Although the name was coined in New York in the 1970s, salsa’s roots are spread far and wide – from the Caribbean to Latin America – so pinning down a single starting point is virtually impossible. These days though, you don’t have to look far for a salsa class or club, wherever you are, as the style has become so popular all over the world.
In Cuba, salsa bars go hand-in-hand with Cuban cigars and icy mojitos, and Havana is the ideal place to sample all three. As the sun sets, head straight for the Malecon – the seafront promenade – and from there you can pick a path through smoky salsa joints all night. If you want to go straight for the biggie, make tracks for La Casa de la Música Centro Habana, one of two branches of this well-known salsa club in the city. It’s where you’ll find all the biggest salsa bands at easy-on-the-wallet prices.
Salsa festivals – or congresses – are another way to experience salsa, and the annual Summer Salsa Festival in Croatia is one of the best. Spread over 13 days, it brings salsa dancers, musicians and fans from around the world to a beautiful seaside setting in Rovinj.
It’s true what they say: it takes two to tango. This partner dance has romance running through its veins – contact is close, legs are entwined and moves are decidedly seductive, so it’s a great one to learn with your other half.
While tango’s roots stretch as far as Argentina and Uruguay – via Paris, London and New York – there’s a thriving scene in Havana. Lots of Argentine musicians settled here in Cuba’s capital city, and the dance was influenced by the Cuban habanera, so you’ll find milongas – or tango parties – in outdoor squares around the city.
Believe it or not, Finland also has a blossoming tango scene – and a unique spin on the classic dance that’s much closer to the ballroom version. The annual Finnish tango festival in Seinajoki – the Tangomarkkinat – brings dance-lovers from far and wide to this town north of Helsinki every July. And, this being Finland, there’s always a sauna close by to relax in after a long time on your feet.
If flamenco floats your boat, you’re going to want to make tracks for Andalucia. This region on Spain’s southern coast is synonymous with flamenco, so it’s a must-visit for anyone who wants to learn this traditional Spanish artform.
The mysteriously seductive mix of music, dance and rhythmic hand-clapping is best served up in a dimly-lit tablao, or flamenco show, at a pena – a more informal affair – or at one of the many open-air flamenco festivals that crop up in Andalucia over the summer months. Bigger cities like Madrid, Seville and Cadiz are a similar story, with as much flamenco as you want on tap.
If you’re keen to get a taste of flamenco in the UK, it’s worth knowing that Sadler’s Wells theatre in London hosts all the biggest players on the flamenco scene every February with Flamenco Festival London. There are music and dance performances, as well as workshops and talks on all things flamenco, so you can swot up before you go.
hosts live music and weekly flamenco nights, and it’s really close to the centre of Nerja.
With two swim-up bars, seven restaurants and a sandy beach on the doorstep, the has all bases covered. Plus, it’s a two-hour drive away from Havana’s salsa bars.
Tucked in a leafy green setting – hence the name – the Hotel Eden in Rovinj is just a few minutes’ walk from the coast.
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