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Time to move your feet with some Colombian dance styles!

Will Smith dancing in Colombia
Sofía Machado

Sofía Machado

Colture editor but also architect, writer, dreamer, and adventurer. My mission is to tell stories that connect people and to discover, create and enjoy the amazing world we have the pleasure to live in. Instagram: sofiamm55

Colombia wouldn’t be Colombia without some good dancing! Colombians know how to move and we have the rhythms engraved in our souls. Dancing is much more than entertainment; it’s a way of life, a culture in and of itself! Time to get up from your chair and move your feet to some Colombian dance styles!

If you visit Colombia and you don´t go dancing at least once, then your trip is not complete and you’ll be missing one of the best experiences this wonderful place offers. There’s a reason why Colombia is known as “the land of a thousand rhythms.” We have so many and we are so passionate about them that our music has become a cultural distinction that everyone talks about and is proud of. Dancing is an art, and like any art, it conveys messages about a particular culture and way of life. If I tell you about all the Colombian dance styles we have it would be a never-ending article, but here are the most important and popular ones so you can soak yourself up with some info before coming.

Salsa

Salsa is everywhere in Colombia and there’s no better place to enjoy it! Hearing, singing, and dancing salsa is an activity for the masses. Whether it’s in our homes, in the streets, at parties, in taxis, or in restaurants, I’m not exaggerating when I say that most Colombians grew up with salsa and its played everywhere all the time. Salsa is a culture itself, and to be part of it is also participating and knowing about our identity and customs and traditions. Actually, the city of Cali is recognized as the salsa capital of the world and Bogotá has an entire festival dedicated to it: Salsa al Parque. Read our article entirely dedicated to salsa here if you want to know more.

Top songs:

To listen to more songs, click on this Spotify playlist and enjoy.

Take a look at this video to learn some basic steps and head to Son Salomé in Bogotá to have the time of your life dancing salsa!

People dancing at a bar
© Photograph by https://blog.restorando.com

Bachata

Bachata was originally created in the countryside of the Dominican Republic during the 1960s and it basically mixes the Latin American style of bolero with African elements to create a more slow and sensual sound. Because it’s a couple of dance, it’s more intimate and slower than salsa and the chemistry between the two dancers becomes more important than the steps because they are much closer. Bachata is surely a type of music and dance you’ll experience if you are interested in Bogotá’s nightlife scene, and even if you aren’t, you’ll find yourself listening to it somewhere around the city.

Top songs:

To listen to more songs, click on this Spotify playlist and enjoy.

Take a look at this video to learn some basic steps and check out our article about partying in Chapinero to get an idea of where to go and dance bachata in Bogotá.

Salsachoke

The newest one, but very popular nowadays. Salsa choke was born on the Pacific coast region as a mix of traditional salsa and urban sounds (like reggaeton), inspired by African rhythms. It’s basically like a modern version of salsa with more style and more flavor. It became very popular in Cali and known worldwide because of the dance Colombia’s national football (soccer) team (yes James!) did at the 2014 World cup whenever they scored a goal. That is the basic step of salsa choke and dancing to it is a bit easier than traditional salsa.

Top songs:

  • Ras tas tas by Cali Flow Latino (this is such an amazing song!)
  • Salsa & Choke by Choquibtown (I love them and this song!)
  • Swagga by Cali Flow Latino (it’s soo catchy!)

To listen to more songs, click on this Spotify playlist and enjoy.

Take a look at this video to learn some basic steps and head to El Bembé Bar in Bogotá to dance a lot of salsa choke!

Merengue

Salsa bar in Bogotá
© Photograph by https://catmansfield.wordpress.com

Known all over Latin America, but originally from the Dominican Republic (like bachata), merengue combines European, aboriginal, and African sounds. Its melodies are similar to salsa, but played with different instruments (read our article about traditional Colombian instruments). Its dance is usually done in pairs and it’s all about feeling the beat, moving your hips according to the rhythm, and doing all kinds of twisting turns; but don´t worry, it’s not difficult, trust me. Merengue was actually listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at Unesco in 2016 and it’s for sure a rhythm that Colombians love to dance!

Top songs:

To listen to more songs, click on this Spotify playlist and enjoy.

Take a look at this video to learn some basic steps and go to Andrés Carne de Res in Chía or Bogotá to have one of the best nights of your life dancing many songs, including merengue!

Vallenato

Meaning “the music of the valley,” Colombians are extremely fond of vallenato as it’s a form of folk music born in the Caribbean region. It has strong European influences, as well as indigenous and African represented in the instruments (like the accordion brought by German settlers) and the melodies. It’s fairly easy to dance, just feel the beat and the lyrics, which are usually very poetic and inspiring. Like merengue, it was listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at Unesco in 2015 and it has its own festival called Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata, which is celebrated annually.

Top songs:

To listen to more songs, click on this Spotify playlist and enjoy.

Take a look at this video to learn some basic steps and go to Gaira Café in Bogotá to listen and dance vallenato (maybe even see Carlos Vives live because the place is his!).

Reggaeton

And last but not least, reggaeton! It’s not traditional, per se, because it’s very modern and it’s not exclusively Colombian, nor was it born here, but no Colombian party is an actual party without tons of reggaeton. We dance to it, we sing to it, and it has become like a hymn that unites Latin culture across the world. The interesting thing about reggaeton is that it highlights our festive and celebratory culture; where there is reggaeton, there are people moving or singing, that’s for sure. Plus, it’s everywhere as well, even if you are walking around, there is a high chance you’ll hear some melodies.

People dancing and being happy
© Photograph by Jakarta 100 Bars – Bogota Nightlife

Top songs:

  • Despacito by Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee (yeap, I had to!)
  • Mi Gente by J Balvin ft. Willy William (this will get you dancing for sure!)
  • Gasolina by Daddy Yankee (classic!)

To listen to more songs, click on this Spotify list and enjoy.

Take a look at this video to learn some basic steps and go to Presea Bar in Bogotá if you want to enjoy an amazing night dancing reggaeton.

In a country full of world champion dancers, it’s no surprise that dancing is everywhere and enjoyed by all Colombians. Dancing is life, it’s entertaining, it’s educational, it unites people, it’s inspiring, and it’s good for your health! What else can you ask for!? Colombia is indeed the land of a thousand rhythms; come and experience it with your own feet, hips, and soul!

Check out our articles about traditional Colombian rhythms, such as bambuco or joropo to know more about our musical culture. Also, don’t miss the Top Colombian musical artists you need to know about! Part I.

Was this article useful? Do you know other cool facts about Colombian dance styles? Or maybe an experience you would like to share? Please share and/or comment on this article, and visit our homepage Colture to take a look at my articles and many others to find more essential information about Bogotá before and during your trip.

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