Miami has an endless list of dance studios specializing in salsa classes. These studios have talented teachers and serve a purpose if you prefer a quieter setting or have long term plans to dance competitively. But maybe that’s not exactly what you’re looking for. Maybe you’ve danced salsa before, and now you want to learn the proper count and add a spin to your repertoire. Or perhaps you just want to learn in an environment that feels a little more natural–as in the actual establishments where you plan to dance and show off your skills (sooner rather than later). If that’s the case, the list of options becomes much shorter. But it’s still Miami. Let’s explore.
For the newbie who wants to level up.
Salsa Fever is a different kind of social learning experience. It’s the kind you join with the thought ‘I may want to be a serious dancer. I also may want to show off my new skills at the next family wedding.’ But instead of a serious dance studio, you choose Salsa Fever because you also want to listen to a DJ, wear your nightlife garb, and sip on a mojito before (during) and after class. Salsa Fever, led by Normand Rocha and his team, hosts Cuban salsa casino lessons twice a week on the second floor of Lincoln Road’s Yuca Lounge. How it works: There are four levels of instruction, from newbie to advanced. You pick your level wisely, then join the group to get started. No need to bring a friend because you’ll dance in a rueda (wheel) and switch partners often. All groups dance in the same room so it can get loud, but it’s also inspiring. At level 1, you can look to other side of the room at level 4 and think, ‘that will be me at the next class.’
When: Every Wednesday and Friday @ 8:30 pm
Price: $40 for a dop in. Class packages available.
For the newbie on a date or with a party.
You may be thinking to yourself, isn’t Mango’s that touristy place on the over-crowded Ocean Drive? Yes it is that place, and also you’ll likely have to pay $15 for parking. But once you get to the door, the process is seamless. With a Salsa Mia ticket you’ll skip the line and head upstairs to the private Mojito room for a nearly 3-hour party. You’ll join the rest of the dancing hopefuls, a couple bartenders, and the enthusiastic instructor Alex Fisher. About half of the group will be tourists, mostly hosting bachelorette or birthday parties. The other half will be locals–mostly on dates. Everyone’s in a great mood to learn and no one’s taking themselves too seriously. From 8 – 10 pm you’ll learn salsa and bachata basics, dance with multiple partners, and take a break for a free mojito and flatbread. At the end of the official lesson, you can put your new skills into practice downstairs in the main room with latin jams and live performances all night.
When: Every night (Friday or Saturday for the best crowd) @ 7:30 pm
Photo: Mango’s Tropical Cafe
A locals spot for newbies with a few skills.
Just north of Miami’s walls, you’ll find Frankey’s Sports bar in Hallandale’s Gulfstream park. Sounds suspiciously like, well–a sports bar. You might be skeptical, but you’ll want to check it out anyway. As you drive into Gulfstream’s outdoor mall, you immediately realize you’re not in Miami anymore. First you’ll be pumped to discover that valet parking is FREE. But the elation quickly turns to confusion, when you learn that valet closes before most Miami bars open–at midnight. But I digress. Starting at 9:15 pm master instructors from UV Latin Dance gathers everyone to the center of the dance floor where she separates ladies and men to either side. After a quick lesson, Yuro instructs the men to ask their ladies to dance as she turns up the tunes for guided practice. After lessons, the DJ plays salsa and bachata all night. Was the lesson long enough to learn the moves with no prior experience? Probably not. Was it difficult to understand instruction amidst the loud buzz of the bar? Definitely. But the teacher’s lively personality, the DJ’s energetic selection, and the true locals-only vibe are all reasons to head north.
When: Every Friday night @ 9:15 pm
Price: FREE lessons and drink specials all night
Photo: Frankey’s Sports Bar
For salsa newbies who want authentic live music.
Ball & Chain is a classic entertainment destination located in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. This establishment, which originally opened in 1935, closed in 1957, and opened again in 2014 is well known for latin flavor mixed with today’s musical hits. You may have heard about bands performing on the outdoor shell stage, DJs spinning inside amongst the high wooden pillars, or dancers adorned in sequence performing on top of the bar. On Sundays, Ball & Chain’s party focuses on solely on salsa music and dance. Starting at 6 PM, Kemuel Roig’s Latin Quartet takes the stage for 3 hours of live performance before class begins. You may want to arrive for the quartet because after a few hours of salsa instrumentals, you’ll start to feel the music rising in your hips. By the time lessons start at 9 PM, you’ll be ready to let loose and move to the beat.
When: Every Sunday night @ 6 pm. Lessons start at 9 pm.
Photo: Time Out
Cover photo: wheretraveler.com
Elena Schmidt is a creative writer, yoga teacher, and adventure seeker. She seeks equal parts fun and discipline in life and LOVES finding new ideas and places to explore. Check out her portfolio at www.elenaschmidt.com.