Salsa Schools and Clubs in Cali, Colombia
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You may also want to read about the worldwide popular Salsa Styles.
Note: All the information in this page is based on my personal experience visiting Colombia and especially Cali city in 2013. If you are reading this in the future, there may have been changes, because Colombia is developing rapidly. I have updated some data in 2016 without visiting Colombia.
Salsa Schools in CaliThere are hundreds of Salsa schools in Cali but some are more easy to reach than others. Most of them don't have a website, are not in the center and they are mostly for kids.
Here are some Salsa schools (Academia de baile) which are popular with foreigners :
El Manicero (academia de baile Sabor Manicero)El Manicero is situated in a very central place, exactly at the exit of the metro-bus station Tequendama. El Manicero is a sort of social school which means the prices are attractive. The school gives (mainly) group classes, during all the week and you can choose between 2 different shifts in the evening. The first half hour is a warming with stretching exercises, the next hour is a training in individual steps of the Colombian style salsa (Salsa Caleña) and the last half hour is a training in couples of Salsa and other dances (Bachata, Merengue, Tropical, Son). About a third of the participants are foreigners. There are simultaneously 4 levels of Salsa in different groups. Most of the tourists don't reach the fourth level because their flight is taking off just a few days after their arrival (It is not easy to be young and to see all South America in just 1 month). El Manicero is quite good and fun and you also meet local people, but you don't advance so fast in the couple dancing, the best is to reinforce it with private lessons from another school (or this school).
Data updated for 2016 :
Schedule of the group classes, 2 hours each class :
Monday to Thursday: 16:30 to 18:30 or 19:00 to 21:00
Friday: 16:30 to 18:30 Saturday: 14:00 to 16:00
Prices : Packet of 16 days of classes : $80.000 Only one class : $12.000
Facebook page : Academiadebailesabormanicero
Tel: (+57) 315 289 40 40
Address : Calle 5 # 39-71 (see map) in front of the metro-bus station Tequendama.
Son de LuzLuz (which means Light) is the owner and principal Salsa instructor in the school. She has a lot of experience and she can detect the mistakes you are doing in your footwork and correct you, she is one of the best teachers you can have in Cali (this is the opinion of many experienced students). The school specializes in individual lessons, but you get also 2 free group lessons a week. Prices are attractive for private lessons: 30000 pesos for 1 hour and even less if you buy a packet of them.
The school is situated in the Alameda neighborhood (quite central) a 10 minutes walk from the metro-bus station "Manzana del Saber" or "Estadio".
Data updated for 2016 :
Address: Carrera 28 # 6 -118 (see map)
Phone: +(572) 370 2692 / MÓVIL: +(57) 315 546 4859
Facebook page and website
See this video of a training in the school, this group are not tourists :
Swing LatinoSwing Latino is a famous school, they give shows around the world. (in Youtube you will find a lot of videos about them, here is one). They give private and group classes. They are more expensive : 1 hour of private class is 70000 pesos and of course you get discounts if you buy several of them. Their group classes are good, they offer 5 levels that take a semester to finish each, so if you have time and you are very advanced you should participate in one of these semesters and at the end of each semester you will even participate in a show before an audience (your parents will have to come to Colombia). The group classes cost 90000 monthly for 8 classes of one hour.
Swing Latino website, (see map), Address: cra 31 # 7-25 Tel: (57)23742226
RucaféRucafé is the only place in Cali that teaches the Cuban style Salsa. As a tourist, it doesn't make a lot of sense for you to learn the Cuban style in Colombia because you can do it anywhere in the world with much more schedules. Rucafé offers just one level at a time (Cuban style) and you have to advance to the next level each semester. The school teaches also other dances and special sessions like Aero-Rumba. Prices are 90000 pesos for one month of group classes and 50000 pesos for an individual class . See Rucafé Facebook page and website. The school is located near the sport complex Panamericana. Address : Carrera 36, No 8-49 (see map) Tel: 5560300
Tango Vivo & Salsa VivaThey are situated not far from the other schools, in a small street, in San Fernando (see map). They have very nice and modern facilities. If you take private lessons, they will teach you whatever dance you want in flexible hours. If you take group lessons, it will be a mix of Salsa, Bachata, bogaloo, cha cha chá, pachanga, Tango, and more.
