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Salsa in Tokyo
von Uli

Charity salsa events held all over the world remind me of hot parties and hot dancers I met in Tokyo a few weeks before the earthquake.

End of February I was sitting in the plane back to Germany and wrote this report after an intensive 2-weeks business trip. Instead of hanging around in a hotel bar my nights have been filled up with salsa dancing.

As I heard from the disaster, I immediately stopped the publication of the report. In the meantime charity salsa events are organized - even in Tokyo -, so I think it’s now an appropriate time to let you know how Salsa was and hopefully will come back in near future.

Japanese dance Salsa with lot's of passion

Everybody in Germany who hears the first time that Japanese can dance salsa, hardly believes that this can be true. But I promise: there are lots of salseras and salseros who dance perfect and with passion. And there are usually lots of opportunities to dance during the whole week. No wonder in a city of about 8,5 million residents and over 35 millions in the whole region. More information about the city under http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokio

Having visited Tokyo already several times, I tried to discover some new salsa places. If you are familiar with Japanese, it’s pretty easy to find out where and when Tokyo’s dance floors are burning – most of us I guess need translation support (e.g. with google translator). However it works – especially with English!

Information sources

  • Tokyo’s Salsa bible is named “Salsa 120%
  • You can pick up the printed version at the major salsa locations. As this is available only in Japanese, I recommend to check out the events directly via the homepage under “Latin events” with activated translation.

  • Salsa HOTLINE Japan with information about Salsa Hotline night and Japan Salsa Congress


  • An other good always updated event listing could be find under: http://homepage2.nifty.com/mundolatino/event.htm


  • Most of the salsa clubs - at least the major ones – are located in the famous Roppongi area in the heart of Tokyo. Meeting point is Almonds.

    More than 8 locations which offer Salsa parties could be accessed within walking distance:

  • Salsa Caribe
  • El café Latino
  • Studio Pepe 2
  • Salsa Sudada
  • Gallery Roppongi
  • Cielo Dance Studio
  • Casino Dance Studio
  • Cobacabana


  • If you want to get an insight to those salsa clubs, dance studios and other locations please check out Yuno Dinnie’s very comprehensive Tokyo salsa guide post.

    Most of the clubs are small compared to Salsa locations in Germany. Perhaps this is a reason why Japanese mostly dance LA style salsa (or Bachata ;). I’ve also never seen a Rueda in Tokyo by the way. Sometimes parties are organized in town halls which provide more space than clubs or cellars of dance studios.

    The entrance fee varies …

  • No entry charge during the week at tiny club Cobacabana – But 1 beer is mandatory
  • About 4 EUR (free to bring own drinks) at a salsa socials
  • About 9 EUR incl. 1 drink in clubs on normal weekdays
  • About 13 EUR incl. 1 drink in clubs on Friday and Saturday
  • About 25 EUR incl. 1 drink with lesson or live music
  • About 33 EUR with a free bar incl. beers, cocktails etc. at Hilton’s Salsa Sunday


  • Let me describe how a salsa week in Tokyo can look like:

    Sunday

    If it’s the 2nd Sunday of month, if you want to talk with others (in Japanese) and if this is worth for you to pay about 33 EUR for 4,5 hours “all you can drink” you will probably visit Salsa Sunday Night @ the Hilton Hotel.

    I decided to visit “Simon’s Winter Salsa Party” at Club Salud! . The club is a few steps away from Nippori station accessed by the Yamanote line – a famous circular train which connects the sub-centers of Tokyo. The party was promoted with 2 DJs, a show and 1.800 Yen w1d entrance fee. So I expected a bigger party. It ended up with – let me count – 8-10 couples in a small club with now doubt very good music by the German speaking DJ Rafael and some good talks and dances.

    In the end Salsa Caribe for 11 EUR would have probably been a better choice, because Sunday is a popular busy night till the last metro is leaving Roppongi. For Cuban dancers, Salsa Sudada is an option as well, especially if bands play live salsa music.

