From a New York Times review on salsa dancing in Miami:
While many visit Miami to soak up some sun, others come here for something far hotter -- the steamy salsa clubs. From Latin nights at hotel bars and spicy salsa-only nightclubs in Miami Beach to ranch-like settings inland that attract hordes of hard-core salseros (salsa dancers), Miami's vibrant salsa clubs are a terrific experience, if only to watch or be watched.
Miami's salsa, called Rueda or Casino-style salsa, is unique. Debbie Ohanian -- a Miami transplant who started one of the city's foremost salsa clubs, Starfish -- describes it as a sort of choreographed line dancing, like a Latin square dance, that started in Cuba's social clubs in the 1950s. Traditionally there are 180 different turns that people learn, and there's a caller. Unlike some other forms of salsa, there's not a lot of eye contact, and, also like a square dance, partners are exchanged. At many clubs, where a Casino Rueda typically begins the evening, the circles of dancers get so large, smaller circles form within. Having over 100 people in a Rueda is typical.
Beginners can get an overview of the salsa experience at . You'll find out about the differences in big-city styles, and anything else you want to know about salsa, from music to moves to movies.
Salsa novices should consider a salsa lesson, which are offered by several Miami nightclubs before the crowds turn out. Some lessons are free, while others are part of the cover charge. Alcazaba (50 Alhambra Plaza, Coral Gables, FL, USA. 305/569-4614), in the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables, has basic salsa lessons on Saturday. Bermuda Bar & Grille (3509 N.E. 163rd St., North Miami Beach, FL, USA. 305/945-0196) gives salsa lessons on Thursday night. Gloria and Emilio Estefan's restaurant, Bongos Cuban Cafe (601 Biscayne Blvd., Downtown, Miami, FL, USA. 786/777-2100), at the AmericanAirlines Arena, turns into a Latin-flavored dance club on Friday and Saturday nights, with lessons on Thursday. Café Mystique (7250 N.W. 11th St., Miami, FL, USA. 305/262-9500), at the Days Inn Miami International Airport Hotel, offers live Latin music four nights a week and Thursday-night salsa lessons. Other clubs may offer special salsa nights; check the weekly New Times.
Ready to try out your salsa skills? Get out on the floor and don't be shy to ask someone better than you to dance. (Just ask if they wouldn't mind showing you a couple of turns if you're still new at it.) In addition to the clubs with classes, there are other nightspots with salsa nights (call first). Perhaps the most authentic salsa experience in Miami can be had at La Covacha (10730 N.W. 25th St., West Miami-Dade, Miami, FL, USA. 305/594-3717), an open-air dance hall in West Miami-Dade County where you can hear not only salsa, but merengue, samba, soca, and Spanish-flavored rock. La Covacha attracts the young and old, Hispanics and Anglos, beginning dancers and seasoned salseros. Quench (2801 Florida Ave., Coconut Grove, Miami, FL, USA. 305/448-8150) is a hot spot for Saturday-night salseros, with two dance floors and plenty of space for trying out new moves. Saturday night is salsa night at Paradis (7707 N.W. 103rd St., Hialeah Gardens, FL, USA. 305/825-1000), the nightclub at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel-Miami Airport. Señor Frog's (3480 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove, Miami, FL, USA. 305/448-0999, 616 Collins Ave., South Beach, Miami Beach, 305/673-5262) sheds its Mexican restaurant mode on Saturday and becomes a hot Latin music nightspot.
and Puerto Rico:
SALSA music may have originated in New York City, but San Juan, P.R., is its spiritual home. From gilded casinos to packed nightclubs, the infectious rhythm of salsa has hips swiveling and shoulders shaking until daybreak in this Caribbean capital. Dance lessons are available at places throughout the city, including Miguel Rodríguez's studio on Tuesday and Friday nights (211 Avenida José de Diego, 787-717-1255). Private lessons start at $25.
Afterward, show off your new moves at Rumba in Old San Juan (152 Calle San Sebastián, 787-725-4407) and the Nuyorican Café (312 Calle San Francisco, 787-977-1276), where bands play until 4 a.m. on weekend nights. If that's past your bedtime, swing by the Condado Plaza Hotel and Casino (999 Ashford Avenue, 787-721-1000), where live orchestras start at 5 p.m. and wind things up a little after midnight. End the weekend at the Oyster Bar (6000 Avenida Isla Verde, 787-726-2161). The salsa classes are free and start at 8 p.m. on Sundays. Or you can sit and sip rum.
Image courtesy of Nuyorican Cafe website