Restaurants: Where shall we meet in Charing Cross Road?
Saturday 27 February 1999
Salsa! is a more a Latin-American theme bar/ restaurant than a hard-core Cubano haunt, and as such is the ideal place for nervous beginners to get their first taste of wrapping themselves round a willing partner. This basement hanger's multi-level flooring arrangements provide ample opportunity to observe, its large dance areas allow for the clumsiest lumbering, and an array of unguents in the loos will protect the most elaborate of hairstyles while you work up a muck sweat.
The clientele is mostly a mix of after-workers and hen and birthday parties, with the odd smattering of the sort of poker-faced Latino who makes more advanced venues so daunting.
We didn't get there till 9pm, but it was evident that a decent-sized crowd had been there for some hours, downing rum-based cocktails and making use of what they'd learned in the early-evening classes. Food caters, as is the problem with all theme bars, to the lowest common denominator, with a bare minimum of heat even in dishes that declare them-selves to contain chilli. But we had a nice-enough chicken fajita and some bland tapas brought at breakneck speed to cater for the two-hour maximum table tenancy.
But you don't come to a place like this for the food. Long into the night, the place echoed to a very jolly band, the shrieks of happy hens and the covetous sighs of the men who stood around nursing their bottled beers, watching as power-crazed women circled each other, palms pressed together in decorous embrace.
Salsa!, 96 Charing Cross Road, London WC2 (0171-379 3277)
1 Leicester Place, W1 (0171-287 0101)
11 Kensington High Street, W8 (0171-938 4137)
Down Mexico Way
25 Swallow Street, W1 (0171-437 9895)
96 Pentonville Road, N1 (0171-837 5387)
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
Madonna Rebel Heart: Pharrell Williams collaboration and 13 more songs leaked
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk