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Places to dance
SALSA
in the Boston/Cambridge area

The best local places for us Gringos to dance Salsa

NOTE: We have been out of town since April 2007,
and have NOT been updating this page regularly. Sorry!

However, many listings below include a link to the
event's own web site. If you combine our opinions and
their web sites, you should have good, current info.


Updated 1-10-2008


SALSA:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

 


Below is a small set of the best local Salsa dancing opportunities that we happen to know about, organized by day of the week. We have included only the places that Salsa dancers consider the best for actual dancing (not too crowded, not totally for the rich B.U. euro-trendoids, etc.), and that are at least non-hostile to Gringos. Note that the well-known Sophia's has closed.

As of July 2006, Central Square in Cambridge now has the highest density of Salsa dancing anywhere in the Boston area. See our listings for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Luckily, there are now even a few decent restaurants in Central Square and Inman Square, in case you want to make a night of it.

Keep in mind that the Salsa crowd has a VERY different attitude from the mellow Swing crowd -- it's much more like an ordinary club scene, with occasional latin-macho overtones, mixed with ordinary friendly people who are new to Salsa.
       Gents: expect to be given a sneer and a brush off from the better women dancers at almost all of these dances, at least until you reach expert level (and even then, probably).
       Ladies: WARNING: the rule among Latin men in the Salsa subculture seems to be rather universal, we are told: if you dance more than twice in a row with someone, they assume you are "inviting" much more than just dancing. So change partners every song or, at most, two.

Question: How can you tell when you are really getting the hang of it?
Answer: When folks come up to you and start speaking to you in Spanish.

OTHER INFO SOURCES:
A fellow at M.I.T. named Olaf maintains a massively comprehensive listing of Salsa places in the greater Boston area at http://salsaboston.com/clubguide/.

EARDRUM WARNING:
At all these places, the music gets EXTREMELY LOUD -- you are well advised to bring along foam earplugs to avoid permanent hearing damage. We gently remind you that you don't have to use them, but it sure is handy to have 'em with you. The Boston Globe reported that about 15-20% of clubgoers now use earplugs. Even the hard core SalsaBoston.com webmaster recommends earplugs at most of these places!


  


WEDNESDAYS

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Sophia's (closed)

Salsa Night at An Tua Nua
835 Beacon St., approx 2 long blocks outside Kenmore Square going away from Boston. Admission $10, or $12 including lessons. 7:00pm Open Rueda de Casino practice (free). 8:00pm Rueda de Casino lessons (all levels, not free). 9:00pm Salsa lessons, beg. and intermed (not free). 10:00-1:00am Dancing to DJ music. Ignore the Karaoke in the front -- the Salsa stuff is in the rear. The Salsa lessons and dancing that used to happen at Sophia's (now closed) have moved to An Tua Nua, "a cozy, contemporary Irish bar and grill," just a few blocks away. We haven't been there yet, so no comments. Here's info by the dance's organizers.



  


THURSDAYS

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Ryles (upstairs room) (dance is run by ??)
212 Hampshire St., Inman Square, Cambridge. 617-876-9330. Admission: After 10 pm $8 (a bit more if live music). Before 10 pm, admission is $12 and includes lessons. Age ID req'd (21+). Lesson begins at 8:30 or maybe 9:00. Dancing 10:00pm-1:00am. Light but ineffective air-conditioning; it gets hot so dress accordingly. No smoking, yes alcohol.
Ryles has greatly increased the size of its dance floor over the past few years -- it now extends wall to wall, nearly to the bar. Still feels small, however, probably because it draws such an enthusiastic crowd. The crowd here is "older," meaning mid-20s on up, with a lot of the better dancers in their 30s. A nice, congenial atmosphere, with roughly a 50-50 mix of Latinos and Gringos, many of whom (like us) have only a modest clue what they are doing, and everyone dancing with everyone. The music mix tends to alternate between Salsa and Merengue in groups of 4 or 5 songs, with the occasional Bachata tossed in. Note: it gets very hot despite the (feeble) a/c, so dress lightly. Note also that Ryles replaced its formerly excellent loudspeaker system with cheap, bad replacements that have a nasty, harsh sound. Bring ear plugs. A good place for novices to feel comfortable dancing, and at the same time see some superb Salsa dancers. (Note: this Thursday night Salsa/Merengue dance is run by completely different people from the Saturday night dance in the same location, and has a very different atmosphere and music. This Thursday dance is the original one, and attracts the real Salsa dancers, as do the Friday and Sunday dances (see below).)



