Dance in Cuba! Dec 2017

Ramon Ramos Alayo
  • Email address verified
9 reviews
Dec 14 - 28, 2017
Group size: 10-25
Dance in Cuba! Dec 2017

Ramon Ramos Alayo
  • Email address verified
9 reviews

Deposit: $800
Dec 14 - 28, 2017
Group size: 10-25

About this trip

Join “Dance in Cuba” for an unforgettable travel experience, hosted by Ramon Ramos Alayo, Amy Draizen, Yeni Lucero and Samara Atkins. Study with some of the best teachers in Cuba in a dynamic two week workshop while learning about the rich cultural traditions and history of cuban dance and music. Enjoy great sightseeing, local excursions, and immersion into traditional Cuban life. One week in Havana, and one week in Santiago de Cuba. One or two-week options are available.


Begin each day with three exhilarating classes in Cuban dance, taught by master teachers from renown dance companies Ban Rarrá (Havana) and Danza del Caribe (Santiago.) Folkloric dance styles will include Afro-Cuban, Yoruba, Afro-Cuban Haitian; popular dance styles will include Salsa, Rueda de Casino, Cha Cha Cha, Mambo, Son, and Rumba. All levels of dancers are welcome!

SPECIAL THIS TRIP: We will also have workshops in hiphop and urban contemporary dance taught by Bay Area teachers Yeni Lucero and Samara Atkins! You won't want to miss this! You can learn more about them here.


Spend your afternoons sight-seeing in the city, going to museums, or taking a trip to the beach, an art school, or even a castle.  A relaxed mix of planned activities and free time allows you to explore the wonders of these diverse cities as you please.

You will also have the option to take excursions outside of the city: in Havana we will go to the magnificent region of Pinar del Rio, where we will visit a tobacco farm, and in Santiago we will go to the famed El Cobre Cathedral. Both outings provide wonderful opportunities to see more of this magical island!


We will be staying in 'casa particulares,' which are private homes similar to bed & breakfasts. Each room will have air conditioning and a bathroom. Shared rooms will have at least two beds. All our casas are centrally located, making it easy to travel around the city. Casa particulares are a more authentic way to experience Cuba, and you will be able to get to know the families who host you. 


Enjoy home cooking with private chefs in our casas, or dine in some of the great restaurants and paladares. Then venture out to enjoy the plentiful and colorful nightlife, whether that be live salsa music and dancing, a cultural performance, or a walk along the legendary malecón. 


On this trip, you will not feel like a tourist; you will get to know the people and the culture from the inside. In each city, you will make cuban friends, and enjoy traditional Cuban parties hosted by our local teachers to experience authentic food, music, dance, and alegría “a lo cubano.” A truly special experience.

We look forward to having you join us for “Dance in Cuba!”

General Schedule: (subject to change)

Dec 13 - Leave for Florida 

Dec 14 - Fly to Havana

Dec 15 -16 - Dance classes / Explore Havana 

Dec 17 - Trip to Pinar del Rio 

Dec 18 - 20 - Dance classes in Havana

Dec 21 - Drive from Havana to Santiago 

Dec 22 - 23 - Dance classes / Explore Santiago

Dec 24 - Tour of Santiago/El Cobre 

Dec 25 - 27 - Dance Classes in Santiago

Dec 28 - Fly from Santiago to US

This program has been qualified for legal entry to Cuba.Trip costs: 

$2975 double room / $3325 single room

One week option: Havana Dec 14-21, or Santiago Dec 21-28: 

$2075 double room /$2250 single room

Registration closes November 1, 2017, full amount to be paid by November 16, 2017.  Advance registration is required and enrollment is limited to 25 people. A non-refundable deposit of $800 is required to register, book flights and visa arrangements. 

Travelers who wish to extend their stay or travel on dates other than those specified for the group may do so for a $100 administrative fee.

For further details or questions, please contact:


What’s included

Round trip airfare from South Florida (airport TBD) to Cuba, accommodations, two meals a day, local transportation, private house parties, and all dance classes.

Not included

Airfare to South Florida, lunches, private lessons, nightlife, gratuities.

Before You Go

Please read below for lots of important information about traveling to Cuba and about our trip!


- Participants arrange their own flights to and from South Florida, and we will take care of the round trip flights to Cuba.

- Our flight will leave in the morning on December 14, so we recommend arriving in Florida either the day before (Dec 13th) or take a red-eye flight, to land early 12/14. Please check your flight times with us!

