Since the famous canal was built over a century ago Panama City has had a reputation as a somewhat international city. When flying into the country it is common to be presented with advertisements for condos that promote the place for being “cosmopolitan”. In reality most of the population is Panamanian. That doesn’t mean that people from around the world don’t visit and live in Panama City. But the place is clearly no New York or London.
Interestingly enough for the kinds of people who read this site it is in the city’s commercial sex industry where some of the most international mingling goes on. Men from the United States and a few other countries meet with working women from countries like Colombia and Cuba every day of the week. Increasingly Venezuelan women are also joining the local scene.
Although there are numerous massage parlors and brothels in Panama City the aforementioned men from the United States seem to prefer meeting freelancers. At the moment Habano’s Cafe is the primary place where these meetings take place.
Habano’s is a well known open air bar in the heart of downtown Panama. It is located just steps from popular hotels like the Hyatt Palace and the Marriott. From the outside it doesn’t look like much more than a patio but there is a lot more going on inside.
The bar is located in a kind of shopping center. The entrance is up a short flight of stairs that is typically guarded by some menacing looking guys. These men don’t typically check customers however and they don’t take cover charges either. It is free to enter Habano’s.
There are some waiters at Habano’s. They can take customers to seats and bring them drinks but as with most bars there is no obligation to deal with them. Customers can simply walk inside and to the long bar in the back if they’d like to purchase a drink. Prices are as to be expected in downtown Panama City. For example a bottle of Corona costs $6 USD.
In many ways Habano’s resembles the famed Beach Club in Kuala Lumpur. Although Habano’s is probably not even one fourth the size of Beach Club it has a similar atmosphere. Dozens of women fill Habano’s each and every night looking for customers. In turn a handful of guys come in and out of the bar all night looking for women.
As previously mentioned most of the women are from Colombia but Cubans and Venezuelans can also be found in the mix most nights. Occasionally a woman from another country like the Dominican Republic will appear. Panamanians on the other hand are rare.
Most of the women at Habano’s are attractive. Some would be described as absolute knockouts by most men though a few of those who appear to be stunners can show age in bright lights. The women all wear sexy dresses though some go as far as wearing bikini tops or bras in lieu of regular street clothing.
Many of the women are mothers who work in part to help support their children. Several have clear signs of cosmetic surgery. This is especially true of the Colombians. Boob jobs are the most common though buttocks injections are increasingly common. Women with natural bodies who have not had children can be found at Habano’s but they can be few and far between.
Things at Habano’s Cafe go pretty much the same way they do at other freelancer haunts around the world like Brix in Singapore or B.A.T.S. in Jakarta. Women approach men and chat them up or men chat up women they find interesting. After a bit of small talk the conversation inevitably turns toward sex since that is what draws most people to the bar in the first place.
As the women at Habano’s are freelancers they are free to set their own rates and working conditions. They are not employed or even related to the bar though I am guessing the ownership is happy to have them there since they bring in a steady stream of business.
Most of the women at Habano’s speak very little English though countless transactions have been agreed to there thanks in large part to things like body language and Google translate. The women typically start with quotes of $150 USD for a short romp but nearly all will agree to $120 fairly quickly. Many will also agree to $100 USD especially when closing time approaches but there are some holdouts who simply refuse to go below their predetermined rate.
While these rates may seem high they are typically for the area and the venue type. Panama is more expensive than most other countries in the region. A short taxi ride from the airport to Habano’s costs $30 USD. In comparison a much longer ride from the airport in Bogota to the Parque de la 93 section of the city costs less than half that. Coincidentally Colombian working women in Bogota ask for a lot less than their compatriots working in Panama.
Of course local prices for things like taxis don’t always correspond to the rates in the sex industry. All sorts of things come into play. The high numbers of businessmen from the United States and the dollarized economy surely have something to do with the prices quoted at Habano’s.
Apparently the market can bear it. If it couldn’t the bar wouldn’t see so many guys each and every ight of the week.
To their credit most of the women at Habano’s are honest and hard working. Even those who do short sessions do their best to please their customers. Unlike some other parts of the world most of the women at Habano’s use condoms for everything including oral sex though some will make exceptions for additional payment.
Habano’s Cafe. Avenuda Ricardo Arango, Area Bancaria, Panama City, Panama. Open every day from 6:00 pm – 3:00 am. Click here for a map.