You’ve seen it on the floors of LA's best dance clubs, on Dancing With The Stars and even in an odd teen movie or two… salsa dancing is sexy, passionate and fun, and we've all imagined ourselves twirling on the dance floor and looking damn good doing it. Turns out that dream is totally achieveable, as long as you can find the right club (some of which even offer lessons). We've done the leg work (pun intended) for you, compiling a list of clubs, cocktail bars and more where you can show off the moves you already know and add new ones to your repertoire.
LA's top salsa dancing spots
If you want to enjoy a nice Cuban meal, listen to live salsa music and get your body moving, consider El Floridita in Hollywood for a Friday, Saturday or Monday night rendezvous. Here you can also enjoy one of the best mojitos you’ll find in town. Check the menu ahead of time, and since this is a popular place, call for reservations. The atmosphere will be festive, the dance floor will be full, and keep your eyes open—this is a preferred place for stars like Andy Garcia and Mario Lopez.
Dance lessons at 8:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays and at 8pm on Mondays, followed by social dancing.
This African-themed hangout is a Westside institution and boasts some of the region's most eclectic and forward-thinking DJs. It's open for various events throughout the week, but on Monday nights it's all about salsa. The best dancers on the Westside gather to twirl away until 2am, be it to the music of a live salsa band or the recorded selections of one of the most charismatic salsa DJs in town—DJ Charlie. It's often a full house here, with a casual dress code and a relaxed atmosphere. The floor will be packed, the lights dim, and you'll have to decide between dancing your bootie off or sitting by the bar to take it all in.
Dance lessons from 8pm to 10pm on Mondays, followed by social dancing.
If it's Tuesday night and you cannot keep yourself from salsa dancing, Ixtapa Cantina in Pasadena will do the trick. DJ Luis Pachanga plays a fine selection of salsa, bachata and cha-cha. The venue has a full bar and a kitchen, so you can dine before dancing the night away. The promoter for Salsa Tuesdays at this location is famous for his theme parties, so don’t be surprised if you arrive to find several people dressed in 1920s outfits or dancing on stilts. Don't fret; you're not required to wear anything in particular, the dress code is always casual for non-performers.
Bachata dance lessons at 7:30pm and salsa dance lessons at 8:30pm, followed by social dancing.
If you're looking for a true salsa dancing adventure, head over to the San Manuel Casino, where a live band performs every Tuesday inside the Tukut Lounge. It will require a drive for most, but you'll hardly find a more affordable option, with free dance lessons, free admission and free parking, plus drinks at great prices. The Tukut Lounge has a Vegas-like stage, with a fancy, campy curtain that opens and closes between band sets. The floor is wooden and perfect for your best moves. What's a little drive when so much awaits!
Dance class at 8pm, followed by social dancing.
Tres Vinos is the place to go when you feel like salsa dancing on a Wednesday night or a Sunday evening. This corner venue is aesthetically beautiful, with smooth wooden floors, an island bar and modern seats. The kitchen closes at 8pm on Wednesdays, so you’ll have to arrive earlier if you want to dine, but on Sundays there's an $8 buffet available until 9:30pm. The dress code is casual, and the dance classes at this location are often large and could become your key to making friends and meeting future dance partners.
Wednesday dance class starts at 8pm and Sunday dance class at 5pm, both followed by social dancing.
Co-owned by Latino stars Jimmy Smits, Jennifer Lopez and Sheila E., among others, this fabled and fabulous showcase of Latin music and musicians features an all-star salsa band that rules on Thursdays and Saturdays. Here you can see and hear leading salsa groups like El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico and Orquesta Guayacan de Colombia enhanced by outstanding sound and lighting systems. Admission prices will vary depending on the occasion, so keep an eye on the calendar of events. It is for this exact outing that you have that little black dress or that trendy new shirt. Wear it!
One of the few venues fully dedicated to salsa dancing in the Los Angeles area is the Granada in Alhambra. Here you're bound to get your salsa fix on any Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday. If you're interested in dance lessons, not only for salsa but also other Latin rhythms like bachata, cha-cha or tango, you may want to look at the extensive list of group classes offered here. There is a kitchen at this venue, so you can make your outing a dinner and dance combo. The dress code is casual to dressy, depending on the night; you can check the website to peruse the menu and find specific dress code information.
Dance classes start at 8pm, followed by social dancing.
The Cocopalm is a Cuban restaurant that opens its "Coco Room" for salsa dancing on Friday nights only. The venue consistently features Chino Espinoza y los Duenos del Son, a 10-piece salsa band, as well as the recorded selections of Super DJ Robby, who also plays Top 40 and contemporary tunes between band sets. Appetizers are available, there is a full bar and plenty of seating. We recommend that you call ahead because some Fridays get cancelled due to private parties; the Cocopalm is quite popular for weddings and similar private events.
Dance lesson starts at 8:30pm, followed by social dancing.
In the heart of Los Angeles stands Club Mayan, which hosts events ranging from dance parties to lucha libre fight nights, but on Saturdays showcases local salsa talent. DJ Pedro “El Sabroso” plays Top 40 and pop music that's bound to keep you on the dance floor between band sets. This venue opened in 1927 as a movie theater, became a nightclub in 1990 and today is listed as a Historic Cultural Monument. When you visit, take a moment to admire the pre-Columbian patterns and figures of its façade, as well as the lavish ornaments in its lobby and dance hall.
Steven's Steakhouse is a restaurant with a menu worth paying attention to, but the venue has also positioned itself as an important part of LA’s salsa dancing scene. Salsa Sundays are quite popular here, but there are also salsa bands scheduled to perform Thursday through Saturday. Steven's is a good place to enjoy a fine meal and burn the calories you’ve eaten immediately thereafter. On selected dates, Steven's also offers salsa concerts by renowned international bands in its large dance hall. A good way to keep up with the venue's salsa parties and dance lessons is by becoming social with them on their Facebook page.