For immigrants around the world it is difficult to leave the homeland behind and to continue enjoying the customs of their people in the new country.
An Uruguayan will not always find the chivito that he loves in Hong Kong or an Argentinean his favorite meat cut in Rome, but much more complicated is the cultural habits that accompany emigrants to foreign soils.
However, Israel is a nation where immigration has been and is key to the development of the country. Therefore, Israelis are more open to adopting foreign influences and practices into their daily life.
This is the story of how Latino immigrants made Israel fall in love with salsa.
Pioneer, dancer and DJ
With 27 years of salsa parties under his belt, the Colombian immigrant Carlos Bedoya is a salsa authority in Israel.
“In the middle of the 90s there were no social networks. We hung posters in the markets and stations where Latinos went. I made the first party at the Miami Hotel in Tel Aviv,” he tells ISRAEL21c.
“So many people came that I later began to do more in Beit Shemesh, Rehovot, Sderot and other locations,” says Bedoya, whom many call “Habanera” because his fame began while organizing events in a club of the same name.
When he started, there were already salsa events at sites such as the University of Tel Aviv and the US Embassy.
The salsa explosion, he said, was between the late 90s and the beginning of the new century. Bedoya attributed part of the Israeli acceptance to a TV channel that ran 24 hours of soap operas in Spanish. “Then, with the arrival of reggaeton, it was only enhanced,” he added.
Today, he estimates that “90 percent of those at [salsa] parties and dance halls are Israelis.”
Bedoya recommends these five places to dance and learn salsa in Israel.
ST Studio – Salsa and Bachata Academy
Active since 2012, ST Studio in Petah Tikva has its hottest day on Sundays, where classes are taught for all levels that then end in parties usually attended by about 120 people. In addition, the studio offers dance courses throughout the week.
Admission to the class and party is 50 shekels, or 35 for the party only.
“We invite people to a free first lesson,” said salsa instructor Tamir Sabarov, head of ST Studio.
Address: Hamefalsim 6, Kiryat Aryeh, Petah Tikva
Contact: Reports: Ststudio2012@gmail.com- +972-3-5476696
Located in South Tel Aviv, this space was created and is directed by Carlos Bedoya.
Every Friday at 11pm, the producer and DJ organizes great parties that draw hundreds of fans of salsa, cumbia, bachata and other popular Latin dance styles.
There are also themed events such as Colombia’s Independence Day, Halloween, Purim, New Year and more. Tickets go on sale 15 days before each party and, according to Bedoya, they always get sold out.
Where: Centro Club, Yegi’a Kapayim 10, Tel Aviv
Contact: Click here or call +972-54-5737173
This space is one of the most important in the country, accommodating up to 800 people. The club is 12 years old and, according to its organizers, “thousands of Israelis became addicted to salsa with us.”
There are classes in Cuban salsa, LA style and caleña at 13 levels on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. In general, when classes end, parties are assembled where professionals and beginners mix.
Where: Yigal Alon 126, Tel Aviv Contact: Havanamusicclub@gmail.com, +972-3-5623456
Israeli Salsa and Bachata Congress, 23-26 May 2024
The largest salsa event in the country is the International Congress of Salsa and Bachata, which next year will have its 20th edition in the city of Eilat.
The annual weekend includes workshops, concerts, parties, swimming, boat rides on the Red Sea, and more.
The congress, whose motto is “Promote peace through dance,” attracts all genders, nationalities and religions.
When: May 2024
Where: Leonardo Club and Leonardo Privilege hotels, Eilat
Contact: Click here or call +972-52-370-0214
Ballagan Festival, 21-23 September 2023
Ballagan has won its great reputation as one of the largest festivals in the country, with around 2,000 salsa enthusiasts participating each year. This 35-year tradition includes two consecutive days of salsa as well as bachata, mambo and other Latin dancing.
There are parties, workshops, games and celebrations in the pool, a national dance contest and live performances.
The event is produced by Itay Erez in collaboration with dance academies throughout the country, so registration can be done through them as well.
Where: Leonardo Royal Resort, Eilat
Contact: Click here or call +972-50-285-5888