Experience authentic ‘Cali-style’ salsa with my Best Medellin Salsa Clubs guide. I’ll show you the best places find to live music and the best salsa dancers. Here are my 9 favorite salsa spots in Medellin and 2 to avoid. Dive the Medellin salsa scene, learn the unwritten salsa etiquette, and stay safe with handy tips.

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Overview of the Salsa Scene In Medellin

Cali is considered the world’s salsa capital, but Medellin nightlife still has a hefty dose of this Latin dance. In fact, Colombia has its own distinctive style of salsa called “Cali-style,” “Salsa Caleña,” or “Colombian-style.” Colombian style is the primary type of dancing in Medellin salsa clubs.

Let the salsa experts debate the specifics, but there are between 6-9 popular styles that are danced globally.
“It has fast spins, swivels, and kicks similar to the Jive style of dancing. This style usually breaks on 1 and utilizes all 8 music beats.”- World Salsa Federation

As Colombian style is rarely found outside the country, most “linear salsa” dancers from US clubs may want to check out some dance school socials to understand the differences in the timing and basic dance steps.

But whether you are a salsa newbie or an experienced salsero, Medellin has a vibrant salsa scene with loads of options for beginner groups and private lessons for expats looking to trade in their gringo shuffle for a Latin-inspired boogie.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced dancer, Medellin offers a variety of venues and events to cater to all skill levels and preferences. Hitting up Medellin clubs is a must-do activity to immerse yourself in the local culture fully and have a fun night out on the town.

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6 Quick Tips To Prepare For A Move To Colombia

TIP 1. Understand Colombia’s visa policy- A decade of experience living abroad taught me that a country’s resident visa and permit situation can make or break a plan to move overseas. Chat with a Colombian visa attorney.

TIP 2. Know your health insurance requirements- Starting July 2022, the government requires all expats living in Colombia to purchase specific medical coverage that includes accidents, illness, hospitalization, disability, repatriation, maternity, and death. 

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Colombia Identification Card: How Expats Get A Cedula De Extranjería
Colombia Digital Nomad Visa Requirements: How to Apply, Work Remote, And Live Cheap
How To Rent Apartments In Medellin Without Getting Scammed
How To Get Health Insurance In Colombia As A Foreigner
Expat Guide To Medellin Nightlife: Best Clubs, Party Areas, Bars, and Dancing
The Complete Expat Guide On How To Buy A Car in Colombia
How To Apply For A Colombia Tourist Visa [2023]
The Top 26 Reasons Why You Must Visit Colombia [2023]
The 5 Best Neighborhoods to Live in Medellin Colombia As An Expat [2023]

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Best Established Salsa Clubs in Medellin

map to reach Buena Vista salsa club one of Medellin's best salsa clubs

1. Buena Vista (Buenavista Social Club)

Buena Vista (sometimes referred to as Buenavista or BV) one of the premier destinations for salsa dancing in Medellin, Colombia. Located just one block from Parque Lleras in the heart of the Zona Rosa area, where the majority of tourist start experiencing Medellin’s nightlife

  • Traditional Salsa Music: The club is renowned for its traditional salsa music, particularly Colombian salsa caleña. The music selection here is a delightful fusion of old and new, seamlessly blending classic hits with contemporary favorites. This blend of rhythms caters to all, from the salsa purists to the explorers.
  • Traditional and Modern Salsa: One of the standout features of La Bodega de Buena Vista is its fusion of traditional and modern salsa styles. The club embraces the roots of classical salsa and Son Cubano, allowing patrons to experience the essence and authenticity of these dance forms. At the same time, the club also embraces contemporary influences, offering a dynamic blend of styles that appeals to a wide range of tastes.
  • Diverse Crowd: At Buena Vista, the convergence of locals and foreigners creates a lively and diverse atmosphere that guarantees an unforgettable dancing experience. The club pulsates with an electric vibe, setting the perfect stage for an exhilarating night of salsa.
  • Festive Atmosphere: The club maintains a lively and festive atmosphere, complemented by its unique mix of old-school and modern décor. This spirited ambiance is felt the moment you step inside the club, as the rhythm of salsa tunes fills the air and the infectious energy of the crowd sweeps you off your feet. Buena Vista operates from Wednesday to Saturday, ensuring that there are ample opportunities to enjoy a night of salsa dancing. The club stays open until 2:00 AM, allowing guests to dance the night away and fully immerse themselves in the lively atmosphere.

