The catch-all term “Latin music” can encompass an amorphous array of regional styles (going geographically from Aztlan to Tierra del Fuego) and genres (e.g., Latin reggae, Latin metal, Latin Morrissey, etc.), and they all find their home somewhere in the city. But it’s undeniable that most dedicated venues in Los Angeles that are known for Latin live music are also Latin dance venues, as showcased in our guide to Top Latin Dance Spots in L.A. for a Muy Caliente Evening. So expect some overlap as you read this companion guide to the Latin scene.
Given the diversity of our city, looking for venues where Latin music in the wider sense is offered means looking at nearly every general venue in the city, especially for acts that bring in massive audiences.
These days you won’t find Mexican norteño supergroup Los Tigres del Norte at a Latin-only club—they recently headlined the Hollywood Bowl. Likewise, Rock en Español stars Café Tacvba play classic rock mecca the Troubadour; '60s nostalgia packages headlined by Argentine-Mexican crooner Leo Dan pack the Dolby Theatre in the heart of Hollywood; DTLA’s Microsoft Theater books any big-ticket Latin act from romantico singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona to the Reggaeton Kings; and pop reggaeton sensations like Ozuna can commandeer The Forum in Inglewood. Brazilian acts of all types also constantly play the mainstream venues.
So besides the venues below, if you’re looking for “live Latin music in Los Angeles” you should really check the calendars of every major L.A. music spot. After all, Latin music is Los Angeles music (and vice versa).
Not much can be said about DTLA’s Mayan Theatre (1038 S. Hill St., Los Angeles 90015) that would do justice to its classic Hollywood grandeur. Originally built as a lavish movie palace, the building’s mid-century retro art direction evokes a Central American pre-Columbian temple lost in a feverish jungle dream. Not long ago, the property became Club Mayan, home to three floors of packed music venues and dancefloors that range from urban/RnB/pop/EDM to reggeaton and Latin Pop. Check the calendar for live performances by incredibly popular Mexican dance bands and the cream of Los Angeles salsa and jazz musicians.
Cuban supper club El Floridita (1253 Vine St, Los Angeles 90038) is best known as the epicenter of Hollywood salsa dancing. But it wasn’t DJs that put El Floridita on the world map of Latin music - looming over the joint, there’s still the aura and protection of the late, great Johnny Polanco. The Bronx-born multi-instrumentalist led his Conjunto Amistad at El Floridita for years, becoming a stellar ambassador of Afro-Caribbean rhythms in his adopted city of Los Angeles. Polanco passed away in 2015, but you can still catch smoldering Latin combos at his former home club. Extra good musical karma for the venue: El Floridita is where part-time Los Angeles resident Prince used to go to get his Latin music on.
Disregard its distance from any perceived “center” of Los Angeles (hint: there’s no such thing)—if you’re serious about your Latin live music, you must, must, must head to The Granada in Alhambra (17 S 1st St, Alhambra 91801).
Frequently described as el mejor de todos—the best of them all—by people in the know, The Granada’s weekend showcases of Afro-Caribbean music superstars are obligatory for anyone looking for world-class Latin music.
All the legit legends and latest standard-bearers of the salsa traditions play The Granada. And if you’re looking for bachata (and who isn’t these days), this is pretty much it. Check their website for their schedule, or just head over there. You won’t be disappointed.
Pico Rivera Sports Arena
Speaking of off-the-beaten-path—one venue not mentioned in our Latin Dance feature that you should check out for Latin Music is the Pico Rivera Sports Arena (11003 Sports Arena Dr, Pico Rivera 90601), located east on the 605 in the San Gabriel Valley. Offering a calendar filled with wrestling and boxing matches and Mexican rodeo, the Pico Rivera is also the epicenter of Mexican and Mexican-American live music megaevents, packed with the latest conjuntos, bandas and solistas that play the more traditional pop forms like norteño. Here you will find an endless parade of bands that favor cowboy hats and uniforms and shiny matching suits—an important (and very, very popular) part of Los Angeles Latin music that sometimes gets overlooked due to the nightlife supremacy of Caribbean rhythms.
The Conga Room
The most high-profile Latin music venue in Los Angeles remains The Conga Room (800 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles 90015), located in the L.A. LIVE entertainment complex. When Celia Cruz performed to open it in 1998 at its original location in the Miracle Mile, it was known as a celebrity-owned big-ticket club where one could mingle with the likes of Jimmy Smits, Jennifer Lopez, and Sheila E. After relocating to the LA Live complex, the Conga Room has unquestionably become the Los Angeles home for the most successful Latin touring acts. Check their calendar for specific nights and events, but you’re guaranteed to find some of the superstars of Latin music playing there at any given week.
Finally, a recent addition to Los Angeles nightlife, the hip French owners of Frogtown bar-music venue Zebulon (2478 Fletcher Dr, Los Angeles 90039) are known to book some of the most interesting, forward thinking Latin and Brazilian acts, from Mexico City (el DF) electronic musicians to celebrated Brazilian musicians (like Thalma de Freitas) who bring new life to traditional and new rhythms from their rich tradition (the impromptu dance parties that break out are downright joyous). Zebulon (aka “Zeb”) is not a Latin-specific venue - they curate an excellent selection of events that appeals to their culturally savvy Eastside clientele - but check their schedule for the occasionally mindblowing Latin offerings.