- We will provide you with all the necessary visas, paperwork,etc. prior to travel.

- Each checked bag must not exceed 50 lbs, and is subject to the airline's checked baggage fee.


- CASH ONLY!! US Credit cards are not accepted yet, and there are no ATM's. It is useful to bring money in larger denominations ($100’s are preferred.) 

- In Cuba there are two currencies; we will be using CUCs, (pronounced “kooks” or “say-oo-says”) which is for tourists, while cubans use cuban pesos.

- The official rate is 87 CUC/dollar. (ie. $100 USD = 87 CUCs). Please bring $500 to change upon arrival. After that, you can change money as needed.

- How much to bring? Suggested amount is $1500 for two weeks. If you plan to purchase art or other more expensive items, you’ll need to bring more. You’ll want to budget what you bring carefully, since there is no easy way to get more!!

- What will you need money for? Lunches, water, taxis/buses, going out at night to clubs or concerts, private lessons, gifts, rum! Please also bring enough money to tip your hosts in the casas and the wonderful dance teachers who will be making your trip so special. We will be dancing with two separate companies, one in Havana and one in Santiago, and you will likely want to tip them both. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Paying for our Cuban friends/teachers: Most Cubans do not have any dispensable income, so if you want to go out with your Cuban friends and teachers, expect to pay their way. ($5-25 entrance at a club, plus drinks, maybe a cab home…) They will be appreciative of the opportunity to go out with you, and you will get to have some of the best dancers in Cuba to dance with; it’s a win-win!! It is a good idea, however, to set clear limits when you invite someone out about what you are willing to pay for, so there are no surprises at the end of the evening.


- In Havana we will be staying in Central Havana (Centro Habana), a colorful neighborhood just blocks from the Parque Central, The Capitolio, Havana Vieja, the Malecon, Casa de la Musica, the museums, and many other sites. You can walk almost everywhere!

- In Santiago we will be staying in the historical center of Santiago de Cuba, near the Plaza de Marte, which served as a parade grounds for military ceremonies and slave auctions during colonial times. Today it is the center of important social and cultural activities. From there you can access all the city’s most important spots: Heredia Street, Casa de la Trova (House of Traditional Cuban Music), museums such as the Museum of Rum, the Carnival Museum, the Museum of Poet José María Heredia and the Ambientación Museum. 


- Laundry is usually available at the casas for a small fee (5 -10 CUCs.) Well worth it!!


- Breakfasts and dinners are provided. We will eat breakfasts in our individual casas, and eat together at one central casa or restaurant in the evening. The food is very good, and usually consists of rice and beans, some sort of meat/fish/chicken, salad, and a starch such as potatoes, yucca, or plantains. They can usually accommodate some special requests (ie vegetarian options.) Breakfasts will be between 8-9, and dinner will be at 7pm.  Please alert our hosts if you won’t be there at dinner time or have made other arrangements.

-There is now a proliferation of excellent restaurants, many of them “paladares,” or in-home restaurants, authorized to serve food to tourists. Ask us for recommendations. 

- Only drink bottled water! You can buy water at any nearby market, where it is about 2 CUCs for a 1-liter bottle. Make sure to have a bottle with you at all times, and keep some extra bottles in your room. If you’re not sure, it is ok to ask if food has been prepared with purified (or boiled) water.

- Rum!! It is delicious and cheap! (You will have to decide whether you prefer Havana Club or Ron de Santiago!) Best to buy at the local markets. And yes, you are allowed to bring it home with you.


- We will have three hours of class a day. We will leave for the theater at 9am, and have classes from 9:30 - 1pm. They are high energy and fun, so pace yourself accordingly!

- Classes will be a variety of folkloric, rumba, Cuban-Haitian, as well as popular dance including cha cha cha, mambo, etc. The final class of each day will be salsa.

- We will divide into levels when appropriate.

- If you would like to explore a particular genre further, you can arrange for private lessons with the teachers for $20/hour. 

-Don't forget to bring water, and hydrate hydrate hydrate!!


- We will provide transportation to and from the airport, to class if necessary, for selected outings, and of course for the trip to Santiago! The bus will be comfortable, air-conditioned, and have plenty of room for you to stretch out.

- Taxis are generally available in town, and essentially every car is a potential ride! Be sure to ask how much the ride will be first, and negotiate a price if there is no meter.


