Salsa > Salsa Study in Latin America?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by HailMary, Jan 20, 2006.

  1. HailMary

    HailMary New Member

    Hey everyone.

    This summer, I am hoping to travel down to Latin America to study salsa dancing. I've done a little salsa in years past but would still consider myself a relative beginner (though I'm a quick learner). I'm wondering what people think is the best place to study? Are there any good salsa schools/teachers in Latin America?

    As an American, I can't go to Cuba, unfortunately. People have suggested the DR or PR but they seem a bit more expensive than I can afford. I will probably end up going to Mexico or another country in Central America where it is cheaper and I can still learn some good salsa. Have any of you guys studied down there? Any recommendations on teachers, schools, places to study?

    Thanks so much for the help. I'm at a complete loss for where to find this type of information (searching on google has yielded few results), so any input or suggestions would be great!

  2. diputs

    diputs New Member

    Search for threads on Cuba. It is possible for an American to go to Cuba, it is just not as easy as going to PR, etc..
  3. HailMary

    HailMary New Member

    I'd love to go to Cuba but that 200,000 dollar fine if I'm caught is a hard one to get around. And I don't know if I want that Cuba trip floating around my record.

    But, damn, if I could, I'd go to Cuba in a heartbeat.
  4. HailMary

    HailMary New Member

    By the way, has anyone taken salsa classes in Guatemala? My brother is living down there so the other possibility is that I go down there and live with him and take classes there.
  5. SalseraLaura

    SalseraLaura New Member

    could you maybe be an academic since youre learning something and be able to apply for a visa legally? meh maybe not but you should look into it. PR is probably as good as cuba to go to.
  6. I would not recommend Central America to learn good salsa. You can probably learn it better somewhere in the US. Don't get me wrong, Central America is a great place to travel, full of ancient history, natural beauty etc. But it is not the ideal place to learn salsa.

    Mexico is one of my favorite countries in LA (if not THE favorite one) but believe me, they don't know much about salsa. You go there to visit Maya and Aztec ruins but not to learn salsa. Guatemala might be the same, I could not even find a salsa club in Guatemala (that was in 1991). The only places you could consider for salsa are Panama or Costa Rica. Panama is probably the better one. I know that they have a lot of salsa but I have no idea what style they dance.

    My recommendation is definitely Puerto Rico. Yes, it is expensive, that is the only drawback. But the salsa is the best! And they have top instructors! Hotels are expensive but flights are relatively cheap when you go off season, much cheaper than flights to Central America. The cheapest flights you get from NY and Miami.

    Check this site for salsa concerts, dances, fiestas etc.:
    Check this site for info about PR:

    Cuba is certainly a great place, too. But it depends which style you want to learn. Cuban and PR style are different. Check the threads on Cuba, there might be legal ways for you as an American to go there. However, I cannot imagine that it is very cheap. Fidel wants your dollars even for breathing Cuban air. I was there in 92 and 93, too long ago to tell how it is now. It is certainly much more touristic and I imagine that it is more expensive now.

    I have not been to the Dominican Republic but cannot imagine that you can learn good salsa there. However, I don't know. According to a girlfriend of mine (who is salsera, has been to Cuba about 14 times and to the DomRep about 4-5 times), the DomRep is a great place for Merengue and Bachata and nobody can dance Bachata like the Dominicans.
  7. alemana

    alemana New Member

    echoing that. central america is not a salsa hotbed.
  8. OneCentSalsero

    OneCentSalsero New Member

    "Travel down" ... where are you located now btw?
  9. alemana

    alemana New Member

    i understand the urge to go abroad, and to study salsa abroad, and to not spend a ton of money. however, if you're not a new yorker, you could do worse than coming here to study intensively... lots of people do it every year. just a thought.
  10. HailMary

    HailMary New Member

    Hey guys. Thanks for your excellent responses. As to where I am located, I'm in California, actually.

