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Home > Interests & Activities > Nightlife > Salsa
Salsa — the music is in our blood, the rhythm is in our soul, and the sounds of a live salsa band will draw us from far and wide. Puerto Ricans love to dance, and the smooth, sensual salsa is our dance of choice.
Every visitor should be forewarned that a trip to a salsa club carries the inherent risk (or is that reward?) of being whisked off your feet and taken for a spin on the dance floor. The good news is that you don’t have to be a professional to have a wonderful experience. Salsa is a six-step routine that you can learn on the fly, especially if you have a good partner. Give it a chance, don’t be shy, and let the music take control. You’ll be a salsero or salsera in no time.
There is no more hallowed institution of salsa in Old San Juan than the Nuyorican Café. This smoky, intimate, bohemian club in an alleyway off San Francisco Street on one side and hip Fortaleza Street on the other, has been attracting outstanding salsa bands for decades. The small stage, checkerboard dance floor, and loyal crowd make it the quintessential place for salsa in the city.
Live music nightly
Unlike many popular late-night venues in Puerto Rico, the Nuyorican is open six days a week, with a variety of bands on hand to keep the flavor fresh.
One reason to love the Nuyorican; you’ll often find owner Juanra playing with his band on stage.
If you like the Nuyorican Café, you’ll love staying next door at Da House, a boutique hotel owned by the same people and sharing the Nuyorican’s artistic soul.
Soleil Beach Club
A San Juan restaurant located away from San Juan in the rustic neighborhood of Piñones, Soleil Beach Club is a unique destination that invites you to sample gourmet Puerto Rican cuisine, explore a lovely beachfront neighborhood, and enjoy frequent live bands including merengue and, of course, salsa.
Soleil Beach Club may be a decent drive from San Juan, but it’s a drive you won’t have to make. The restaurant offers free transportation to and from the city.
A Day in Piñones
While the food is excellent at Soleil Beach Club, Piñones is worth exploring for its collection of rustic, waterfront kiosks and eateries.
Plan for a Full Day
When you visit Soleil Beach Club, make sure to bring your bathing suit. The restaurant is located on a pristine stretch of beachfront, with a wide boardwalk that’s perfect for sunset walks.
La Plaza del Mercado
Located in Santurce, La Plaza del Mercado, or La Placita, is a local hotpot. On weekend nights, this marketplace comes alive with revelers, as bars and clubs throw their doors open. You’ll often hear salsa music pumping from somewhere, and an impromptu dance is never far behind.
A taxi away
Bounded by Dos Hermanos and Capitol Streets, La Placita gets going on weekends, and parking is often an issue. Your best bet is to take a taxi here.
Don’t forget the food
No visit to La Placita would be complete without sampling the authentic cuisine of its many delicious fondas, or local eateries.
La Placita by day
It might be a roaring open-air party on weekend nights, but La Placita is a quiet market by day, where many locals come to get vegetables and other produce. Visit the sleepy square during the day for a different slice of Puerto Rican life.
El Balcón del Zumbador
Politically themed posters drape the wood-paneled walls; cramped spaces invite elbow rubbing; and the awesome salsa sets keep locals coming back for to this rustic and fun Piñones hangout.
A car ride away
Piñones lies east of the city of San Juan, beyond Carolina. Your best to get here is to rent a car for the day, but it’s an easily accessible destination from the capital.
For an unassuming place, El Balcón has hosted some of the island’s best salsa bands, including Latin Grammy winners. The music here is guaranteed to be good.
Don’t forget the food
No visit to Piñones would be complete without sampling the fried snacks and foods at the kiosks lining the beach.
El San Juan Hotel
Long known as a destination to see and be seen, the chic, nostalgic lobby of the El San Juan Hotel & Casino is one of the most vibrant spots in the city. It’s also a terrific place to listen to, dance, and even learn salsa. A live band keeps the atmosphere up-tempo and festive.
Two for One
Come to the El San Juan for the salsa, and stay for the scintillating nightclubs – Brava and Ultra Lounge – where you can trade in your salsa moves for hip hop, house and techno grooves.
Silver, Gold and Blue
Even if you don’t feel like dancing, you’ll enjoy lounging at the El San Juan’s three lobby bars, Gold, Silver and Blue. They bring a timeless elegance to the space and invite guests to linger long into the night.
On the Lookout
Since the days of the Rat Pack, the El San Juan has attracted its share of celebrities. If you like your salsa with a dose of people-watching and celeb-spotting, this might become your favorite destination in the city.
Nuestro Son Bar & Café Teatro
Located on Calle Tetuán, Nuestro Son (“Our Sound”) is a welcome addition to the Old San Juan salsa scene. In fact, it’s one of only a few destinations in the old city where you can go to hear live salsa music and dance with a local salsero or salsera.
Close to the piers where the cruise ships dock and a short walk from many hotels and restaurants in the old city, Nuestro Son’s ideally situated to be incorporated into your night out in Old San Juan.
Dinner and several shows
As a “bar, café and theater,” Nuestro Son isn’t just about salsa music. Theme parties, DJs and other events keep the calendar full at this lively spot.
Learn on the Fly
Nuestro Son doesn’t offer salsa classes, so if you want to go, be prepared to learn on the go (this is almost more fun than knowing what you’re doing).