by Rita Hargrave
On a balmy Wednesday evening, I jump out of my car and race up the street towards a narrow doorway. Roaring trombones and steady bass tones suck me down a spiral staircase to a basement level club. This is what I need to unwind after 10 hours of struggling with screaming schizophrenics and hollow-eyed alcoholics in my psychiatric clinic - a night of salsa dancing.
I sit down at the bar and order bottles of Calistoga spring water. For now, I am content to watch the lesson the narrow dance floor, sticky with spilt margaritas. Couples in a ragged circle do their best to follow a pair of instructors to the basic "quick-quick-slow, quick-quick-slow". The men wear baggy, black jeans and Nike sneakers, while the women are clad in flowered Capri pants and platform wedgies.
As the beginners start to clear the floor, the music switches from the lilting groove of Victor Manuel to the roaring trombones of Sonora Poncena. The experienced dancers, mostly couples in their 40's, 50's or 60's, stream onto the floor. The men sport black guayaberas and Floreisheim shoes and the women flaunt dark chiffon dresses or pantsuits.
A 60-ish couple sweep by in a steamy embrace, their feet whirling and flirting with the syncopated piano vamp. At the same time, a young couple charge across the floor like a runaway speedboat, spinning and twirling, before finally crashing into the older couple.
These salsa fender-benders happen a lot lately - dancers even knock each other to the floor. It's a clash of styles between salseros and mamberos.
The salsero, usually over 40, dances on the first beat of the music. He generally likes moving to medium tempo grooves, leading his partner in circular patterns as she promenades around him, showing off her rolling hip swings. He releases his partner to break into freestyle dancing, encouraging her to feed off his energy, play with the musical grooves, and dance in the moment.
The mambero, on the other hand, is a 20-30-ish dancer who focuses on the second beat of the music. He usually dresses in faded blue jeans, T-shirt, and white jazz shoes. He thrusts his partner back and forth in a linear fashion (called "dancing in the slot"). The mambero's style is quick and aggressive, peppered with spins, dips and acrobatic tricks that consume a lot of real estate on a crowded dance floor. Mamberos import Prue-rehearsed routines (borrowed from dance troupes) to the clubs, adding a competitive, performance-like edge to a once predominantly social dance scene.
The tension between salseros and mamberos, (a.k.a The Mambo Wars) has added a contentious air to clubs. Mambos establish a beachhead on one part of the dance floor, cordon it off and protect it. I have seen mamberos (male and female) refuse to dance with partners who dance on a different beat or have a different style.
In spite of this, more unites mamberos and salseros than divides them. They all love salsa. In fact, it wasn't until the community began to splinter into hostile camps that I realized what salsa meant to me - a community, not just a dance. We enjoy each other's company between dances. Fellow salsa fanatics (a.k.a. Salsaholics) ask about your new job, notice you have dropped 15 pounds, or say that you look tired.
I have invited men and women from the salsa community to my house for dance parties, birthdays and Christmas parties. I've gone on shopping sprees with my female dance buddies, hunting for salsa clothes. I have traveled to Cuba, Europe and South America with fellow salsa lovers. I met my plumber, my carpenter and my gardener on the dance floor. Even though the Mambo Wars have recently produced less goodwill and gentility on the scene, I continue to go out dancing four times a week, and I keep coming back to kiss and hug old friends, sink into the arms of new partners, and let the drum rolls stir my soul.
Photo by Marcy Mendelson from Salsa at Little Baobab photo story.
Responsible for the resurgence in Cuban music and culture, the movie and cd brought these musicians to a whole new audience.
Recorded in just six days in 1996 with a stellar cast of Cuban musicians, Buena Vista Social Club has become a musical phenomenon. Awarded a Grammy in 1997 it has sold well over 6 million copies to date and introduced the world to Cuban son, as well as launching both Ibrahim Ferrer and Ruben Gonzalez as near household names. The timeless quality of the music and the sheer verve of the performers has ensured that this will go down as one of the landmark recordings of
The members of Buena Vista Social Club include:
Salsa maybe more of a concept than a specific rhythm, but its infectious and vibrant sound has captivated audiences around the world. In Colombia, salsa took hold in the main Atlantic and Pacific coastal cities, where a distinctive style emerged and had a significant impact on the genre as a whole. Within Colombia, salsa is danced in clubs, discos and at carnival – dancing is widespread in a land where the latest salsa hit is heard everywhere, on your way to work, when you do the shopping, and when you go out with your friends. Featuring many of the best-known salsa artists in the country, The Rough Guide To Salsa Colombia is your introduction to this effervescent dance music.
