In walking into any Salsa bar/club, girls, you will be asked to dance by men of any race or age, drunk or sober, clean or dirty or around some of the beach locations, boys under the legal age! It is perfectly acceptable to decline until the rum in the mojitos moves slowly down your body to your feet and the inner Latino forces its way out. As long as you know the basic steps to salsa, your chosen partner should be able to feel your ability and dance accordingly. This is not always the case and its fairly normal to find yourself being spun haphazardly into other couples, apologizing with a smile before being flung into spinning frenzy ending in a locked armed finale. A word of warning ladies, sweaty grinding is not salsa as much as some local blokes might contest.
Here in Quito there are some absolutely fantastic Salsa bars. Sitting happily next door to one another in the centre of the Mariscal are the Salsa Station and Mayo 68. With continuous Salsa pumping and live bands playing on certain nights, these two bars have a wonderfully quintessential South American atmosphere. With wooden floors and no windows, you feel a little like you've just walked into a basement. The bar staff and owners are friendly and welcoming. With a $6 cover charge you get a drink on entry (beer or a shot) and from there drinks are standard priced. My personal favorite bar for Salsa and the best Mojitos in Quito, is Seseribo. Located on Veintimilla y Avenida 12 de Octubre, this little gem is a little tricky to find. You follow some steps down to a kind of alley way where in turning right you'll see the security man and the entrance. Cover charge is usually around $6 but can vary depending on what night and what special performances they have on. Thursday nights the night to go with regular dance contests and performances, it also has happy hour from 9-10:30, 2 for 1 on most cocktails. Again, Seseribo has a fabulous, underground feel and the dancing is impressive to say the least. It sounds daunting to us western folk with no rhythm but fear not, the fantastic thing about salsa is that no one will judge you. Whatever level you are, whether you can wiggle or not, never feel ashamed to try. Ecuadorians have a drive to teach and help us poor people and before you know it you'll be in the middle of a free lesson!
It's in clubs like the above where you can really practice your salsa. Unlike Bungalow 6 or Oceana for example, where they play the occasional Salsa and a few people sheepishly take the floor, these places are there for salsa and salsa only. 90% of the time your chosen partner will be more than competent in the steps, resulting in a much more controlled, sexy and impressive dance session. Contrary to popular belief, and reassuringly, Ecuadorians are not born with the salsa steps in their blood. The better dancers have been through the painful process of learning as well so will understand any difficulties you might be facing. Salsa is such a major part of South American culture and I fully recommend giving it a shot.
There are numerous salsa schools, most offering a course of 10 lessons for those of you who are staying in Ecuador for longer periods of time. It's obviously possible to take single lessons here and there but I warn you now, my teacher gets aggravated with me because obviously I don't practice, dancing salsa alone in my kitchen just doesn't have the same appeal. In some ways, taking tuition in Salsa takes the sexiness out of it but the pay off is that you can walk into a bar feeling confident about flexing your twinkle toes around the dance floor. And gentlemen, every lady loves a man who can move, loosen up those hips and take your pick of adoring female fans.