Apparently I had had my hopes up a little too high when I left for central Europe. Prague wasn’t quite engaging, and, frankly, it takes quite a bit of motivation to go out and experience nightlife when you’ve got frigid temperatures, inches of snow, and a horrific, as-slow-as-watching-grass-grow night tram (translation: drunk tank) to take you home at the end of it all.
I had thought, my dear friends, that through all of the flights and staying in different cities and experiencing life through traveling all these months, I would have found a few decent salsa clubs. You always think you’re going to have tons of time to explore and go out. However, when your body gets all new kinds of sick while traveling, you end up cutting back on your late nights. Hell, I thought I would have hit every spot from the hole-in-the-wall Latin bar to the superclubs of semi-pro ballroom dancing. However, many establishments on my list remain uncrossed. In due time, I suppose.
Sigh. Salseros, I must say, this is not a hot city (especially not during November). Gallivanting around town when running the risk of freezing your nose off only to find that the club you were seeking was shut down? Not the best foot with which to lead. Pun completely intended. We found that the salsa clubs that we had heard of weren’t much to speak of in terms of space or dancing, and the websites documenting them were largely out of date. Here’s the photo evidence of our attempts:
Rincon. We checked this place out, after a particularly challenging route to even find the place, with next to no knowledge of speaking Czech to the locals, trudging through snowy streets, and braving subhuman temps. Yep, I said it – subhuman. We went in and found a tiny dive bar space in the back, with a dj and coatcheck, however, the salsa dancing skills were pretty sub par; beginner to intermediate levels, thrown in with the drunkenly confident dancers. Not much of a challenge. Had fun anyway and danced here – this ended up being the only salsa dancing we did in Prague.
La Rosa Negra. Makes you think of Dirty Dancing, Havana Nights, doesn’t it? We trekked through a frigid night, coughed up cash for a cab, and, when we finally get to the place, it was closed! Not just closed for the night, but shut down indefinitely, we found out from the casino bar proprietors in the building. Can you say disappointment?
Casa Andina. Dušní 6/15, 110 00 Prague, Czech Republic. Walk through the restaurant and head downstairs to the basement bar. A dive with a tiny dance floor. We were misinformed by a local that it was a good latin-bar-type-salsa-club. (Misinformed by a local whom may have been a few cocktails deep.) Anyhow, it wasn’t a salsa club, or a latin music scene. More of just a nondescript dive bar with a jumbled selection of house, hip hop, and reggaeton thrown haphazardly into a blender and pureed. Ended up having a beer and getting the heck outta there. We also spotted one of the bad drunken dancers (not that what you could call what he did was really dancing, it was more of a swaying from side to side) from Rincon.
Yes. Los Angeles has spoiled me. There’s always somewhere you can dance on a given weekend night. Gahhhh.
But, about Barcelona…
Bailongu. Passatge d’Utset, 11, 08013 Barcelona, Spain. My roommate and I decided to go out one night after a dinner party, better to be out rather than be home and unable to get any peace and quiet, what with a handful of clubs being within a block or two of our place. (More on this later.)
The club pulsates with a mixture of salsa, bachata, and merengue, with some occasional cha-cha thrown in. Less pretentiousness than the mainstream house/hip-hop discoteca, but if you show up here, you probably know your way around the dance floor. A bunch of dance school instructors and their students come out here to break out their latest and greatest. It was one woman’s birthday, and the obligatory solo salsa was had – the lucky birthday lady danced with each gentleman that lined up to dance with her – this should be made a global tradition in all salsa clubs, I concluded. About the club’s layout: the bar is set off from the dance floor, and said floor is flanked by chairs on either wall (I hate it when there’s nowhere to sit!), as well as wall-hugging drink holders (smart design!) so you can put down your glass while you bust a move.
La Sala Bikini. Avenida Diagonal, 547, Barcelona 08029, Spain. Friday night. One of the rooms plays salsa until about 3:00am, which is when the strippers/exotic dancers/mimbos/hoochies come out and dance on the bars for ten minutes and then leave. Then that, apparently, cues the house music and the salsa room becomes just another house/dance mix room. Great spot, especially with the versatility of having multiple rooms; salsa music floating through, but if you want to mix it up, you can just step into the hip-hop beats next door.