- There is now fairly accessible internet in Cuba, although it will be slow. In Havana, all the hotels will have internet. Hotel Parque Central, about 3 blocks from our casas, has a comfortable business center that usually has open computers. In Santiago, Hotel Libertad will have a few computers available. The Hotel Melia Santiago (near to the Teatro Heredia where we will be dancing) has the nicest air-conditioned computer center. 

- You will need to purchase an internet card for $3- $6 for one hour of computer time. You can purchase from the hotel. We will also have some internet cards available for purchase. 

- You can now find “hot spots” around the city, and will see people on their phones in the parks.

- You can use your Verizon phone in Cuba, (but not AT&T!) 

- To call the US from Cuba, it is a good idea to have an international calling plan in place that includes Cuba. You can also purchase a pre-paid phone card for about $2/minute for use in public pay phones.

- Outlets are the same as in the USA so you can use electric devices.

- Bring extra batteries if you might need replacements.


- It will be hot! Bring summery dresses, shorts, sandals, etc. You will want to wear as little as possible! 

- Bring workout/dancewear for classes. Shorts and lightweight clothing is best. If you have a folkloric skirt you might want to bring it. In some classes you will want to be barefoot, and in others you will want dance sneakers.

- Comfortable shoes for walking are a must.

- Cubans like to dress up for going out at night (especially in Havana) so bring a few fun evening outfits. Most of the time, however, it is fine to go out dressed casually, in jeans or shorts and sneakers or flats. 

- You will need a sweater for air-conditioned venues and for the bus ride. What you wear on the plane should be enough. 


- A copy of your passport to bring with you when you go out at night (Photo on phone is OK)

- A folkloric skirt if you have one. (If not, you can purchase one there for $20)

- A small towel to bring to class (we will be sweating!) 

- Sunscreen / bug spray

- Prescription medicines, plus a personal supply of Advil, Immodium, Neosporin, band-aids, Pedialyte, seasalt, EmergancE, etc.

- Extra sunglasses, prescription glasses

- Wet wipes, hand sanitizer

- toilet paper or tissues 

- Feminine products - you will be able to find there, but not high quality

- Ear plugs (it could get loud in the city!)

- Snacks: protein bars, nuts, jerky, etc.

- bathing suit

- small umbrella


- Tips will be much appreciated by our hosts, teachers, hotel staff, etc. 

Some Gift Ideas:

- dance clothes

- chocolates

- new/used electronics, phones, ipods, speakers, computers, flash drives

- American music cd’s

- American sports paraphernalia, T-shirts, hats, etc

- sunglasses

- cosmetics/ nail polish/ creams

- medicines

- school supplies/markers/books for children (especially in español)

- SF related souvenirs


- Cuba is generally very safe. But, as in most large cities, it is a good idea when walking around to be aware of your surroundings, don’t carry too much money, and travel with a friend.

- Your things will be safe in your room in the casas; someone will be there at all times. Lock your money, passport and return ticket in your suitcase.


- Hot!! There may be occasional rain, so a small umbrella could be useful.

Available Packages

Two Weeks, Double Room

All double rooms will have a minimum of two beds and a private bathroom.

Available until Nov 01
Deposit: $800
Two Weeks, Single Room

Our single rooms offer more privacy, and whenever possible will be located in a house with other participants.

Available until Nov 01
Deposit: $800
One Week, Double Room

All double rooms will have a minimum of two beds and a private bathroom.

Available until Nov 01
Deposit: $800
One Week, Single Room

Our single rooms offer more privacy, and whenever possible will be located in a house with other participants.

