Salsa Dancing

Chicago may be having one of its coldest winters in history, but that doesn't mean we can't heat things up. The city is home to a vibrant salsa scene, with several dance schools that can teach you how to dazzle on the dance floor. Never took a class? No problem. Many of the schools offer up one-hour lessons followed by DJs and live bands in area clubs and restaurants. No matter what night of the week it is, you can melt away that winter blues with some tropical heat.

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There's usually a cover charge, but with a little bit of advance planning you can get reduced admission or even on the guest list. Here's our round-up of where to get your salsa on.

Salsa Sundays at Cubby Bear

This sports bar across from Wrigley Field morphs into a music venue when the Cubs are out of town, and Salsa Sundays are one of their hottest nights. Dance lessons begin at 7:30, with live music to follow at 9. DJs take over during the breaks. Many of Chicago's hottest salsa orchestras, including bands led by Papo Santiago, Angel Melendez, Edwin Sanchez and Mannix Martinez are regularly featured. More information here.

Salsa Tuesdays at Alhambra Palace

The Alhambra is one of the most beautiful venues in the city, a Persian wonderland modeled after its namesake palace in Granada, Spain. Hit the dance floor for lessons beginning at 7:30, followed by DJs spinning salsa, bachata, mambo and more. The first Tuesday of the month features live music, including a tribute to the Ladies of Salsa featuring the Humboldt Park Orchestra on February 4. More information here.

Tropical Thursdays at Palladium

In 1950s New York City, the Palladium was the place for the mambo. Its spirit is resurrected and brought into the 21st century at this upstairs mega-nightclub in Castle, an entertainment complex in River North. No live bands here, but the custom-designed sound and light system and huge dance floor keep the party going until 4am. Dance lessons begin at 9, and DJs spin salsa, bachata and tropical beats until early the next morning. More information here.

Written by Don Macica, Arte y Vida Chicago