Salsa > What Makes A Good Salsa Club?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by SDsalsaguy, Jul 21, 2003.

  1. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    So, as the title says, what makes a good salsa club?

    I ended up driving around San Diego a bit yesterday and passed several venues of salsa clubs now long gone. That got me thinking about what it is that actually makes a successful club from a dancers perspective. (Obviously $ is what makes it successful from the promoters standpoint.) So, why do you pick some clubs over others? Why, maybe, do you avoid particular clubs? Is it about floor space, music, setting, crowd size, crowd density, cover price, parking, instructor, performances…what do you think about and how do you decide?
  2. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Good topic, SDsalsaguy!
    Speaking from my perspective here in Atlanta, here is what I like in a Salsa club:
    1) A good atmosphere with friendly people.
    2) Salsa music! Sometimes so-called Latin nights get more merengue and hip-hop than salsa. On the other hand, when a DJ really knows the music, even a small club can be exciting.
    3) Smoke - if there are too many cigars near the dance floor that is a definite turnoff.
    4) Size - it's great to have enough space to dance
    5) Classes - classes help to promote bringing new people into club. Clubs get boring if they don't bring fresh faces.
  3. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Well, I had thought so too...that'll teach me, huh? :lol:

    OK, I'm not too sure that anyone would contend otherwise, i.e. request a bad atmosphere with unfriendly people(?), but....what makes a good atmosphere? Last weekend here, for instance, one of the women I've been dancing with for years totally disagreed over that night's dancing. To her "the place was flying" with "great energy", etc., while to me it was too crowded and pushy. So, for you, what makes "a good atmosphere"?

    Hell yes!!! Especially when its not even advertised as a Latin night, but as a salsa night! I know all the clubs in my vicinity so, here at home, its a problem I can avoid....but when I'm traveling and go to check out a "salsa" venue, it really irks me when salsa is only 30%, at best, of the playlist.

    In a similar vein, one of the most rediculous things I've seen is a begining club class being taught salsa and merengue and the second song the DJ plays immediately after the class was a cha cha! Hello! These are beginers and this isn't even a dance you've introduced the to! The same problem sometimes also transpires with regard to tempo :arrow: beginres need slower music! Why is that so hard for some DJs/Clubs to fathom?

    Speaking of tempo, this is also something that makes a given salsa club great for me. For social dancing I don't like the "turbo" salsa that seems to be the LA mainstay. For shows its great and, when built up to and down from by a DJ can help provide some great energy...but back to back to back turbos are about athletics and endurance and for showmanship, etc., they're not actually about dancing . As one ballroom instructor I know put it, 'the better you get the more you appreciate slower music—because you understand how to fill it with your body.' Franco (reigning World Amateur Latin Champion) actually made a similar comment to me in Italy a couple of months ago, about how you could actually enjoy the movement of dancing in a rumba in a way that you never could in a jive.

    Aside from a personal preference for non-turboesque salsa, I also find it unfathomable how certain DJs/Clubs pay no attention to their clientele....if you have a bunch of novices, or you have a mixed age crowd, how does music that few of them can keep up with make any sense?

    Oh yeah, I forget about this one....I'm fortunate enough to live in CA where smoking has been prohibited from all public facilities for quite some time now. I only realize exactly how much I take this for granted when I'm traveling and end up trying to dance in a club where I can barely breath—a situation that is particularly odious in Europe where smoking is so much more embraced then it is Stateside.

    Amen! I go to dance, not to practice the art of bumper-salsa! When salsa (and ballroom, and swing, etc.) are called contact sports, its supposed to be because of your partner! Personally I go to if you give me just one person to dance with and floor space to do it, I'm a happy man. I don't need people there to watch me and see what I can do, etc.—all that showmanship/performance mindedness stuff probably relates back to the ego issue we that came up in the Pet Peeves thread—I just want to dance.

    As far as helping salsa grow and continuing to have a vibrant salsa community in general, I can see where you're coming from. As far as choosing what clubs I personally prefer, then the question comes down to which actually let me get the most dance time in for my time.
  4. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    Maybe a particular night?