    The other Sunday I went to the Latin Organic Salsa party in Nakameguro GT Plaza Hall from about 6-9:30 pm is a really perfect salsa social event if you just want to dance. Within 15 minutes the DJ and staff gets the hall prepared for the party – amazing! There is no bar; everybody brings his own drinks. The music is not as loud as in the regular salsa clubs so you can easily socialize with each other. See http://ameblo.jp/salvajechan/# for more information.

    Unfortunately in parallel to this party there is another Salsa social “Platinum Salsa” in Kitazawa Town Hall in Shimokitazawa from 6-9:30 pm. This I will visit next time.

    Monday

    On Monday even regular clubs are closed (like El Café Latino) or the DJs get their day off (like in Caribe). But there is a New LA style Party in Gallery Roppongi from 7pm-10pm, held by Glamorous Salsa which is one of Salsa social clubs. Unfortunately I wasn’t there because I reached my hotel after a long business day at 8pm which was too late for a party that already ends at 10.

    Tuesday

    Since years the party at Salsa Caribe on Tuesday night is one of the best LA style parties. From 9pm after the lesson by Hiro and Taku you definitely dance with the best. I don’t know any other party where no Cuban dancer crosses and you can dance on highest level with over 60% of the salseras.

    Before I went to Caribe I checked out Salsa Cobacabana. There is no entry charge during the week but it’s a tiny club only filled up with a few couples during their lesson.

    Wednesday

    Years ago, Salsa Caribe and El Café Latino haven’t been busy.

    Therefore I could explore a location with quiet conscience which I didn’t visit before: Dance Studio Cielo. After a two minute walk from Roppongi station I found the studio in a cellar. The non-smoking salsa social party held by the social salsa club called Organic Salsa for just 4 EUR entrance fee, offered a familiar atmosphere with perfect partly romantic LA-style music and dancers from beginner to upper levels. If you forgot to bring your own drink just go upstairs and by one.

    Thursday

    This is the LA style day at Salsa Caribe. The party is not so packed so there is more place to dance than on Tuesday.

    Friday

    For ON2-dancers, Friday seems to be a perfect night. You will find ON2-dancers in Salsa Caribe or each 3rd Friday of a month in Dance studio pepe2s ON2-dance night with Nao&Masa. If you like Cuban stile, El Café Latino or Salsa Sudada will be your favorites both usually play a mix of Salsa, Merengue and Bachata. After midnight all music is played from Latin Pop over Reggaeton up to Brazilian sambas as well as hip hop and house music. My choice for this night was once again Dance Studio Cielo.

    Saturday

    Another ON2-night waits in Dance studio pepe2, the location for the best mambo events in Tokyo. For ON1-dancers, Cielo is a place to go if you want to dance, Salsa Caribe if you like it packed. As on Friday El Café Latino or Salsa Sudada are the clubs where you meet the Cuban dancers and other party people. There are numerous Salsa events on Saturdays not only in Roppongi. One of them is the well known SALSA HOTLINE NIGHT, held once a month. Teachers and dance teams present themselves in shows. Don’t miss!

    Japan Salsa Congress

    The absolute highlight is the Japan Salsa Congress held end of October with about 50 Japanese teams, 500 performers and 4000 attendees. I hope that I will have the chance to attend this congress.

    Sightseeing

    During the day Tokyo offers a lot of interesting places like Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ueno, Asakusa, .... On one day trips you can visit Kamakura, Nikko and Kyoto. And if you danced salsa too often, an Onsen visit will give you back your energy.

    Current Situation and hope for the future

    My Japanese friends told me that since the disaster, parties have been cancelled and clubs have been closed.

    As I told at the beginning, charity salsa events are held and bring back some “normal” live.

    I wish Japan that they get the nuclear problem under control as soon as possible.

    Thanks to Reiko and DJ Rafael for your helpful comments.

    CU in Tokyo!

    Uli

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