My first visit to El Tibiri was in early 2009 with a few Colombians, and my German roommate Martin, before I had any experience dancing salsa.
Yet at the same time, it was exactly what I imagined a typical salsa bar should be like.
It is a small, basement level bar with low ceilings, a few hard working fans scattered around the room, a wooden dance floor, and a terrific atmosphere.
El Tibiri is the kind of neighborhood joint you visit with friends for a few beers (or Aguardiente for the Colombians).
The focus is squarely on the dancing, and you will almost always find amazing dancers of all ages here on the weekends.
The tiny bar is one of Medellin’s best known for salsa dancing, and if you don’t have the address, you’d have a hard time finding it on Carrera 70 because it lacks any kind of sign on the facade to draw dancers down the stairs.
It’s easily accessible via the metro — about a 5 block walk from Estadio.
I’ve been back to El Tibiri a few times in 2010, and it continues to be one of my favorite spots. Unlike a lot of the bigger, crossover clubs, I feel comfortable asking girls I don’t know to dance.
As the place fills up around 11pm on a Friday or Saturday night, it starts to get very hot. Add dancing to the mix, and you’ll be sweating in no time.
I could complain about the poor air circulation, or the lack of fans, but then we’d be changing the experience.
On occasion, I’ve mentioned visits to El Tibiri and Carrera 70 to a few of my Colombian friends, and sometimes I’ll get a cautious reaction.
Some would suggest it’s not the safest part of the city, which may be true, but I’ve probably been there two dozen times over since 2009 and never experienced or seen any problems.
I’ve yet to visit Cuba, or Puerto Rico for that matter, however I imagine both to have lots of intimate little salsa bars like El Tibiri.
Terrific music, friendly people, no cover and cheap beer make this bar a real gem in Medellin.