Latin Dance Parties
by Remezcla.com staff, 01/26/2010
- more in nightlife/
Don't put away your dancing shoes or party dress just because it's cold: the best Latin parties are in full effect every night of the week—not just on weekends. Whether you want to dance, get down and sweaty to Brazilian music in the East Village or unwind after work by learning new salsa steps with the pros (for free!), here are a few of the best weekly Latin parties in New York City.
Salsa After Work at Taj Lounge
Time: 5pm–midnight; happy hour: 4–6pm
Price: $6 before 7pm; $12 after 7pm
The gist of it: This party takes place at Taj Lounge, an intimate Indian restaurant-lounge located in the Flatiron District, which, after 6pm on Mondays, transforms into one of the loudest tropical parties in the City. The whole space is finished in beautiful wood flooring, which makes it perfect for dancing! The music, which flows from a bombastic sound system, is generally salsa, with the occasional merengue and cha-cha tracks, and later in the evening, the DJ plays some hustle as well. The main attraction, however, is the free salsa dance lesson at 6:30pm, as well as a live dance performance by Talia Castro-Pozo and learn2salsa.com’s Jamie Josephson, followed at 9pm by the amazing Willy’s NYC Salsa Project, featuring up-and-coming trombonist Ronald Prokopez.
Who's on the dance floor: The crowd is completely diverse in age and nationality, with the level and energy of the dancing increasing as the night progresses. Early on in the night, you’ll find the just-got-out-of-work crowd, merely salsa beginners, who have come to enjoy the food, happy hour and the lessons. As the night continues, the mid-level/professional crowd might overwhelm you if you’re not too savvy with your moves.
Final consensus: Host and DJ Henry Knowles, who started the event eight years ago at another venue, has made it so that for salsa lovers, this is definitely a must! If you have never taken salsa classes before and feel adventurous, go for it. But know this: the party is not for nondancers.
DJ David Medina at Favela Cubana
The gist of it: As the name implies, Favela Cubana’s walls are decked out in cliché memorabilia that invoke Rio and Havana: bottles of Havana Club rum, large murals of busty Carnival dancers and scrawled quotes from Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Girl from Ipanema” and Celia Cruz’s “La Vida es un Carnaval.” Instead of bar stools, Favela Cubana uses giant conga drums, which come in handy when you can’t help yourself but tap to the beat of the music. So order a $6 beer or $7 caipirinha, and drum, dance and sing all night long at this packed Tuesday-night party.
Hosts: DJ Medina started the Tuesday-night party around May. He plays mostly Cuban salsa, some merengue and some bachata, and occasionally can be seen deserting the DJ booth to get his dance on with the ladies.
Who’s on the dance floor: Hard-core salsa pros. Lots of Cubanos who just love their music. If you don’t dance, it's worth coming just to gawk. Don’t let it intimidate you—it’s quite a friendly dance floor.
Final consensus: No cover, no grumpy security barring the door and a very cheerful ambience. It’s the perfect spot for New York University students to get their groove on.
Forro in the Dark at Nublu
Price: $10 or less if you become a Nublu regular and know how to work your way in
The gist of it: We swear, this is the most worthy cover charge you will ever pay. Check your attitude at the velvet-curtained door and enter this hot and dark little box of a bar to get slippery, steamy and sweaty in a full-on skin-to-skin, wall-to-wall Brazilian fest. Forro in the Dark will rocket you straight to Recife, playing the traditional percussion-heavy forro rhythm with an infectious amalgamation of samba, electronica and jazz. It all started in 2005, when Forro in the Dark founder Mauro Refosco had an impromptu jam session there for his birthday. Even though the group has won worldwide acclaim and has two albums under their belt, Forro in the Dark still come up with a lot of their music back at Nublu, where they rehearse it every week.
Who’s on the dance floor: It's so dark that it’s hard to tell, but you’ll hear at least three different languages. No standing allowed—just dance.