See Tango Vivo site for more details. Address: Calle 5B5 No : 36-94 San Fernando Tel: 557 0618
- There are also private Salsa teachers who are offering their services in the hostels and guest houses in town, especially in the San-Antonio neighborhood, where most hostels are located. These teachers are also visiting the popular Salsa clubs to mingle with their students.
- Some hostels are offering free Salsa lessons. The level is basic
as most of the students are casual travelers.
Salsa Clubs in CaliYou can dance Salsa in Cali every night of the week. Each day of the week has its most popular Salsa club and the best way to get informed is with the help of the staff in the hostels. You can also look at this site, it lists the night events in Cali for the current day (Check only the Salsa category in the filter).
It is during the week-ends that the clubs are the most active. Thursday is the best day to go out for Salsa in Cali, I wish I could be at several places at the same time on Thursdays.
Tin Tin DeoTin Tin Deo is the most "western" style Salsa club in Cali: The dancing floor is the main attraction (and not the tables) and there is a switch of partners between the songs. The best night to be there is Thursday. In this night there are lots of tourists and locals and you can spot some good dancers and also a lot of students who show want they have learned during the classes. Prices of the drinks is fine, you get a voucher for drink consumption for almost the same amount you paid at the entry.
Website, Facebook, Address: Calle 5 # 38-71 (see map) Tel: (57 2) 514 1537
Look at this video of a night at Tin Tin Deo on a Thursday night :
La Topa TolondraLa Topa Tolondra is another place popular among tourists, it is right in front of the San-Antonio neighborhood (where most hostels are located) on the other side of the fifth road (see map).
The club is very small and the floor is even not straight but the music is good and the beer is cheap. No cover entry. The best day for this club is Wednesday. Facebook Address : Cll 5 # 13-27, Tel: 314 6641470
Alameda neighborhoodAround a small garden in Alameda near metro-bus station "Santa Librada", there are several Salsa clubs which are mainly active during the week-ends. They are called "viejotecas" (viejo means old) because the Salsa music which is played is of older style. Among the clubs : Alalaé (see map) and El Habanero.
The Sixth Avenue zone
The sixth avenue is la zona rosa (the pink zone) of Cali, which means
it is the main nightlife spot. In reality, it is quite deserted during
the week nights and it gets busy only during the week-ends (Wednesday
to Saturday). There are several Salsa bar-clubs in this street with a
sleazy atmosphere. Regular Salsa dancers are usually not arriving to
this zone but the salsa music is good (as always) and there is no cover
price. One cool salsa-bar is called "El viejo Barril" (see map).
In one of the nearby small streets there is the Salsa club Zaperoco (see map) which has live shows on Thursdays.
Out of town :
Las Brisas club
This club is way out of town in the Jamundi district (see map)
and the right night to be there is Monday. Usually, people meet before,
in the hostels of San-Antonio (at Tostaky hostel for example) and share
taxis to go there. Las Brisas is an open-air club with a swimming pool
during the day. Look at this
video from a night at Las Brisas.
Menga and Juanchito zonesThe Menga and Juanchito zones are places out of town with a lot of Discos with different music styles and not just Salsa. Many clubs are situated there in order to avoid the law that enforce the closing of the clubs at one o'clock in the morning, in the center of Cali. (It is called "la ley zanahoria", "the carrot law").
In Menga you can find the Siboney salsa club (see map) which is popular on Tuesdays. In Juanchito you can find the Chango club (see map).
I personally, prefer to stay in the center of town to dance Salsa, but if you like to travel at night in taxis with friends as part of the fun, just do it !
- The list I mentioned above is not exhaustive. You can look at the
international site Salsa Powers
for more places.
- If you want to be cool like the locals, then say "Salir a
Rumbear" for going out to party and to dance Salsa. Say "Chévere" when
something is great.
