If you’re anything like me, you’ve wanted to learn how to salsa dance since your first toe touched ground in Miami (there must be something in the air). Of course, time escapes us, and we keep pushing off our dreams of learning salsa and being the next star on So You Think You Can Dance. However, if we really embraced the Cuban culture that has made Miami what it is today, we’d say ‘Vamos echar un pie!’ So, let’s ‘¡Meter mano!’ Cuban-style. And what better place to do that then on South Beach, surrounded by Cuban design, cigars, food, coffee and attitude.
Dinner / D. Rodriguez Cuba
Astor Hotel, 956 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach
The motto at D. Rodriguez Cuba is, ‘Who Lives Better than Us?’ I’m not sure about living, but I will say, I don’t know many people who eat better than this. Their goal is to be the No. 1 Cuban restaurant in Miami, and I’d say they are doing a great job grabbing that spot. The food here is delicious. Your tastebuds will explode with the flavor at the first touch of their Conch & Snapper Ceviche or sip of their signature mojito. And if there is any debate about what to order, you will not go wrong with the Enchilado Florida Lobster. Yes, I realize that Florida Lobster sounds so blasé. But trust me. Here, it’s not so much about what it’s made of, as it is about how it’s made and what it’s made with. This dish is splendid. And let dessert not be forgotten. The whole display of their chocolate cigar is worth it. But, as luck would have it, it tastes divine too. Viva Cuba!
Dancing / Salsa Lessons
501 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
Cost: $40 (Mention Miami.com or bring in this article and get $10 off your lesson!)
Since salsa originates from Cuba, we know it’s hot, and Salsa Mia on Lincoln Road is a great place for lessons. Learn how to bust a move in the Miami clubs, Cuban-style. If you have never danced salsa, you’ll start at Level 1 (like me!). If you’ve taken a lesson before and know the basics, arrive early and have them test your skills to see if you can move up a level or two. Either way, you will have a blast learning this amazing dance to the beautiful rhythms of Latin music.
The instructors are great and you do not need a partner to join in the fun. They normally teach everyone the steps as a group with each person practicing them on their own, and then move into a circle, where everyone will partner up. If there are more girls than boys (or even vice versa), each pair switches throughout the song, so you’ll always have a chance to test your moves with someone. I actually prefer this method, because it helps me also learn how to dance with different people. (Dancing is usually better when shared, anyway.) I really enjoyed my lesson and definitely walked away knowing more than I had when I walked it.
What I love about this place is that the party doesn’t stop with the lesson (and with Cubans, does the party ever really stop?). After the lessons come to a close, the venue opens up into a full-blown Latin club, welcoming all Salsa-dancing lovers. Stay and dance the night away with some unbelievable partners and watch the professional dancers in action (you can either learn from watching the masters or get really jealous and vow to keep coming back for more so you can be the next best-thing on the dance floor). I made the vow, so maybe I’ll see you there!
Late Night Snack / David’s Café II
1654 Meridian Avenue
After dancing all night long, saunter up to the outdoor counter of the Miami-famous David’s Café II. If you’re not ready to rest, order a cafecito and some flan and hit all of your favorite South Beach spots after your caffeine-and-sugar-high comes around. If you just need a late-night snack before you head back home to crash from your Cuban-induced evening a Media Noche is sure to cure any possible hangover.