Bailar! Bailar! Bailar!

Salsa Books

  • Dancing the Beautiful Wheel - A Guide to Rueda de Casino – a Rueda book written by a member of a UK rueda group Great list of rueda calls
  • The little red book of dancing... Salsa! – a lot of helpful little tips and points to ponder, especially for leads.
  • Casino and Salsa in Cuba - Bárbara Balbuena – Editorial José Martí – I was unable to find a link for the English translation – picked it up in Cuba years ago – the writing/translation is not ideal and exceedingly dry, but there is a lot of interesting history and info here
  • History of dancing ring and casino-salsa – Picked this up on a recent trip to Havana. A history and description of rueda and casino by Alan Borges and Alicia Sardiñas. This is not an awesome book, I far preferred the above title, Casino and Salsa in Cuba. That said, it does have some interesting information on the background of reuda and its origins in quinceanera choreography, and the Casino Del Deportivo club and neighborhood etc. Like Casino and Salsa in Cuba, the translation does not make for particularly smooth reading. Published by Ediciones Cubanas / Artex in 2013.
  • Beyond Salsa for Beginners: The Cuban Timba Revolution: An Introduction to Latin Music for Dancers and Listeners – A music appreciation guide to Cuban music. It features listening tours of pre-revolution Cuban popular music, post-revolution popular music, timba, and afrocuban folkloric music. It’s a bit of work tracking down all the recordings analyzed here, but it’s an interesting listen and read. For each genre and track it will feature background information, info on the band/musicians, a breakdown of the song by section with timings, etc.
  • Cuba and its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo - Ned Sublette – A bit of a history of the world and of Cuba as it pertains to Cuban music. A fascinating book!
  • Origins of Cuban Music and Dance: Changuï - Ben Lapidus – An extraordinary book about changuï and the region from which it comes, namely Guantanamo and Yateras. A fascinating read about the regional music that was one of the ingredients in afrocuban son.

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Salsa Websites

  • an educational site with rueda videos from Norway. Features a listing of the Norwegian Rueda Standard – a fairly comphrensive spec of rueda de casino moves created, updated and maintained by a collective of Norwegian rueda instructors.
  • Salsa Yo – fairly comprehensize listing of salsa figures
  • Salsa Forums
  • Dance Papi – I found their videos really great for learning casino moves
  • De Rad-draaiers - a database of rueda de casino moves from what looks like a very dedicated non-profit rueda group in The Hague, Netherlands – each move has useful metadata, primary video as well as other examples. Very impressive! This makes me want to visit The Hague.
  • Salsa Selfie - interesting blog with thoughts and opinions as well information about casino figures....
  • Son y Casino - great blog with thoughts and opnions on Cuban music and dancing

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Salsa Movies

  • La Salsa Cubana – excellent documentary film about a Cuban rueda de casino group
  • Cuban Fury - a comedy about an aging overweight British office worker (Nick Frost) with a suppressed childhood passion for salsa that comes back to the fore when he meets his new salsa-loving American boss (Rashida Jones). There’s a rivalry with a co-worker (Chris O’Dowd) for her affections, as well as some soul-searching about why and if he can rekindle his passion.
  • El Catante – the Hector Lavoe story as portrayed by Marc Athony and Jennier Lopez. It’s a sad story, but a fantastic movie.
  • Dance with Me – a dancer comes from Cuba to Houston to stay with his long-estranged father. Love interests and dance competitions ensue. It’s cliché but worth a watch.
  • Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights – a young American girl with parents who used to be passionate about dancing moves to pre-revolution Havana where she is won over by Cuban culture and dancing and by a young Cuban guy. Class/cultural family conflict, steamy nights at dance clubs, and a dance competition that happens, through a striking coincidence, at the precise moment that the revolution was victorious ensue.
  • The Black Roots of Salsa – despite what the title suggests, this is more a documentary on afrocuban rumba. Features interviews with prominent rumberos, as well as footage of dancing and drumming.
  • Street Dance 2 – a street dancer seeks to beat out the competition in Paris, France by forming a cutting edge crew. What gives them the edge? Salsa! Questionable movie, but with fun street and salsa dancing parts. The salsa is choreographed by Maykel Fonts, who also has a bit part as “Lucien”

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Salsa in Havana, Cuba

Havana Salsa Lessons

  • Baila Habana – An organization that claims to pay 80% direct to the teachers. I signed up for two hours of lessons. The organization was very good and the administrator/owner Sabine was friendly, professional and helpful as were the teachers/admins that I met in Havana. I was so happy with my teacher Vivian that I asked her to continue with another two hour lesson the same day. Had I not been leaving town I would have continued on with additional lessons. Very good location, very good attitude and teaching. I recommend this school.
  • La Casa Del Son – friends have had good experiences here but I did not. I thought I had signed up for two days of lessons through their website but when I showed up in Havana they had no record and no interest in apologizing or helping me sort anything out.

