Chile’s traditional dance is called La Cueca, which involves a lot of handkerchief waving, but salsa and its sensual, liquid hip movements have infiltrated the country. Salsa dancing started in Santiago de Cuba in the 1920s, but it has spread across Latin America (and, indeed, the world), including Santiago de Chile. Don’t worry if you have two left feet — salsa in Santiago is not just for the pros. Here are three hot spots where anyone will enjoy practicing moves to the famous “uno, dos, tres” salsa rhythm.
If your love of salsa is new and you’d like to start with a few lessons, try Maestra Vida, which offers classes from Tuesdays to Thursdays. Live salsa music fills the intimate bar, which is popular with locals and foreigners alike. Always busy and buzzing behind its bright orange and red façade, Maestra Vida is often said to be the best place to salsa in Santiago. Inside, the low lighting is perfect for nervous beginners; the atmosphere is cozy with arches leading from the tables to the dance floor. Classes are split into basic at 9 p.m. and intermediate at 10:30 p.m. Pío Nono 380, Bellavista
This salsa club is fun, big and has plenty of space to dance. Conveniently positioned right by the Ñuble metro stop, the club is busy, laid back and full of newbies trying their moves for the first time. One of the highlights at Klub Mangosta is the free classes on Thursdays. If you work up a thirst, there’s tequila, beer and an impressive selection of whiskeys, including Glenfiddich and Chivas Regal. Avenida Vicuña Mackenna 1603, Ñuñoa
To salsa at Salsa Brava, you have to look the part, as semi-formal dress is required at this traditional club that’s more popular with locals than tourists. The dance floor resembles a stage, with the tables set out in viewing formation and strobe lights shining multi-colored patterns. Go early to catch happy hour — the Caribbean cocktails (including mojitos, daiquiris and margaritas) will put a good dose of courage through your limbs. Calle Santa Isabel 305, Providencia
Photos courtesy of Maestra Vida, iStock and Luis Sandoval Mandujano