Club Viva, St. Louis, MO
Posted Mar 13 2006
Nestled underground in one of St. Louis’ more popular entertainment districts, Club Viva probably isn’t one of those places you randomly stumble across. But for lovers of tropical Latin music, it’s worth the effort. While you won’t be blown away by the physical structure of Viva, the small, intimate venue is welcoming for those looking to dance the night away or simply relax with friends. Both beginners and top-notch dancers have a good time, and Viva attracts both Latinos and non-Latinos alike. What it lacks in fancy bells and whistles is more than made up by the friendly, unpretentious crowd. Open since July 1997, Viva’s main nights for Latin music are Thursdays and Saturdays with both nights offering free dance lessons. Salsa and merengue are crowd favourites, although bachata, cumbias, and reggae espanol are sporadically mixed in. Other nights showcase music from around the world, including live reggae bands.
While Viva’s founder, Mateo Mulcahy, grudgingly acknowledges that St. Louis is slightly behind the times when it comes to Latin music compared to cities such as New York or Chicago, he’s certainly doing his part to bridge the gap. He also founded Club Onda (4920 Northrop, 314-772-0877), which features DJs and live Mexican music on Fridays and Saturdays. Outside of running these venues, Mateo has put together large concerts including performances by Oscar D’Leon and Los Tigres del Norte, while playing in his own band Caribe Tropical. As if that weren’t enough, he also co-hosts two radio shows on the weekends. In spite of his hectic schedule, you can usually find Mateo making his rounds at Viva, mingling with customers, performing with Caribe Tropical, and even DJing on selected nights.
If you’re looking to profile and put on airs, Viva is not the place for you. If you’re looking for a down-to-earth atmosphere with that house party feel, you’ll feel right at home.