Salsa is the musical pulse that flows through Latin America, the Spanish speaking Caribbean, and the Latin Diaspora in the USA and across the world. Short, sharp, sweet and straight to the point, salsa has come to define Latin life – the music, the dancing, the culture. The Rough Guide To Salsa Dance (Second Edition) presents some of the freshest and newest salsa bands and songs from Colombia to New York, Cuba to Puerto Rico – the ideal soundtrack for the summer and guaranteed to move anyone, from the accomplished dancer to the double left-footed.
Afro-cuban brilliance! Africando, the Afro-Salsa supergroup is back. Fourteen years after the historic first meeting of the best singers from Senegal and the best Latin musicians in New York, "Ketukuba" , their seventh album is ready. "Ketukuba" is a tribute to the late Gnonnas Pedro, Benin's favourite son, who sang with Africando from 1996 until his death in 2004. The title song, was his last recording.
In the 1950s, he helped create the descarga style of music that is a mix between jazz-styled improvisation with Afro-Cuban rhythms. In the 1960s, he was a key member of Irakere, a Cuban experimental band that combined pop, classical, Cuban folk, African and jazz influences. An inspired debut rooted in the spirit of descarga, "Cachaíto" is given a daring twist by producer Nick Gold and an essential rhythm section. The liberated bass leads an awesome, groove-based experimental journey mixing Cuban styles, jazz, funk, hip-hop and reggae.
His memory is honored in Cuba in September of every year by a festival in Cienfuegos that bears his name. Many Cuban singers refer to him in their songs.
In the Cuban capital Havana, a salsa club is named after him. On the malecon in Manzanillo, there is a statue of him.
Find out why by listening to the master...
Rough Guides and Root Magazine teamed up for the 2007 Essay Contest. Thank you to everyone who sent in an essay. It was difficult sorting through the many colorful stories to choose just 5 winners. We heard about emotional experiences among fellow dancers that reminded one writer of her ancestors, an altered essay about the joys of the late '80s night-life, traveling to Senegal and immersing oneself in Sabar, and jumping into a humbling new dance form with humor.
Announcing the winners:
Our first essay to be published comes just in time for Valentines Day. By Rita Hargrave of Oakland, California.
THREE MINUTES LOVE AFFAIR
It was 2 A.M. on January 14 and after three pots of Sleepy Time tea and two Ambiens, I was still awake. After I climbed out of bed and polished off a pint of mango ice cream, I decided to reorganize my bedroom closet, a chore guaranteed to put me to sleep. When I opened the door, I saw my favorite shoes, red four inch heels. The strappy vamps reminded me of a forlorn Valentine’s Day last year at Roccapulco, a San Francisco nightclub, when everybody but me had a partner.
As a good salsa dancer, most nights I can stroll into any San Francisco area club and be asked to dance by enough guys that after 2 hours my feet have puffed out a full size larger. But that evening I couldn’t pry any of the good dancers out of their dates’ clutches even for one number. When I finally fell asleep around three, I decided this year would be different. This year I would bring my own partner to the holiday salsa bashes.
I had three weeks. Richard, my companion for 25 years, would have been ideal. He is a presentable bit of eye candy, owns his own tuxedo and he lives right here in the house. But in the 12 years I’d been going to salsa clubs four times a week he’d come with me-how many times? Let’s see—never.
I could have asked Maurice, my regular partner, but his wife wouldn’t let him near the clubs during the festivities.
I was sure that other women needed dance partners, so I decided to log into www.salsapartners.com, a dancers’ matchmaking website. I scanned the classified ad categories—beginner, intermediate, advanced and conceited. Under conceited Sean, a 26 year old Salvadorian mechanic (with a cobra tattoo on his neck) wanted “ a trim, sensual partner who likes to dance.” Under intermediates Chopra, 30-ish Pakistani dentist, a sunbaked version of Pee Wee Herman, wanted ”an empathic woman with rhythm and the right chemistry”. These guys were looking for more than a holiday dance partner. They wanted hot young things, a mixture of J.Lo, Janet Jackson and Mother Theresa. But I am not 26 with 24-inch waistline and buns of steel. I am 40-plus, a psychiatrist who dances to shake off the emotional fallout of dozens of gloomy patients. I subscribe to AARP, not Vibe magazine.
I didn’t want just anybody. I wanted a partner who plunged me so deep in the musical groove that at the end of the song, I had to hug him, press my lips against his ear and murmur “Oh, my God. That was great”. I wanted someone who could already dance Salsa, loved it and looked great doing it. I needed a guy who wanted to dance, not date.
