Top Latin Dance Spots in L.A. for a Muy Caliente Evening
Groove to the best orchestras, combos and DJs
Maybe you are a newbie first attempting the steps of the Bachata, or a competitive ballroom fanatic practicing your Rumba, Merengue or Cha-Cha-Cha, or a clubbier type turned on by modern forms of Cumbia and Reggaeton. Or perhaps you are one of the multitude of dancers worldwide that worship at the altar of all things Salsa. Either way, Los Angeles has got you covered.
Latin dance in all its diversity has found a home in our city ever since—well, ever since its founding in 1781! On any given night - but especially during the weekend - the best live orchestras, small combos and Latin music DJs are guaranteed to be playing one of our world-class venues, continuing a tradition that has historic roots in this entertainment mecca.
For all these locations, make sure to check first with the venues’ websites and social media, as club calendars and performers’ commitments often change. As of this writing, Vida Salsera keeps an up-to-date calendar
Right in the heart of Hollywood, Cuban supper club El Floridita (1253 Vine St) has offered three nights of salsa dancing (Monday, Friday and Saturday) for over three decades. In the custom of salsa clubs the world over, there’s an earlier lesson for beginners followed by the opening of the floor to dancers around 9:30. El Floridita is renowned for its live dance performances and has been host to some of the best regional and national salsa combos, including their signature Conjunto Amistad led by the late Johnny Polanco. Hollywood’s most famous Cuban and Caribbean food spot was also known as Prince’s club of choice when he felt like getting down Latin-style, which was quite often.
Even though is a little further afield, many of the most serious salseros and salseras in Los Angeles (and you know how serious Salsa dancers can get about their craft), swear that The Granada (17 S 1st St, Alhambra) is el mejor de todos—the best of them all. This should be your go-to place if you or a person you know is all about the most up-to-date versions of the salsa, merengue and bachata sounds. Live bands and DJs play almost nightly and their weekend showcases of Afro-Caribbean music superstars are ground zero for anyone looking to dance, admire generations of dancers, or just relax and listen some world-class Latin music surrounded by the most hardcore aficionados of the genre. Check their website for their schedule, or just head over there. It’s guaranteed to be top-of-the-game Latin entertainment.
For a full-on retro Hollywood dance experience, La Descarga (1159 N Western Ave) is a favorite place for Caribbean music enthusiasts, including some of Los Angeles’ most renowned professional dancers, who sometimes perform there. Part of the Houston Hospitality nightlife empire, La Descarga features the Houston brothers’ signature art direction and attention to ambiance detail. Dancers are encouraged to dress up to the nines and take to the intimate floor while a top-notch quartet performs jazz-infused Latin music. La Descarga’s famously strong drinks should also loosen the inhibitions of the most dancefloor-shy Salsa-curious patron.
Caña Rum Bar
The tony lounge Caña Rum Bar (714 W Olympic Blvd, DTLA) combines Cuba’s two main exports (besides Revolution): Salsa (and all the Afro-Caribbean music forms that led to it and developed from it), and cigars. It’s technically a “membership club,” which you can join for the price of admission, and it’s deliberately hidden from the nearby entertainment hub around STAPLES Center/L.A. LIVE, but once inside, you can relax with a mojito and transport yourself back to Havana - or more likely, your memories of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. As the night goes on, the dancing at Caña Rum Bar gets definitely muy caliente.
If you prefer your Latin dancing music more contemporary sounding, that is on the rock en español and reggaeton tip, venerable Downtown L.A. cantina La Cita (336 S Hill St, DTLA) has some of the most fun dance parties in the city. La Cita’s old-school Mexican decor and diverse, Margarita-fueled clientele pretty much ensures that some raucous dancing will inevitably break out whenever the DJs veer into the Latin side of their playlists. One caveat: the music can be as varied and diverse as this centrally-located DTLA spot, so make sure you’re ready to roll with whatever jams are being served on the particular night you go. Regardless, you’ll have fun.
Interested in checking out an important part of L.A.'s nightlife history, and one of the most epic settings in the city? You can't go wrong with Saturday night at The Mayan (1038 S Hill St, DTLA) the legendary movie theatre decorated in the Mid-Century retro style that makes it look like a Central American pre-Columbian temple. There are three floors of music, usually ranging from the latest urban/RnB/pop/EDM to adrenaline-pumping reggeaton and Latin Pop, but check the particular evening and you might encounter live performances by incredibly popular Mexican dance bands and the cream of Los Angeles salsa and jazz musicians. The second floor has been known to regularly turn into a full-blown old-school Salsa, Merengue and Bachata party.
The Conga Room
It’s impossible to talk about Los Angeles Latin music without mentioning The Conga Room, located at the L.A. LIVE entertainment complex (800 W Olympic Blvd). The Conga Room opened in 1998 (with a performance by the one and only Celia Cruz, of course) in the Miracle Mile and boasted a certain Planet Hollywood quality by emphasizing that it was partially owned by a Who’s Who of Tinseltown’s Latin royalty, including Jimmy Smits, Jennifer Lopez, Paul Rodriguez and Sheila E. The club relocated its high-end operation to L.A. LIVE hub and it’s unquestionably the Los Angeles home for the most successful Latin acts and DJs. Check their calendar for specific nights and events.
For a more LGBT version of a Latin night out, Club Cobra (10937 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood) is known as the premier gay Latin club in the area. Scantily clad Go-Go boys and drag performers mingle among patrons enjoying a reggeaton-heavy playlist that might veer into salsa, merengue and bachata territory if the dancefloor is feeling it. Club Cobra is a female-friendly environment (regardless of sexual orientation), offering an alternative to the sometimes too-macho peacocking and posturing of some of the more clubby, bottle-service options on this list.
The spectacular Clifton’s Republic (648 S Broadway, DTLA) has added a popular monthly salsa night that's hosted by Los Angeles nightlife powerhouse Latin Dance Pro, and run by Latin dance instructor extraordinaire Sergio Leal. Check the Clifton's Facebook page or website for details.
Finally, for a completely different take on Latin dancing, we should mention Boyle Heights nightlife institution Eastside Luv (1835 E 1st St, East LA) the carefully curated Mexican-American and Chicanx wine bar that hosts incredibly popular Morrissey Karaoke and Selena Karaoke evenings. Though the space is tiny, the crowds at Eastside Luv are known to break into impassioned impromptu dance parties moved by the spirits of these icons of SoCal Latin culture.