With a quarter of a million Latinos living in Philadelphia, it’s not hard to find places to dance your heart out — if you know where to look.
The bursts of trumpets playing a fast paced salsa or banda song, the somber sounds of an accordion playing heartfelt vallenato, or thumps of afro beats to an ass-shaking dembow can be found throughout the city.
If you need to freshen up your moves for your prima’s quince or just want to find a place to let loose on the weekend, we got you covered with 10 of the hottest spots in town.
3025 Walnut St.
World Cafe Live’s First Friday series offers drinks, food, and live music from Philly party band De Tierra Caliente each month. The band is bringing the allegria of warm weather countries to the U.S. with salsa, merengue, samba, rumba and more. Party starts at 9 p.m. Did we mention entry is free?
Sammy’s Place (LGBTQ+)
1449 N 5th St.
A staple in North Philly for nearly two decades, this corner bar is one of the only openly gay Latino bars in the city. The tight-knit community includes domino-loving retirees and drag queens alike. Every Wednesday, the bar offers free salsa lessons starting at 8 p.m. Don’t worry if you can’t make it on a work night — weekends often feature eccentric DJs, and the bar’s Facebook page consistently posts new events.
202 S 13th St.
Latinos take over at this Gayborhood standby every Thursday. The DJ, Latin Connection Family, describes the music selection as the “Latino Fuzion experience,” and you can expect bachata remixes alongside reggaeton hits. The party starts at 7 p.m., and if you want to impress everyone at the dance floor, you can take a quick 30-minute salsa class for a mere $5 at 10 p.m. Those moves will stick with you till la boda.
112 Chestnut Street
This Old City club has been a place to hone your dance skills since 1997. The weekly ¡Wepa! Wednesday doesn’t actually feature wepa, a Mexican cumbia dance style, but it’s where you can learn salsa and bachata from expert Mike Andino from 9 p.m. till 2 a.m. (We won’t tell work if you don’t.) For weekenders, Free Fridays start at 9 p.m. and feature Mike’s salsa classes at 9:30.
724 Arch Street
Bululu Nights at Reserve Lounge are what to hit up when you want something leveled up from salsa. Events like La Jungla del Perreo don’t happen every week, but when they do, just know that perreo is intenso. The club has even featured DJ Suelto, Natti Natasha’s official DJ (it’s almost “Criminal”). There’s an upcoming concert featuring reggaetonero Baby Ranks at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 7.
4940 N. 5th Street
¡Qué escándalo! Most days when you’re at this North Philly destination it’s probably to eat. The always-changing menu of Colombian staples might have sancocho de gallina one day and a lomo empanizado on another. Besides the food, every Saturday there’s a live DJ playing everything from reggaeton classics to hosting vallenato nights. Now you don’t need to go all the way to Valledupar to listen to Los Inquietos.
10 S. 2nd Street
The restaurant-slash-nightclub claims to host the “hottest Friday nights right in Old City Philly.” The only way to really know for sure is to go — for science. Viva La Noche Fridays and Saturdays start at 10 p.m. and feature music from The Latin Connection and other DJs playing Latin fuzion, Latin hits, and party anthems. Fridays are more for listening to good music and $5 coronas, but Saturdays are where you can show off your moves and see who you meet on the dance floor.
4535 N. 5th Street
By day, Tierra Colombiana is serving arepas con queso and tamales colombianos, but like Cinderella, by the time the clock strikes 10 p.m. it’s nightclub time. Salsa, vallenato, reggaeton you name it, it’s playing. They feature big names like David Calderon and Los Gigantes del Vallenato, and there’s a Cinco de Mayo party on Friday, May 6, with Christian Martinez playing “nothing but the hits,” like cumbia, merengue, and reggaeton. Don’t say we never put you on.
207 Chestnut Street
The Old City bar has events going on for practically every night of the week. Tuesdays are Salsa Nights where you can dance from 9 p.m. to last call, with a bonus $5 margaritas for some liquid courage. Thursdays you can dance bachata, but beware, the five-star rated party attracts 200 to 250 guests. Fridays it’s Lit at Lucha with DJ Jholi who plays the latest reggaeton hits. The party keeps going through Saturday for Viva Sabado for the ultimate party. Don’t miss this weekend for the Cinco de Mayo celebration from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m with promises of good food and drinks.
4501 Castor Avenue
Ceviche and patacones typically dominate at this Northeast restaurant, but once night falls, it’s all about the party. Be warned, it’s not cheap, and often you have to have reservations to get in. Once inside, you can find drink specials and $10 hookah. Kick off this Mothers Day with Zacarias Ferreira at 9 p.m., or you could wait till the following week when Makumba features Yailin, la más viral (and who knows, you might see Anuel … if you know, you know).
Practice practice makes perfection
Many orgs host fun events at different locations throughout the city. Dance Republic Philly typically collabs with bars like Lucha Cartel for Salsa Tuesdays, but as the weather gets nicer, you might be more likely to spot them dancing outside at Love Park. If dancing outside is a passion you never knew you had, make sure to follow Philly Outdoor Bachata & Salsa to keep up with upcoming events.
The Tango Calendar is also your best friend, where newbies and aficionados can find performances and classes, milongas, and special events.. Can’t make an in person event? There’s online classes for dancers of all levels.
Albassario Dance Company can help you freshen up your salsa moves or teach you the basics. You can take private lesson, but if you want to test it out first there’s $20 drop-in beginner salsa classes Mondays and Wednesday from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
For bachata lovers, on Thursdays Laurel Card at Urban Movement Arts teaches all levels of bachata from solo bachata, to bachata partner fundamentals and advanced beginner bachata partnering. If you want to test a class out, you can drop in for $15 or do it from the comfort of your home for $10. If you fall in love with bachata, or want to try more classes, Urban Movement Arts offers memberships with unlimited online and in person classes.