New York is the world salsa capital. (Sorry Cali.) You can dance salsa every night in New York. You can’t do that in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
There are many regional styles, but New York style developed in the Puerto Rican community. We also have Colombian salsa (There you go Cali).
There are great salsa dance studios and teachers in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.
We have salsa dance festivals on Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends.
Salsa Dance NYC
La Excelencia salsa 🇨🇴
GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan 🇨🇴 🇨🇺 🇩🇴 🇵🇷
ORCHARD BEACH PARKING SECTION 5
Pelham Bay Park, The Bronx
Opens Sunday, May 28, 2023
Salsa and bachata workshops, dance parties, master classes, a bootcamp and the Pro-Am Yamulee Challenge.
NEW YORK HILTON MIDTOWN
Memorial Day Weekend
Friday-Monday, May 26-29, 2023
🇨🇴 🇨🇺 🇩🇴 🇵🇷 🇪🇸
Chelsea, Greenwich Village, East Village
African, Afrobeat, Afro-Cuban, Bhangra, Bollywood, Bomba, Break Dancing, Caporales, Carnival, Dancehall, Flamenco, Folkloric, Hip-Hop, House, Jazz, Latin, Majorette, Mexican, Moko Jumbies, Reggae, Salay, Salsa, Samba, Soca, Street, Tammurriata, Tap, Tarrantella, Tinkus, and more. 🇧🇴 🇧🇷 🇨🇺 🇨🇴 🇩🇴 🇮🇹 🇯🇲 🇲🇽 🇳🇬 🇵🇪 🇵🇷 🇪🇸 🇹🇹
DANCEFEST Tompkins Square Park
🇧🇴 🇨🇺 🇲🇽 🇵🇷 🇪🇸
Saturday, May 20, 2023
Talia Castro-Pozo hosts bachata, cumbia, salsa, swing, and tango dance lessons followed by live music for dancing. FREE!
La Excelencia salsa, Wed, May 3
Pedro Giraudo tango, Thu, May 4
Afro-Andean Funk cumbia, Wed, May 10
Charenee Wade’s Band of Swing, Thu, May 11
Valerio bachata, Wed, May 17
Santiago y la Orquesta salsa, Thu, May 18
🇺🇸 🇦🇷 🇨🇺 🇨🇴 🇩🇴 🇵🇪 🇵🇷
Monday, March 20, 2023
Flatiron District, Manhattan 🇵🇪 🇨🇴
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY
HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
Monday, October 10, 2022
LATIN MONDAYS AT TAJ
Friday, October 14, 2022
KELLY ST Open Street
Longwood, The Bronx
Saturday, October 15, 2022
EAST 115TH ST Open Street
“El Barrio” East Harlem
Sunday, October 16, 2022
“Loisaida” Lower East Side
“El Barrio” East Harlem
LABOR DAY WEEKEND
Thursday-Monday, September 1-5, 2022
NEW YORK MARRIOTT MARQUIS
Sunday, September 4, 2022
Thursday, September 1, 2022
Afro Fusion 🌍
GREELEY SQUARE PARK
Near Herald Square
May 19 – September 1, 2022
Afro, Bachata, Joropo, Salsa, Swing
The New York Salsa Dance Scene
New York is the world salsa capital.
NYC Salsa Dances
Latin Mondays at Taj is a restaurant-lounge in the Flatiron District, with live salsa bands for dancing. It’s one of New York’s most popular salsa parties. Everybody goes, and everbody dances with everybody.
Midtown Dance combines free dance lessons and a dance party near Herald Square.
Salsa Saturdays at La Marqueta in El Barrio in summer, is popular with local Puerto Ricans. It’s like home in Puerto Rico.
Salsa Sundays at Orchard Beach is a casual summer afternoon dance party in the Orchard Beach parking lot.
NYC Salsa Clubs
Taj II, is a lounge in the Flatiron District, that hosts Talia Castro-Pozo’s Latin Mondays at Taj, one of New York’s most popular salsa dances.
Gonzalez y Gonzalez, is a Mexican restaurant and salsa club in Greenwich Village, with live music for dancing salsa or bachata on weekends, usually from Thursday to Sunday. It’s popular with the New York University crowd.
La Boom is a nightclub in Woodside, Queens with live salsa bands on some Fridays, and a Spanglish Saturdays dance party where top DJs mix urban and Latin music.