Available until Nov 01
Deposit: $800

Available options

Extend your stay
Deposit: $800

Two Weeks, Double Room

Your Organizer

Ramon Ramos Alayo
9 reviews
Ramón Ramos Alayo is a Cuban-born dancer, teacher, choreographer and the founder and artistic director of the Alayo Dance Company and CubaCaribe. Ramos was selected by the Cuban government to study dance in Santiago de Cuba at age eleven. In 1990 he earned a masters degree in contemporary and folkloric dance and dance education from the Havana’s National School of Art. He was the principal dancer with Danza del Caribe in Santiago and Narciso Medina Contemporary Dance Company in Havana and performed in Cuba, Europe, Canada, Belize and the U.S. Since moving to California in 1997, he has performed with some of the most respected choreographers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Robert Henry Johnson, Kim Epifano, Sara Shelton Mann, and Joanna Haigood. Ramos currently dances with Robert Moses’ Kin. He teaches Cuban popular dance, Afro-Cuban modern dance and children’s movement at several local dance studios and schools. In 2001 Ramos founded Ire Ile, an all-woman Cuban popular dance group and in 2002 founded the Alayo Dance Company. As director and choreographer, his work is an innovative fusion of Afro-Cuban modern, folkloric and popular Cuban dance. Ramos has choreographed and produced eight full-length dance performances: Anoranza de Una Epoca (1999); Mis Sueûos, Mis Ideas (2003, 2004); A Piece of White Cloth (2004, 2005); La Madre (2005); After Rain (2006); Three Threes & Traces (2007); Blood + Sugar (2008); and Three Leaders, One Idea (2009). Ramos has received grants from Cash, Zellerbach and Lef Foundations and the prestigious Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation’s “Emerging Choreographer Award”. Alayo Dance Company was featured in “Dance Across America,” published in National Geographic Magazine (2006) and Ramos was an Isadora Duncan Dance Award nominee for the ensemble performance of Los Guedes, performed at CubaCaribe Festival (2006). In 2003 Ramos co-founded and became artistic director of CubaCaribe, with the mission to preserve and promote the vibrant artistic and cultural traditions of the Caribbean and its diaspora. CubaCaribe sponsors performances such as the annual CubaCaribe Festival of Dance and Music and educational outreach programs including Cuba Camp that support and uphold Cuban and Caribbean dance, music, visual art and culture in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Thank you, Amy and Ramon, for a fulfilling dance trip to Cuba. I couldn't have asked for better instructors, both in Havana and Santiago. Their professionalism and teaching abilities were high quality. The number of drummers we had at each class made for such a powerful immersion. Our accommodations in both locations were very comfortable and in great locations. The food was also delicious. I really appreciated knowing in advance that we could schedule private classes with the teachers and what the rate would be, and then to have the teachers ready and willing to schedule classes on the fly when we were there. They couldn't have been more accommodating to our needs as dance /drum students. This trip is definitely one that can meet the needs of any type of dancer -- from a professional to a social dancer. It is one where you get out of it what you put into it, and what you choose to do with your time there. Amy and Ramon offer a great balance of structure and flexibility, and I deeply appreciated both aspects. Thanks for providing a life-changing dance experience. Cuba is forever a part of my heart. xo
Amazing. Ramon arranges to have very high-quality dance instructors that impart knowledge of the culture and meanings of afro-cuban dance traditions along with teaching us the dances. There are a solid 3 hours of dance class each day, with a mix of folkloric afro-cuban classes along with more popular dances (salsa, rumba, rueda). Also, you get to learn afro-cuban Haitian dances that come from eastern Cuba, a unique opportunity. Importantly, for the popular dance classes we are assigned a professional dance partner to dance with us -- what a treat! They were all amazing dancers and we got to dance with them every day. In addition, this trip attracts a mix of interesting adventurous people who are respectful and open to learning about the Cuban culture. The dance classes end by about noon each day, leaving ample time for participants to explore Havana and Santiago as they wish. Also, Ramon arranges for a local person to be our "guide" ensuring that we figure out practical issues (like exchanging money, getting laundry done, finding cabs, etc.) as well as an artistic/cultural guide, who helped us learn about cultural opportunities (good museum exhibits, art venues, etc.) and shared interesting historical and cultural perspectives on Cuba. Ramon also arranges for us to eat at interesting paladares that were delicious and that we could not find on our own.
By Leticia Miranda for Dance in Cuba (May) on Jan. 13, 2017
This was a dance focused trip to Cuba- 3 hours a day of instruction by expert teachers and live drummers, plus lots of opportunities after for practice. It was without a doubt one of my favorite trips - beautiful country with warm and welcoming people, rich culture and an immersive experience! The extra day Ramon organized to the river was definitely one of the highlights! Muchas gracias!!!!
By Kyoko Yamada for Dance in Cuba (July) on Jul. 24, 2016
I cannot express in enough words what an amazing experience it was. I cannot wait to go back.
By Melanie Greene for Dance in Cuba (July) on Jul. 19, 2016
It was a magical and beautiful trip! Ramon leads an incredible dance study tour that is the perfect "un-tourist" experience. There was ample time for both dance study and exploring the cities of Havana and Santiago! The group I was with were amazing. Lifetime friendships were made on that trip!
By amara smith for Dance in Cuba (May) on Jun. 14, 2016
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