After the historic peace deal in 2019 ending an over 50 year old civil war between the Colombian government and leftist guerrilla group the FARC, foreigners are finally able to safely access this beautiful land, and its rich, diverse culture. Tourism has been exploding here over the past three years, growing 13% per year, and continues to rise along with foreign investment in real estate and industry.
As we like to say to visitors, “The only danger in coming to Colombia is that you just might stay.”
So what is so special about Colombia? Why are Americans and Europeans alike coming, and many times staying in Colombia? Besides it’s stunning physical beauty, delicious coffee, romantic pueblos, and famous magical realism authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, its all about the people. The culture of physicality, warmth, passion, close family ties, serving others, and joy. And let’s not forget sabor (flavor). Its not enough to read about in guide books or in walking tours to really experience this way of living. It must be experienced. And few things embody the essence of Colombia more than dancing salsa.
We feel part of something dancing salsa in Colombia…because everyone dances!
Well, almost everyone. Salsa is alive here in Colombia. Its considered the salsa capital of the world, and with good reason. Colombians grow up with salsa. Its in homes. In the streets. At family parties. At cafes. In restaurants. In taxis. No exaggeration, salsa is everywhere. Its hard to find someone who isn’t impressively knowledgeable about salsa music or doesn’t know how to dance.
And of course, there is no shortage of places to dance :). Not just dance clubs, but also little bars sprinkled throughout major cities like Medellin, Cali, and Bogota, as well as in every town and pueblo across the country. To dance salsa in Colombia is to be part of and participate in their culture.
Here we can live and breathe salsa dance culture in an authentic way hard to find in North America and Europe.
Dancing salsa in Colombia awakens our passions and creativity.
They are a passionate, high energy people, which is reflected in the Colombian born salsa style called salsa caleña (see video), although all styles of salsa can be danced here (on 1, on 2, cuban, and more).
People here really know how to let themselves go and leave it all on the dance floor, all through the context of enjoyment, self-expression, and sabor (flavor). Not to mention doing it all suavecito (smooth + cool — props to Chirry).
Colombians are incredibly welcoming and friendly.
Colombians are brought up from a young age to be friendly, polite, and affectionate. To enjoy serving others, and practice humility. Its an incredibly welcoming culture, where you can very quickly get invited to a family dinner after just having met someone dancing — get ready for the guaro (aguaardiente)!
And people are definitely down to dance with you, no matter who you are or where you are. Its all about feeling good together.
Learn presence through feeling the saboroso music.
Colombians grow up listening to salsa music with their papas y familia from a young age. Its in their blood. So when you dance salsa in Colombia, you are instantly struck how people truly feel the music. They let go of control, let go of thinking, and let their bodies interpret whatever the music, their own emotions, and their dance partners are expressing.
To learn salsa in Colombia means to learn how to be present with the music, and with your dance partner…because if you don’t, no one will dance with you! (just kidding :P, but really, if you can do as the locals do, you can feel the depth and magic of the music + dance).
It’s pure joy.
At the end of the day dancing salsa is all about happiness down here. Its an essential feature of the music. Its a way to experience our lives with a smile, no matter what the circumstance. Had your heart broken? No problem, we can dance some salsa. Lost all of your money? No problem, we can move and feel good with our friends and family. No matter what the circumstance, dancing salsa in Colombia teaches foreigners and locals alike how to experience joy through an embodied practice. It holds similar health benefits as yoga and meditation, only dare we say…a lot more fun!
So why are travelers going to learn salsa in Colombia? To put it simply: to learn how to feel good. Together.
And whenever you are ready to come down and dance with us, check out our intensive salsa retreats to learn salsa in Colombia with the only community of pro independent dance instructors, now 30 dancers and counting. We are waiting for you :)
Con amor, from Colombia,
David Schafran is a founding member of Somoloco Salsa Immersion , the only community of independent professional dancers in Colombia, and the founding member of Somoloco, a creative lab and community based in Medellin who create immersive experiences, events, and media through humor, romance, and adventure. Before moving to Colombia, David sucked at dancing salsa, and was the founding CEO of EyeNetra, creator of game based design events, and a sprite at MIT Media Lab.