Live music is a nearly constant feature of the Cusco nightlife scene, and it's not all itinerant bands of altiplano musicians in colorful vests and sandals playing woodwind instruments -- not by a long shot. Live music tends to begin around 11pm in most clubs, and happy hours are generally from 8 to 9 or 10pm.
Teatro Municipal, Mesón de la Estrella 149 (tel. 084/221-847), and particularly the long-running Centro Q'osqo de Arte Nativo, Av. El Sol 684 (tel. 084/227-901), schedule music and folkloric dance performances. Check with the tourist information office for a schedule of events.
You can catch traditional Peruvian bands with a beat at Ukuku's and Rosie O'Grady's, but for a traditional folklore music-and-dance show with panpipes and costumes -- well, ponchos, alpaca hats, and sandals, at a minimum -- you'll need to check out one of the tourist-oriented restaurants featuring nightly entertainment. In addition to the long-time show restaurants El Truco (Plaza Regocijo 261; tel. 084/232-441) and La Retama (Portal de Panes 123, 2nd Floor; tel. 084/226-372), Tunupa, Portal Confiturías 233, 2nd Floor (tel. 084/252-936), offers a good traditional music-and-dance show, as well as a panoramic view of the Plaza de Armas.
One of the coolest places in Cusco for nightly live music is Ukuku's, Plateros 316, second floor (tel. 084/227-867). The range of acts extends from bar rock to Afro-Peruvian, and the crowd comes to get a groove on, jamming the dance floor. Often the mix is half gringo, half Peruvian. If you're looking to pick up a Peruvian chico or chica, or at least practice your Spanish, it's one of the best spots in town. Ukuku's is open until the wee hours, and there's a room with computer terminals, 24-hour Internet access, and a pizza bar, as well as daily movies in the afternoon. Get your hands on a pass for free entrance so you don't get stuck paying a cover (although often it's not even necessary to have a pass; gringos often sail right in).
Kamikase, Plaza Regocijo 274, 2nd Floor (tel. 084/233-865), is the senior citizen of Cusqueño nightclubs, inaugurated long before the tourist explosion, back in 1985. It's a comfortable, well-worn place, a two-level bar and a live music area with tables and funky decor. The music ranges from rock en Español to reggae, and there are lots of locals -- occasionally, Peruvians even outnumber gringos. (Imagine that!) There are nightly drink specials on things such as caipirinhas. If you've imbibed one too many of those, you might want to take a breather before tackling the stairs to the street. I once had to carry a friend out (don't ask), and it was a real challenge. Pepe Zeta is a fun, local hangout with live Peruvian music on weekends. Garabato Video Pub, Espaderos 135, 3rd Floor (tel. 084/620-336), is a bar/restaurant that features nightly movies on a large screen, a variety of live shows, and a dance floor and lounge. It's one of Cusco's one-stop-shopping outlets for nightlife.
Several late-night dance clubs have come and gone in the last few years, but a few of the old warhorses remain popular. A pretty young crowd, both backpackers and young Peruvians, is lured to the discos by all the free drink cards handed out on the Plaza de Armas. Mama Africa, Portal de Panes 108, 2nd Floor (tel. 084/246-544), boasts sweaty charm and features occasional live music and DJs who spin an international dance mix of Latin, reggae, rock, and techno music for a mix of locals and gringos. The original club is now called Mama Amerika, Portal Belén 115, 2nd Floor (tel. 084/245-550). It's just as crowded as ever, and besides serving free and cheap drinks, it also has good munchies and a large screen showing videos.
Eko Club, Plateros 334, 2nd Floor (no phone), is one of Cusco's hottest dance clubs. The large dance floor throbs until dawn with a variety of rock, trance, and Euro-techno; for those who need a break, there's a laid-back lounge out back, good for a chair, a smoke, and a drink. Up Town, Suecia 302 (tel. 084/227-241), is Cusco's island resort disco on spring break. It offers free salsa, samba, and merengue dance classes (in English), and it's popular with locals. With two bars and a fleet of young girls enticing visitors with free drink cards, Extrem, Portal de Carnes 298 (tel. 084/240-901), swarms with one of Cusco's youngest and most frenetic crowds who come for happy hour and free drinks. Those who need to rest their hips can hang by the fireplace, catch a movie, or fortify themselves at the pizzeria.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.