  


FRIDAYS

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Havana Club
288 Green St. (Greek American Political Club), 3rd Floor, Central Square, Cambridge, 1 short block from the red line T. Admission $12. 21+ (or 18+ with college ID). Free Rueda lesson at 8:30. Free Salsa lesson at 9:30. Dancing to DJ music 10:30pm-2:00am. Dress is quite casual. There is a bar, but it's not cheap: $4-5 beer, $5-7 mixed drink, $2 water.
A huge old social hall filled with 250-350 Salsa dancers every Friday. Nice casual atmosphere. In theory there is air-conditioning, but it gets meltingly hot anyway. Also note that the DJ plays EXTREMELY LOUD, especially near the end of the night, so it's a good idea to bring earplugs or else dance at the back of the hall. Here is info from the dance organizers.

Vincent's
Immediately off of I-93 (Exit 5-A) South of Boston in Randolph -- you can easily see it from the highway (on the right) as you get near the Randolph exit, about an hour south of Boston. Take that exit, and loop around into the large, free parking lot. Admission $10; women free before 10:30 pm. Dancing 9:00 pm -1:30 am. Proper or fancy attire; no collarless shirts or jeans permitted.
This is a gigantic, sleek disco right out of the 1980s, complete with doormen/bouncers who will whisk the women through one line (women free before 10:30 pm) while whisking the men to the cashier. This is where the Boston-area Latinos come for Salsa -- by the thousands. As huge as it is, the place is packed every Friday, and after about 11:30, it's all but impossible to move on the dance floor. Not particularly gringo-friendly, but not hostile either. One (very caucasian) fella told us: "All the women look beautiful, and all the men look like they're on steroids. Watch out who you ask to dance." Worth experiencing at least once. And if you are planning on doing any actual dancing, go early so you can move. [Note: we haven't been to Vincent's for a while, so we don't know what effect, if any, the competition from Havarna Club is having.]



 


SATURDAYS

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Masacote Salsa Social. Every 2nd Saturday of the month, starting Jan 12, 2008. Then Feb 9, March 8, April 12, May 10, June 14, etc.
Knights of Columbus Hall, 75 West School St., Charlestown, MA 02129. T accessible -- right next to the Orange Line - Community College stop. 617-876-9330. Admission $8. Lesson at 8 pm is an extra $2. All ages welcome. Intro lesson ($2) at 8 pm, dancing to recorded music 9:00 pm-12:00 midnight. This is "a Salsa dance by dancers, for dancers" run by Ana Tinajero-Massicot and Joel Massicot, two of the best Salsa dancers in the world, and very friendly, too. Note: In the salsa world, a "social" is a relaxed dance that emphasizes dancing over clubbing. Socials usually start and end a little earlier. For example, when in New York City, visit Jimmy Anton's Social, where over 350 of the best Salsa dancers in New York, including many of the local instructors, dance like maniacs every other Sunday from 5-9 pm.

Ryles (upstairs room) (dance is run by SuperShag Studio)
212 Hampshire St., Inman Square, Cambridge. 617-876-9330. Admission $10. Age ID req'd (19+). Freebie lesson at 9:15, dancing to recorded music until 1:30 am. Ineffective air-conditioning; dress lightly. This is a dance with mixed music run by a competition-oriented ballroom dance studio, so it is not really a Salsa dance. You'll find a wide range of dancers, ranging from friendly beginners to unfriendly hard-core Ballroom dancers from the organizer's studio. The recorded music is an unusual mix for a dance joint, one that the organizers were recently calling "Four on the Floor": a mix of just about everything, including a little Salsa. If you are a dedicated Salsa dancer, you'll find the music rather stiff, as a result of the competition-ballroom background of the DJ. But if you are just looking for a pleasant evening and a wide mix of music, you'll find this to be a nice alternative. Note also that Ryles replaced its formerly excellent loudspeaker system with cheap, bad replacements that have a nasty, harsh sound. Bring ear plugs. (Note: the Thursday, Friday, and Sunday night Salsa/Merengue dances here are run by completely different people, and have a completely different atmosphere and music. )



 


SUNDAYS

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Johnny D's  
17 Holland St., Davis Square, Somerville (roughly opposite the Somerville Theater). 617-776-2004. Admission $6 (add $2 for the dance lesson). Age ID req'd (21+). Dance lesson 9-10 (extra $2), dancing 10-12:30.
Salsa dancing to live music every Sunday with an excellent (albeit very loud) local Salsa band. The only downside to this band is that they like to play 10-minute long songs -- ridiculous from a dancer's point of view. So don't be afraid to quit in the middle of a song, because it's NOT going to end soon! Nor to start dancing even after a song has been going for 5 minutes. Quite friendly for us beginner-level gringos. Small dance floor; bar atmosphere. A good place for novices to feel comfortable. Earplugs strongly recommended: the place is small, and the band is large and extremely loud.



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