Waterfalls, zip-lining, hiking, white water rafting - there’s a lot of outdoors activities to explore in Costa Rica. And sometimes after a day out what you really need is a night in. Well, indoors anyways. Maybe something with a lively tropical beat, smoothly swaying bodies, and an intoxicating atmosphere of culture, sweat, and pure fun. Here’s what you need to know if you're going to go out and dance in Costa Rica. We’ll go over three of the dances you’re most likely to see in any Costa Rican club.
Fast, tight, and spirited, the merengue is a dance that combines rapid footwork with trying to express yourself through dance in a very small amount of space. Couples, with the leader holding his partner by the waist and right hand, operate in a tiny circle and usually only move a few feet at most. It’s got a two step beat and emphasizes using your hips and trying not to step on the other person’s toes (or maybe that’s just me). Like you’ll find with most of these dances, merengue has basic steps that are very easy to learn. Here’s a video to help you do just that.
Okay, you’ve got the basics, now let’s see the pros.
Want to practice at home before you go? Here are a few mixes that will help you familiarize yourself with the music of merengue.
Salsa may need no introduction, but I’ll give one anyways. Originally from Cuba, it’s popular across the Latin American region, including Costa Rica. While merengue is fast and tight, salsa is smooth, sensual, and flowing. There’s lots of room for improvisation with salsa, and the best dancers will easily draw attention to themselves as they sweep around the dance floor.
Here are the basic steps.
And what salsa is like at a more advanced level.
And finally, some music so you can start practicing.
Cumbia is a Colombian dance and music, but the Cumbia you’ll find in Costa Rica is different than the Cumbia you will find in other parts of Latin America. Traditionally the Cumbia follows a 4/4 beat that goes long - short - short - long. Costa Ricans have worked within this structure to make Cumbia a dance that also involves a bouncing movement with small kicks and intricate footwork by implementing parts of a style called Swing Criollo. It might be tough to explain, but that’s the great part about dancing - there are really no words necessary. Here are some videos to get you started.
Here's what the Costa Rican version looks like.
And finally, a mix to get you going.
Now that you've mastered these 3 dances, all you need to do is remember to pack your dancing shoes! Oh, and sunscreen. You'll probably need that as well.