So if you didn’t know already, I spent nearly a year living in the beautiful city of Paris. When I first arrived, I didn’t know anyone else who danced salsa and so I did what most people do to research anything: looked on the internet. Now, I don’t know what it’s like elsewhere, but I can safely vouch that all online resources for finding out what’s going on in both Paris and London are often poorly updated and several years out of date. I have indeed turned up for nights that no longer existed, and hadn’t existed for a good two or three years (you can’t say I lack enthusiasm), or nights that have changed address without an update to the website. It’s so frustrating that salsa organisers seem to struggle on the technology front. It’s often the case that the most established nights are the ones that are next to impossible to chance upon via the internet and the *cough* less established nights that pop up all over cities are often heavily publicised and poorly attended. Of course, there are established ‘latin’ bars etc that you can find with a quick search on google, but if you want to find out where the hardcore salsa lovers are hitting the floor it’s more a case of being… ‘in the know’.
I realise it sounds a little exclusive… but I genuinely don’t think anyone is doing it on purpose… it just functions the way it is. Salsa dancers talk to each other. For my first month in Paris, Barrio Latino was the place that seemed to be the most promising and so that’s where I headed every Sunday afternoon, and if they enjoyed a dance, a lead would ask “will you be at such and such next Tuesday night?”… to which I replied… “no what’s that?”… only the place where the best dancers in town are hanging out! In conclusion, ask people you enjoy dancing with where they go to dance..it’s the best way.
HOWEVER, since I’ve been and done some of the hard work, I’ll make a little list here if any of you plan on hitting up Paris for some salsa in the next few months. Let me warn you though, venues and hosts can change frequently, and new parties pop up in cities all the time, some more successfully than others. I hold no responsibility if you are reading this post in two years time and can’t find the party I mentioned! Also, these are the places that I went to dance On1/On2 ‘porto’ and NY style salsa on-line. If you are a cuban dancer there are some really great nights taking place across Paris, but I won’t be mentioning them here.
1). Salsa O’Sulli
Where: O’Sullivan’s Bar, Metro Blanche, Line 2.
When: Every Sunday night. Classes start around 8pm and the night ends around 2am.
Entry: between 10-15 euros depending on whether there is a live band or not. No cloakroom.
Classes: Not certain of the levels taught but classes are On2.
This is a rather unlikely venue- at the back of an Irish chain of pubs situated right next door to the Moulin Rouge in the red light district. You will enter to tacky chart ‘bangers’ blaring and huge bouncers guarding the door. Make your way through drunken tourist revelers to the back however, and it will not be unlikely that you find people dancing to live salsa bands, guest DJ’s and performances from some of the best on the international scene. Included in the entry price is a ‘conso’ which gets you anything from a beer to a full glass of red wine or whatever you wish to drink. The top floor is wood and tends to get very crowded, then the downstairs area is less slippy, but air conditioned and you can look down at everyone dancing. This is also where the performances take place. This is the most established night, find some of the best On2 dancers in the city here. The music is often very varied so don’t expect the same thing week in week out.
2). Barrio Latino
Where: Metro Bastille, Line 1.
When: Every Sunday afternoon, classes 2pm and social dancing 4pm-9pm.
Entry: 8-10 euros depending on classes or not. Included in the entry is a free cloakroom facility.
Classes: Start at 2pm, On1.
This is one of the most beautiful venues to dance in Paris. There are three tiers of wooden balconies, velvet sofas and armchairs, chandeliers and a staircase. It’s pretty special. If you lean towards On1 salsa, you are more likely to find it here. Floor is very smooth and well polished, things start to get very packed between 5-6pm.
Where: 8 Rue Jules Vanzappe, Ivry sur Seine.
When: Usually once a month, Saturday, check the facebook page for updates:
Entry: 12 euros + 1 euro cloakroom
Classes: check the facebook page. Usually On2.