When virtual Salsa dating didn’t work, I decided to work the clubs. After two weeks of cruising my usual haunts, my last stop was the Allegro Ballroom in Emeryville, California. Every Sunday night Allegro, a tawny converted warehouse in a mini-mall, draws a huge crowd, everybody from 16-year-old boys to 70-year-old grandfathers who started dancing salsa before they could talk.
At 9pm I stepped into the Main Room. Wailing trumpets, clattering stiletto heels and the raucous chatter of 400 people engulfing me . The D.J. played “Montuno Street”, the music blasting so loudly that the walls rattled.
I only had two hours to get the job done since I had to be at my desk at seven the next morning. In front of the stage I saw flashy dancers breaking out their fancy footwork, guys like —Ramon, a stocky Peruvian wearing silver tipped cowboy boots, who dipped his partner so low that her ponytail stirred up dust clouds on the floor.
I was determined to find a good looking, single guy whom I already loved to dance with. Two sweaty hours later, I had gotten nowhere. I’d danced with lots of men, asked a couple of them out, and been turned down. I reconciled myself to another dateless holiday season. As I turned to leave, a skinny Filipino man grabbed my hand and nodded toward the dance floor. It was Jerry, 5’6” with a nutmeg- colored face and spiky black hair. He wore a loose white T-shirt and droopy cargo pants. He’s been there all night, but he wasn’t the type I had in mind. I knew from dancing with him before that while Jerry was passionate and expressive on the dance floor, as soon as the music stopped he clammed up. I’d never heard him squeeze out more than a few painful sentences. Besides that he was 25: young enough to be my son.
“Descarga Total”, a hard-rocking Cuban song played as I eagerly followed Jerry onto the hardwood floor. I hadn’t found a date, but at least I would have one great dance before I went home. My legs were tense. I was nervous—he was that good a dancer.
Jerry took me in his arms, stroked my shoulder and I relaxed. We launched into a wonderful dance, our bodies riding on the piano’s insistent tumbao, and our feet chasing the breezy flute riffs. His eyes widened with delight when I followed his lead and smoothly completed a series of triple turns. I laughed when he mimicked Shakira’s shoulder shimmies. It was a 3 minute love affair with a soundtrack of throbbing conga rhythms. When the song ended, I closed my eyes, sighed and gave him a hug filled with gratitude and love. The kind of hug I reserve for Richard when he’d back from a three-week business trip.
That’s when I realized I had been making a mistake. This is what I should have looking for all along, this emotional electricity that arcs between simpatico dance partners. Why not Jerry? The passionate connection I felt with him was exactly what I wanted. Who cares if he didn’t talk much? But I did not ask him out. There was no urgency anymore. I was not worried about finding a dance partner. I would find a date easily, now that I had learned to look past the style of a guy’s pants, his haircut or his age.
Rita is a contributor to Root and runs the Salsa Roots website. In addition to Salsa, she is also a talented Tango dancer.
It can be quite overwhelming to delve into the choices available in Latin music. Here are some of the best. The first in our list is presented below. Add your comments to contribute to the list... what is in your library?
Los Van Van - Timba.com says:
After the revolution, Cuba adopted the Soviet strategy of testing young children for a variety of aptitudes including musical talent and offering promising students conservatory training from an early age. While this important seed began to grow, the existing generation of adult musicians began listening to American music in earnest and absorbing the influences of jazz and the explosion of creativity in rock & R&B in late 60's and early 70's. The most important of these, and probably the most important figure in the history of Cuban music, was Juan Formell, who was the musical director of Orquesta Revé when he and a number of other members broke away to form Los Van Van. Van Van has remained Cuba's most popular group for 32 years and counting.
Afro Cuban All-Stars: from Myspace:
Juan de Marcos González is one of the most important figures in Cuban music today. He has a mission to show the world the wealth, diversity and vitality of Cuban music. His work with the Afro-Cuban All Stars, the Buena Vista Social Club, Rubén González, Ibrahim Ferrer, Sierra Maestra and others has made an extraordinary contribution to raising the profile of Cuban music throughout the world. However, neither his name nor his crucial contribution is well known to the general public and he remains something of an unsung hero of Cuban music.
Listen online at their Myspace Page
Tito Puente "The King of Mambo"
Born Ernest Anthony Puente, Jr., Tito Puente is internationally recognized for his enormous and significant contributions to Latin music as a bandleader, composer, arranger, percussionist, and mentor. Popularly known as the “El Rey del Timbal” and the “King of Mambo”, he recorded more than 100 albums, published more than 400 compositions, and won five Grammy awards.
