Instructor Alex Ruiz says the classes help bring people from the outside into the club scene.
“They might not know anyone there,” he said, “but they’re going to meet at least 50 people over the course, so by the time the club starts they might have already danced. with 10. When they go downstairs they are comfortable asking someone to book some dances for them.
First of all, Ruiz explains the basics to everyone, without music. Walk left. One, two, three, pause. Back out to the right. Five, six, seven, pause. Salsa is a social dance, so Ruiz asks everyone to change partners every five minutes or so.
When he judges that his young dancers are ready to take steps to music, everyone relaxes. They smile. They discuss with their partners. They remember they have hips and start to move them. It’s impossible to stay stiff and self-conscious with such a joyful beat reverberating throughout the room.
Those who are more comfortable as a spectator can watch the Latin dance performance nonstop on the stage downstairs. Women wearing Vegas-style feathered headdresses and just enough strategically placed sequins and bangs to cover the bare minimum perform conga, samba and, of course, salsa.
If you’re celebrating a special occasion, order bottle service. This is a major production where “bottle girls” adorned with layers of pink pearls and almost nothing else deliver champagne in an explosion of flaming sparklers.
The passionata cocktail at El Tucan. Provided by El Tucan.
Recalling memories of Ricky Ricardo singing “Babalu” at an elegant dinner club on the 1950s sitcom “I Love Lucy,” El Tucan is a throwback to that old-school glamor in an eye-catching modern setting.
A key element of the design are the intricate and detailed murals of the Amazon jungle that lend a primitive vibe to the hip scene. A jaguar crouches, ready to leap from the wall, while a monkey peers out from a thicket of colorful flora.
Part of the appeal here is the element of surprise. Prepare for an acrobat to descend from the ceiling like an exotic bird while you dine, or for a singer to burst onto the stage singing a classic Cuban song.
El Tucan goes above and beyond, not only with ambiance and entertainment, but cuisine as well, bringing a wow factor to virtually every dish. The sashimi is artfully presented on an illuminated bowl that glows in the dim light. A dessert of exotic fruits and ice cream is a sculptural delight.
The cocktails are at the top too. The best-selling passionata, a divine elixir of tequila, passion fruit, pineapple juice and ginger, is served in a martini glass nestled in a coconut-shaped container filled with ice.
As the night goes on, the restaurant turns into a dance club, with the most beautiful people in town having fun on records spun by the DJ of the house.
The hosts of Dinner in Drag at Cardozo South Beach. Courtesy of World Red Eye
Cardozo South Beach
Celebrate the 25th anniversary of “The Birdcage”, the movie starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a gay couple who own a drag club, at the location where the movie was shot and filmed – South Beach.
Dinner in Drag at the Cardozo in South Beach is a private dinner show for 10 people in the hotel’s VIP room. It debuted in June in honor of Pride Month, but high heel hijinks continue until the end of the year.
This one-of-a-kind dining experience includes a three-course meal at the hotel’s new restaurant, Call me Cuban by YUCA. And it’s served with mojito pairings. Cocktails are prepared by a singing bartender dressed in a bright orange kaftan. Meanwhile, enjoy a performance of the gay classics “We Are Family” and “It’s Raining Men” by an array of smoothing drag queens.
Diners are given boas, wigs and other accessories to help them immerse in the campy fun, and the evening ends with a private screening of “The Bird Cage”.
The Cubano Sandwich is a best-selling menu item in Havana 1957. Supplied by Havana 1957.
If your night on the town ends before midnight, enjoy a late-night snack at Havana 1957, on weekends only. The Cuban restaurant serves simple, authentic dishes like ropa vieja and sweet plantains, as well as non-traditional dishes like guacamole topped with crispy fried pieces of pork.
There are 15 ways to drink a mojito here. Kiwi and guava are customer favorites. A Red Bull infused high octane blend is a real kick in the pants, and, of course, there’s the traditional version which is served with so much mint that it looks more like an herb plant. inside than at a cocktail party. There is also live music from Thursday to Sunday.
Havana’s pre-Castro heyday as a nightlife hotspot may be in the past, Miami keeps the mystique and glamor alive.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
Miami is approximately 700 miles south of Atlanta. Direct flights are available on Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
Dinner at Drag in Cardozo South Beach. $ 400 per person, includes dinner, drag show and “The Bird Cage” screening. 1300 Ocean Drive, Miami. 833-831-3200, www.cardozohotel.com
Havana 1957. Entrances $ 16. $ 95-75. 405 Española Way, Miami Beach. 305-503-3828, www.havana1957.com There are four additional locations in Miami.
Toro Toro Restaurant and Bar. Tucked inside the Intercontinental Miami hotel, this upscale steakhouse infuses entrees and small plates with Latin flavors. Entrances $ 31 to $ 155. 100 Chopin Plaza, Miami. 305-372-4710, www.torotoromiami.com
The Palms Hotel & Spa. Beachfront hotel with an old-world Florida vibe. $ 199 and more. 3025 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. 305-534-0505, www.thepalmshotel.com
St. Regis Bal Harbor. Luxury hotel with air-conditioned oceanfront day villas. $ 675 and up. 9703 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. 305-993-3300, www.stregisbalharbour.com
Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Center. 701 Brickell Avenue, Suite 2700, Miami. 1-800-933-8448, www.miamiandbeaches.com