As salsa dancing became one of my great passions while living in South America, I have started my own Christmas tradition with travelling to the Feria de Cali each year. It is one of the most famous festivals in Colombia taking place every year from December 25th to 30th. In different parades, the locals show their culture, traditions and typical dances. The festival is always opened with the Salsodromo on the 25th where all the different salsa schools give their salsa moves to the best. Starting with the most famous salsa school in Cali called Swing Latino and followed by many others. Cali is also known as the world’s capital of salsa and is home to one of the best salsa dancers and groups worldwide.
We always stay in a hotel near the stadium as it is just perfectly situated to reach all the events of the salsa festival by walking. As we didn’t book seats at the boxes of the festivals, we decided to be there at around 2pm in order to get a good spot along the highway where the parade of the Salsodromo was taking place. We were lucky and even got some plastic seats for about 5 USD each from locals. The parade only started until 5pm and therefore we enjoyed some typical food, Colombian beer and some dancing in the bright sun of Cali. Then the spectacle started: one after another group of amazing dancers passed us – dancing on trucks or simply on the highway! The dancers were of all ages – from little kids, youngsters to seniors and all performing an amazing show in their beautiful dresses. Until 10pm the salsa schools of Cali were entertaining us with their amazing dance presentations!
On the other days there are also parades of old cars (Cali Viejo) and they also show other traditions of this region, e.g. the typical vehicles Jeep Willys with which they transport everything in the coffee triangle or the famous flower ornaments of Medellín & its surroundings. In the afternoons are also more events like encounters of music lovers that are selling records, CD’s or DVD’s of their big collections of artists and you can buy the typical instruments like bongos, claves, cowbells, maracas or guiros.
Last year we got tickets for probably the most famous salsa show “made in Cali: El Delirio”. It was the opening of a new location and a new show in 2014. It was already an experience just entering the “circus tent” of El Delirio with its great decoration, artists and everyone handing us small gifts, a glass of rum or a whisky! The tent has a capacity of 1.500 people. The show consisted of different parts – one of it was a tribute to Michael Jackson – all in “salsa version” of course. Each part of the show was just amazing and a truly spectacle! At the end the professional dancers even danced with the audience and the band just played the finest music. The show ended until 2am and is truly a must-see! Every last Friday of each month and all days during the Cali fair you can enjoy this unique dance show!
During the Cali fair there are always numerous concerts of famous artists – many of them are even free of charge. Every year you can go to the famous “Superconcierto” in the stadium. From 7pm to 4am , great artists like La 33, el Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias as well as Willie Colon, Oscar de Leon or Prince Royce, Prince Daddy Yankee or Romeo Santos turn the stadium into a dancing arena with everyone dancing and singing along their most famous songs – it always is a truly amazing atmosphere!
Besides the concerts and famous dance shows like El Delirio, Ensalsate or the salsa show of Swing Latino, you should not miss to dance the night away in one of the famous salsa bars in Cali like Tintindeo, Zaperoco or Juanchito – but it is recommendable to get there early during the fair as these popular dancing places get very crowded!
So there is not more to say – except: Let’s DANCE!