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The Salsa Capital of the World

While salsa was born in Puerto Rican communities in New York City in the mid-1970s, it took on new life in Cali in the 1980s, when drug barons flush with cash began pumping money into malls, real estate, and flashy salsa clubs and orchestras. Local radio DJs began calling the city the “World Capital of Salsa,” and the moniker has hung around. Today, salsa is everywhere, blaring out of car windows and filling the void in almost every club. Many of the world’s best salsa dancers come from Cali, which is known for a fast-paced, Caribbean-influenced form of the dance. Today the city boasts roughly 200 salsa schools and 80 salsa orchestras. The best time of year to come is during the Festival Mundial de Salsa (www.mundialdesalsa.com) each September, or the Feria de Cali, held every 25th to 30th of December. However, you can learn salsa anytime of the year, and there are dozens of schools and instructors that cater specifically to tourists. Some favorite places to learn salsa include Arrebato Caleño, which offers group lessons for adults and children, as well as one-on-one instruction in Barrio San Antonio (Carrera 10 no. 1–47; arrebatocali@gmail.com; tel. 2/382-1117), as does Son de Luz (www.sondeluz.co; tel. 2/370-2692), at Carrera 28 no. 6–118. Or there’s the hilariously named Privateachero (tel. 2/713-4903), at Avenida 6 no. 17a–51 in Barrio Grenada, which offers both Spanish and salsa-dancing lessons.

The Festival Capital of Colombia

Some of Colombia’s liveliest festivals take place in Cali, and many Colombians plan their year around them. Many claim that the vivacious Festival de Música del Pacífico Petronio Álvarez is the best party in Cali. The August festival celebrates the African-influenced music of the Pacific Coast through parades and concerts that turn the city into one big dance club. September’s Festival Mundial de Salsa isn’t technically a global competition, though it’s a celebration of Colombian salsa in its epicenter. From Christmas to New Year’s, the annual Feria de Cali manages to merge with the other holidays, celebrating everything that is Cali with beauty pageants, parades, concerts, and of course lots and lots of dancing.



 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.