Final consensus: Too hot to be romantic; so dark you leave your inhibitions at the door. Knock back a few potent caipirinhas and soon you’ll find yourself stumbling onto Avenue C at 4am, deliriously vowing that you’ll be back every single Wednesday, your faith restored in the City’s ability to provide experiences like the one you just fell into.
Live Salsa at Gonzalez y Gonzalez
Time: 8:30pm to closing (Saturday at 10:30pm)
The gist of it: This Tex-Mex restaurant's dance floor is packed with regular local salsa-dancing stars week in and week out. Gonzalez y Gonzalez’s live salsa night starts laid-back with a great free salsa lesson by Joey Corsica. Afterward, live bands take the stage, and the vibrant energy sets in. Sets begin at 9:30pm and 11:15pm; Friday and Saturday sets begin at 11:30pm and 1:15am.
Who’s on the dance floor: A very mixed crowd in terms of nationality, age, expertise and cheese factor. The party becomes more authentic later on in the evening.
What people are saying: Some regulars stated they love to come here to see and hear the live band, something that other salsa parties during the week often lack. Others come here weekly simply to unwind, dance and break a sweat.
Final consensus: Go for the $5 draft beer rather than the watered-down margaritas, and stick with the free chips and salsa. And try to keep up on the dance floor.
After-Work Salsa at S.O.B.’s
Show: 8pm and 10pm; the salsa nights carry on until around 12:30 to 1am
Price: $15 (ladies gratis; men $10 before 7pm)
The gist of it: S.O.B.'s (that’s "Sounds of Brazil," malpensados!) offers free salsa lessons around 6:30pm, ideal for salsa amateurs who can learn the very basic steps and then practice their moves when the live band starts at 8pm. If you’re coming to eat, don’t count on a quiet candlelit dinner, as it inevitably turns into a wild salsa party. The bands that take the stage are always amazing, and, occasionally, some of the world’s best grace the stage.
Who’s on the dance floor: A very Latin crowd as well as some salsa beginners looking to sharpen their steps and turns.
What people are saying: This is no doubt one of the best salsa and Latin parties in NYC. Some have become loyal regulars, showing up every Friday since the first day.
Final consensus: Us Remezcleros are crazy about S.O.B.’s; they somehow just always get it right! We recommend this event in a heartbeat, especially if you are dying to whirl around to salsa and get your blood hot and flowing—this is absolutely the place to kill the craving! Plus, there is no way to feel out of place if you’re not the keenest dancer, and there’s always someone cute lurking on the side, just waiting to get their spin on.
Pop and Rock at Aji Lounge
The gist of it: We’re rooting for this young party, which is a bit of a hit or miss. Before you schlep to Park Slope, be sure to check out which band will be rocking out at this quaint new place. Quite possibly, it could be some of the best Latin rock pop you can get (like local cumbia rising stars Sin Reskate, and Sweet D’Cadencia). Try Aji Lounge's Chimay on tap, and by the end of the night, join the salsa dancers spilling out of the joint clapping their hands and singing along to “Lloraras.”
Who’s on the dance floor: Sleek, high-heeled gals and their perfumed friends.
Final consensus: Lloraras si no vienes a ver the best cumbia nationally and internationally. Cumbia is the new salsa, chamacos!
Body Music at Bembé
Time: 9pm–4am, but the crowd won’t show till about midnight
The gist of it: Resident DJ Jesse Mann turns up the heat at his tables, spinning Latin funk, jazz, disco and even soul. The best part (besides the luxuriously chill atmosphere) is watching DJs and live percussionists jamming and creating super-eclectic tracks that will no doubt have you downing watermelon vodka in the hammock (yes, it’s like the tropics inside Bembé) and undulating your hips with the sweaty crowd in the candlelight, wishing the night would last longer.
Who’s on the dance floor: The crowd is diverse and pretty darn sexy, if we may say so, kind of like partying in a friend’s basement with all of her cool friends in the candlelight.
Final consensus: This music is so live, it will get all the hairs on your body standing on end! Plus, live drumming, unique drinks and a vibin’ crowd make for hot and sweaty dance parties.
For the complete list of Latin parties throughout the City, visit Remezcla.com.