You’re in Mexico, and you just got invited to a killer party.
The guy inviting you asks you to bring some caguamas.
You confidently say yes, of course, no problem—while behind your smile you’re furiously committing that word to memory so you can look it up on your dictionary app once you’re around the corner.
You probably should have just asked the guy what he meant, because minutes later you discover to your horror that you just promised to bring “sea turtles” to the party tonight.
What?! That couldn’t be what he actually meant, could it?
Mexican party expressions—like most of our slang—can be somewhat confusing if you’ve been learning a different dialect (or no dialect at all).
So if you’re headed to Mexico and love having a good time, keep on reading to make sure your partying doesn’t leave you lost in translation.
Learning Slang Invariably Helps with Learning Spanish
No matter how advanced your Spanish level is, if it’s textbook and classroom Spanish it won’t always help you in the streets. You need to learn some local expressions, some idioms and definitely a lot of slang.
People who know plenty of slang sound like natives, understand what’s going on around them and feel less excluded when hanging out with the locals.
Learning a language through music, blogs and novels are great ways to contextualize the local expressions, although they may not always tell you what those expressions mean.
In addition to the explanations in this blog post, there’s another place to learn slang authentically, and that’s with FluentU on your computer, tablet or smartphone. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Mexican is just one of the many Spanish dialects spoken in the videos, which you’ll see in entertaining clips such as “Chespirito, Mexico’s Most Loved Comedian,”“And Mexico’s Next Top Model Is…,”“Real Spanish in a Mexican Taxi” and “Coffee Break with Belinda, Mexico’s Pop Princess.”
With all of those resources out on the table, let’s get this party started!
How Do People Party in Mexico?
Basically like everywhere else in the world.
Considering how big the country is and how many people live there, we can’t generalize on the party style. Some people party ’til the morning, while others just share few beers.
Either way, once people start drinking, the language loses all formality and the slang comes out stronger than any other time. In addition, it’s quite common to hear Mexicans speak very fast, which only becomes more obvious at parties.
For foreigners this may lead to some uncomfortable situations. Trying to catch up with some high-speed conversations while juggling regional slang is a hard job to do.
If only you knew some basic party words and expressions…
Well, that’s exactly what I’m here for: to make your party time a little less complicated and more open to local fun.
These expressions you’re about to learn can be heard all over the country, but they’re definitely more common in Mexico City. And of course, these phrases are meant to be used by Spanish learners who are old enough to enjoy adult beverages responsibly.
You can even take your new Mexican party expressions for a spin with Gritty Spanish. This is for adults only as well, and it’s a funny introduction to Spanish slang and regional accents—Mexican included!
25+ Mexican Expressions You’ve Gotta Know to Party in Mexico
Where Do People Party in Mexico?
1. En un bar (in a bar)
2. En un concierto (in a concert)
People either brincar (jump), bailar (dance) or bailar slam (mosh) at concerts. El slam (the mosh) is an expression that comes from the English verb “to slam” because when people dance this, they are slamming against each other. It usually happens at punk, rock or ska concerts.
3. En una disco (in a disco)
4. En un antro (in a nightclub)
Disco and antro may not have the same origin, but they’re now used the same: as a dancing place. The word antro—which in Latin and Greek means “cave”—used to have a negative reference to a den or a dump.
Before people used this term to talk about seedy joints (antros de mala muerte), but now it’s very common to say antro when talking about a club. You’ll hear, for example, “Vamos al antro” or “Vamos de antro”(Let’s go clubbing), or “Ese antro es muy bueno” (That club is very good).
5. En una casa (at a house)
6. En una cantina (in a cantina)
Cantinas in Mexico are a type of bar in which people go to drink and eat botanas (snacks), play cards, dominoes or other table games. Decades ago the entrance was forbidden for women. They even had signs in the door saying “Prohibida la entrada a mujeres, perros y uniformados”(No entrance allowed to women, dogs and men in uniform—meaning police officers or soldiers).
Today in big cities or towns, women are allowed, but dogs and men in uniform are still not. In Mexico City cantinas take the botana to a whole different level. After the second beer, you start getting a different dish with each beer you drink, and the food is always free. So, if you are in a cantina and the waiter asks you “¿Qué le sirvo (de comer)?” (What (food) can I offer you?), don’t be surprised; just choose a dish and enjoy because you’re only paying for the beer.
Mexican Expressions for the Party
7. Fiesta (party)
In Mexico there are many ways to refer to the party: fiesta (literally means party), parranda (no literal translation), peda (literally would be a female version of “fart”) and copas (literally means “wineglasses” and “cups,” but it also means “drinks”).
