In Philadelphia there is no lack of dance clubs and musical variety, and while the Latin flavor may be slightly harder to find, salsa is no exception. With free lessons at most places, beginners and regulars alike can pull out some spicy moves as they salsa the night away. When it comes to salsa clubs in the city, the action can get pretty hot on the dance floor at these top Latin venues.
4535 N 5th St
Philadelphia, PA 19140
Price: No Cover
Hours: Mon to Thur, Sun- 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., Fri to Sat – 7 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Salsa hours – Thur to Sat – 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sun – 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
This Latin nightclub is known among regulars for its spicy salsa dancing. For those looking for a real Latin experience, Tierra Columbia in North Philadelphia is a destination not to be missed. “Caliente Sabados” (Hot Saturdays) offer the best chance at salsa with a mix of other dance styles thrown in, such as the merengue and the cha-cha. In addition to the Tierra Nightclub, there is an attached restaurant with authentic Latin American dishes at reasonable prices. For the full Latin experience, start your night out at the restaurant then get your Latin swerve on at the club next door.
10 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Price: No Cover
Salsa hours: Fri to Sat – 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Late Night Latin Floor Show: 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
While Cuba Libre is frequented for its delectable Cuban cuisine, diners downstairs in the charmingly decorated venue will find that a whole new atmosphere takes over when the last meal is finished. With a free late-night Latin floorshow by professional dancers on Fridays and Saturdays, the Latin rhythms heat up the building after dinner hours when the tables are cleared out and the mojitos flow like water. Head here for drinks and dinner, and then burn off the calories with some salsa dancing until the wee hours.
Want to dance more like the professionals? Learn from one at the top dance studios in Philadelphia – then bring your skills back to the dance floor.
Brasil’s Restaurant & Nightspot
112 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Price: Wed. Night: $5 – Fri. and Sat – $10
Hours: Wed, Fri and Sat – 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Salsa Lesson: 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
With a salsa lesson every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night, Brasil’s offers an opportunity for masters to show off and beginners to learn the moves. Alternating between La Luna Dance Studio and Estilo Dance Studio teachers, the lessons are followed by a night of hot Latin dancing. Along with drink specials and free salsa lessons, Brasil’s Nightclub features live bands and a First Thursday party every month. For more than a decade, this club has been a staple of Philadelphia’s Latin culture, and the experience has only improved with time, so get ready for some dirty dancing, salsa style.
Reef Caribbean Lounge
605 S 3rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Price: $7 cover after 10 p.m.
Hours: Mon to Wed – 3p.m. – 11 p.m., Thur – 3 p.m. – 12 p.m., Fri – 3 p.m. – 1 a.m., Sat – 12 p.m. – 1 a.m., Sun – 12 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Salsa hours: Tues – 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Every Tuesday at the Reef is Latin Night, which kicks off with a free salsa lesson (after the cover charge). The music, by DJ Joe Figueroa, will keep bumping until close for maximum dancing time, and if you need to catch your breath, the kitchen is open until 2 a.m. Take advantage of the $19.95 “Wine, Dine and Dance” deal that will replenish that much-needed energy to get you back out on the dance floor. And no need to worry about how to get home – The Reef makes parking easy with a $7 deal at the EZ Park on the corner of 3rd and South Streets.
Vango Lounge & Skybar
116 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Price: No cover
Hours: Mon to Sun – 5 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Salsa hours: Mon – 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Lesson from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Vango may call it “Blue Monday,” but there’s nothing that raises the spirits like the Latin beats and free salsa lesson found there. Taught by Master Jay of Center City Salsa, the hour-long salsa lesson prepares attendees for the Latin dances that will be heating up Vango for the rest of the night. For a quick break and a breath of fresh air, the Skybar offers a close escape from the dance floor until dancers are ready to get their salsa back on.
If you’re looking for more rooftop bar options, check out the best ones from 2011.
Lindsay Lewis is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.