    I'm curious why Central American salsa is so much worse than Cuba/PR salsa? I assume that there are many great dancers in whatever Latin American country who can teach good movement technique and good dance. Is this not true? Is there some big difference in the dance style?

    P.S. I'd love to go to NY to study salsa but if I go to Latin America, I'll be paying 8$ an hour for a private lesson, rather than 45$ an hour in the city.
  11. alemana

    alemana New Member

    latin america is a huge area with many different combinations of cultures and ethnicities. it's not a monolithic place. all latin countries have indigenous rhythms, dances, cultures, racial mixtures.

    salsa comes from a particular place and a particular mixture (afro-cuban exported via puerto ricans to new york) - it's not a pan-Latin creation/phenomenon. salsa has definitely spread to certain places since its inception - there's a thriving scene in Columbia, for instance. but in general it's not safe to assume that you can hear, dance to or learn salsa equally well all over central and south america.

    to do some reading on the origins and history of salsa music and dancing, check out this page:
  12. I totally agree with what alemana said.

    Salsa is very different in different parts of Latin America. I have been to a couple of Latin American countries and have tried to find salsa in all of them but it often is very disappointing. Costa Rica had salsa clubs (only San José) and Venezuela. I was a salsa beginner then and was impressed by any salsa or salsa dancer, nowadays those countries would not be up to my salsa standards anymore. I have not been to Panama but hear that the salsa in Panama is good (Puerto Ricans say that, so it must be true).

    My salsa experience in Central America and Venezuela dates back between 1991 and 1994. That was before the big salsa craze started (around 1997). Maybe a few things have changed since then, however, I doubt it. I also have danced with many guys from those countries. My experience is that they do not follow a particular style, their style is mostly basic step from left to right and vice versa and maybe a few basic turns. Some are better than others but in general you are better off learning salsa anywhere in the US and you will find better leads in the US, certainly in CA!

    As alemana said, the salsa tradition comes from Cuba and PR via NY. Those are the places to go to learn salsa. All three have different styles and all three styles are sophisticated. It is a matter of taste what you prefer. I would agree with alemana that you might learn salsa much, much better in NY than anywhere in Central or South America. Central and South American countries have a lot of traditional music and also have some salsa music (it can be hard to find salsa clubs, though) but no particular style and the teachers in those countries can only learn "style" from teachers in NY, PR or Cuba. Colombia is an exception with the salsa tradition, however, I still have to meet the first Colombian who dances more than basic step left right and 2-3 turns.
  13. HailMary

    HailMary New Member

    Hey. Thanks for all the writing and long responses, both of you.

    Salsera Alemana, are you saying that people who you've danced with in Latin America are just not very good? That they only know a few basic turns?

    I know you both mentioned that PR and Cuba are best, but I can't get into Cuba and, unfortunately, I can't afford PR. So, any help from you guys finding another place where I could take salsa classes in Latin America would be awesome. mentioned Venezuela. Is study there possible?
  14. HailMary

    HailMary New Member

    It seems likely, however, that there are some teachers that dance good Cuban, PR, or NY style, wouldn't you think? Latin America is big.
  15. HailMary

    HailMary New Member

    There is one school that I'm considering studying at in Guatemala. And I can't post the link because my post count is too-low. I'll PM it to you salsera, if you don't mind posting it for me. Thanks.

  16. alemana

    alemana New Member

    what is your level?
  17. HailMary

    HailMary New Member

    I'm a beginner, but I've done some salsa in the past. I know basic turns and whatnot but nothing beyond that. I love the dance, though, and am very dedicated to learning how to be a good dancer.
  18. HailMary,

    Here is the link that you would like me to post for you:

    I give you my opinion later, have to get on with my work now.
  19. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Link should not be active as it is a commercial link. Having said that I would never reccommend this school to people simply because I do not agree with the way they teach. While there are different approaches it is not a good way of doing it in my opinion. My 2 cents.
  20. HailMary

    HailMary New Member

    What exactly is the approach that you don't agree with?

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