“Salsa” as a musical genre was first heard of in the sixties in New York. Its melodies, rich in Afro-Cuban rhythms (inspired by mambo and guaracha, among others), travelled all the way from Cuba across Puerto Rico and Colombia, to later make their mark in the Bronx.

In 2020 Yucatán, the heat does not dissuade us from going out to dance until the Tacos de Cochinita are completely out of our system. I firmly believe you don’t need to be an expert (or have an ounce of rhythm) to have a good time. Although watching people go by and chatting can be nice, putting your feet to work (and maybe having a spin or two) allows you to see around Yucatán in a different way.

The term “salsa” carries with it a spicy and Latin connotation. It invites you to take part in its crescendo and the tension that distinguishes it, fostering collaboration and strengthening the relationship between dancers. To prove this hypothesis, Mérida Centro is the ideal spot.

Mercado 60, a group of open-air restaurants and bars that surrounds a stage offering live music, is a great place to try out your dance moves without fear of feeling judged. The establishment hosts salsa nights and free classes for beginners twice a month (check the schedule on their Facebook page: Mercado 60). Gabriel, the instructor, tells me how dancing “makes [people] take a leap, move their bodies, and risk trying something new.”

After this warm up at Mercado 60, the crowd usually heads over to La Bianca Mérida, an Italian restaurant with a dance floor – a must visit spot for dance aficionados in the city. The party usually starts around 11:30 pm. Besides salsa, the DJ plays a selection of bachata, merengue, and reggaeton beats.

Other places to keep the party going are Pipiripau, Delirio Habanero, and La Carmela. La Mezcalería also offers classes for beginners on Wednesdays at 9 pm.

If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to listen to those old classics, the Parque de Santiago comes to life every Tuesday with “Remembranzas Musicales” at 8:30 pm. For over 30 years, couples of all ages have enjoyed their favorite melodies under the moonlight. Take into account that you can get really hot while dancing in Yucatán, so dress accordingly, and keep hydrated.

Dancing is a social activity. Spending time with others bends barriers and creates empathy. The heat, the music, the swing – it’s all part of the party. While being an expert is not a requirement, having a good attitude really is!

Editorial by Greta Garrett
Photography by Mercado 60

 

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