There are many quaint institutions here in Chile that are in slow decline, going to mass on a Sunday, military coups, respecting your elders, especially the mother in law, (commonly known as la brocha, the witch), student actimism, U.S. hegemony, but the one I will miss the most is ‘Cafe con Piernas’. Cafe con Piernas directly translated into english is ‘Coffee with Legs’, you might also call it ‘Coffee with a View’. You probably know where I am going with this but I promise you I came across it completely innocently.
We were, that is, Lisa myself and children spending a day walking around the centre of Santiago when we decided we needed a coffee. We stepped off one of the main pedestrianised thoroughfares and found a coffee shop on a side street with tables and chairs outside. Lisa had mentioned the institution of ‘Coffee with Legs’ to me before but it hadn’t really registered with me, anyway we sat down and I then noticed that all the waitress’s were wearing the same very tight, low cut, short dress’s with impossibly high heels, meaning when they tottered over to take your order they would tower over you and you would have to crane your neck to look up and give your order, in the process you couldn’t help but get a good look at their ample bosoms.
Mind you they don’t make the coffees, all the places have a highly trained barristo, always male, the girls take the orders and deliver the drinks. I was however fascinated and couldn’t help but watch them go about their business, leaning over tables to clear cups and delivering hot frothy cappucchino’s to eager customers
This was by all accounts a very tame version of the phenonomen of ‘Cafe con Piernas’. The more typical ones are more like a cross between Bangkok Go –Go bar and your local coffee shop, the girls wear the ubiquitious G-string and little else. They sell only coffee and are populated solely by men, mainly in suits, quelle surprise. They are open for business normal coffee shop hours and pump out some serious techno sounds as well as the obligatory espresso’s, cappuccino’s and latte’s. There are more of them in Santiago than there are Starbucks and not all of them are considered seedy.
They have been closing their doors in the last few years and there are certainly less of them than ten years ago but some of them are still going strong. I imagine some of the cafe’s that carry on the tradition of the ‘minuto millonario’ or the ‘millionaire minute’ where the girls get their kit off for a full minute would be included in these. They have tried a variation of the concept with a version for female’s which went out of business and they have tried to export it to other latin american countries where it failed to take off. So if you want to experience a capricious cappuccino or a lingering latte or even just a quickie espresso you will have to come to Santiago, Chile.
I know the thought’s of a little pick me up will never be the same for me again.