You will hear quite often, for example:
- ¿Dónde es la fiesta / la parranda / la peda? (Where is the party?)
- Nos fuimos de fiesta / de parranda / de peda / de copas. (We went partying.)
- La fiesta / la parranda / la peda estuvo buenísima. (The party was very good.)
8. Irse de fiesta (going to the party)
To say you are “going to the party” can be said as irse de fiesta, irse de parranda, irse de peda or irse de copas. You just need to conjugate irse and add the word you choose to use for “party.”
So you might say one of the following:
(Yo) Me voy de fiesta — I’m going to the party.
(Tú) Te vas de fiesta — You’re going to the party.
(Él/Ella) Se va de fiesta — He/she’s going to the party.
(Nosotros) Nos vamos de fiesta — We’re going to the party.
(Ustedes) Se van de fiesta — You guys are going to the party.
(Ellos/Ellas) Se van de fiesta — They’re going to the party.
These expressions have also turned into verbs creating fiestear, parrandear and copear which are conjugated like regular verbs that end in -ar. (Yo fiesteo, tú fiesteas, él/ella fiestea, nosotros fiesteamos, ustedes fiestean, ellos/ellas fiestean).
La peda tends to be a more vulgar expression and even though is widely used, you may want to be careful not to use it in a working or in a formal environment.
9. Precopeo (pregaming)
This word literally means pre-wineglassing or pre-cuping, but is translated as pre-drinking—and is also a common expression among some groups. Some people use this term to refer to warm-up drinking (pregaming) before the real party.
So, let’s say you are going de antro (clubbing) at 11 p.m. but you decide to invite your friends over at your house at 9 p.m. to warm up and start drinking before going out. This is called precopeo. It actually makes no sense since you are already drinking, but you can still hear some people saying “Vamos a las 11 al antro, pero puedes llegar a mi casa a las 9 al precopeo” (We are going to the club at 11, but you can arrive to my house at 9 to pregame).
Specifics of the Drinks in Mexico
10. Chupar/Pistear (to drink)
Chupar (literally to lick or to suck) and pistear are both slang for “to drink.”
El chupe and el pisto are the nouns, so they refer to “the drinks.” Chupar and chupe are used in the center and south of Mexico, while pistear and pisto are more common in the north.
There are many words that refer somehow to the drinks. Here are a few of the most common ones.
11. Una copita (a drink)
Literally a little cup, una copita is used to refer to most drinks that you drink from a glass, except beer. In Mexico people speak quite often in diminutives, but don’t expect anything small when you hear this one. If someone asks you “¿Quieres una copita?” they aren’t asking you if you want a little wine glass or a little cup. They’re asking you if you want something to drink.
12. Un trago (a drink)
Literally meaning a gulp, un trago has the same meaning as una copa or una copita. So if someone asks you “¿Quieres un trago?” they are not asking you if you want a gulp—they are offering you a strong drink like whiskey or cognac.
13. Un caballito (a type of shot)
Mezcal and tequila are usually served in a specific type of shot called caballito (literally: little horse). So when someone asks you “¿Quieres un caballito?” most likely they are offering you either tequila or mezcal.
Mexican Expressions for Beer
14. Chela/Cheve (beer)
Chela and cheve are both slang words for beer, although cheve is used more in the north of Mexico.
15. Caguama (large bottle of beer)
A caguama is a larger bottle of beer that contains between 940 ml and one liter of beer, depending on the presentation.
As we saw in the intro, a caguama is literally a loggerhead sea turtle—a reptile which is typically reddish-brown, that can measure up to 280 cm (110 inches) long and that weights approximately 135 kg (298 lb). The family-size beer is named after the turtle because of its size and color. They probably thought calling “family beer” a large beer was inappropriate.
16. Cerveza de barril (draft beer)
Cerveza de barril is a draft beer that can be clara (light) or obscura/oscura (dark).
17. Chelada/Michelada (Cubana) (various mixed beers)
A chelada is a beer mixed with lemon and salt, while a michelada also has some spicy sauces. But when someone offers you one, you should still ask what they mean, or how is it prepared. This is because in some places michelada is the one prepared only with salt and lemon, while the beer with the spicy sauces is a michelada cubana (literally “Cuban michelada,” although I doubt Cubans add chili to their beer).
18. Un six (a six-pack)
Un six (a six) refers to a six-pack of can beers. So if someone tells you “Vamos a comprar un six para la fiesta” (Let’s buy a six for the party), you know what you’re going to buy.
19. Una fría (a cold beer)
Una fría (literally a cold one) also refers to a beer. You may even hear “Quiero una fría bien fría” (literally: I want a very cold cold one) or “Quiero una fría bien muerta” (literally: I want a very dead cold one). In both cases someone wants a really cold beer.
