The best salsa bars in Medellín
ENVIGADO / SOUTH:
BELLO / NORTH:
Medellin is not the salsa capital of Colombia, because that’s Cali. Medellin is more into vallenato, porro and musica ranchera. But don’t be fooled to think Medellin has no salsa culture, because it’s wrong. Medellin has a rich history of salsa and is keeping the tradition alive.
The high times of salsa in Medellin were in the 1970s when dozens of salsa bars opened in the city center and people danced the new dance that had come from New York.
Junin and Palace, two streets parallel to La Oriental, were the spine of the booming salsa culture in the pre-Escobar era.
The 1980’s changed everything in Medellin. The cocaine boom and the coming of the cartels, especially the one of Pablo Escobar, killed the vivid nightlife of one of Colombia’s wealthiest cities.
In the middle of Medellin most violent period, a group of salsa fanatics started a radio station, Latina Stereo. The radio station tried to revive the dying culture of salsa by pumping the grooves and basslines of the classic salsa brava into the airwaves.
Most clubs in the city center never survived the drug violence of the 1980s. Two did. Bururu Barara, close to the University of Antioquia still opens its doors, but the violence of the reggaeton movement killed Medellin’s Brisas de Puerto Rico. It was forced to close doors in 2007.
In many other parts of the city new bars opened, carrying on the tradition of what the godfathers of salsa had started in the 1970s. They do not play reggaeton or the romantic puerto rican nonsense that has been polluting the salsa with lies dipped in honey.
The salsa isn’t dead, it’s just retreated and operates from basements or in dark, small livingroom-like bars. But when finding the place, be sure to be hearing the best of boogaloo grinds and salsa grooves and see some of the finest freestyle salsa dancing.