BAY AREA SALSA CLUB GUIDE
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If you live in the Bay Area you pretty much know where to direct your salsa
dancing shoes. But if you are a beginner, a tourist, or you've been out of
the scene for a while, read on.
So, it's the most boring day of the week and you don't know where to chase your
blues away. No sweat. ALBERTO'S nightclub in Mountain View
just started Monday night salsa.
Since Cafe du Nord is now defunct, the only game in town on Tuesdays is THE GLAS
KAT which became popular as soon as it opened. The nice atmosphere,
friendly management, tasteful decor and many special promotions including free
drinks and ladies' nights, appeal to a broad range of people.
There is a live salsa band at the tiny PIER 23 every Wednesday. This is
the only club in town that does not charge a cover for its salsa night.
And in spite of its small dance floor and the competition from ROCCAPULCO and
CARIBBEAN GARDENS (both with DJ only) PIER 23 keeps its faithful
The ELBO ROOM offers live salsa, but not every week; you have to check their
JILLIAN'S is a huge restaurant with a large dance floor and three big video
screens. It attracts mostly a young crowd.
The most popular club on Thursdays (and Saturdays) remains CAFE COCOMO which did
not lose its following even after the initial success of Jillian's. The
owners keep improving the decor; a fairly large dance floor was extended to the
bar and a smaller floor was added on the balcony; a multitude of special
promotions including no cover nights with free food (great Indian and
multicultural delicacies) and friendly attitude towards customers assure the
return of salsa dancers of all ages.
ROCCAPULCO used to be the only alternative on Fridays in San Francisco. However,
you won't see a lot of very good dancers here in spite of it having the biggest
dance floor in the city.
A "new kid on the block", in Oakland to be precise,
has already become a serious threat to its competitors. The new club,
KIMBALL'S CARNIVAL, is the biggest salsa club in the Bay Area. With
improved sound and warmer decor it will become much more attractive to salseros.
For South Bay residents there is CARIBBEAN GARDENS in Burlingame.
If you are up in Marin, check out club FUSETTI'S in San Rafael.
If you don't mind driving or if you are near Mountain View, your best bet is
Those who live in the East Bay might favor KIMBALL'S CARNIVAL in Oakland or
MAIKO'S in Berkeley. But you should see CAFE COCOMO on Saturdays: it's
packed! People line up at the door even after midnight. If they put
speakers in their nice courtyard some folks would dance there, guaranteed!
From about May to November THE RAMP in San Francisco offers salsa dancing
with live bands on Saturday afternoons from 4 to 8pm. Dancing in the fresh
air attracts a lot of people in spite of a small cracked concrete floor. Besides
who can beat the $5 cover charge?
JELLY'S has been a San Francisco hangout for ages. It has its faithful
clientele who like a relaxed atmosphere for the afternoon salsa. However,
a small floor and crowded, poorly ventilated environment deter many skillful
If you really want to dance (and have your own partner) head to the SPOTLIGHT ON
THE SQUARE in Alameda. They are open from 5pm til midnight.
For salseros of all sexual orientations EL RIO has salsa on the patio from
4 to 8pm from April to November.
In January CAFE COCOMO will begin Sunday afternoon salsa as well. With its
tremendous popularity it will be interesting to see if this will alleviate
Saturday night crowding. Good luck, Cocomo!
Not tired of dancing yet? Want to shake your booty before going to work on
Monday? Then the ALLEGRO BALLROOM in Emeriville is another choice.
It's not a club, they don't serve liquor, but the $6 cover charge ($10 if you
lessons) includes DJ dancing and snacks.
Besides these main salsa clubs, there are others that offer
salsa music along with other dancing styles, such as the SOUND FACTORY,
VSF, IBIZA and others. These clubs attract primarily younger crowds.
If you're serious about salsa and want to take lessons you're in
luck. Almost all the clubs include free lessons in their cover charge.
There is a great variety of instructors with unique styles that
complement each other, so you might as well try them all and see which ones you
Always innovative Ricardo, who comes up with many interesting moves, teaches at
Alberto's and The Glas Kat.
A legend in California's salsa scene, Alex DaSilva gives lessons at Roccapulco
Winners of multiple salsa competitions, Ava and Luis offer their classes there
Butter smooth Jake and his partner Techi teach at Cafe Cocomo and Kimball's
Talented (and boyishly cute) Joseph Gallardo takes Jake's place at Kimball's
Carnival on Wednesdays.
Joel and his gorgeous partner Sorcy give lessons at the Spotlight on the Square
and at Kimball's Carnival on Saturdays.
The Allegro Ballroom offers 2 hour lessons (beginner and intermediate) with
Garry and Isabelle who also teach at Maiko's.
Call the clubs directly to confirm all dates and times, or check their websites.
Feedback, Comments or Questions can be directed to: Salsaloca@aol.com
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