District of Cuba

Cuban Culture in Washington D.C.

Guide to exploring Cuban culture in the District of Columbia through social events, classes, restaurants, art exhibitions, lectures and more. 

 

DANCING | BAILE

If you are looking for dancers who know their tornillos from their enchufla dobles and that "salsa" derives from Cuban son, this is where you find them.   Don't be surprised to hear many different types of Cuban dance music such as timba, son, rumba, and mambo played at these events because these social dancers know and  love a range of Cuban dance styles.  Beginners are  genuinely welcomed and many evenings start with dance  lessons.   But don't come asking for "Cuban salsa."  It's called casino.  

 

SOCIAL DANCING

Social dancers at AGUA Night Cuban dance social at Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe in Adams-Morgan. Photo: AGUA Society.


Cafe Citron

1343 Connecticut Ave. NW

Metro: Dupont Circle

"AGUA!" is a Cuban dance social held in the top floor lounge on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month from 8:30 pm - 12:30 pm.  Free beginner casino dance lessons start at 8:30 pm and open dancing starts at 9 pm.  The AGUA! Society is dedicated to dancing, creating and promoting Cuban casino and rueda de casino events in the Washington area.   (Free.)


Habana Village

1834 Columbia Rd. NW

Metro: Woodley Park-Adams Morgan

This legendary Cuban restaurant opens its doors to social dancers Wednesday through Saturday.  Check out Thursday nights when D.J. Darwin Peña spins a potent and eclectic mix of timba, salsa, bachata, merengue and more that draws avid Cuban and other  music lovers.  

Songbyrd Music House & Record Cafe

2477 18th St NW

Metro: Woodley Park-Adams Morgan

Every second Friday, the AGUA! Society takes over the "Byrd Cage" on the lower level for a lively, underground Cuban dance social featuring occasional live performances.


Rueda de la Calle

Rueda de la Calle is a long-running, outdoor Cuban dance social that moves around downtown D.C. throughout most of the year.   Locations generally include Dupont Circle,  Pennsylvania Avenue NW in front of The White House and The Lincoln Memorial.   All levels  of dancers are welcome and the events is always free and open to the public.  To get notices of the dates as they are announced, join their Facebook group.  


DANCE CLASSES

Yudisleidy Valdes leading a workshop on rumba Cubana at Adinkra Cultural Arts Studio in October 2016.  Photograph: District of Cuba.

Dance Place

3225 8th Street NE | Metro: Brookland-CUA

Members of the acclaimed, Cuban dance company D.C. Casineros teach weekly casino dance classes  - rueda de casino, casino partnerwork and Cuban styling  - on Tuesday  and Thursday nights.   You can also practice your new moves  at monthly socials  that often feature exciting performances by local dance companies,  guest Cuban musicians and notable DJs.   Check out the Dance Place or the DC Casineros website for class and party dates.   

DC Casineros teaching at a community arts event at Dance Place. (Photo: District of Cuba.)


Dance In Time at Emergence Arts Collective

733 Euclid Street NW | Metro: Shaw- Howard University

Long-time dance instructor Barbara Bernstein conducts a popular, Saturday afternoon drop-in casino class  that includes rueda de casino lessons.   Classes are also offered at locations in Maryland and for college credit at several, local universities. 

Chevy Chase Ballroom

5207 Wisconsin Avenue NW | Metro: Friendship Heights

Local favorites Saoco Distrito Casineros (SAOCO DC) teach rueda de casino dance classes every Sunday night and each evening ends with a social dancing to a mix of timba and salsa from 7 pm - 8:30 pm.  Visit the SAOCO website for more information.

D.C. Style Salsa Academy @ Roda

Roda Movement | Metro: Takoma

Wednesday nights there is an evening of instruction in  Afro-Cuban movement led by Oscar Rousseaux.  Rosseaux is a graduate of Cuba’s prestigious National School of Art Instructors and danced for five years with one of Cuba’s premiere traditional dance companies.  You may also now him from his work as Director and Choreographer of ALAFIA Dance and Drum, the folkloric ensemble that Rousseaux leads through a broad repertoire of Cuban folklore and Latino dance.  Visit the D.C. Style Salsa Academy website for more information.


CUBAN MUSIC ON THE RADIO

District Timba | WPFW 89.3 |  Tuesdays 3 pm - 5 pm

Filmmaker Mimi Luchado play a mix of contemporary Cuban music including the timba and Cubaton hits that can be hard to find on the radio.  The music is spiked with live interviews conducted in Spanish and English along with news and event information.

Latin Flavor Classic | WPFW 89.3  | Sunday 6 pm - 8 pm

Since 1996, D.C. resident Jim Byers has been the producer and host of The Latin Flavor: Classic Edition on  DC’s WPFW 89.3 FM, programmed using his collection of over 16,000 vintage “Palladium-era” recordings.   Fans of mid-century Cuban music who tune-in every Sunday night will receive a lively education in how Cuban musicians contributed to American popular music of this era.  Liven up your work week and take a mambo break in your office by listening to archived shows anytime.