Havana Dancing

I was in Havana with our rueda group who were interested in dancing only, not music and so the went to a number of dance-oritned venues many of which I was not a fan of but will list here....

  • Cheverie – the best of the venues our group went to and where the 1830 scene has moved – the founders and rueda night on Thursdays, other things happening on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We saw El Noro y Primera Clase there on a Saturday night. A short walk from there to the Casa De Musica Miramar or Fabrica Del Arte. Good drinks, decent food, a beautiful outdoor venue, great dancers. This is an excellent choice.
  • Industria 8 – a small basement bar with dancing in central Havana - entrance includes a drink. I found it hot, cramped, etc. Not to my taste but others like it.
  • Inglaterra Hotel rooftop – a bar with dancing and mellow son bands on central park.
  • Bule Bar 66 – our group did not go there so I cannot vouch for it, but people said they liked it a lot
  • Hotel Florida - A hotel on Obispo with dancing – hot, can be cramped and not an awesome sound system- $5 entrance includes a drink
  • Tablao – near central park - was closed so our group did not go there, I cannot vouch for it

Havana Live Music (and dancing)

  • Cheverie – dancing may be more the focus, but they do have good live bands – we saw El Noro Y Primera Clase there on a Saturday night.
  • Casa de Musica Miramar – maybe the best venue for live timba bands and also good for dancing. Powerful A/C, good cheap drinks, attached BBQ restaurant is good, amazing sound system, spacious. This is the place to be in Havana.
  • Habanaciendo “piano bar” at Casa de Musica Galliano – the Casa de Musica on Galliano may be closed for renos and so this is a smaller related venue just around the corner and up a flight of stairs – reputable names like Bamboleo, Azucar Negra, Ivan El Hijo De Theresa, Timbalaye, etc. and resonable admission prices ($5 CUC)
  • Cafe Catante Mi Habana – I found a hard time getting good listings but saw some good shows here such as Haila in the past. In a basement on revolution square
  • Delirio Piano Bar – in the same building above Cafe Catante Mi Habana – again I found it hard to get listings but saw good bands such as Maykel Blanco here in the past
  • Olala – only heard about this after I returned from Havana but they have lisings with top names like Los Van Van. Will definitely keep an eye out for this club if and when I return
  • EGREM studio patio – on San Miguel in central habana near-ish to Galliano walking towards Vedado. I only discovered this after it was too late for me to catch a show, but they were offering son and rumba etc shows. Looks good.
  • Salon Rojo – just across from the Hotel Nacional. I was hoping to see El Noro y Primera Clase here but when we showed up it turned out to be Alan Daniel instead. A beautiful venue with powerful A/C, good cheap drinks, food smelled good, and the sound system was good. Spacious. We paid $5 CUC. I would keep an eye on this place if and when I return
  • El Paparazzi – not sure if they are doing shows, but if so sounds like it is worth checking out
  • Dale Play Bar - not sure if they are doing shows, but heard that it could be a good spot
  • El Sauce – not sure if what is going on here, but heard that it may be good
  • Casa De Musica Vedado – I’ve heard that this is more for kids (maybe electronic music?) but would be worth looking into
  • Fabrica Del Arte – not really a salsa venue, but we caught Tony Avila there and it a wonderful time – art/theatre/music/dance/drinks/food/shopping

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Around the world

Halifax, Nova Scotia

This is where I live, so I have a fair bit of information that warrants a whole page


I found the scene in Paris to be unbelievable. I went out to a different Cuban salsa night pretty much every night of the week. I found this listing to be invaluable:

Amsterdam – I had an awesome time at a Cuban rueda lesson and social at Studio 100, having hard time finding a good link but here’s something that might get you on the right path

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Salsa dance and music festivals, congresses, etc etc

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