    There is a place here in Tucson known as El Parador which is a Mexican restaurant that features salsa on Friday and Saturday evenings. Fridays are very crowded and the floor quite small and dancing is difficult, but on Saturday there is less of a crowd and more room to dance and the music more general latin; lots of rumba, cha-cha, merenque, cumbia as well as salsa. The bands are quite good.
  5. Rey Creole

    Rey Creole New Member

    Hi all! It's a little late post maybe, but what makes a good salsa club for me is the absence of StudioHeads!! No real malice intended to them, though: I didn't take 'traditional' studio-based lessons, since it's in my culture, but what irks me alot is StudioHeads who show off their stuff at every opportunity *without* sharing their abilities with newbies or tourists - and stay typically on the edge of the dancefloor, making it hard for us to go past without interfering with their moves. In my childhood, community dances were places where Everybody danced with Everybody, just to make friends (and grow the community stronger).
    That said, I LOVE a place which has more dancers than lookers, because I'm used to crowds and I love the socializing, striking up conversations with people I don't already know.
    We don't have true salsa-exclusive clubs here, but I prefer the mix of all latin music. It gives us a chance to socialize outside of purely salsa dancing all night.
    Please don't spam me about the's a term of friendly endearment, honestly!
  6. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Welcome to the forums Rey! What you are referencing as "StudioHeads" are what I call Star Searchers for whom the dancing seems to take back seat to a serious case of "look at me-ism." Their solipsism also, as you note, translates into floor use. Now I understand about wanting to dance on the edge of a floor—it basically eliminates one side of "interference" from other dancers—but it should also involve being conscientious of those trying to enter and exit the floor. Whether on the edge of the floor or not, however, the attitude seems to be one of ignoring floor conditions and those around them.
  7. franceon2

    franceon2 New Member

    I hear you SD but, what about walking around. Before I went to paris I spent couple day in San Diego. I remember one club I went to there were couple dancing an instead of people walking on outside of the dance floor were there was plenty of room they walk right through the middle of the dance floor almost hitting a girl while she was spinning. Seem really rude to me to walk on the dance floor while people are dancing. The couple was obviously not LA style dancers so they were not even taking up much room on the floor. If they would have hit the girl while she was spinning she could have been really heart. It is just common sense to walk around.
  8. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member argument from me there! I was just thinking of one club, in particular, where the floor is wall to wall across the room so the only way across the room is across the floor...BUT, I agree that cutting threw the middle of the floor is just inconsiderate if not out rightly dangerous as well. What I find atrocious, however, are other dancers who do this...they, of all people should know better! As best I can tell its these same people who also tend to be somewhat inconsiderate of others in their vicinity while their dancing too, so clearly some unresolved entitlement issues.

    Out of curiosity, you wouldn't by any chance have been talking about Cafe Sevilla, would you?
  9. franceon2

    franceon2 New Member

    Hello SD, I am trying to think of the name of the club but I am not sure if that is it. I had a list of ones I wanted to go to but did not get to all. I am not sure if that is one that I went to or one I had on my list but did not make it.

  10. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member you remember if it was downtown in the Gasslamp district? This club would've been downstairs, in a "basement." Just curious...
  11. franceon2

    franceon2 New Member

    Hello SD, I do not know the name but I do remember having to walk down some stairs to get to it and have to walk up stairs when I left. I was taking to one of the guys I saw who was dancing with the girl who almost got hit. He was reall good and smooth and new alot of turns were he would spin the girl then spin himself. I asked if I could take a private lesson with him before I left but he said he was not an instructor but on a dance team and would still help me for free. I got his number but when I got to the hotel the next day I lost it. He said he was from san diego so maybe you know him and can tell me how to get in touch with him. He is black guy with a bald head. thanks for the help.

  12. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    To me....

    To me a good SALSA dance club. By salsa I mean over 80% salsa all night. I don't frequent any other type of establishment. Music has to be top notch, by that I mean mostly medium speed and old school. If you are playing victor manuel, and Hue all night, I'm never coming back... The place has to be composed of just about 100% dancers... I don't particularly care if the place is pack or not. Here in NY it seems as if most dancers keep their space so I hardly have to worry about who is coming from my blind side. It also seems as if the people walking by you know exactly when to step through or not. Dancing has a time, since the dancers know the timing, they'll usually wait till there is cross-body or a chance when they can sneak through without bumping into a dancer in middle of a spin. I don't like clubs where most dancers are there to show off. I don't mind someone busting out their 2 million moves, but hey, if it'ss done in a "I'm the shiiiits manner", It'll lead me to not like it as much.
  13. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    I love this topic! For me the important things are:

    Floor space - I can spend more time enjoying the dance with my partner if I don't have to dedicate extra resources to playing traffic cop!

    Music - This is HUGE to me. I tend to prefer clubs that play very little of the 'commercial' salsa for lack of a better word. 80%>salsa with a few cha cha cha's thrown in and I'm in heaven!

    The Floor - A place really sticks out to me when it has a great floor. I was at Agenda in SJ last week and I just loved that floor! Smooth like butter, but not slippery.

    Crowd Attitude - I don't care for cliqui (is that a word?) places. I nice sized group of people there to dance with EVERYONE is great.

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