We hope you enjoy this work in progress re: Medellin's top Salsa bars. We include perspectives from Colombians and foreigners for the purpose of giving you the highest quality information.

Colombia is one of the richest countries in the world for Salsa music and Salsa dancing, and considered by many to be the Salsa capital of the world. From taxis to homes to local bars, shops and beaches, you will often hear Salsa music being played in Colombia. And, Colombia's two most renowned cities for Salsa music and Salsa dancing are Medellin and Cali, Colombia's second and third largest cities, respectively. So, it's no wonder that one of Medellin's major attractions is its local Salsa bars.  

Some of the best Salsa Bars in Medellín, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Buena Vista Bar: Spelled by many as Buenavista because the business publishes itself as Buenavista in text and its logo as Buena Vista, this Salsa bar is located just one block from Parque Lleras, El Poblado, in the heart of the Zona Rosa area of the city of Medellín. Read more about Buenavista Bar...

  • DANCEFREE: In the day, the most popular dance academy in Colombia; at night, the most popular social dance site in Medellin (approximately 75% Salsa and its derivatives, 20% Bachata and 5% other genres). A favorite of Colombians and foreigners with a very good Salsa selection, located in El Poblado neighborhood, 2 blocks from Lleras Park.

  • Diógenes Tavern Son & Bolero: One of the best corner bars of downtown Medellin, located on Avenida La Playa (Calle 51) with the cross street Carrera Córdova (Carrera 42), this place is a delight for the ears, specializing in Sones, Boleros and Salsa, music to listen to and remember. It is a traditional place, with more than 30 years of existence, founded by Omaira Rivera, a music lover and lover of Cuban music, who after passing away left the bar to her siblings as an inheritance. It is a cozy and warm space, decorated with photographs of Salsa artists, several of them next to Omaira, a living example of the passion that radiates from this venue through the cultural experience of listening to Afro-Antillean rhythms. Ideal for a couple of beers after leaving work, or to have a drink as a first stop to get the night rolling, it opens every day and its outdoor tables allow you to enjoy the freshness of the night and the cultural rhythm of the nights in the center/downtown area of Medellín.

  • El Eslabon Prendido: Located in El Centro de Medellin in Maracaibo (Calle 53), about a half block from the Periodista Park (parque de El Periodista) and the bulk of the city's cultural scene, the Eslabon Prendido Salsa bar has become a familiar stop for those who seek a traditional Salsa bar, live bands, and dancing. Read more about El Eslabon Prendido...

  • El Suave: Suave Salsa, paying respect to this bar's name, makes references to old loves, singing and having a drink with each song that touches our souls. A small dance floor, two floors with tables to sit and enjoy music with your significant other and friends. Only local people, mostly over 35 years old.

  • El Tibiri: The Salsa site of the university students. It is a basement with little ventilation, but with a lot of flavor. Fast salsa, to dance with lots of energy. It is a place where you dance as your body feels, without formalities. Read more about Tibiri Bar...

  • Encantigo: Its decor reminds us of the seventies dance halls  from the time of the Salsa boom. It is a small and cozy place (except for its chilling air conditioning), with a space to dance and a small platform with instruments for live music.

  • Erre: Small and simple, slightly inspired by the Cuban revolution. Young public.

  • La Fuerza: Similar to the already shuttered Bururu Barará. Located in El Centro, close to Hotel Nutibara. Music for connoisseurs. In the age of technology, it is a pleasure to request a song from the DJ and hear your old favorite played on old school vinyl.

  • Mojito Bar: With messages from visitors scribed across its walls, it reminds us of the Bodeguita Del Medio, a traditional bar in Havana.

  • Rumba Club: Pure street flavor, Salsa to dance and listen. Salsa collectors often meet here. Good atmosphere, diagonal from the Pablo Tobon Uribe Theater.

  • Son Havana: Well received by the young crowd. On Wednesdays Casino/Rueda Salsa dancers practice here, and their is live music on Fridays. Good atmosphere to share with friends and enjoy a few mojitos. Read more about Son Havana...

What are some of the things that stand out for us when considering Salsa bars in Medellin?

  • Mainstream Salsa music (e.g., Romantic Salsa, Salsatón, Salsa Choke, Salsa Pop, etc.; artists such as Marc Anthony, Victor Manuel, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Grupo Gale) vs. non-mainstream Salsa music and its derivatives (e.g., Salsa Clasica, Salsa Cubana, Son Cubano, Chachachá, Bolero; artists such as Ismael Rivera, los Van Van de Cuba, Benny Moré, Fania All Stars, Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, La Sonora Matancera; local artists, such as Siguarajazz, La 33, Maite Hontelé, Sonora 8)
  • Live Salsa bands

  • The percent of Salsa music vs. other genres

  • Cover vs. free entry (cover sometimes includes a coupon for a free drink, such as a beer or a shot, and/or a spending allowance at the Bar), minimum consumption (consumo mínimo), etc.

  • There are Medellín Salsa bars that are almost 100% local Colombians, bars with a mix of local Colombians and foreigners, bars for just listening to music, bars for listening to music and dancing between the tables after getting a bit intoxicated (think beer, Rum, Cuba libres or Cubalibres, mojitos, Sangría and more), and bars with a dance floor for social Salsa dancing (with and/or without formal education)

  • Social dancing mainly Colombian Style Salsa, Colombian Street Salsa, Salsa Caleña, In-Line Salsa (Salsa En Línea; Salsa On1, LA/Los Angeles Style Salsa and/or Salsa On2, New York/Puerto Rico Style Salsa), and/or Cuban Style Salsa

  • Common people (gente común) vs. instructors, dancers (bailarines and bailadores) and dance students at any level

  • Hole-in-the-wall vs. high end

  • Cheap, reasonable or high prices

  • Quality of service

  • Quality and selection of cocktails, liquors, beers, etc.

  • Neighborhood, safety, etc.

La 70 (70th Street) is a long boulevard that may be worth a stroll for those in search of lesser-known bars playing Salsa music. Between the Metro Estadio station and San Juan street, 70th Street is lined with predominantly cross-over music bars, with certain exceptions such as El Tíbiri; and along the blocks between San Juan Street and the University Pontificia Bolivariana - UPB, there are certain Romantic Salsa bars, such as Jennylao, frequented mainly by an Afro-descendant crowd, who fill these places with pure flavor and color.

Other places that may be worth a visit in your search for Medellín's top Salsa bars, Salsa clubs, pubs, discotecas, viejotecas and more, again in alphabetical order, are Bolívar, El Cuchitril, La Pascasia, Melao, Mi Habana, Jennylao (mencionado arriba) and Victoria Regia. Some of these bars only offer Salsa on certain nights of the week and/or for special events/occasions (e.g., hosting live Salsa band), etc.

The style of Salsa dancing that is most common among those with formal dance education in Medellín is Salsa On1 (LA Style Salsa). Although Salsa On 2 can be found among professional Salsa dancers and those who frequent Salsa congresses and competitions, it is less common in Medellín and Colombia in general.

AuthorBill Pryor