Salsa in Cali

Cali has been on my bucket list for a long time. It is known as “the salsa capital of the world” and it has its own dance style (the salsa caleño) with intricate footwork.

Lots of tourists visit the city to take advantage of taking their first salsa class. Usually, it can be arranged through the hotel or hostel.

When we prepared our visit, one guided salsa tour was offered, which was not available for the dates we were there.

We decided to do our own, inspired by suggested itineraries.

The Carlos Molina Salsa Museum

This museum is located in the “barrio obrero” (the worker’s neighborhood) and is a small museum holding tons of treasures, witnessing the culture and history of this music genre. Thousands of pictures show salsa artists, bands, lead singer, percussionists etc catalogued by country.

Also on display was a dress that Celia Cruz wore while visiting Colombia.

Even though I have been dancing for a few years, I learnt from this visit and decided to get to know more about the singers behind the music I am dancing to.

The best way to reach the museum is by taxi. There are many homeless people in the area, which became obvious when the taxi driver told us to “lock the doors and close the windows”.

Museo de la Salsa | Santiago de Cali | Facebook
Museo De La Salsa – Barrio Obrero Cali. – Museo (

Adress : Cra. 11b ## 24 – 44, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, Santiago de Cali, Colombia


Carlos Molina Salsa Museum

The Trumpet of Niche Monument (Monumento La Trompeta de Niche)

The Jairo Varela square consists of a museum, dedicated to Jairo Varela, famed Colombian salsa artist who was the director of the “Grupo Niche” and a museum, dedicated to him.

Unfortunately, the museum was closed when we were there, but we were able to visit the trumpet monument, formed by four trumpets that spell the word: “Niche”.

Famous songs of Grupo Niche:
Cali Pachanguero
Una Aventura
Gotas de lluvia

Museo Jairo Varela | Santiago de Cali | Facebook

Adress : Plazoleta Jairo Varela, Santiago de Cali, Colombia

Monument of Piper Pimienta

Monument, dedicated to Colombian salsa singer, Piper Pimienta.
Famous song: “Las Caleñas son como las flores.”

Address: Cra. 10 #22A-41, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia

Monument of Piper Pimienta

Dance venues

We visited two (very different) venues.

La Topa Tolondra Nightclub

This is a large dance hall, accommodating dancers from all levels. Lots of visitors here.

The music was great, the people standing around spilling drinks on the dance floor, not so much.

Floor is tile.


Smaller venue with vintage interior. When we visited, there was a live band. Great ambiance. Due to space constraints, there is not much room for dancing. Mostly locals.

Floor is tile.


Dance classes

Cali is one of the cities with the most dance schools in the world. Whether you want to learn your first steps or you want to learn to dance “Cali Style”, it’s always fun to take dance classes (group or private). Just be aware that if you learn Colombian / Cali style salsa, and you want to continue dancing back home, the style may be different. (Cuban, New York style).

We took a class at “El Manicero” to learn the basics of Salsa Caleña.
The dance studio was spacious (with tile floor).
Our teacher was Brandon Macias. The class was fun and easy to follow.
Address: Calle 5ta No 39-71 3er piso
Group classes: 20,000 COP
Privates: 60,000 COP
Whatsapp: +57 315 2894040.

Other places we were, unfortunately, not able to visit.

Chorrito Antillano
Nelly Teka
Salsoteca La Ponceña Cali
Salsateca Caderona
Cimarron (the place apparently closed after the pandemic)

Where we stayed

We stayed at a beautiful hotel called: “Magic Garden House”.

It is located in the quaint, colonial neighborhood of San Antonio, right next to a large park.

There are lots of nice bars and restaurants nearby and the breakfast was the best we had in Colombia.

Magic Garden House Official Booking Site room selection (

On the bucket list is also:

Museo Pioneros de la Salsa Caleña

We found out about it on the last day of our visit, so we were not able to check it out.


The Festival of Cali / Feria de Cali is held every year from December 25 to December 30.

If timing is not an issue, that would probably be the ideal time to visit.

Helpful links

The Best Schools and Clubs for Dancing Salsa in Cali, Colombia (

The Best Places to Learn Salsa in Cali, Colombia (

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