A strong and growing community of Latinos in Vancouver is taking shape. Latin restaurants like Chicha, Silvestre or Barú Latino are becoming popular destinations to enjoy the exotic cuisine. Not to mention the Mexican restaurants that seem to multiply by the hour. But if you want to enjoy the Latin culture beyond its food, we’ve put together this list of events and social happenings where you can also appreciate the rhythms. This summer, make sure to hit at least one of these spots or the outdoor events.
This is an annual series of free, outdoor salsa dances held at Robson Square in downtown Vancouver during the summer months of July and August. The dances happen every Sunday and are run by a team of volunteers from Vancouver’s salsa dance community. It has been running since 2006 and is the most popular salsa event in Vancouver. It draws thousands of dancers, performers, participants and curious spectators.
It happens once a year – this year on July 11 and 12 – and it recreates a Latin American fiesta experience in downtown Vancouver. Carnaval del Sol is a two-day festival filled with a mini world cup street soccer tournament, an arts and crafts market, an array of children’s and environmental education activities, outdoor salsa and zumba lessons. It’s truly a festivity that gathers the best of the Latin community.
I went for the first time a few weeks ago and it’s so much fun! It starts at 9 p.m. and you can take some free lessons not only of salsa but also bachata, reggaeton, and even merengue. There’s a very low cover charge (I paid $5) and you can dance all night long with your friends, partner or with other dancers attending.
Weekly salsa night at the Dancey Ballroom, mostly Salsa with Cha-Cha-Cha and Bachata, is from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. It starts with a one-hour drop-in Beginner Salsa Lesson taught by instructors from the Dancey Ballroom. Sometimes they have performances and/or international guest DJs. The cover is $10 and includes a complimentary lesson.
SBK stands for Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba, and the music at the event is a mix of all three. It happens twice a month at the Dancey Ballroom. It starts with a one-hour drop-in lesson (usually Kizomba or Bachata) and it goes until 2 a.m.
For the girls that not only want to learn salsa steps, but also want to look sexy while dancing, Sensalsa is your choice. Marilu Retana and Claudia Mercado are the instructors that help you find your inner sensual dancer and put it to good use. I know because I’ve been taking this class for the past six months at BC Dance! You can contact Marilu for more information at 778-710-1565.
This is my list of where to dance salsa in Vancouver, but I’m sure there must be other parties and events happening in the Latino community that I’m not aware of. If you know some, please mention it in the comments below!
Huge thanks to Dancey Ballroom for providing the photos, to Marilu Retana and to Robin Campbell from Dance Dojo for sharing his list with us.