Salsa Dancing Hotspots in Barcelona

City Travel, Cultural Travel, Spain — By on August 15, 2011 at 10:08 pm

By Melissa Kim
Special to The Lost Girls 

Apparently I’d had my hopes up on a lofty little perch when I traded Los Angeles for central Europe. I left my job in sunny L.A. and flew onward to a TEFL program in the Czech Republic in mid-November. I also left the nightlife—the salsa clubs you can go to on every night of the week. Prague wasn’t particularly engaging—frankly, it takes quite a bit of motivation to go out and experience nightlife when you’ve got frigid temperatures, inches of snow, and a horrific, as-slow-as-watching-grass-grow night tram (translation: drunk tank) to take you home at the end of it all. But when I settled afterward in Barcelona, I knew that the nightlife would be a much warmer welcome. Although I have many more clubs to explore—from the hole-in-the-wall Latin bar to the superclubs of semi-pro ballroom dancing—here are my two favorite hotspots. At least, for now…

Bailongu
Pasaje Utset, 11

When my roommate and I decided to go dancing one night after a dinner party, we didn’t know we were in for such a treat. Bailongu club pulsates with a mixture of salsa, bachata, and merengue, with some occasional cha-cha thrown in.  Less pretense than the mainstream house and hip-hop discoteca, but if you show up here, you probably know your way around the dance floor. A bunch of dance school instructors and their students come out here to break out their latest and greatest (the club doubles as a dance studio). It was one woman’s birthday, and the obligatory salsa solos were had—the birthday lady danced with each gentleman that lined up to dance with her (lucky lady! This should be made a global tradition in all salsa clubs).

About the club’s layout: The bar is set off from the dance floor, and said floor is flanked by chairs on either wall (points here: I hate it when there’s nowhere to sit), as well as wall-lined drink holders (smart design) so you can put down your glass while you bust a move. Great little spot where skilled salseros break it down. There’s even a little bar in the back—probably one of the best nightlife spots I’ve been to in the city with a very friendly, casual ambience, and no snootiness about it.

La Sala Bikini
Deu i Mata, 105

Friday night. Literally an underground club with multiple rooms, coat check, and mixed crowd. One of the rooms played salsa until about 3 a.m., which is when partitions between the rooms go up and the dancers-slash-hoochies emerge, dance on the bars for 10 minutes, and then leave. This, apparently, cues the house music; the salseros take their moves elsewhere. All in all, a decent spot. Points for the versatility of having multiple rooms; solid for having one devoted toward real dancers. One room for busting out the salsa moves, but you can easily mix it up by stepping into the hip-hop beats next door.

I did end up there prior to the salsa night on another night, however, and had the unfortunate experience of being present at closing time. The scene included a crammed throng of drunk partiers struggling to get their belongings from the coat check, and a slew of trashed girls with streaked makeup bending down in the ladies’ room to drink the water from the sinks, no doubt to remedy a stomach soaked with alcohol. I’d be a bit more discerning of timing when it comes to hitting this joint.

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