Tampa Latin Club Reviews
5303 West Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33609
Highlights: Mojito, At The Crowne Plaza Westshore: An over 30’s crowd! Loved it!
Lately I have been petrified to go to a new location since the last two places I visited had some pretty scary elements to them, but I was happily surprised by Mojito.
Once I heard they had live music by some of my friends I decided to go. The moment I heard it was attached to the Crowne Plaza, I was supremely delighted. I have
had the pleasure of being the MC and Creative Director of the Berks Salsa Fest in the past; this was also held at a Crowne Plaza up north and Customer Service is pretty good with this hotel chain.
We rolled up and there was plenty of parking. The music could be heard from the parking lot and the door people were friendly; even the security was nice. The pictures online don't do the location justice, as it is much bigger than the photos on the website and I hear they are going to knock down a wall to make it bigger. Although there isn’t a wood floor, the floor they have is very smooth and easy to dance on with or without dance shoes (rubber soles not recommended). There were plenty of places to sit if you reserve your spot by calling in and even if you don't have a table they have ample seating by the bar. It felt cozy and the bartenders are well qualified. The bathrooms were very clean. Funny story, I realized I had rushed out of my house and forgot to put deodorant on! YIKES! A dancer should never forget this! So I ran to the front desk and asked them if they had any I could buy. They kindly handed over some antiperspirant and said, “have a nice evening”. I didn’t even have to pay. I told them thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I like Mojito. The crowd is over 21, but mostly over 30. It WAS NOT A SKANKY crowd, but upper middle class, well behaved professionals who like to dance. We even ran into a little couple, married 54 years who danced up a storm! Honestly, they were in their 80’s and danced harder than anyone there! Everyone was in awe! They didn’t stop either. It’s this kind of spirit dancers love, every age, every shape, and every nationality together having fun. It wasn’t cliquey. It was a safe place; I recommend dancing at Mojito and if you drink too much (which I would hope you wouldn’t), just get a hotel room at the lovely Crowne Plaza! If you don't like it, the mall is a quarter of a mile away and you can catch a movie instead.
4054 Shoal Line Blvd, Hernando Beach 34607
Highlights:An over 45 crowd, Casual fun.
R Beach has a Latin Night run by DJ Willie Matos of http://www.exclusivedjservice.com/ every first and third Friday consistently for the last few years. I attended and found a huge group line dancers dancing to everything with Latin beats and of course, salsa, Merengue and the like. This group, although, clearly dancers, are not the LA STYLE or MAMBO types but rather “old school” which I tend to enjoy because there are no pretentious types about acting superior. This location has AWESOME QUESADILLAS and other foods too. Fred is a very dedicated owner who dances, pretends to play the timbalis and has a great time doing it! The bartenders are kind and the service is quite good. Although this location is in Spring Hill/Hernando Beach area, it’s worth the drive and a really fun time. I would go hungry because I loved the food. They also have another room that you can use for private parties. Check out R Beach and bring your parents, they will love it.
Willie is an excellent DJ, especially when you give him an idea of what you want and need. I have used him for events like Christmas in July for The Veterans of the James A Haley Home and he was wonderful and donated his services. If you need a DJ, he is certainly worth paying!
Highlights: A 21+ crowd; WE DO NOT go to this location
We used to work at Aja Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel for 2 years consistently teaching dance. After Aja Wiregrass closed due to the bad economy, the owners started a Latin night at Aja Channelside, but began using some really gross means of advertising with naked women. I was so disgusted, I made a comment on Facebook and their promoters, Stormy Bay Entertainment de-friended me. Although I wish Aja Channelside the best, I believe that if they were smart they would keep their advertising methods less offensive and stop hiring people that have no morals to do their promotions for them. After all, there are millions of Christians and Jews, God Fearing people who still go out to eat and enjoy listening to good music and dancing; since it seems that we are the only ones left with jobs, it might behoove them to cater to a conservative crowd. I do not attend this location because I will not spend money at a location that objectifies women and thinks its fine and dandy to do so. Your money is a seed; I try to plant mine in fertile grounds. The choice is yours…..
Simone Salsa Social
8336 W. Hillsborough Av. Tampa, FL 33615
Highlights: Friday Nights in Tampa - Regular location for locals!
Another great location for socializing with sane people is Simone’s social on Hillsborough Avenue. People of all levels, ages and cultures go to this location. If you are looking for the “I dance better than you on 2” crowd, this isn’t the place for you. I have seen people dancing on 1, 2, 3 and 5 at this location! This location is not a bar; it is a dance studio with plenty of free parking. Many times she even has events where there is food available. Dance lessons happen before the social and varying times. I send my students to this location on a regular basis to have fun in a non-threatening environment with people who just want to have fun and social dance-drama free; Oh what glee! She also has a Saturday Evening Social In Brandon in a smaller studio that I have not gone to: Check their schedule online at www.simonesalsa.com
2223 N. W. Shore Blvd. #B203, Tampa, FL 33607
Highlights: Tuesday nights in Downtown Tampa: Great live music. Great DJ.
