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Dubai is the Middle East’s most popular destination for salsa socials — events where inexperienced and expert dancers come together to test their skills, learn new moves and generally mingle with like-minded dance lovers. If you’re a fledgling salsero, one of the first things an instructor will tell you is this: Attend socials if you really want to dance.
However, I found most socials in Dubai lacking a certain sense of fun, which is what parties are essentially about — you dance until your feet hurt, and the whole experience should make you want more. But that was before I discovered Pachanga at the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort in Jumeirah Beach Residence.
With a sizeable dance floor, charming woodwork and an open view of the sea, the venue is perfect for salsa nights. An elevated platform on one side is occupied by a live band, while a deejay’s booth is on the other side. A door in a corner leads to a big veranda dotted with comfortable tables and chairs, so tired dancers can simply rest their feet — and ears — and enjoy the breeze (in the cooler months, of course).
Organised every Thursday and Friday in collaboration with BNF, a dance entertainment company in Dubai, the vibrant spirit of the scene beckons from the time you enter the hotel. Strains of Cuban and other forms of music waft down the stairs, and even if you don’t care about dancing, the catchy tunes will definitely pique your interest. Here you’ll come across a range of dances other than salsa, such as kizomba, reggaeton, bachata, zouk and merengue, and there are free classes as well.
The name Pachanga, which denotes a music and dance genre that’s lively, playful and distinctly Cuban, establishes a genuinely Latin connection right at the outset. Add to that a mouthwatering menu, which offers everything from churrasco, empanadas and Argentine Angus steaks to brilliant beverages, and you are closest to experiencing South America’s famous zest for life and dance than in any other place in Dubai.
Also adding to the charm of these Latin dance evenings are the bands that belt out famous standards by singers such as Celia Cruz. The result is an electrifying event, where you can take your dancing several notches higher by simply being a part of it.
At times one of the organisers will get on the floor and lead a small set of reggaeton or some other dance, which everybody can follow. Pachanga is a melting pot of expats and people from all walks of life. As opposed to other similar events I have been to, this place makes you feel at home and not an outsider. You could just stand and watch people dance all night and nobody will give a judgemental or disdainful look. There are great dancers and amateurs as well, all brought together by a love for all things Latin. For a salsero, finding a place that lets you be is rare.
Finding a gem like Pachanga is even rarer.
+Pachanga is located inside Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort at the The Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence. It hosts Latin events four days a week, including salsa and churrasco nights and a Friday Latin brunch.
Source: Tania Bhattacharya, Subeditor, Property Weekly
This section features lesser-known places and events that are delightfully distinct in their own way. It could be a quaint little café or simply a charming lake. If it’s got character and brings a smile to your face, it’s a hidden gem that will find a place on this page. If you know of a hidden gem, email the Editor at email@example.com