Mi Salsa Kitchen is a Cuban diner in the Lower East Side, with live music, usually Wednesday to Sunday. Dancers push the tables aside and make a dance party. It’s just like home. 🇨🇺
NYC Salsa Classes
Alvin Ailey Studios teaches many forms of dance at both social and professional levels.
Cali Salsa Pal Mundo (Cali Salsa for the world) is a dance community that teaches Colombian salsa culture to children and adults. It also produces a salsa festival and salsa stage shows. 🇨🇴
Lorenz Latin Dance Studio is a salsa and latin dance studio. It teaches salsa on2, bachata, cha cha, and merengue in “El Barrio” East Harlem, Manhattan; Glendale, Queens; and Nassau, Long Island. lorenzdancestudio.com @lorenzdancestudio
Nieves Latin Dance Studio is a salsa and bachata community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Chelsea, Manhattan; Astoria, Queens; Concourse Village, The Bronx; and and North Merrick, Long Island. nievesdancestudio.com @nievesdancestudio
NYC Salsa Dance Festivals
The Dance Parade usually has some salsa dance groups.
BIG Salsa Festival is on Memorial Day Weekend (May).
New York Salsa Congress is on Labor Day Weekend (September).
Salsa Stories is a great popup salsa street festival.
NYC Salsa Shows
There aren’t many salsa shows, but these theaters present salsa music and dance.
Flushing Town Hall, in Flushing, Queens, occasionally presents salsa music.
Hostos Center in Mott Haven, The Bronx, regularly presents great salsa bands.
Lehman Center in the Jerome Park, The Bronx regularly presents salsa legends.
Thalia Spanish Theatre occasionally presents salsa dance theater.
The Origin of Salsa Dance
Salsa originates in the African Diaspora, so you can trace it back to Mother Africa. That’s a long journey, so we’ll start in Cuba, the living heart of Caribbean culture.
Most human culture begins in religious tradition celebrated at home with your family and community. In Yoruba tradition, sacred rhythms and dances are used to call particular saints, just like Europeans sing the “Ave Maria” for the Virgin Mary. The sacred traditions are still done in private, but most of us only see them as folkloric rumba dancing for tourists. Rumba isn’t sacred, but if you are spiritual, you may still feel it.
Rumba is a Cuban drum, song and dance tradition that is the root of most Latin music, including the Blues, the root of American popular music. Rumba isn’t African. It’s what the first Africans did as soon as their hands and feet were free when they landed in Matanzas, Cuba as early as 1513. A rumba is a party.
Rumba requires some feeling to dance it because the rhythm of rumba clave has extra syncopation. The five beats of the rumba clave are almost 2.5 and 2.5.
Son clave is a simpler 3-2 or 2-3. That’s what we dance salsa to. You can dance salsa to “El Manisero,” the first global Latin hit. This son-pregón recorded in New York City in 1930, was the first time most of the world heard Latin music.
But what we call salsa today is 1950s Cuban son dance music that mixed with Puerto Rican bomba and plena, and Harlem swing in New York’s Puerto Rican communities in the 1960s and 70s. Salsa then jumped to Colombia where it developed its own sound and went global. More than anyone Celia Cruz popularized Latin music around the world.
Artists from many Caribbean and Latin American countries contributed to salsa’s development. It sounds a little different everywhere it is played, but Johnny Pacheco’s Fania Records defined the salsa dura (hard salsa) sound in 1970s New York City. Salsa romántica was a softer, more romantic style with suggestive lyrics that followed in the 1980s-90s. It’s like the progression of rock to soft rock.
Like swing is to jazz, salsa is a commercial form of latin jazz. It is dance music. You can dance salsa to the Cuban forms: changüi, son, and timba.
Caribbeans and Colombians dance salsa on 1, meaning we accent the first step on the music’s 1st beat. Caribbeans dance 6 steps in two pairs of three. It flows back and forth like waves in the sea with 3 steps for you and 3 steps for me. Colombians dance 8 steps with produces different patterns and accents.
Disco was popular in 1970s New York. Disco accents the 2, the second beat. Eddie Torres Sr. mixed salsa and disco into New York salsa on 2 with hustle (disco) shines. On 2 means the 2nd beat gets the accent. Puerto Ricans call it dancing on clave, though it’s only half the clave. If you dance the clave alone, most social dancers get confused.
El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico famously sang “Sin salsa, no hay paraiso,” (Without salsa, there is no paradise) For a salsero, that is 100% true. It’s fun.