We tell you where to shake things up with a Latin beat
Time Out Bahrain staff
It is quite reasonable to think that the Spanish have an unfair genetic advantage when it comes to dancing. While they cha cha cha the night away without putting a foot wrong, the rest of us hover on the peripheries of the dance floor with moves so bad we might as well be trying to negotiate a squat toilet. But with the opening of a new Latin music venue this month, there has never been a better time to pull on a pair of tight trousers, buy a silk shirt and unleash the salsa king within. We show you where the Latin kids hang out.
Located in the Panorama Hotel, Juffair, Havana is the latest club in the stable of venues in this sprawling hotel. Located in what essentially looks like a large padded cell, the focal point here is the stage and dance floor. The best thing about this bar is the authenticity of the band. Hailing from Columbia, the foursome (pictured above) play every single night to a packed dance floor of hip-wigglers. Four times a week between 8pm-10pm, the dance floor becomes the focus of the latest fitness trend, salsa-cise, where people can learn a few steps while shaking off some pounds in the process. There are also regular comedy nights scheduled, but if there are enough northern Europeans attempting to emulate Joaquin Cortes, we think this will be hilarious enough. For more information, call 17 826 888
Juffair is the very centre of the Latin dance action in Bahrain, with the country’s other main Spanish hangout just a stone’s throw from Havana in the Pars International Hotel. Still with a ‘room in a hotel’ feel but with a slightly more inviting decor, the Latin Quarter hosts one of the best known South American bands in Bahrain, Conga Beat (who play every night between 10pm and 2am), along with some of the best salsa instructors. Those looking to pack in a few lessons need to head along on Tuesday night when there is a lesson for one hour from 8.30pm (price is BD4 per person), before the band kicks off giving you a chance to freestyle. And if you think you are ready, the Bahrain Annual Salsa Championships are held here, giving you a chance for a dance off. For more information, call 17 814 777. If you want to find out more about lessons, call Arthur Pantaleon on 39 865 464
Brazil! is not only one of the best restaurants in Adliya, it is also home to one of the best Latin lounges in the country. Force yourself past the food on the ground floor and head upstairs to this brown and orange-clad haven of South American chic. While there are no orchestrated dance classes, few would object if you stood up and started the samba. So long, of course, you weren’t completely useless at it... For more information, call 17 826 686
OK, so the gym is not exactly the place to get into a groove, no matter how good the music is (and those who do start dancing in the free weights area should summarily be shot). However, if you head upstairs at the only international-standard gym in Bahrain, you’ll find two aerobics spaces, one of which offers a mixed salsa class on Sunday and Tuesday at 8pm. Here you can practise behind a closed door. For more information, call 13 322 200
Arthur Pantaleon, Bahrain’s best Latin dancer and a teacher at the Latin Quarter, gives us his five top tips to becoming a salsa star.
1. Firstly, come to the class and see what level you’re at. People of all levels are welcome, and we will evaluate which class you should be in. 2. Keep focused while dancing – you have to concentrate if you are going to get better. 3. Observe safety rules in the class. This will help prevent injury.
The idea of Latin dancing is not to hit people in the head with your arm, or stamp on their foot, but this is contact dancing so a certain etiquette needs to be applied.
4. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. There is nothing worse than dancing in an outfit you feel uncomfortable in. 5. Stay with the beat of the music. Listen to more Latin music in your free time as this will help when you come to dance along to it. Call Arthur on 39 865 464.