Blue Martini is an acquired taste. My buddy Leo teaches there on a regular basis and I sub for him when he is out of town. The floor is small and it can get quite packed like sardines. People end up dancing on the side of the second bar where there are small strips of hardwood floor dancers like to dance on. The kind of dancers you will find range from drunk dancers who think they know how to dance to seasoned salsa/mambo dancers who dance w/“their crowd”. I have gone to this location and if I am not with a clique or specific school, sometimes no one will ask me to dance. I ask everyone so I don’t mind, but I am not into the “gotta be with the right people to dance” crowd. There are live bands that rotate and great DJs. I say it’s an acquired taste only because it gets packed and it’s hard to dance if you get there after 9 pm. I am a dancer, so prefer plenty of space and a hardwood floor which is why I am selective about where I dance. The management runs things well. Leo usually does a free introductory lesson late and is entertaining and fun. Call the location for details. www.bluemartinilounge.com
11921 North Dale Mabry Hwy Tampa, Florida 33618
Highlights: Wednesday Nights in Carrollwood, Tampa: Love the motif!
Hate the name of this location-Whiskey is so ew, but I love the feeling of this place. I grew up in the summers in Puerto Rico. I used to swim in the rivers in the mountains and there were gorgeous soft rocks at my feet in the water. This location has huge rocks just like those inside on the fireplace and outside too. It’s so neat to look at and be around. The floor is large enough for a lot of dancers but isn’t a hard wood floor; they have plenty of space for sitting. This location, however, sometimes has problems w/ the septic of their bathroom; sometimes you can smell the odor when you walk in the club but most the time its okay. Almost every school on earth has taught her outside of us, but nothing ever seems to take off at this location; this is shocking to me because I really love the way this place looks; most Puerto Ricans do! They have many different dance evenings, but they change frequently so make sure to check out the site to see what is going on there. No Hats, sportswear or baggy clothes. To find out more about this location go to: www.whiskeynorth.com. Plenty of Free Parking
7720 W. Courtney Campbell Causeway Tampa, Florida 33607
Highlights: Barefoot Bar: Sunday Afternoon/Nights In The Summer: Great live music.
I love, love love this location. They have an outside section with sand, bay water, a bar, space for games and just relaxing. There is a stage where in the summer they bring Latin bands on Sundays in the afternoon around 5 pm. It’s still sunny in Florida so it feels great out. You can bring your own beach chairs (you will need them), order food from the bar and watch the bands. There is a concrete slab in front of the band where people dance. Its sanded so it’s easy to turn on it if you have a decent shoe, but I just bring my battered up old practice shoes or dance in REALLY TIGHT FLIP FLOPS WITH A SMOOTH BOTTOM. I have actually danced in both and its fine, although, I never recommend flip flops for dancing. This is a place where dancing in closed position is best. I really just enjoy having a great time outside in this breezy fabulous location. For a dance instructor to state that she wants to spend her Sunday after church dancing is usually insane but it’s hard to say no to this location in the summer when they have Latin themed bands. They have a beach umbrellas/tables on the Beach, fire pits, Live Entertainment, and Tampa's Only Boat-up Beach Bar. You can drive your Boat, Wave-runner or any other watercraft right up onto the Sand. They have a Corn Hole, and Soon they will have Regulation Tournament Volleyball Courts right on the beach. Call the location to find out the start of their next season and I will meet you there! To find out more about this location go to: www.whiskeyjoestampa.com/whiskeyjoes/barefootbar.aspx.
Hyde Park Café
1806 West Platt Street Tampa, FL 33606
Highlights: Various Nights in Downtown Tampa; Unusual Feel & an Acquired Taste
When I first moved to town everyone talked about Hyde Park. So of course, I had to go see it. I was sadly disappointed. It’s interesting in many ways though. It has a section that is inside but with no roof so you get the outside feel which I loved. There was plenty of spaces to sit and chill with friends. I was wondering, where is the dance floor? Finally I realized I had to go to another room to find the floor. It has a low ceiling and although I am not claustrophobic, when it gets packed in there it feels really claustrophobic and moist. People drink a lot in there and it gets really messy. Drinks are usually spilled on the floor and no one ever comes to clean it up so your dance shoes will get ruined at this location. I went there twice and ruined two pairs of shoes; haven’t been back since because I can’t dance in street shoes and refuse to ruin my shoes. The crowd is very young so if you are in your 30’s and 40’s or older this may not be the place for you. Contact this location to find out which nights they have Latin night as it has changed recently. Please check their website for more information at www.thehydeparkcafe.com.
The Kennedy Dance Lounge
2408 W. Kennedy Blvd Tampa, Florida 33609
Highlights: Various Nights in Downtown Tampa; Meat Market Feel & Young Crowd.