INSIDER TIP: Dance Lessons and Special Events- The club also offers salsa lessons on select days, providing an opportunity for dancers to refine their technique and learn from experienced instructors. These lessons are a great way to enhance your salsa skills or to get started if you are new to the dance. Additionally, Buena Vista regularly organizes special events and performances, adding an extra layer of excitement to the already thriving salsa scene.

A map of how to find the best Medellin Salsa club, Social Club Academia

2. Social Club Academia (Social Club Academy)

Social Club is a popular salsa club and dance studio located in the south of Medellin, in the La Aguacatala neighborhood. Social Club is a bit of a crossover mixing a bachata son for every 4-5 salsa songs. This club offers an unforgettable experience for salsa lovers, with a range of features and characteristics that set it apart from other venues in the city.

Local dancers in town love Social Club for:

  • Talented DJs: The club features talented DJs who curate a diverse playlist of amazing salsa music, catering to different styles and preferences. The DJs at Social Club are skilled at reading the crowd and selecting the right tracks to keep the energy high, and the dancers engaged throughout the night.
  • Variety of Salsa Styles: As the club’s day job is a dance school, you’ll find all salsa styles here. Whether you enjoy dancing On-1, Cuban, On-2, or Colombian styles of salsa, you’ll find the perfect rhythm to move your feet and connect with others on the dance floor.
  • Energetic Crowd: The club attracts a lively and enthusiastic crowd, creating a dynamic and electric atmosphere. The energy on the dance floor is particularly contagious on Fridays when Medellin’s best come to show off the best footwork while the club bangs out high-energy salsa, bachata, porro, and merengue hits.
  • Spacious Covered Dance Floor: Social Club boasts a generous dance floor, providing ample space for dancers to showcase their moves and express themselves freely. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced dancer, the open floor allows you to navigate the rhythm of the music with ease.
map to Son Havana an iconic salsa club in Medellin

3. Son Havana

Son Havana is an iconic salsa landmark. Located in the Laureles-Estadio neighborhood, just a few blocks off of La Setenta, this salsa club is known as one of the city’s best places for salsa dancing.

At Son Havana, salsa dancing is available multiple nights weekly, with their Wednesday night social being particularly popular. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, they offer a free salsa class at 7:30 pm, providing an excellent opportunity for beginners to learn the basics of this energetic dance style. Social dancing follows the class, allowing dancers to practice their newly acquired skills on the dance floor.

  • Dedicated Salsa Music: What sets Son Havana apart is its dedication to Cuban salsa rhythms. Live performances by talented musicians and singers take place regularly on stage, allowing dancers to move to the sounds of authentic Cuban salsa music. 
  • Intimate and Fun Crowd: When compared to the wide-open space at Social Club, the dance floor at Son Havana is fairly small. But small size still means big-time fun. In fact, the intimate setting creates a sense of closeness and connection among dancers. Additionally, a second, smaller dance floor in the back of the bar provides more space for those who want to showcase their moves.
  • Dynamic Atmosphere: The dancers are encouraged to get creative and dance in the aisles, adding a unique and dynamic element to the overall atmosphere. This adds a special touch to the dancing experience and creates a vibrant and energetic ambiance that is hard to find elsewhere.
  • Expansion: Son Havana has expanded to two locations: one in Poblado and one in Laureles. The Poblado location offers a more spacious environment with indoor and outdoor seating, creating a roomy exterior for a more dancer-friendly venue. But my favorite is the intimate charm and vibes of the OG bar in Laureles, open since 2010.

