El Tibiri: Hot, Sweaty, Salsa!

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El Tibiri
El Tibiri
El Tibiri
The door to El Tibiri is the orange gate to the left of Hotel Midas

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.

El Tibiri
El Tibiri

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.

Pouring shots of guaro at El Tibiri
Pouring shots of guaro

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.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Great article on what I believe to be one of the cultural gems of Medellín. You should check out Son Cubano up the street for an equally fun (albeit less sweaty) salsa experience. Both are down the street from a hostel we have just opened: The Wandering Paisa Backpacker’s Hostel. Feel free to drop by for a beer beforehand if you want to check it out!

    saludos,

    Miles

    • Hola Miles, thanks for the suggestion. My salsa teacher kept suggesting I visit Son Cubano last year but I never made it. Going to get there this year for sure. Congrats on opening the new hostel — nice to know they’re opening up in other areas besides Poblado.

  2. El Tibiri is in a VERY safe part of town. Laurales. Right down the street from the the metro Estacion. And there a number of other bars and restaurants all along cl. 70 and vendors on the sidewalk selling delicious little sausages. The bar is on the S/W corner and these days is white on the outside.

    By the way, sometimes “changing the experience” is a good thing. The lack of circulation IS annoying, but Colombians don’t pay much attention to the details in life and tend to accept anything given to them, so unless we mention this to the owners, it won’t change.

    • Hey Allen, I wouldn’t say La 70, the street where El Tibiri is located, is especially safe. Maybe you could say Laureles is safe relative to other parts of town, but foreigners are still easy targets. I’ve gone to La 70 at least a dozen times over the years, and almost always at night, without incident, but it’s important to be aware.

      I have some Colombian friends, who after I told them I’d been hanging out there, warned me about it begin dangerous. Were they being overprotective? Possibly.

      About a year ago I met a reader of this blog who was visiting Medellin. Later, after he’d left Colombia, I read on his blog that he’d been robbed at knifepoint by a group of 7 kids on La 70 while walking around with a date one night. Thankfully he didn’t resist, and nobody was hurt.