Cuba has the sun and sand to draw the crowds, and many visitors spend their entire time lounging about on the beaches. Although this is truly a great way to enjoy the Caribbean island, you can easily spice up your adventure by exploring the nightclubs and adding a little salsa to flavour your time there.
Casa de la Musica – Havana
One of the more popular clubs in the city, you’ll find both salsa and reggaeton played here, depending on the band. The cover charge also depends on the band, with the big names costing more to get in, although still less than you’d pay for a big name back home. The dance floor is packed from the time they open until 6am when they close, with the music changing from salsa to disco sometime in the wee hours of the morning.
Casa de la Musica – Miramar
If the club in Havana is just a little too edgy for you, the Miramar has fewer crowds, less popular bands and is generally a lot less intense. In a good way. Fewer tourists come to the Miramar, which also means fewer hustlers and more authentic dancing. Afternoons are a laid-back sort of affair with very traditional salsa music played by some of the best up-and-coming bands in the city.
Jardines de 1830
Located in the heart of the city, the club usually has smaller bands and a lower cover, meaning more local Cubans come here to dance. One of the best things about the club is the outdoor dance floor that lets you salsa under the stars all night long with the ocean in the background. Sunday afternoons are a mix of salsa and reggaeton, two of the most danceable styles of music around.
Cafe del Hotel Florida
It’s a quiet little cafe in the lobby of this hotel – until the bands show up. The bands tend to be unknowns, but usually excellent, and it’s a surprisingly popular spot for amateur dancers. Up your own game a little by dancing with some serious salsa-ers intent on showing off their moves and you may even learn a few new moves yourself. Arrive early because the doors close when the dance floor is full.
Diablo Tun Tun
The bar stays open late and tends to fill up as the other bars close for the night. There is live music almost every night and a DJ when there isn’t. Some great salsa bands play here along with the occasional reggaeton group and it’s hugely popular for dancing.
Casa de la Amistad
This is a great spot to hear traditional music, including Son, and quite a few good dancers show up for the party. They offer a floor show which is either amazing or cheesy, depending on your mood and either a band or a DJ after that. The mansion it’s housed in is quite beautiful and worth a drive-by even if you aren’t wearing your dancing shoes.
In full view of the Plaza de la Revolucion, the club is a hot spot for live music and salsa with a few disco hits thrown in here and there. Big name singers tend to perform here (well, big in Cuba) and it’s a good show even if you don’t feel like dancing. The Cafe is close to the much more sedate Piano Bar Delirio Habanero and it’s fun to travel between the two, filling your night with hot salsa and cool jazz.
This is a huge outdoor club that features equally huge salsa stars. During the week it’s a quiet little cafe but on weekends they turn up the amps and turn on the music. Although most of the bands are salsa, they do play a mix so check who’s performing before you head out.
Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city on the island and although less-touristed than Havana, it still has a few hot places to try your hand... er, foot, at dancing.
Casa de las Tradiciones
This is an amazing place to come and dance. It’s a less-touristy bar in a less-touristy town and it is full of the real Cuba. Musicians come to perform and jam and you may find yourself dancing salsa, Son, the rumba or even trova. Nobody cares how good you are, only that you’re dancing.
Patio de Los Dos Abuelos
Partly you want to come here just so you can say you danced at “the patio of the two grandfathers”, but it’s also a great music venue. It’s a small hole-in-the-wall with local musicians who play and sometimes dance to traditional tunes. Come early for dinner and then hang out while they clear away the tables and get the floor ready for dancing.
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