INSIDER TIP: Weekends At Son Havana- The place rocks on Fridays and Saturdays. Seating can be limited. It is best enjoyed if you can secure a table with a group of friends, as it allows for a more enjoyable and social experience.

4.El Tibiri (Tibiri Bar)

El Tibiri Tabara, located in the heart of La 70 in Laureles, is another iconic and beloved spot for salsa dancing in Medellin. Considered a local Florida Nueva neighborhood institution, Tibiri is renowned for its dedication to pure, glorious salsa music. Unlike other venues that may offer a mix of different Latin dance styles and will throw in some bachata or cumbia, 

  • Colombian Salsa Music Haven: Tibiri focuses solely on classic Colombian salsa music, making it a haven for serious salsa enthusiasts. Tibiri is a free venue unless they have a live salsa band. With no cover charge, Tibiri is accessible to all salsa dancers. Since 1992, Tibiri has been known for cranking out a playlist predominantly featuring Salsa Vieja Guardia (literal translation: Old Guard Salsa). This dedication to the roots of Colombian-style salsa creates a nostalgic and vibrant ambiance that transports dancers to the golden era of salsa.
  • Packed Crowd: The venue is a medium-sized basement with little air circulation and a low ceiling, adding to its intimate and cozy atmosphere. However, tall gringos will need to careful not to bonk their heads.

    Despite its modest size, Tibiri attracts a large crowd, especially during peak hours, creating a bustling, sweaty, and energetic environment. Affordability factor makes Tibiri an iconic salsa establishment, drawing in a diverse crowd of locals and expats alike. The crowds are mostly older serious salsa lovers. Still, the low prices bring in some university students looking to dance on the cheap.
  • Classic Salsa Bar Ambiance: Far from posh, Tibiri’s basement venue is down, dirty, and sweaty. Tibiri is an unapologetic classic salsa bar. Its authenticity makes it the go-to destination for dancing locals looking for famous salsa classics. It is important to note that Tibiri operates from 10 pm to 2 am, allowing dancers to fully immerse themselves in the late-night salsa scene. The late hours contribute to the electrifying energy of the venue, as dancers come alive after dark, ready to sweat and groove to the infectious rhythms of salsa.
  • No Amenities, No Problem: While Tibiri may lack certain amenities, such as air conditioning and ample windows, it compensates for it with its casual and laid-back atmosphere. The absence of frills and distractions allows dancers to focus solely on the music and their dance partners, fostering a genuine and spontaneous environment that salsa enthusiasts cherish.

5. Che Che Cole-Salsa y Sabor (Cheche Cole)

Che Che Cole is another guardian of old-school cool salsa. Located in Guanteros, Envigado, two blocks from the main park, Che Che Cole feels lightyears away from the tourist crowds and foreigner prices. Che Che Cole is known for good drinks, prices, and even better music. Few expats find their way here, so most nights, the venue is filled mostly by locals, adding to its authentic and vibrant atmosphere.