20. Una cubeta (a bucket)
Una cubeta (a bucket) refers to a bucket full of beer bottles and some ice to keep them cold. In some bars, if you order a bucket of beers it’s usually cheaper than ordering the same amount of beers separately. So if you hear your friends in a bar asking each other “¿Pedimos una cubeta?” (Should we order a bucket?), expect to get some beers.
If You Partied Way Too Much in Mexico…
21. Estar borracho/a (to be drunk)
Estar borracho/a, estar pedo/a (literally to be fart), estar jarra (literally to be jar or pitcher), estar tomado/a (literally to be taken) are all expressions that imply to be drunk.
22. Ponerse una peda/jarra (to get drunk)
Ponerse una peda (literally to put on a fart) or ponerse una jarra (literally to put on a jar or pitcher), means to get drunk.
So, the next day after the party, you may hear your friends say “Ayer estaba muy borracho/pedo/jarra/tomado” or “Ayer me puse una peda/jarra,” which you can translate both as “Yesterday I was (or got) very drunk.”
23. Estar crudo/a (to be hungover)
And if ever drink so much that you’re hungover (which we totally don’t recommend!), you would say estoy crudo/a, which literally means “I am raw” but it implies to be hungover.
Mexican Expressions for When the Party Is Over
24. Conductor(a) designado(a) (designated driver)
A conductor(a) designado(a) (designated driver) is the person that didn’t drink during the party who will drive everybody home. But since this person won’t be drinking, it’s very common to hear people calling him/her conductor(a) resignado(a) (resigned driver).
25. Aquí se rompió una taza (the party is over)
And finally, if you ever hear the host of the party saying “Aquí se rompió una taza” (Here a cup got broken), understand this as a subtle way to tell people the party is over.
This is the first part of a phrase that’s almost never used in its entirety because people understand what it means. The whole phrase is “Aquí se rompió una taza y cada quien para su casa” (Here a cup got broken and everybody to their homes).
So, do you think you’re ready to party in Mexico? I think so! Just practice using these phrases, and start listening and looking out for them in authentic contexts. Soon you’ll be partying with the locals in Mexico—without getting lost in translation.
And One More Thing…
If you like learning colorful, authentic Spanish phrases like these, then you’ll love FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news, and inspiring talks and turns them into Spanish learning experiences.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos—topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies and even magical realism, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s Learn Mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
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Ever get that annoying feeling that you can't find the exact word to describe something? You may not be thinking in the right language. Here are 10 very specific words in Spanish that don't quite have an English counterpart.
That moment after eating a meal when the food is gone but the conversation is still flowing at the table.
Llegué tarde porque la sobremesa del almuerzo se alargó. Rough translation: I was late because the time spent talking after eating went long.
To wear or use something for the first time.
¿Te gustan mis zapatos nuevos? Me los estoy estrenando. Rough translation: Do you like my new shoes? I'm wearing them for the first time.
3. Pena Ajena/Verguenza Ajena
To be ashamed or embarrassed on behalf of someone else, even if they don't share the feeling.
Me dio pena ajena cuando le botó todo el vino encima a su suegra. Rough translation: I was really embarrassed for her when she spilled wine on her mother-in-law.
A one-word way of saying the day before yesterday. A shorter version of "antes de ayer."
Ella llegó de viaje antier. Rough translation: She got back from her trip the day before yesterday.
Unable to sleep or to be sleep deprived.
Estuve desvelado porque el perro no paró de ladrar toda la noche. Rough translation: I didn't get any sleep last night because the dog wouldn't stop barking.
A man with only one eye.
El pirata es tuerto. Rough translation: The pirate only has one eye.
Someone who is very sensitive to cold.
Él es muy friolento y siempre pide que apaguen el ventilador. Since the cold affects him so much, he always asks them to turn off the fan.
8. Te quiero
A way to tell someone you care about them. Particularly when romance is involved, more meaningful than an "I like you" but less meaningful than an "I love you." May be used as "I love you" in non-romantic relationships.
Te quiero. Rough translation: I really care for you but don't quite love you.
To have a snack or to go out for an afternoon snack.
Invita a merendar a tus amigas la casa esta tarde. Rough translation: Invite your friends over to the house for an afternoon snack.
To treat someone informally by addressing them as "tú" instead of the more formal "usted."
No vayas a tutear a tu suegra cuando la conozcas. Rough translation: Don't treat your mother-in-law informally when you meet her.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had the word "tocayo" which was too similar in meaning to namesake so it was taken out, as well as "empalagoso" which was too similar to cloy.