After Dark: Are you Havana good time yet?

The overwhelming success of Club Tropicana, the Cuban extravaganza at the Royal Albert Hall, has proven beyond doubt that Londoners can't get enough of that Latin vibe - but we've known that in clubland for many years now.

London is often criticised for failing to offer enough variety - "it's all bland house" goes the standard criticism - but if you're willing to scratch the surface, the capital always comes up with the goods.

The number of venues showcasing Latin dance music has grown steadily over the last five years to the point where fans now have an excellent choice of venues.

"When you usually go to a mainstream club, everyone's roughly the same age and wearing the same clothes," says Rochelle Cohen from Salsa in Charing Cross Road. "Latin clubs are completely different - you'll see people from the ages of 15 to 50, as well as Brazilians, Cubans and lots of other South Americans."

Salsa is a bar, a restaurant and dancehall with a Latin cantina feel. Patrons can hear live music on every night of the week. The events on week-nights, like El Mas Latino on Mondays, attract an authentically Latin American crowd while the weekends see a more cosmopolitan contingent.

The main difference that attracts people to salsa is the social vibe. Many promotions offer lessons at the beginning of the night before everyone does their own thing. Dancing with friends, or complete strangers, is part of the scene.

Chris Greenwood has been promoting Latin music since 1989 after becoming converted while DJing in New York. On returning to London, he started Pachanga, one of the first promotions to play Latin music without diluting it with jazz or other western rhythms.

His promotional CV now includes the Havana chain and Bar Cuba. "Latin music is pure escapism and conjures up visions of sunshine," he enthuses. "It's a social thing that everyone can take part in.

"The dancing looks difficult but you just have to get your head around the rhythm. It's not a basic four/four rhythm, so when people get out of the "areeba, reeba" fake flamenco thing, and get used to the syncopated rhythm, it becomes easy."

Cuba offers classes from Monday to Thursday and attracts a strong, well- dressed South American crowd. Cuba, Havana and Salsa are owned by London's Capital Radio, and the success of the clubs means that there are plans to open new Havanas in Glasgow and Manchester.

Far from attracting a specialist bunch, salsa clubs are tempting more and more clubbers away from mainstream house nights for more exotic rhythms.

As with many clubbing trends, London is not the first city in the UK to adopt this musical genre. The salsa scene in many northern cities has been well-established for years. Salsa enjoys a huge following in Manchester and many top salsa bands play there without even coming to London.

However, the capital's appetite for salsa, merengue, son, rumba, mambo and lambada looks set to increase and there are new venues springing up regularly - such as Little Havana. It offers Cuban/ Caribbean cuisine in addition to groovin' live Latin beats.

Admission prices are usually cheaper than mainstream clubs and consequently most venues attract enough patrons to open seven days a week. Chris Greenwood isn't surprised by Salsa's appeal to regular clubbers. "Disco music originally came from Latin music, but house is simply the disco of the 1990s," he contends. "There's always been Latin percussion in many clubs and many top house DJs, like David Morales, Kenny Dope Gonzales and Roger Sanchez have Latin roots and influences.

"Latin is the world music at the moment. The more people hear the music and listen to live musicians, the more popular it will become."

Cuba, 11 Kensington High Street, W8 (0171-938 4137)

Salsa, 96 Charing Cross Road, WC2 (0171-379 3277)

Little Havana, 1 Leicester Place, WC2H (0171-287 0101)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project