  • Diverse Salsa Playlist: The musical offerings at Che Che Cole primarily center around Colombian style dancing, with a special emphasis on Salsa Vieja Guardia. The venue frequently hosts live bands, amplifying the exhilaration and dynamism of the dance experience. Their diverse playlist celebrates a spectrum of Latin rhythms including son cubano, cha-cha, boogaloo, pachanga, timba, and mambo, apart from salsa, providing something for every taste.
  • Passionate Crowd: The venue is basic, and the dance floor space is cozy, but Che Che Cole Salsa and Sabor is where Salsa Vieja Guardia still thrives. Che Che Cole is where dancers passionate about classic salsa go to dance. Che Che Cole is a hub of vibrancy and energy, serving as the perfect retreat for those eager to dive into the pulsating dance scene. Its spacious layout provides ample room for an array of dance and social activities. Its crowd, encompassing individuals of varied skill levels, fosters a warm and inclusive environment that welcomes everyone to immerse themselves in the rhythm.
  • Friendly and Inviting Atmosphere: Che Che Cole provides a unique and genuine salsa dancing experience in Medellin. The venue exudes a friendly and inviting atmosphere, making it the perfect spot to forge new connections and friendships. Whether you’re an expert dancer or a beginner, Che Che Cole offers a space for everyone to enjoy and express themselves through Latin dance. The potent blend of live music, spirited dancing, and expert instruction culminates in an unforgettable experience.
  • Dance Lessons: Che Che Cole is an ideal destination for salsa enthusiasts, offering dance classes that cater to every skill level. Their experienced and skilled instructors are adept at teaching a variety of dance styles, including Colombian and Salsa Casino. With a focus on clear, detailed instructions, the tutors at Che Che Cole make learning and improving dance skills an effortless journey, even for beginners.

INSIDER TIP: All in One Salsa Experience- Che Che Cole is a must-visit for locals and tourists looking to immerse themselves in the vibrant salsa scene of Medellin. With its authentic atmosphere, diverse music selection, and dance classes for all levels, Che Che Cole offers an unparalleled salsa dancing experience. Whether you’re looking to learn salsa or enjoy a night of dancing, Che Che Cole should definitely be on your salsa dancing itinerary in Medellin.s

6. Son de la Loma

Another Enivgado club, Son de la Loma, recently reopened after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Their original location was open for 38 years. It was highly regarded as one of the top salsa clubs in Medellin for decades. Son de la Loma has received notable recognition within the salsa community for contributing to Medellin’s vibrant salsa-dancing culture.

  • Live Salsa Music: Son de la Loma offers a wide array of salsa music, incorporating traditional Cuban, bachata, and kizomba tunes. The venue regularly hosts live performances from skilled musicians and vocalists, injecting an extra dose of excitement into the dance experience. In a tribute to Cuban salsa rhythms, dancers at the club have the exhilarating opportunity to sway to the live music provided by artists on stage.
  • Engaging Crowd: The bar serves as a magnetic hub for Cuban expats and salsa aficionados. This diverse crowd brings a unique energy to the venue, creating an environment that’s engaging, welcoming, and filled with the passionate spirit of Cuban salsa dance.
  • Ample Dance Floor:The club features a generously-sized dance floor, creating the perfect stage for dancers to fully express themselves and display their talent. Even during bustling social events, the well-maintained dance floor of Son de la Loma ensures there’s ample room for everyone to groove without constraints.
  • Serious Salsa: While everyone is friendly, the salsa dancing here is serious. Salsa alternates between partner dancing and choreographed group dances (Rueda de Casino), which can be super challenging for beginner salsa dancers.

INSIDER TIP: Special Events- Son de la Loma punctuates its routine with occasional special events and performances, lending a unique flavor to the club experience. These events often feature guest appearances from renowned Latin dancers or live bands, setting the stage for a highly charged atmosphere that electrifies both dancers and onlookers. This commitment to spotlighting gifted performers and hosting exclusive events contributes significantly to the club’s popularity among salsa enthusiasts.

7. Encantigo Bar

As the previous owner of one of Medelllin’s first legendary salsa clubs (Cienfuegos Cabaret Salsa Bar), Carlos Zapata Arango strives to transport you back to the golden era of salsa with his new El Poblado Encantigo salsa bar located one block from Parque Lleras. Encantigo is a throwback with its seventies-inspired decor, cozy atmosphere, and salsa orchestra.