YouTube: Tito Puente plays with Sheila E. and Pete Escovedo in 1989
Celia Cruz "The Queen of Salsa"
Celia Cruz (Ursula Hilaria Celia Caridad Cruz Alfonso) (October 21, 1925 - July 16, 2003) was a Cuban salsa singer who spent most of her career living and working in the United States. Cruz was one of the most successful Cuban performers of the 20th century, with twenty-two gold albums to her name. Leila Cobo of Billboard Magazine once said "Cruz is undisputedly the best-known and most influential female figure in the history of Afro-Cuban music."
Listen at Myspace and watch her in these vintage spots in 1967 and 1960
Wednesday nights at the Little Baobab are for Salsa dancers. As I waited in the January rain to pay the small cover charge, 2 young women giggled as they scraped their change together. Down to dimes and nickels, they paid the doorman and rushed into the tiny club of devotees...
View the photo story here: Salsa at the Little Baobab
All photos by Marcy Mendelson
JELLY’S: CHEERS WITH A CHA CHA BEAT
A man in a Panama hat raced from a Super Shuttle van toward a dinky Kleenex- box shaped building, his overnight bag bumping over the rough cement behind him. He dropped the bag at the door and disappeared into a hard hot wind of smashing cymbals, wailing trumpets and clinking beer bottles. He had arrived at Jelly’s, a salsa club wedged between the AT&T ballpark and the weather-beaten warehouses on the San Francisco waterfront. There’ll be other shuttles along in a minute—he’s not alone in coming straight from the airport to the “Club Havana” Sunday afternoon event at Jelly’s. With its sagging neon sign in front and rusty tugboat moored in the back, Jelly’s looks more like a Hell’s Angels hangout than a salsa club. On the inside, it’s jammed wall to wall with salsa junkies and savvy tourists.
Jelly’s afternoon bashes come from a long- standing Bay Area tradition of Sunday afternoon dances called “tardeadas” that started in the 1950s at clubs such as Sweets Ballroom in Oakland. Today out of the more than twenty clubs that make up the jumping Bay Area salsa scene, only Jelly’s and El Rio across town in the warm Mission District still have Sunday afternoon dancing. El Rio’s dancing is outdoors on cement, and the Latin events draw a mostly gay crowd.
Here it’s different. The shuttle passenger in his cream guayabera (the formal linen overshirt popular among Latino men) can already wrapped his arms around a busty Latino woman with big hair and frosted highlights and drawn her onto a wooden dance floor sticky at the edges from spilled drinks. Live bands will come on later, but the afternoon begins with the D.J.s like Luis Medina whose rich mix of hard- driving new music from Cuba and vintage salsa from New York and Puerto Rico whips the crowd into such a frenzy that the dancers forget to drink(to the sorrow of the club owner), eat or even pee. Many are regulars who have been coming here every week to show off their double turns and cross-body leads for decades. Some are Latino, some black, some suburban-looking blondes. Everybody knows everybody: it’s Cheers with a cha cha beat. One dancer downing a Dos Equis at the bar said, “Jelly’s has the old-school Latin spirit. It has a down-home feel.” They all agree that the patrons at Jelly’s don’t have the snooty airs and competitiveness on the dance floor one finds at the upscale clubs such as Café Cocomo, a couple of miles to the north on Potrero Hill and The Glass Kat in the South of Market district, where the better dancers take over one area of the floor and keep out those not up to their standards. A dancer who said his name was Lenny said, “Jelly’s is where you can dance, connect with your partner, be playful and flirtatious. It’s a wonderful place to shed your inhibitions, if only for just a few minutes.”
Much of the energy comes from the live bands that come on about five-thirty. Today Anthony Blea Y Su Charanga, a 9 piece salsa band, pumps out speaker-rattling trombone and trumpet riffs from an elevated stage.
Hours of dancing force many to succumb to the aroma of charred onions and green peppers that spills in from the concrete patio out back above the green waters of the bay. Today six lanky AfroCubans, wearing XXL orange and black 49niner t-shirts have buried their faces in steamy plates piled with black beans and rice, grilled onions, salsa and barbeque chicken, a bargain at $9.
Even someone wholly new to salsa, who doesn’t know Tito Puentes from Ricky Ricardo, will be swept up in the joy and energy from the dancers. Some will try to fake the steps on the edges of the dance floor. Many will leave determined to take salsa lessons as soon as they arrange it. For a first hand look at Jelly’s and the rest of Bay Area Salsa scene check the Fifth Annual San Francisco International Salsa Congress taking place November 16-19 at the Oakland Marriott City Convention Center and Hotel.
