Chile is traditionally known for its national dance La Cueca. But in recent years, an influx of immigration from all over the world has generated a diverse and exciting dance world in Chile, ranging from capoeira to break dance.
Caribbean salsa is an important player in this pulsing environment with a vibrant collection of dancers and musicians rallying behind salsa jams.
“Salsa spread to Chile after people who had been in exile in the Caribbean returned and brought the music back with them,” Paulina Parra, a salsa instructor at Maestra Vida in Santiago’s Bellavista neighborhood told This is Chile.
During the Pinochet era many people fled Chile to the northern countries of South America, and they weren’t about to leave the passionate rhythms of salsa behind upon returning to Chile.
Caribbean influence in Santiago lives on at Maestra Vida where they offer salsa lessons at 9pm Tuesday through Thursday for roughly USD$6.00 (CLP$3.000). Many of the club’s live performances are salsa bands, although they also feature afro, cumbia, and funk music.
Salsa y Bembe, in the southern city of Concepción, is another favorite among Chileans who want to get their fix of Caribbean beats. Lessons are available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for USD$4.00 (CLP$2.000) allowing people to polish their dance moves before the club opens up at night.
Parra shared what she liked most about teaching salsa in Chile.
“What I like most is that the general public does not know a lot about salsa and we get to teach them that salsa is not just about what you see on television,” Parra explained. “It’s not super sexual all of the time, rather, it is a dance in which one can enjoy, and one can learn things about their body more freely.”
In Chile, salsa brings both foreigners and locals together, to experience the joy of good music, dancing, and all around fun.
Where to go:
Pio Nono 380, Bellavista, Santiago
Av. Vicuña Mackenna 1603
Salsa y Bembe
Serrano 1069, Concepción
Written by Michael Dash