  • Live Music: The venue offers a space to dance and a small platform for live music.The highlight of Encantigo is undoubtedly the live salsa music performed by their talented in-house orchestra Septeto Encantigo, while the Quinteto Cienfuegos cabaret shows what glamorous professional dancers can do. Their energetic performances create an infectious atmosphere that will make you want to hit the dance floor. The bar features talented live bands that play classic and contemporary salsa tunes, infusing the space with infectious rhythms and keeping the dance floor alive.
  • Enthusiastic Crowd: The bar attracts a vibrant and passionate crowd of avid salsa dancers who are there to enjoy the music and dance to their heart’s content. The friendly staff adds to the welcoming ambiance, making you feel right at home.
  • Nostalgic Ambiance: Encantigo Bar brings back traditional salsa clubs’ nostalgic charm, capturing the genre’s essence and rich history. The cozy and intimate environment allows for a close connection between the dancers and the music, enhancing the overall salsa experience.

INSIDER TIP: Extra Cool Stuff- Encantigo also offers workshops, musical talks, and conversations to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of salsa as a cultural art form. The final cherry on top Encantigo Bar is Chef José Antequera. He delights visitors with a delicious menu of Puerto Rican and Cuban cuisine, perfecting the salsa experience. 

8. Discoteca el Suave

Located on Calle 50 (Colombia) near the Atanasio Girardot StadiumSuave, also known as Disco El Suave, is a classic salsa club for true salseros. Founded by Bernardo Arango in 1974, since its inception, Suave has become synonymous with the history of salsa in Medellin and has played a significant role in promoting and preserving salsa culture in the city.

  • Nostalgic Music: Inspired by the sounds of prominent 1950s-era salsa artists, El Suave is a tribute to Afro-Antillean music. The music played at the bar evokes nostalgia, with songs that refer to old loves and resonate with the soul. The music at El Suave is excellent, featuring a mix of traditional salsa, boleros, and other classics from the era. Visitors to El Suave are often captivated by the carefully curated selection of high-quality salsa music, making it a favorite destination for enthusiasts. 
  • Respectful Patrons: It’s not just about the ambiance and music; it’s the quality of customers who frequent the place. Respectful people passionate about classic salsa and the joy of dancing create a friendly atmosphere.
  • Relaxing Space: The venue is spread across multiple floors with a uniquely garish neon tropical decor. The first floor has tables and seating arrangements, allowing guests to relax, sit, and socialize with friends while immersing themselves in the lively atmosphere. Meanwhile, the second floor boasts an inviting dance floor, where mostly 35 and older crowd lets loose and showcases their salsa moves. The environment exudes a nostalgic charm, and the crowd consists of salsa lovers who enjoy dancing to the salsa classic of yesteryear. 
  • Size and Space: One of the key distinguishing features of El Suave is its size and the availability of three levels. Many salsa clubs are relatively small and might have limited space for dancing. El Suave’s spacious layout provides more room for dancers to move freely and comfortably, making it an attractive venue for those who love to dance energetically.

Closed Medellin Salsa Clubs [Updated 2023]

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  • Eslabón Prendido

Foreigners Guide To Salsa Dancing Etiquette In Medellin Clubs

Especially compared to dancing in typical nightclubs in the US or Europe, salsa comes with a confusing set of unspoken rules and etiquette that govern how people behave in the club. 

These etiquette practices ensure a comfortable and inclusive environment on the dance floor that everyone can enjoy.