Jelly's - A Dance Cafe
295 TERRY FRANCOIS BLVD.
PIER 50, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94158
Images courtesy of Jelly's Cafe, El Rio, and Anthony Blea
is a great and unique city that has an ever growing
population of adults who refuse to grow up in the traditional sense. We
refuse to settle. We refuse to get married just to get married. And
most of all, we refuse to stop going out. So what are we going to do? We want
to be out but don't want to party down like we used to. We want to be
around like minded, sophisticated adults and develop connections
without being "on the make." Many of us are interested in culture and
developing new skills.
In other words, there are many of us out there that don't want to go to
bars and sit and drink with little hope of meeting someone other than
who we came with. We also don't always want to be shouting over
incredibly loud DJs or dancing around the floor by ourselves. Some of
us prefer activities that are, well, active...and interactive.
Salsa dancing offers a solution to all these quandaries. I assert that
it is like learning a whole new language. It has a distinct vocabulary
in which the more well versed you become, the better and more freely
you are able to express yourself. It also promotes cooperation,
nonverbal communication and manners in a way that has been overlooked
in our society for a great while. It creates a space for grown folks to
socialize with a different focus. Does that sound refreshing?
has a large and varied Salsa dance community with many
subcategories. You may hear the terms "on one," "on two," "Cuban style" or
"casino rueda." All these styles differ a bit from each other and have
core communities that surround and swear by them. There are also a
whole lot of people who are not particular to one style or the other,
but still love to go out and just dance. If you intend to seek
out a class, you'll most definitely be confronted with these
As a dance studio owner, I am pleased to be able to offer classes in
all these styles from some of the best, most informed instructors in the
Here are some words from each of them to help distinguish the styles
and help you decide where you might want to start.
Nick Van Eyck:
After over 14 years of martial arts and movement
instruction, partner dancing and salsa was a natural
progression for me. I started teaching Cuban Salsa 8
years ago. My unique teaching method incorporates
concepts of martial arts, such as connection, fluidity, and balance.
Cuban Salsa is called Casino and it is usually more circular and
playful than other styles, such as ballroom or Mambo and is perfect for
today's salsa clubs. Unlike other styles of salsa, it is a partner dance
that can be danced in groups as well as in pairs. When danced in a group,
it is called Rueda de Casino. In Rueda de Casino, couples form a circle
and follow the caller, one person calling out moves.
Presently I teach club-style Salsa, Rueda de Casino, Cha Cha Cha, Son,
and several martial arts forms. I combine decades of Cuban tradition with
modern movement concepts of space, timing, and flow. I have trained and
taught all over the U.S., including extended periods in , ,
and Austin. I have also taught in and throughout .
I have performed and choreographed for demonstrations,
festivals, instructional DVDs and movies.
Classes at Studio Gracia:
Wednesdays at 7:30pm, Cost: $10.
Private lessons, performance, and choreography are available for weddings,
parties or other functions.
Gabriel Romero has been teaching and performing Salsa in
for over 10 years. He teaches a classic nightclub style that
is based on the Cuban Clave, and covers everything from solo footwork
to sexy partner turns and combinations. Every Saturday afternoon you
will find Studio Gracia filled with Salsa dance students sweating and
moving to the Latin beat! Men and Women of all ages are welcome in this
open and friendly dance environment.
Classes at Studio Gracia: Saturdays at 4pm Open Floorwork
5pm Partner Combinations
$12 for one class $18 for both
Ricardo Tallez began teaching Salsa in , in
November 1998. Since then, he has expanded his classes to the Glas Kat
(Club Karamba!) in on Tuesday nights, Studio Gracia in
Mondays and Fridays.
Ricardo has been teaching at Studio Gracia for over a year and has been
performing in the San Francisco for the last 7 years with his two
different salsa teams. He also teaches workshops around the country.
Ricardo travels to teach Salsa Workshops in , , and throughout Europe.
Ricardo has an integrated approach for teaching ON1 and ON2 Salsa
simultaneously and emphasizes developing a well rounded dancer. Ricardo
teach all patterns and footwork ON1, the prevailing time signature for
beginners in San Francisco . Immediately after the ON1 map is taught, the
ON2 version is taught. This integrated approach draws attention to the
differences and similarities between time maps, and promotes the
ability to switch seamlessly between the two styles.
Ricardo recently started a Same Sex Salsa Lesson in the Studio Gracia every
In this extraordinary city of there are many wonderful
studios to learn in as well as venues to go out and dance. That said, let's
go out and dance... together for a change.
Salsa Dancer & Studio Owner
San Francisco, California
image of Gabriel Romero courtesy of www.albertos.com
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