When I was 16 years old, I remember being a nervous wreck as I stood in line outside the club. I was trying my hardest to maintain my “cool guy” act, but it was at risk of being compromised by my friends’ goofy behavior and the biggest armpit sweat stain I had ever produced. We only had one goal that night; one objective: to get inside the club, one way or another.
We had heard that this disco had a loose carding policy; most people my age had already been there. In any event, we thought we looked old enough to pass for 18. It was new and exciting; we just had to give it a try.
Plus, what’s the worst thing that could happen, right?
So, like anxious knights ready for battle, we subjected ourselves to the cruel judgment of the mean gatekeepers. We just had to get past them to get into the castle where we would be rewarded with the ultimate feast, complete with alcohol, girls and social validation. (I was a huge King Arthur nerd back then.)
Looking back on it, going there made no sense. It was so crowded you couldn’t walk two steps; you would sweat twice your bodyweight every night, and even if you were there to drink, you either had to have enough money (which we didn’t), or have long hair and a pretty face to get any service.
But for the next three years, we went there almost every weekend, crammed together on that second-floor disco amid the multicolored, spinning lights, the cigarette smoke and the deafening boom-boom of house/dance/whatever music. We didn’t care. The attack on our senses was just too good and the girl-to-boy ratio too tantalizing to give up.
There was a sense of community among us, and the rush from doing something not entirely legal. It was absorbing. If they were going to let us play like adults, we were definitely going to do it.
I never thought something really bad could happen. I know it was naïve to think we were all there for the same reasons. But the truth was, there was a whole other world that was happening around us without me even noticing. There was that girl who was passed out on the floor very early in the night, probably from something somebody put in her drink. There were shady guys at the darkened corner table with the threatening looks—guys who were always one word or bump from jumping you. And, of course, there were the occasional bloody fights.
The bouncers never really checked us when we entered the bar, or asked anything about weapons. They were more concerned with looks, age and if you were the “appropriate” type of client that they wanted to attract.
Maybe they got too comfortable with their reputation of serving to “young well-to-do teens” who didn’t present any kind of security risk. I don’t know. But in reality, they weren’t doing enough to keep things under control in a club that had become a cultural melting pot, filled with racism, machismo and big egos that needed to be fed. Sooner or later, something bad was going to happen.
Last Sunday at dawn, around 3:00 a.m., something bad did happen. Chinandega native Bayardo Perez was shot dead in the chest by Luis Cordero inside Broder dicoteque, according to media reports. Perez allegedly brought Cordero’s girlfriend to the bar and danced with her. Later that night, Cordero showed up looking for his girlfriend. Words were exchanged, then the issue spiraled into and all out brawl that resulted in the death of a fourth year dentistry student.
The place I had regularly visited throughout my teens—a place that holds lots of memories from my formative years—was finally shut down by police. All I’m left with is this eerie feeling of confusion and astonishment at how deeply I misunderstood the experiences I had there.
I know these kinds of tragedies happen all the time around Nicaragua, brought on by the same dangerous alpha male mentality and culture. I somehow managed to live in my bubble for a long time while it all went on around me. But to see this happen in a place so familiar to me hit a little too close to home.
The murderer and his friends where let go by the “security” of the club, who were probably overwhelmed by an incident that they are allegedly hired to prevent.
Sadly, the closing of Broder probably won’t change anything. Soon enough there will be a new hangout to replace the old one, but I genuinely hope the tragedy of Bayardo Perez does not go unpunished and that his memory serves a greater purpose—a real life cautionary tale that destroys the teenage dogma that we are all invincible. The reality is, this could just as easily been anyone of us.
Juan Cuadra, 19, is an Industrial Engineer student and aspiring writer. He graduated from Saint Teresa’s Academy. This is his first published article.