Salsa is one of the most popular dances in South America and originated in Central America before growing in popularity around the world. It is a very physical dance and a great way to exercise, but in the salsa clubs of South America and especially in Medellin, it is a great way to meet the local people and to have some fun.
Medellin, Colombia, as a city has rebounded greatly since the 1980s and 1990s when it was home to the Escobar Cartel.
The level of crime and violence in the city has dropped dramatically since the cartel was driven from Medellin, reopening the city as a place for visitors from across the world.
If you're new to salsa it's a good idea to take a class or two before you hit the clubs, as many clubs are small and crowded, and it can be easy to knock elbows or tread on a few toes if you don't know the basic steps. Many clubs do offer free salsa dancing classes in the early evening before they open to the usual crowd, while there are also plenty of professional dancers who offer private classes.
This Cuban themed salsa club is one of the most popular dancing venues in Medellin, and like the majority of such venues in the city has a small dance floor meaning that dancers will all be getting closer to each other.
There is a small cover charge, but the prices for drinks are fairly reasonable, and the club welcomes dancers from a variety of skill levels, all the way from novices to the most experienced dancers in the city.
A visit on Thursday and Saturday nights will offer the best opportunity to enjoy the experience, as live bands with many musicians are present to play salsa music to give the dancers a vibrant atmosphere to enjoy.
Tibiri Salsa Bar
This small salsa bar is located in a basement venue that will not be to everyone's taste, particularly as taller people will need to be careful to avoid crashing their heads against the low roof.
Dancers cram into the venue to dance on a weekend, and the majority of the crowd here are Medellin natives, which means the club offers a great taste of what salsa dancing in the city is all about. As the locals strut their stuff on the dance floor, it is clear that the young crowd range from novices to experienced dancers, and the friendly atmosphere means that it is possible for visitors to enjoy testing their salsa skills in this venue, which certainly becomes hot and steamy at the weekends.
El Eslabon Prendido
This is one of the oldest salsa clubs in Medellin, and is noted for having a cozy atmosphere with the long narrow shape of the bar meaning that people in the bar are already quite close together.
The highlights of the week at El Eslabon Prendido are Tuesday and Thursday nights when live bands are playing to offer the best salsa dancing experience. This small venue is not only one of the best-established salsa clubs in the city, but also enjoys a magical atmosphere with a series of candles along the walls providing the lighting for a tremendous experience.
The Colombian Salsa Festival
For four days in April every year, the annual Colombian Salsa Festival takes over a host of venues across the city and draws professional and enthusiastic dancers from across the country and beyond.
While there are plenty of places to enjoy salsa dancing in Medellin every night of the week, the majority of venues become salsa clubs for this weekend, and the hosts of the festival also arrange a variety of different classes and workshops to allow people to learn more about the art. While much of the festival is about enjoying salsa dancing and learning more about it, there is also a competitive edge, with competitions for a variety of pairs, groups and for different age ranges.