Son Havana has been serving salsa aficionados’ needs since 2010, but it wasn’t until the last few weeks that I finally made it a point to check out one of Medellin’s most popular salsa venues.
Located a few blocks off La 70, Son Havana is a bit larger than El Tibiri and El Eslabon Prendido, but not by much. Like the other two, air circulation is dependent on a scattering of metal fans throughout the space.
Before Son Havana occupied the building, it was dedicated to another salsa venue known for bringing in live performers.
My date and I arrived ridiculously early, a little after 9 PM, on a Saturday night. Actually, we were the first patrons in the bar that night.
The cover charge was 8,000 pesos ($4.50) per person, and beers were about 5,000 pesos ($2.80) apiece. If you buy a bottle of Aguardiente, you’ll also get free cups of ice water (and refills all night).
I find it easier to go early than try to make reservations. This way, at least we’d get our pick of the non-reserved tables.
And we picked a good one in a nook, with our backs to a wall, and a good view of the band.
The following weekend, I’d return to Son Havana for Jessica’s birthday, and we’d arrive around midnight.
It was the opposite experience, with us walking into a packed bar, and being offered the last remaining table, around a corner, in the far back.
If it weren’t for that little bit of space, I don’t know where we would’ve gone.
Getting back to my first visit, we hung out and watched the bar slowly fill with new arrivals.
The stereo played salsa until 11:45 PM, when the band finally began to play. I’d expected them to start sooner, but we’d already started dancing to the occasional song, so it wasn’t that big a deal.
And like the other salsa venues in Medellin, you’re relegated to dancing between the tables and chairs, only there are more of them in Son Havana than the others.
In front of the band, there’s a small square dance area that gets so filled with couples dancing, there’s no point in fighting for space. It’s easier to pick a spot near your table and make it work.
The band wrapped up around 1 AM, a little over an hour after they began. I was surprised they didn’t stick around for a second set.
Four hours into the night, on account of arriving early, we left Son Havana which was still in full swing.
While it’s true there’s not a lot of space for dancing, I do find it to be the most comfortable of the three salsa bars I visit the most. Plus, it’s a regular practice spot for students of my salsa teacher.
(Unfortunately, Cien Fuegos, the only true salsa venue with a big dance floor, appears to have closed.)