I’d always been fascinated by Latino culture, the Spanish language, the music, and the lively spirit they all seem to possess, and determined not to let my African -born heritage get in the way. I signed up for salsa classes. Salsa cannot be understood by explanation, illustration or demonstration; it’s only through feeling the music and harmonizing your movements with your partner that the true essence of this dance is perceived. With this mind, I decided I needed to experience the real deal: learn to salsa like a Cuban in Cuba. From the moment I placed my first steps in Old Havana I felt like I’d entered an authentic 1950s movie set. Elderly gentlemen sitting outside charming, decaying colonial homes playing chess, whilst their wives share the latest gossip through open windows. Children merrily dodging in between vendors casually trying to convince the neighbourhood to buy their wares. Music blasting from vintage cars, each trying to outdo another. My senses were on overdrive. The accommodation was in the heart of Old Havana and an easy walk to the dance studio where I would spend four hours practicing salsa with a professional instructor, and at night take advantage of the vibrant, non-stop nightlife to test my newly learned moves with friends and new acquaintances. In the afternoons I strolled the streets, admiring the rich colonial architecture of the historic plazas, churches, and buildings. People watching from quaint cafes while sipping on coffee or Cuba Libres, became a favourite activity and I never got bored of the colourful, noisy, and diverse culture that is etched into every facet of the city.
Havana Salsa Trip. March 2016
This was an amazing experience, my only regret is not staying longer. I fell in love with Cuba! I will definitely be back. There is so much to see and do …
Cuba Trip, October 2015
What a great and life changing experience this has been. Dancing, laughing, singing and lots of walking. Music is everywhere.. Cuba is magical! Do yourself a favour and be at the next trip in 2016… Life will never be the same!
Cuba Trip, October 2015
I am immensely grateful for taking the opportunity of this trip. For me was a life changing experience in many levels. In terms of dancing, the whole team of professional teachers was spectacular as they were extremely patient with a beginner like me. Patient and very motivating. I loved the great team spirit between Monica Munoz and the members of SA group. The trip was extremely well organised allowing also freedom of choice and flexibility especially after classes. Regarding accommodation I truly loved that we had the opportunity to enjoy a bit of the locals life and they took great care to make us feel welcomed and very well looked after in a Cuban way. Salsa dancing in Havana left me with great appreciation and respect for the role of men in a women’s life… True Magic can only happen if we allow him to lead… And the woman of today will benefit greatly if she allows the man to also contribute with his skills and gifts.. Salsa is truly a dancing art that applied to life in general which could greatly contribute in our relationships. Life will never be the same again after this trip and will definitely would love to go back to absorb and appreciate more of this rich and by gone era. Yeah… Life dancing salsa is truly magic in the making.. Let it unfold within the beautiful rhythms…
Cuba Trip, May 2015
The energy and style of the locals is something unique. Dancing and mingling with Havana locals was lots of fun and gave me a new sense of enjoyment and appreciation for the Cuban music culture. From a tourist point of view visiting La Habana was quite interesting as far as architecture of the historical downtown, and insightful thanks to the friendly housing hosts, taxi drivers and other Cubans we met that shared their opinions and hospitality. The team of instructors at the salsa school were very friendly and made the entire morning just as much fun as the other evening activities and parties organized for the group. Thank you for organizing the trip I had a great time!
Cuba Trip, October 2015
I could not have experienced the true essence of Cuban salsa except in Cuba. Words alone cannot describe the amazing experience of my most recent trip to Havana, Cuba with Estilo Cubano. For me, it was a memorable and unique experience. It is my journey and a continuing quest to learn and appreciate salsa, learning from the best dancers in the world. It was so enriching with best salsa nightlife, music and culture which I had the pleasure of experiencing with a great group of individuals from Estilo Cubano. Thank you for the life long experience Estilo Cubano and Monica Munoz especially. Your time and hard efforts did not go unnoticed. You truly made this a very enjoyable trip. It was perfect!
Cuba Trip, May 2015
It was an experience of a life time for salsa dancers and non-salsa dancers like me. It felt like a carnival every day; the people in the street, the colourful culture, the live music everywhere. I just loved it! I will definitely go back to Cuba. Thanks to Monica and Estilo Cubano.
Cuba Trip, May 2015
Thanks Monica for such a wonderful trip. I am already looking forward to the next one. The passion and energy by the Cubans on the dance floor makes this a trip worth taking. Great classes and salsa parties. My feet are still recovering from so much dancing … hahaha!
Cuba Trip, May 2015
“The last year on 18 – 28 October 2016 I travelled to Havana, Cuba as my yearly holiday. This is a trip I’ve been dreaming of for years as their Cuban shirts (Guayaberas), Panama hats, Mojitos and Antique Cars have always fascinated me since teen age years. This for me was a definite tick on my bucket list.
My reasons for going were very clear before I even set foot on the island of Cuba; Old Havana and its beautiful buildings, beaches and unique culture. I remember I read somewhere before the trip that there was no crime in Cuba, which was a bonus and the fact that the place is seemingly untouched by the outside world and wasn’t “Americanised” like a lot of the other Caribbean islands. Havana is so full of life with people walking everywhere.
My partner and I arrived in Havana very late on a Wednesday night and the experience was amazing, to see people roaming the streets singing as they were making their way to local clubs where local Cuban bands perform most nights. We were very exhausted, so we decided to sleep and prepare to be wowed by the beautiful place in the morning.