This was my personal favorite night: there was a great atmosphere and slightly more dressy than the the weekly nights such as Barrio or Sully. Free soft drinks are provided (grab a plastic cup, write your name on it with a permanent marker and you’re good to go!) Nibbles such as fruit, sweets, crepes and tortilla chips are often provided throughout the night so you can stand and graze if you get tired (guilty). This one is just outside the periphique of Paris, for me it was a a 20 min journey on two buses and I shared a car on the way back. Taxi or bike are options on the way home. Music is great: a mix of Latin Jazz, Mambo, Boogaloo, Pachanga… I miss this place!!
4). Sal’sounds Seventies
Where: Intensive dance studio, 105 rue de Tobliac, dalle des olympiades,75013 Paris
When: Usually once a month, Friday. Find them on facebook for event updates.
Entry: 10 euros + 2 euros cloakroom
Classes: check facebook
If you like Salsa Dura this is the place for you. Current venue has a good floor but gets extremely hot and sweaty so I advise bringing a towel + extra clothes if you are a sweaty person. Very intimate vibe, I could walk there and back from where I was living so I have really fond memories, also one of my favorite places. The DJ’s often overlap from those of LeSalsa’Club party, so again music is always great. These two nights are for the music lovers.
5).Salsa All Stars (run by United Party)
Where: varies. Currently next door to venue for LeSalsa’Club Party in Ivry sur Seine. Other events have been in Vitry sur Seine.
Entry: around 10 euros, cloakroom availability varies
This is one of the more obscure events especially as at first it seems as they only run Kizomba events> Join the group and keep an eye out for the All Stars events, or add United Party/ Melka United Party on facebook to be invited to the events which is a better bet. Alternatively, do what most Parisians do, and find out from word of mouth. Great turnout, some of the best nights I’ve been to were these, but not very accessible if you aren’t familiar with the scene i.e just happen to be around on the weekend, but if you are staying for longer, be sure to keep an ear out for this event and head there with some other salsa people in a car. This party only takes place three or four times a year but worth heading to if your dates coincicide. The venue varies but it is always outside of the Paris ‘periphique’ so transport can be an issue if you don’t have a car/ a friend with a car. (Thank you Katia for all those rides!)
Where: Port Solferino, Péniche Concorde, 23 Quai Anatole France, (Metro Assemblee Nationale, Line 12)
When: Every Tuesday night 8pm- 2pm
Entry: 10 euros + 2 euros cloakroom
Classes: Join the group.
Agua is run by Leon Rose, who also runs SOS (Salsa on Sundays) in London. It’s on a boat called the Concorde Atlantique, with salsa upstairs and Kizomba and Semba downstairs. This is more busy downstairs with the Kizomba crowd , but if you want to stretch your legs midweek, this is the place to head as you’ll be sure to catch a few good dances.
Where: Pan Piper, Metro Phillipe- Auguste, Line 2.
When: check facebook, this is a new event, but unlike most ‘new’ events is legit in terms of turn-out etc. given Mouaze’s reputation.
Entry: Between 10-12 euros with cloakroom
This one wasn’t up and running when I was living in Paris, but when I went back in December, I caught the first of this new night. Obviously Mouaze is one of the best dancers on the international scene so turn out was good, nice shows and very smart venue. Keep an eye out for this one, I have a feeling there will be more sprinkled throughout the year.
I’ve been to other nights, but there you have my main recommendations for mambo and music lovers; these are the nights that the tight Paris salsa ‘community’ attend and in my opinion are the best. If you are living in Paris, be sure to ask where people are heading and keep in mind this list will never be completely up to date but should be a very useful starting point.
Also, there are ‘schools’ for learning salsa in Paris, it is not mainly night-club taught as in London: hence the higher level of technique. I never attended any of the dance schools in Paris, so won’t be doing a post on them, but some of the best names to look out for that you may miss by just doing a Google search are Mouaze’s school, Terry and Cecile, and if you want to learn a very fast and unique style On1 then check out classes with Ramark. There are other schools in Paris that come up more readily on Google, but those mentioned above are undoubtedly the best from what I saw and experienced from dancing with their students!
Salsera in the City