You are here: Home > About CR > Art & History > Costa Rica Art > Dance

Dance in Costa Rica

— filed under: ,

Although the most common dance is salsa, Tico's also enjoy the hypnotic and rhythmic Latin beats combined with sensual movements of cumbia, lambada, marcado, merengue, soca, and the Costa Rican swing, danced with sure-footed grace.


Stereotypically, Latinos are known by their flavor of their dance, and Ticos are no exception to the rule. The majority of the population, regardless of their age, loves to dance.  On nights and weekends locals flock to their nearest dance hall or disco. Younger folks use dancing as an excuse to flirt with the opposite sex by dancing very close. The older crowds have danced their entire lives and love to show off their moves any chance they can get.

Many Ticos also have adopted electronica as a part of their musical pallet.  Due to large concentrations of Argentinean and Chilean ex-patriots, Costa Rica also has a significant influence of tango and accordion.

Popular places to dance Salsa in and around San Jose are:

  • El Tobogan in San Jose
    Huge property with a dance floor for 500 people and a total capacity of 1,100 people. Salsa and live music Fridays and Saturdays.

  • Castro's Bar in Barrio México, San José
    For years this has been the home of the majority of dancers in San José as well as those who want to have a good time. This has several dance floors with different capacities. No tropical music lover should miss the opportunity to visit Castro's Bar in San José. Open everyday.

  • Meridiano al Este in Barrio La California, San Jose
    This has the capacity for 180 people who like good music, whether it be live music on Fridays or with a DJ.

  • Palenque " Ojo de Agua " in San Antonio de Belén
    With a capacity for 1,000 people, informal and enjoyed by a varied public. Open Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

  • Manolo's off the highway in Alajuela
    Has space for 400 people, making it a great place to stop to eat and enjoy a good time on the way to the beach. Open Saturdays for Salsa.

  • Picachos in Cartago
    Away from the noise of the capital city you can find our Great Giant with three different dance floors. One of these is a restaurant which has a daily capacity for 300 people. The second is an event room for 250. The third room is the super spacious famous and renowned Picachos' dance room with a capacity for 1,800 people. Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

  • Típico Latino in Heredia
    A place that holds 300 people where you can enjoy live music and exquisite Salsa on Mondays, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

  • Nuevo Rancho Garibaldi in Desamparados, San Jose
    Located in the Nuevo Rancho Garibaldi with enough space for 250 people. It is very popular because of its appetizers which add flavor to a gathering among friends. Salsa nights are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

  • Bar México in San Jose
    A delicious typical Mexican restaurant which has maintained its reputation and quality for years, making it a great place to visit. Live music and Salsa nights Friday and Saturday.

Dances Influence on Popular Costa Rican Culture

Due to their love of music and dance, Costa Ricans have  actually incorporated this into prime time entertainment with national talent in a program hosted by Channel 7 called “Bailando por un Sueño” or “Dancing for a Dream”. The idea of the show is that a popular star in Costa Rica pairs up to dance with someone who is desperately in need of supporting a charitable cause in Costa Rica. The couple dances every Saturday night (dances the judges have selected) after practicing all week. They are scored and whoever wins the competition gets their dream granted and their charity receives a large prize.

Another program that has emerged is the “Diosa de Reggeaton” or “Goddess of Reggeaton.” This was an interesting, almost comical competition of women of all ages and sizes to see who had the best flow (rap skills) and reggaeton dance skills.

Caribbean Flavor

Costa Rica reflect African, even pre-Columbian, as well as Spanish roots. This is especially true on the Caribbean coast where the domain of calypso and reggae rule. Traveling to the Caribbean side to dance offers an entirely different experience, feel, interpretations, dance and music.

Afro Caribbean music is full of rhythm and is played with  banjos, drums, African-derived marimba (xylophone) music, the sinkit, and the cuadrille.  The Caribbean, though, is really the domain of calypso and reggae. The Music Festival of the South Caribbean Coast, which debuted in 1999, features artists from around the country, from saxophonist Sonsax to pianist Manuel Obregon.

Folkloric Dancing

Guanacaste is the heartland of Costa Rican folkloric music and dancing. The Punto Guanacasteco tells a story in its interpretation and is recognized as the traditional dance of Costa Rica. The men and women wear traditional dress. Basically, the dance goes as follows: the men surround the female dancers in a circle and, with the sounds of marimbas, they dance around the room flaring the skirts that bend and wave while they dance with their partners. The colorful satin skirts create a kaleidoscopic effect while the men toss colored scarves, fanning hats, and utter loud cowboy yelps.

The music for folkloric dancing is composed from pre-Columbian instruments as the chirimia (oboe) and quijongo (a single-string bow with gourd resonator).  A number of folkloric dance troupes tour the country, while others perform year-round at such venues as the Melico Sálazar Theater, the Aduana Theater, and the National Dance Workshop headquarters in San José. Of particular note is Fantasía Folklorica, a colorful highlight of the country's folklore and history from pre-Columbian to modern times.

Contemporary Dance

Dance is a form of expression that Costa Ricans adore as another way of elaborating on who they are. Ballet has become extremely popular over the last several years for young girls. Ballet has also gained popularity as a means of rehabilitation for people with issues in the area of balance and coordination. It has literally been adopted as a form of therapy. For these reasons, hundreds of dance studios have emerged.

Document Actions

Powered by Propertyshelf

Legal Information