When I first walked into the location (on a Thursday Latin Night) I was greeted by the lovely ladies of Dynasty Events who are very sweet and charming. They were the best part of my evening! As you all know I am brutally honest with my reviews and never mean to hurt anyone or any business by them but have to give my spin on what I experienced; my students deserve the truth so here goes:
At first glance, the vibe was really interesting. It is put together, and well “decorated”, so I thought. As I started looking around I noticed lots of different pictures of all kinds of pop culture celebrities, album covers, names of bands and such. It made looking around interesting and not boring, so I totally understand the designer’s idea, but in continuing to look around I became more and more offended. I almost stormed out when I saw a large picture of a group of communist dictators together; it suddenly felt very anti-American in this location. Being a Patriot, I was immediately bothered. No one seemed to notice or care outside of those in my company. Offended and confused at the décor, I suddenly I found myself in front of what I like to call the CREEPY IDOL ROOM complete with two gigantic statues of Buddha and black hands framed on the wall amongst other odd photographs. Seeing a theme here people? This room was the VIP room, roped off for special guests, but easily seen by the other guests.
The Music: The DJ earlier on in the evening is RAPHY, one of the best salsa DJ’s around Tampa. He typically opens the evening and leaves early and other DJ’s take over to do a more “RAW” version of the evening where anything goes and lots of reggaeton is played; and it isn’t the more clean version of reggaeton. I was even told from a trusted acquaintance that, “it gets nasty later”, so I should leave early since they knew I was on the conservative side of dance. I was getting more and more bothered and then I noticed the two half naked go-go dancers dancing in a bra and panties. One of my male friends asked, “Do you know what they need?” I asked “What?”. He said “Clothing!” Thank God for men who think lust isn’t a good thing!
The fact is, this night is a truly YOUNG CROWD looking to dance yes, but a very large portion of the room is interested in two things, getting trashed and getting hooked up and they have plenty of drink specials to help you along. If this is your goal, you will meet many friends here; I recommend everyone rethink not only what they dance to, but where they dance and what they support when they spend money in a location that promotes communism and the worship of IDOLS. This is not a place for believers to go alone, but in a large group to be a good example and minister to the lost. Their website is www.thekennedysoho.com.
Green Iguana at Veterans
9202 Anderson Road Tampa, FL 33634
Highlights: Latin Nights in Tampa, Fl. A Mixed Bag.
I decided to drop by one of the Saturday Nights at Green Iguana once I heard they moved the salsa indoors to the air-conditioned, non-sweaty floor. I have to admit I was afraid to go because where I used to live there was a Green Iguana that was an AWFUL VOMITOUS MESS. When I walked into this location, the décor was pretty cool; hopefully you aren’t afraid of big Iguanas! My peeps and I ordered dessert which was good and waited for the music to begin. They serve food until about 10 pm or so. There weren’t many places to sit at this location inside, but they did have VIP tables at $25 bucks a pop that you could “rent” to sit down and a few other places people could grab a quick rest between dances. The floor is not a real hardwood floor but even if it snaps together it’s easy to dance on! I liked it. Inside the people were a mixed bag, From 20-somethings to 50 something’s. The dancers range from beginner to intermediate I-II. People wear casual clothes and jeans a lot, which makes me wonder all the time. Florida is so hot! Why on earth do people wear jeans to dance salsa? We saw more 5 inch heels than you can imagine, all of whom don’t really dance salsa. The real dancers tend to have dance shoes; I did see people changing shoes, so you may have luck finding dancers here. The music was played by DJ Neko and DJ Raphy.
The scary part of this location wasn’t inside but outside: The Reggaeton and House Dance Floor. They have a bigger section with a thatched roof, a very beach feel in the back. There is a bar outside and they had tables and a very large dance floor that isn’t wood. The outside area is used for the “I-Need-Attention-Over hormoned-Hump-Each other” crowd who mostly do not venture inside for anything other than going to the restroom. They had 2 half naked ladies dancing on the speakers (and seriously, it was shocking what they were wearing; yes they looked great but GEEZ); I felt bad for them. Its my recommendation, that whatever you do, don’t venture outside, unless you are looking for a venereal disease. Okay, I know, not all people who dance Latin hip hop are disease filled, (I used to dance this stuff before I became a Bailarin) but if you saw what I saw, you’d know they were on their way to being disease filled! LOL. This location is a mixed bag. If you go, go early, go with friends, stay on the inside dance floor where it seemed very safe, eat dessert, dance a bit, and leave early. The Veterans 24 movie theatre is right next door so if you don’t like the Green, just catch a clean movie instead! Stay safe and God Bless!
Note: Reviews are for locations that have been open for more than one year and consistently have either have classes or play salsa and merengue at their locations. If you would like me to review your location and be added to this page, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.