Cuba Dance Holidays

Succumb to the irresistible charm and rhythm of Salsa on a holiday to Cuba and dance your way into the nation's heart.

Master the art of Salsa in Cuba and step into a world of smooth moves, intoxicating rhythms and hip-swinging nightlife that will enhance your experience on the island and give you a real insight into its warm and vibrant culture. From the capital Havana to the thriving beach resort of Varadero, travellers can find sensational Salsa instructors and sizzling dance spots throughout the country.

From £909 per person

Dancing Salsa in Cuba

Succumb to the irresistible charm and rhythm of Salsa on a holiday to Cuba and dance your way into the nation's heart.

The siren song of Salsa is almost irresistible for most travellers to Cuba. Vibrant, passionate, and above-all fun, the slinky and rhythmic Cuban national dance embodies the island's warm spirit, and learning Salsa is the perfect route into the heart of the nation. At its best when accompanied by a live band, home-grown salsa is everywhere in Cuba - salsa palaces and dancehalls, city squares and local living-rooms, even at the beach.

Rhythm of life

Though Salsa is danced in other countries, the Cuban version is more fluid and flamboyant than other forms, danced in a circular motion rather than a line, and with more street-influenced elements. Salsa is also known as 'casino' in Cuba, and the unique form of salsa known as 'casino de rueda' is not just a dance for two. Co-ordinated in a group, the dance includes fast partner changes, synchronized steps and formations called out by a dance leader. Casino de Rueda is often taught to holidaymakers as it's a more communal, bonding experience.

Some say a flair for the dance is in the Cuban blood, but with a little help, visitors can become Salsarinas too, experiencing something of the freedom and joy of this infectious art form. Private or group salsa lessons are offered by individual instructors all over the island or dance schools, including short courses taught by members of Conjunto Folklorico de Oriente founded in 1959 or Ballet Folclorico Cutatumba, a well-known Afro-Cuban group.

Classes can be held in atmospheric colonial ballrooms, grand hotel salons, on the beach and often in people's homes. You may even be offered free impromptu lessons by the friendly Cubans who are always keen to share their passion for the dance with visitors. Held on holidays and at carnival time, Cuban street parties simmer with the sound of son - the foundation of all Cuban music - and salsa, where everyone is encouraged to dance. In towns and cities across Cuba you can find Casas de la Musica and Casas de la Trova, dance and music halls where you can catch Cuba's big Salsa bands performing, as well as watching local groups performing traditional tunes, dancing and socialising.

The best Salsa is mesmerizing - flowing, looping, swinging and rhythmic - a perfect expression of the music. 'Sabor', which translates as spice or flavour, is said to define great Salsa, and travellers are guaranteed to witness this spectacle on a trip to Cuba, if not master it themselves. In a nation where it is said that "everyone" can dance, Salsa instructors are invariably incredibly accomplished dancers with the technical expertise, patience and passion to have your hips swaying in no time. With the exception of Casino de Rueda, which is taught in a group, everyone is assigned a dedicated dance partner. Lessons cover all levels of experience from complete beginners to seasoned Salsa dancers and plenty of instructors speak English too. There's no real need for verbal communication, though, as Salsa has a language of its own and you can easily learn it by following the steps and movements of your teacher.

Salsa instructors can show you the technical steps, but the most important thing you can practice is what Cubans call movimiento - the separate movement of different parts of the body, like shoulders and hips, which is the key to Caribbean dance. Once you start to get the rhythm and smooth movement, and let the music take you, dancing Salsa is a life-affirming experience. In fact, most people find it easier once they loosen up a little. Shoulders should always be relaxed and movement should always be soft and flowing - you may even find that you dance better in the music halls after a few mojitos than you do in salsa class the next day.

Dance destinations

The Cuban love for dance and music is nowhere more evident than in the streets and squares of its towns and cities where musicians gather to play and sing in the sun. The colourful colonial city of Santiago de Cuba, the country's original capital and the birthplace of Afro-Cuban song and dance, is the music epicentre of the island and one of the best places to learn to dance Salsa. Go during carnival in July to experience a riot of colour, dance and music, when street parties and open-air celebrations featuring live local bands turn up the heat in the city. At Casa de la Trova you can enjoy some of the best live music in Cuba day and night, performed in a little hall with a checker-board floor and saloon doors. Often packed to the rafters with locals hanging in through the windows, the place's popularity with tourists does nothing to diminish its ambience. At Casa de las Tradiciones, there's always a buoyant atmosphere, live music and dancing, as well as great mojitos, and to admire the professionals at work, consider a visit to Cabaret Tropicana Santiago.

Salsa is a way of socialising in Cuba, so even if you can't speak Spanish, if you can dance then you can still bond with the locals. One of the most invigorating aspects of Salsa is dancing to a live big band, often featuring singers, horn players, keyboards, guitarists and congas, and a myriad of other percussion instruments. With an infectious melody punctuated by a joyous fanfare, plus so many potential partners willing to dance, its pull can be impossible to resist. In the evenings, it's time to test your skills in one of Cuba's many salsa clubs, and experience total immersion in local life.

Another of the country's big Salsa destinations is, of course, its vibrant capital Havana. The city has a few excellent Salsa schools and some great dancers offering one-to-one tuition. To enjoy Havana's hip-swinging nightlife, head to the Centro Habana, Vedado or Miramar districts where vibrant dance halls play traditional live son and salsa into the small hours. Loud, hot and lively, Havana's Casa de la Musica has traditional live music every day, where you can take a giddy whirl around the dancefloor and join the throngs of Habaneros dancing the night away. Find inspiration at Club Tropicana - the legendary Havana nightclub - where professionals dazzle the audience with hypnotic dance displays. Cafe Taberna, on a corner of Old Havana's Plaza Vieja, is a slightly more low-key venue known to host the famous Buena Vista Social Club, where you can marvel at the mastery of the musicians or grab a partner and channel your inner Salsarina.

Learning Salsa is also a popular activity in Cuba's premier tourist resort of Varadero. Hotels often offer lessons to guests in salons or on outdoor patios. Better still, you can revel in the picturesque scenery while you dance by taking lessons on the pearly-white beach. Tourists taking hotel-based lessons are often taught the more communal Casino de Rueda form of Salsa, which is a great way of interacting with other guests while you hone your steps. The UNESCO-listed colonial city of Trinidad is another good spot for Salsa lessons. The local Casa de la Musica has an open-air terrace with live bands and salsa on most nights. There's also an al-fresco disco on the weekends where you can join the young carefree crowd throwing shapes to Salsa and pop music. But you don't need to visit a big city in Cuba to track down the Salsa scene, there are live music and dance venues in every little town, even in sleepy Vinales.

To get into the spirit of Salsa before you travel to its homeland, try listening to the uplifting sounds of Cuban Salsa groups such as Grammy award-winning Los Van Van, the classic Celia Cruz, Adalberto Alvarez y su son, Habana D'Primera or Maykel Blanco y Salsa Major.


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Master the art of Salsa in Cuba and step into a world of smooth moves, intoxicating rhythms and hip-swinging nightlife that will enhance your experience on the island and give you a real insight into its warm and vibrant culture. From the capital Havana to the thriving beach resort of Varadero, travellers can find sensational Salsa instructors and sizzling dance spots throughout the country.

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