Where To Dance Salsa & Bachata In San Juan, Puerto Rico (2023)

Salsa and Bachata are very popular in Puerto Rico!

Salsa first emerged in Cuba during the 20th century, and is now heard across the world.

I’ve lived in Puerto Rico for 14 years and have witnessed the excitement of Salsa and Bachata bars when there’s live music involved. Locals love to dance.

In this article, I will share the top 5 places to dance Salsa and Bachata in San Juan, Puerto Rico and provide the background stories of these dances.

What is the story of Salsa?
What is the story of Bachata?
5 best places to dance in San Juan

 

What is the story of Salsa?

Salsa is a popular dance and music style that originated in Eastern Cuba.

Influenced from an array of different styles, like the Cuban danzón, rumba, guaracha, cha-cha-chá, mambo, and son montuno, as well as cumbia to Latin jazz.

image of older couple dancing Salsa
Salsa dancing is everywhere in San Juan, especially if there is a live band.

An upbeat tempo, catchy rhythms, and improvisational nature characterize salsa. A combination of instruments, including piano, percussion, horns, and vocals are often used.

You can enjoy salsa alone, but it is best with a partner due to its energetic, expressive, and sensual nature.

It involves a leader and a follower who move together in synch with the music, using a variety of steps, turns, and body movements.

Generally, it is agreed that the style developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s in New York City, where it was influenced by the music and dance styles of the Caribbean immigrants who settled there.

Salsa quickly gained popularity in the United States and other countries and has become a popular dance music style around the world. 

Below is a video of the history of Salsa:

 

What is the story of Bachata?

Bachata is another popular dance and music style that originated in the Dominican Republic in the early 1960s. 

Characterized by its romantic and sentimental themes, as well as its catchy rhythms and melodies.

image of couple doing Bachata dance
Salsa is generally faster-paced with more complex footwork, while bachata is slower and more sensual, with a focus on fluid hip movements.

Bachata and Salsa share similarities in their sensual movements. 

Bachata is also a partner dance that is characterized by a close connection between the leader and follower, with smooth and sensual body movements.

The origins of bachata can be traced back to the rural countryside of the Dominican Republic, where it was largely ignored by mainstream society. 

image of people dancing Bachata
Dancing bachata in San Juan is a lively experience, as the city is known for its vibrant nightlife.

However, in the 1980s, bachata began to gain popularity and was embraced by a wider audience. Today, it’s a popular dance and music style that is enjoyed around the world. 

Below is a video of the history of Bachata:

 

 

5 Best Places To Dance In San Juan:

 

1. Santurce Salsa Club

Looking to spice up your rhythm?

image of couple dancing Salsa
Grab a partner and learn to dance at the Santurce Salsa Club.

Santurce’s Salsa Club is known for teaching Salsa for less than $25 per person.

Here you’ll learn how to dance romantic Salsa with your partner in a judgment-free environment.

image of dancing class
Dancing lessons are a fun way to get comfortable before a night out in San Juan.

The class starts at 7 pm and lasts for one hour. 

Below is a video of dancing salsa in Santurce with the salsa club:

They are located on Ashford Ave in San Juan.

You can learn more about dancing salsa at the salsa club by checking out their Facebook page.

 

2. La Respuesta

This artsy nightclub in Santurce plays all sorts of music, including Salsa and Bachata! 

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La Respuesta is the perfect place to meet local people and explore one of San Juan’s trendy neighborhoods, Santurce.

It includes plenty of space to dance and enjoy the night, cocktails, live bands, DJs, and more. It’s a popular club where tourists and locals go dancing the night away.

image of people using intruments
Enjoy live salsa music late into the night.

They are open Fridays & Saturdays from 9 PM – 3 AM and Mondays from 10 PM-3 AM. 

Below is a video of people dancing salsa in La Respuesta:

They are located near Lote 23 in the Av. Manuel Fernández Juncos street.

You can learn more about their special music events by checking out their Instagram page

 

3. Taberna Los Vázquez

This bar has live salsa music and dancing all around!

image of Taberna Los Vázquez
Outside Taberna Los Vázquez, located at La Placita de Santurce.

Locals and tourists enjoy coming to Taberna Los Vázquez to dance the night away with great music, delicious cocktails, and even karaoke!

image of people on streets
A non judgmental crowd gathers every Friday outside of Taberna Los Vázquez.

Every Friday, you can find live salsa music here.

They don’t offer lessons, but every level of salsa dancing is welcome in this judgment free-space.

Take up salsa dancing at Santurce Salsa Club and show off your freshly learned moves at Taberna Los Vázquez.

Below is a video of people dancing Salsa in Taberna Los Vázquez:

They are located at 1348 Calle Orbeta in La Placita de Santurce, San Juan. 

You can learn more about live salsa band events by checking out their Facebook page.


4. La Factoría

This is one of Old San Juan’s best kept secrets.

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La Factoria is home to six different bars, including one that features live salsa music.

This bar is a speakeasy with no signs that comes alive at night.

It has become one of the hottest hangouts in Old San Juan. There are 6 bars inside including the main hall and a big dance floor to enjoy Salsa every Sunday and Monday by La 51 band.

This bar does not offer dance lessons, but in a dimly dark space at night, you do not need to be an expert to enjoy a perfectly good salsa night.

Below is a video of people dancing Salsa in La Factoría:

For a point of reference, this bar is located right next to La Tortuga Bistro Bar in Old San Juan.

Bonus: This bar also serves the most delicious espresso martinis you’ll ever taste. 

You can learn more about their special events by checking out their Instagram or Facebook page.


5. El Boricua

Enjoy the night as a local near the University of Puerto Rico at El Boricua!

image of El Boricua
Experience a local vibe at El Boricua in Rio Piedras, San Juan.

With exciting decor and a functioning jukebox, there’s plenty of space to dance the night away with live music.

image of Live Music Band
Live music at El Boricua is not to be missed, check their social media for updates.

On occasion, El Boricua offers salsa dancing lessons. If you’d like to participate, you’ll have to check out their Instagram stories to see if they will host a class during your stay in Puerto Rico.

Below is a video of people dancing to live salsa in El Boricua:

This bar is located in Rio Piedras, San Juan, right across from the University of Puerto Rico.

You can learn more about their special events by checking out their Instagram page.


FAQ section

Is there salsa dancing in Puerto Rico?

Yes! Salsa dancing is very popular in bars and clubs in Puerto Rico.

Do Puerto Ricans dance salsa on 1 or 2?

Puerto Ricans dance salsa on count 2.

 

Final thoughts

Salsa and Bachata is very much alive and popular here in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Out of the many bars in Puerto Rico that offers salsa and bachata dancing with live music, I’ve compiled the best 5 places in San Juan.

I recommend taking a class at Santurce Salsa Club and then taking your newly learned dance moves to the clubs to enjoy a great night of Salsa!

La Placita de Santurce has a lot more places for you to dance salsa and bachata as well.

Check out our 40 Best Things To Do in San Juan article for more ideas you can do during your stay!

Article by

Miguel Concepcion

Writer at PuertoRico.com. I’ve lived in Puerto Rico for 14 years and have experienced every inch of this stunning island. Growing up in Puerto Rico has helped me truly learn about the rich culture and extensive history this island has to offer. I share my local knowledge in all of the articles that I write.

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