My first morning in Havana was exciting to see the beautiful people in Cuba going on about their business and from my balcony I enjoyed at looking up people, cars, buses, taxis, scooters & bicycles passing by. We had breakfast and went to our dance school for three hours lessons at one of the best Dance Schools in Havana with the greatest teachers ever. We had two male teachers and Saira, my female dance teacher/partner. Immediately after our first lesson for the day, we went to a local restaurant and fortunately there was a local band performing. The group was amazing in their performance as they were singing and dancing some Cuban moves.
My Cuban friend Adrian made sure that I mingled with and made friends with many of the locals and that’s when I realized that the Cuban people were among the nicest people I ever met. When I travel to another country, I always want to meet the people who live there and learn more about how they live and do things. I learned a lot about the Cuban way of life mostly from chatting with my teachers as we went clubbing more than once to witness the greatest performances by local artists.
Some of the things I noticed about the Cuban people include their lack of material possessions, their devotion to family and their knack for being very social. They are very social people and not on the inter webs because the average Cuban does not own a computer and rarely has access to the internet and this reflects largely on their way of life. While walking around the streets of Havana, there were people everywhere. Adults sitting on stoops talking to their neighbours, vendors chatting it up on the sidewalk to anyone who will lend an ear and guys on bicycle taxis offering you to transport you somewhere. The experience felt like I went back in time to the 1960’s when family and friends and living life to the fullest was at forefront and anything else was secondary. This is what Havana felt and looked like, a place where time was moving slowly at a good and enjoyable pace to allow you to enjoy its unique culture.
Old Havana is now a touristic attraction, so prices are rather steep for tourists as most vendors are trying to make an extra buck from unsuspecting tourists, so we were lucky to have Monica (trip organizer) as a buffer and she had already explained the dynamic to us so we were able to negotiate better prices by getting value for our money.
We finally found a good food spot on the last few days of our visit, which made me love Cuba even more. I generally don’t eat rice, but they had this rice mixed with black beans and I was hooked on the spot. I would normally eat that with either pork, fish or beef. On our last two days while doing our shopping for our loved ones back home, we ran into a nice little restaurant that sold real burgers and that’s what we had until we came back home. We were also fascinated to see a familiar South African Spar ketchup and mustard, which made us feel like we were home, but only to find out later when we were back in South Africa that Spar actually originates from the Netherlands.
One of the things I’m going to take home is that the Cuban people are generous, laid-back, friendly people whom embrace foreigners who want to see and learn more about their beautiful country. Despite being oppressed and sanctioned by the world, they embrace their rich culture by using dance and music as an escape. They are real people who are not glued to their phones chatting on the inter webs, since internet is a luxury, they just live life!”
“I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba, and finally had the opportunity to go there in January. Monica (Estilo Cubano) arranged the most awesome trip for us! She put together an itinerary based on our interests, and we visited Havana, Trinidad and Santa Clara, where we stayed in casas particulares (home stays) which enabled us to meet with local people and get to know the Cuban culture better. She shared a lot of information, so we knew what to expect and also shared recommendations of interesting places to go, salsa lessons, and nightclubs. Cuba is beautiful and vibrant, but it’s not an easy travel destination. Monica made it so much easier and highly enjoyable. I would recommend anyone wanting to go there to arrange their trip with Estilo Cubano.”
“Although I lived in the Caribbean for 15 years the atmosphere in Havana is different, it’s relaxed, back in time, no rush and festive all day and night. I, of course, do realize I was there as a tourist and wonder if it feels the same for the Cuban people but as a tourist I had a great and fun time. The architecture is amazing and sometimes seriously dilapidated but that gives the town its special character, I really enjoyed walking around with Monica and my fellow travellers and sit down in one of the many cosy restaurants often with live music, all through the day for one of their famous drinks. The people of Cuba are friendly, gentle and charming and for me the home stay was a lovely experience to get in touch with their way of living, habits and hospitality. The dance school was great with a typical Cuban vibe and bunch of amazing, happy, crazy and dedicated teachers. I never felt the 3 hours of classes was too long. The trip and the experiences there still have an impact on my life today. Cannot wait to go again!”
“I went to Havana, Cuba for the first time through Estilo Cubano Cuban Salsa dancing experience. The trip was well organised by Monica of Estilo Cubano who, although not a Cuban has a profound love for the country and has been there numerous times. This gave us a unique window to Cuban life. Even though we were tourists, part of an organised tour we didn’t have that 100% canned tourist experience. Firstly we were accommodated in what is referred to as a home stay – it’s like a hybrid between a B&B and Airbnb. Living in someone’s home you can have a better feel of a culture than when you are living in a hotel. A hotel is a hotel! The actual dancing at the Salsa school was amazing. I remember flying there I thought “How am I going to dance for 3 hours every day? This is crazy. It’s going to be long and laborious.” My fear was unfounded, the 3 hours flew by because we had amazing teachers. They were fun, warm and they truly knew what they were doing. It didn’t hurt either that absolutely every single teacher at the dance school looked like they had won the genetic lottery. Good-looking people everywhere! Thanks to Monica we got to go to a few Salsa concerts as well. Cuba is FAR, but the experience was well worth it because it was so unique!”