The Localist

Thelonious: Jazz and food, improvised


Patio Bellavista – a complex of bars and eateries in Santiago

Thelonious Sphere Monk was an American jazz pianist and composer, considered one of the best of the 20th Century. For Santiaguinos (people from Santiago), Thelonious is also the name of a restaurant and music venue that combines live jazz and food. It is located in a neighbourhood called Bellavista in downtown, where you can find lots of restaurants, bars, discos and theatres. Bellavista is considered one of the bohemian areas of Santiago.

If it’s one of those days when you’re bored by your normal routine and want to try something different, definitely have a look at the event listings on the Thelonious website. I would suggest meeting your friends around 7pm and having an early dinner (normally in Chile we eat around 9pm) and then staying for the live jazz, which normally starts around 9.30pm. If you are only going for the jazz they will charge you a fee of about $4USD.


Thelonius in Santiago’s bohemian Bellavista neighbourhood

I have fond memories of one particular night at Thelonius. It was winter in Santiago (June), so as always it was very cold and night fell early. The sun sets in winter at around 6pm and in summer around 9pm. I was having a little debate with myself: Should I go straight to my bed and have a nice cup of tea with sopaipillas, or meet up with a group of friends as had been decided the day before?  But I knew that when it comes to my friends, if we’ve already made plans, it is impossible not to go. In Santiago, we tend to be very close to our friends, some of whom are often people we’ve known since primary school.

We had organised to meet at 7pm, and as usual I was standing outside Thelonius right on time. Chileans are renowned for always arriving an hour late, but in my case I think I’m inherently punctual thanks to my German roots, which have left me with no choice but to overcome this bad Chilean habit (during and after WWI and WWII many people emigrated to Chile from Europe, and that’s why you will find not only Spanish surnames stemming from our colonial days, but also German, Italian, French and British surnames). If you’re in Chile, I would always recommend that you tell a Chilean friend to meet you one hour before you actually plan to meet. That always works. On this occasion, however, I forgot to take my own advice.

Eventually, my friends turned up. An hour later. We had a lovely dinner, chatting and laughing, talking very loudly as we always do when we meet. Then the music started and to our surprise one of our old classmates, Paz Court, appeared in front of us to perform with her band. Nowadays she is part of the well-known new generation of Chilean jazz and pop musicians.

No matter how much I’m tempted to stay indoors with a nice warm cup of tea and sopaipillas, I never regret leaving the comforts of home to spend time with friends and listen to great music at Thelonious.





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