One of the most renowned salsa studios in the city, the team at Sondeluz Academy boast many prestigious alumni who have gone on to become champions overseas. Nonetheless, clumsy-footed gringos are a specialty of the head instructor, Luz, who gets them twirling and shimmying with confidence in no time. Classes are primarily one on one and cost 390,000 COP (US$130) for a 10-hour package.
For a cheaper option, try the sociable salsa school known as El Manicero, which specializes in providing fun and involving group lessons. Classes are held every evening from Monday to Friday and are divided by skill level, from beginner to expert. At just 7,000 COP (US$2.30) for a two-hour session with significant monthly discounts available, this foreigner-friendly school provides excellent value for money. Just be aware that progress is considerably slower in a group, so try to schedule a private lesson or two as well.
Something of a premium outfit, this well-respected and globally-minded academy charges 440,000 COP (US$145) for a 10-hour private lesson package and has discounted rates for groups. Students who stick around long enough to complete any of their five different courses are rostered on to perform in a show, which makes for a memorable cultural experience.
More than just a salsa school, Ritmo Studio also offers classes in tango, milonga, zumba, kizomba, bachata, chachachá, twerking, and everything in between. Best of all, their effective teaching methods and professionally-trained teachers make learning to dance a breeze. Expect to pay around 350,000 COP (US$116) for 10 hours of private tuition, or 80,000 COP (US$26) for 12 hours of group sessions.
Tango Vivo & Salsa Viva
A small school with modern facilities in the leafy San Fernando neighborhood, Tango Vivo & Salsa Viva are known for their flexible private tuition which allows students to focus on any genre imaginable. They offer group classes too, primarily in salsa, bachata, and bogaloo. Private lessons cost 40,000 COP (US$13) per hour when booked in five-hour packages, while group classes go for 85,000 COP (US$28) for four weekly classes or 125,000 COP ($US41) for eight classes within a month.
Having trouble keeping up with the lightning fast Cali school of salsa? Not to worry, because Rucafé focuses on the slower and more manageable Cuban style instead. It might seem strange to study Cuban salsa in Cali, but if that’s your thing then this is the best option in town. The monthly signup of 90,000 COP (US$30) for group classes is pretty affordable, too.
Now that we’ve found a school and done some lessons, it’s time to check out some beginner-friendly clubs in the city.
La Topa Tolondra
Right in the heart of the touristy San Antonio neighborhood, this happening venue is open almost every night of the week and welcomes dancers with any level of skill. It’s easy to find someone to practice with, so don’t feel inclined to bring a partner along.
La Topa Tolondra, Cl. 5 #13 – 27, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, +57 316 494 4768
Tin Tin Deo
A Cali institution, Tin Tin Deo offers free beginner lessons around 8 p.m. most nights before the place fills up and the real fun begins. Much like La Topa Tolondra, foreigners feel at home and it’s easy to find a partner of any skill level.