How is Cali City ?Cali is the third big City of Colombia after Bogota and Medellin, it has around 2 million inhabitants. Many comments in Tripadvisor Cali forum are saying that Cali has absolutely no interest for tourists and that there are much more interesting place to visit in Colombia. I may agree with that : If you just want to see "tourist attractions" Cali is not the place as there are (almost) no museums, no special monuments and even the Zoo that is recommended by some guides is not that special in my opinion (unless you really like birds).
But, you should come to Cali for :
- Salsa - Yes, if you want to experience Colombian Salsa spirit and want to take Salsa classes, Cali is the right place to be. You may consider staying in Cali even a few months in order to learn Salsa, some foreigners are doing just that.
- Weather - It is hot in Cali during the days and the nights. You are usually dressed with just a T-shirt and rarely a sweatshirt at night. In some periods of the year it rains in the afternoons but it lasts only a few hours. The air is dry in Cali, very good for breathing smoothly. In Bogota and Medellin it is much cooler, in Bogota it is even hard to breathe because of the altitude. There is no beach in Cali, but there are swimming pools and the sun is usually shinning.
- Nice girls - Everyone will tell you in Colombia : "The nicest girls are in Medellin and in Cali". I guess there are beautiful girls all over Colombia but in Cali the weather is warm, so girls are dressed lightly and they come in different colors (there is a black community in Cali).
- No tourists - Because there are no tourist attractions in Cali, there are also (almost) no tourists, and even the few ones are concentrated in the San-Antonio neighborhood, which leaves you the all city just for yourself. Locals in Cali are not used to tourists and so they treat the few ones as equals and there is not the ugly phenomenas that are associated with mass tourism like extra charges, harassment etc.
- If you are a male they address you here as : "Señor Caballero"
(Google translate: Sir cavalier or sir knight). I got addicted to it
and now I ask my friends and family to call me the same.
Look at this video that I filmed in the Center of Cali :
There are also modern malls in Cali. The nicest ones are Jardin Plaza in the south and Chipichape in the north (see map). These malls are partly sky-open with palm trees, quite beautiful. See this video which I filmed in Chipichape mall. You may also want to see this video which shows the special spirit during the week-ends near the Sport complex Estadio and this video is the night of Semana Santa in the town center with a march.
In the following photo: A mall in Cali when there is an important football game :
Where to stay in Cali ?Most of the young tourists stay in San-Antonio. It is a quiet neighborhood with small houses and a lot of trendy cafés and restaurants. There is a hill with a view on the city and during the week-ends young Colombians come to this place on motorbikes and socialize. San-Antonio is not close to the main metro-bus lines but you can use some buses and taxis. The Tostaky hostel (see map), owned by a French is a very popular one with good crêpes and croissants to eat. Another hostel is Posada de San Antonio.
Not far from San-Antonio, on the other side of the fifth street, is the historical center and Caicedo square (see map). This area is very busy during the day and empty during the nights but still safe, as there are many police and guards in every corner. There are several budget hotels in the center, even cheaper than the hostels in San Antonio in some cases. Location is perfect : near the metro-bus station (la Ermita) and near the six avenue (the nightlife zone) and near San-Antonio. Among the hotels in this square : Hotel Royal Plaza and Hotel Americana .
In Alameda zone there are some hostels, one of them is Mistela Salsa hostel (see map). It makes sense to stay in Alameda if you are busy with Salsa, because it is close to the schools and clubs.
Another zone for hostels is in the north of the city, close to Chipichape mall. The hostels Iguana and Pelican Larry are there. It doesn't make sense to stay in the north if you are in the Salsa business.
Note : Tourists who stay for long periods, tend to rent a room in an apartment. You can ask fellow travelers about available places.
Safety in Colombia and in CaliHaving heard before my trip that Colombia is an extremely dangerous country, and after staying in Cali for a few months without experiencing any violence and even without seeing two people shouting at each other, I began to suspect that the Colombians have positioned themselves as a risky destination, just to repel tourists, and it works: there are only 2 millions visitors a year in Colombia for a population of 50 millions compared to 80 millions tourists in France for a population of 65 millions (see world ranking).
