A rich blend of African and Spanish influences, Cuban music is revered around the world—but to experience it in the capital is a special pleasure. From rumba to son, mambo to salsa, fans in Havana dance the night away to irresistible melodies and rhythms.
A humble seafood restaurant by day, this seaside venue transforms into one of the city’s buzziest nightclubs on weekend nights, attracting a hip crowd eager to hear stars from Kelvis Ochoa and Leoni Torres to David Torrens and Isaac Delgado. The dance floor stays packed until the wee hours.
Avenida 1ra, facebook.com/pg/Don-Cangrejo-Cuba
Casa de la Música de Centro Habana
Located next to the Teatro América, this low-key venue has been one of Havana’s top salsa spots since opening in 2003. Locals and out-of-towners gather to experience performances from such hip-shaking artists as Bamboleo and Los Van Van. There is also a second smaller location in a mansion in nearby Miramar.
Calle 20 503, facebook.com/pages/category/Cultural-Center/
Cabaret Las Vegas
The city’s premier LGBT club, this long-running spot is renowned for its funny and fabulous drag performances, which attract locals and visitors from around the world. A lineup of dancers keeps the festivities lively, and it’s near Humboldt 52, another popular gay bar with a salsa beat.
Calzada de Infante 104, facebook.com/pages/Cabaret-Las-Vegas-Havana-Cuba/
The food is almost beside the point at this venerable haunt, which was opened in 1772 and now regularly showcases members of the legendary Buena Vista Social Club ensemble. For a bit of classic Cuban mambo, Café Taberna—dedicated to iconic singer and bandleader Benny Moré—is the place to be.
Mercaderes #531, facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Taberna/
La Zorra y el Cuervo
This atmospheric underground club in the Vedado neighborhood is accessed via a red phone box, of the kind you’d find in London. Otherwise, it is pure jazz—specifically Cuban jazz, highlighting the talents of the country’s established and rising stars, along with occasional drop-ins by international giants like Wynton Marsalis.
Entre N y O, Avenida 23, facebook.com/pages/category/Jazz---Blues-Club/