  1. Inviting someone to dance: When asking someone to dance, whether you are a leader or a follower, it is customary to extend a hand with a smile or verbally ask, “Bailemos?” (Let’s dance?). This clear and direct invitation allows the other person to easily understand your intention and respond accordingly.
  2. Accepting and declining dances: In the salsa culture of Medellin, it is encouraged to say “yes” to a dance invitation as much as possible. However, politely declining a dance is also acceptable if you are tired, want to chat with friends, or need a break (saying “Ahorita” means later). Just try to avoid immediately dancing with someone else to the same song after turning someone down. No need to make the person feel bad.
  3. Mindful space management: As a leader, you are responsible for managing your space on the dance floor. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid sending your follower into another couple’s space or interrupting their intimate moment. Mindful space management ensures a smooth and enjoyable dancing experience for everyone.
  4. Asking everyone to dance: The salsa dance floor in Medellin is a lively and impromptu community. It is encouraged to ask a wide range of people to dance throughout the night, regardless of their skill level. This fosters a sense of connection and inclusivity among dancers.
  5. Respectful connection: Salsa dancing is all about the connection between partners. It is important to approach each dance with a willingness to meet your partner where they are at. Solid eye contact, body language, and a playful attitude can help establish a respectful and enjoyable connection on the dance floor.
  6. Wear plenty of deodorant: Many salsa clubs in Medellin tend to be a bit cramped and lack proper air conditioning. Combine the lack of airflow with Colombia’s intimate and close-up salsa style, and you have a breeding ground for a sweaty stinky mess. The night you decide to go salsa dancing in Medellin is not the time to be stingy with your antiperspirant or toothpaste.

Safety Tips When Salsa Dancing In Medellin

  1. Avoid taxis or walking late at night. Use your phone and call an Uber for safety.
  2. Watch your drinks and be cautious of drink spiking, especially in Colombia, where the drug Scopolamine is known to be used by both men and women to rob expats and foreigners.
  3. Take only cash with you instead of credit cards to avoid the risk of losing them. Plus, many clubs only accept cash at the bar.
  4. Consider taking a photocopy of your ID or passport instead of the actual document.
  5. Be aware of the machismo culture in Colombia. A respectful but firm “no” will stem most unwanted attention or advances. 

FAQs- The Medellin Salsa Scene

What type of salsa do they dance in clubs in Medellin?

With salsa such a strong part of Colombian culture, you can find all types of salsa danced in Medellin clubs. However, the type of salsa found in most Medellin clubs is called “Cali-style” or “Colombian-style” salsa.

Cali-style salsa is known for its fast footwork, intricate partnering, and energetic movements. It originated in the city of Cali, Colombia, but has gained popularity throughout the country, including in Medellin.

What is Colombian-style salsa like?

Colombian-style salsa, also known as Cali-style salsa or Salsa Caleña, is a highly energetic and dynamic dance style that originated in Cali, Colombia. However, this style is not as widely taught or danced outside of Colombia. Here are the key characteristics and elements of Colombian-style salsa:

  1. Rapid and intricate footwork: Colombian salsa is known for its fast-paced footwork, with dancers incorporating extra kicks and steps into their movements.
  2. Athletic lifts and tricks: This style of salsa often includes impressive lifts and tricks, showcasing the dancers’ athleticism and agility.
  3. Focus on hips and legs: Unlike other salsa styles, Colombian salsa emphasizes movement in the hips and legs, while the upper body remains mostly rigid.
  4. Circular turn patterns: Colombian turn patterns follow a circular pattern creating a dynamic and flowing dance experience.
  5. Timing on 1: The timing of the steps in Colombian salsa is generally on 1, adding to the energetic and synchronized nature of the dance.

How much does it cost to take a salsa class in Medellin?

Group classes tend to range between 20,000 to 30,000 Colombian pesos ($5 to $7 USD), while private lessons cost 50,000 to 100,000 COP ($12 to $24 USD), depending on the instructor’s professional level. Many salsa studios and dance clubs even offer free salsa classes.

The cost of taking a salsa class can vary depending on number of students, duration, instructor level, and school. Many salsa schools or instructors offer package deals for multiple classes. The more classes you purchase in a package, the greater the potential for savings.

About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last five years to over 40 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, Huffington Post, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Best Life, CW Network, Dr. Wealth, and others. [view press...]

  • Hey Marco! Great job on this article man! It’s exactly what I needed for my first trip to Medellín next week! I’m an old school salsero from New York so my first stop will be to take a private class at the Santo Baile Academy. I have a much better idea now of where to go and what to expect. GRACIAS!

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