But reality is a little more complex than that. Statistically, Colombian cities have the highest world homicide rates. Cali city had 1,720 murders in 2011 (78 homicides for every 100000 people), it is in position 11 in a worldwide ranking. Medellin city is not far from it, position 14. Note that New-Orleans in the U.S is in position 21, also a risky city.
So Cali and other Colombian cities are really dangerous based on statistics but the point is that most of these murders occur within very specific environments. They occur in poor neighborhoods, within families, between drug dealers and in general between people who know each other. If you are a tourist and you have experience travelling worldwide and you don't tend to get involved in trouble, you have all the chances to stay alive (just a way of speaking), the FARC will not come to search for you in the Salsa club.
Now, if you are young and innocent without any common sense, then you better travel to Colombia with your parents or any other adult.
I can not describe here in details what is acting with common sense in a trip, it is something that requires experience but if for instance you are approached by a very attractive girl when you have absolutely no sex-appeal, you should get suspicious, maybe this girl doesn't want to murder you, but she may have some interests.
In Cali, it is safe to take taxis and use the buses, also during night time, it is also safe to stay at night in the historical center of town around plaza Caicedo (Since 2013 a new promenade has been inaugurated along the river, took years to build and locals are very proud of it). You may feel uncomfortable in Cali, because there are huge numbers of policemen and soldiers everywhere and also the residential neighborhoods are surrounded by fences, but you get used to it. You should not enter at night into poor neighborhoods that you don't know (don't worry, you will spot these neighborhoods). Don't attract attention as a specially wealthy person, but don't take this into extremes: after a while in Colombia, I realized that I was the only one in the metro-bus who didn't take out the smartphone from the pocket and then I also realized that most Colombians around me where dressed better than me, so I forgot all the stupid advises I received before my trip and went to buy new shoes.
One Danger that is underestimated for the tourist in Colombia is that of traffic. I already visited countries with crazy traffic like Vietnam but I never saw a place like Cali where cars NEVER stop before a pedestrian. When I say never, I mean that even if you initiated your walk in a "zebra" section when your light is green, a car may come from behind and pass a few centimeters from you. Even when it rains heavily and you can barely manage to cross the street between the puddles, the cars won't stop and they will splash you. When it gets dark, the cars won't stop even before the red lights and it is accepted by the police. Taking a taxi ride at night in one of the tiny yellow cabs is scary.
So, be careful with traffic, they don't care you are a tourist. (you need to be able to run fast and have eyes in all directions)
Being Vegetarian in Cali city, ColombiaThis section is a tribute to my fellow Vegetarians.
South America is known to be the continent of the meat eaters, and as a vegetarian I was a little bit worried before my trip, after all, also vegetarians need to eat something.
To my surprise, I found in Cali many vegetarian restaurants around the historical center of town. I could choose every day between 5 vegetarian restaurants, all of them at a walking distance from my hotel. Most of these restaurants are very simple (eateries) and with cheap prices, the day menu costs 6000 pesos and it includes a soup, natural juice, a main plate with a substitute to meat (gluten based), beans (or peas), brown rice and a small dessert. These restaurants operate only during day time. At night you can go to have a vegetarian pizza (many places) or take the vegetarian options at the fast food chain La Arepería (Arepa has a form of a pita bread but is made of corn) or have a Falafel in Pita Majita (map) in San-Antonio.
Also, you can go into the many regular day restaurants, which serve quite good basic food and ask for a plate with two fried eggs, beans, rice, avocado and without any meat, it shouldn't cost you more than 5000 pesos. (The Avocados are great in Colombia).
Here you can see in the map, the Vegetarian restaurants I found around the center of Cali. As you can see three of them are in the same street, One is in the six avenue and one is in San-Antonio (the neighborhood of the tourists), this restaurant is open also at night.
You are invited to read my page about being Vegetarian.
As a vegetarian, you can also eat a lot of fruits from the street vendors. The "Salpicón" is a fruit salad, popular in all Colombia. Dairy products are not very developed in Colombia and bread products are not as great as they are in France (A croissant with cheese inside ? )
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- How is the Salsa in Colombia and Salsa Schools and Clubs in Cali, Colombia
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See my Vegetarian page. Why be Vegetarian ? What to eat ?
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