard corrientazo; in the Western world you generally go to McDonald’s if you’ve no money left!

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