Dance in Cuba! July 2017

Ramon Ramos Alayo
  • Email address verified
10 reviews
Jul 10 - 25, 2017
Group size: 10-25
Dance in Cuba! July 2017

Ramon Ramos Alayo
  • Email address verified
10 reviews

Deposit: $800
Jul 10 - 25, 2017
Group size: 10-25

About this trip

Join “Dance in Cuba” for an unforgettable travel experience, hosted by Ramon Ramos Alayo, Amy Draizen, Susana Arenas and Yismari Ramos Tellez. You will study with some of the best teachers in Cuba in a dynamic two week workshop while learning about the rich cultural traditions and history that permeate cuban dance and music. You will also enjoy great sightseeing, go on local excursions, and experience immersion into traditional Cuban life. We will spend one week in Havana, and one week in the picturesque city of Santiago de Cuba.


The program features daily workshops in popular and folkloric Cuban dance styles, taught by master teachers from celebrated dance companies Ban Rarrá and Danza del Caribe. Each day will begin with three hours of classes. Popular dance styles will include Salsa, Rueda de Casino, Cha Cha Cha, Mambo, Son, and Rumba; folkloric dance styles will include Afro-Cuban, Yoruba, Afro-Cuban Haitian, and Drumming. All levels of dancers are welcome!


Afternoons will be spent sight-seeing in the city or in the surrounding area, with possible excursions to destinations such as the beach, museums, or a tobacco farm. There will also be plenty of free time so you can explore the wonders of these diverse cities as you please.


Evenings we will enjoy home cooking with private chefs in our homes, or dine in some of the great restaurants and paladares. Then we can venture out to enjoy the plentiful and colorful nightlife, whether that is live salsa music and dancing, a dance or music performance, or a walk along the legendary malecón. 


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, and in Santiago we will go to the famed El Cobre Cathedral. Both outings provide wonderful opportunities to see more of this magical island!


Perhaps best of all, in each city, you will meet local Cubans, make friends, and enjoy a traditional Cuban party hosted by our local teachers to experience authentic food, music, dance, and alegría “a lo cubano.” A gosar!!

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

General Schedule: 

July 10 - Leave for Ft Lauderdale 

July 11 - Fly to Havana

July 12- 13 - Dance classes / Explore Havana 

July 14 - Trip to Pinar del Rio 

July 15 -17 - Dance classes in Havana

July 18 - Drive from Havana to Santiago 

July 19 -20 - Dance classes / Explore Santiago

July 21 - Tour of Santiago/El Cobre 

July 22-24 - Dance Classes in Santiago

                  ** Carnaval!! ** 

July 25 - Fly from Santiago to US

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

$2925 double room / $3225 single room

One week option: Havana July 11-18 or Santiago July 18-25: 

$2025 double room /$2175 single room

Registration closes May 31st, full amount to be paid by June 9th.  

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 Ft. Lauderdale to Cuba, accommodations, two meals a day, local transportation, private house parties, and all dance classes.

Not included

Airfare to Ft. Lauderdale, lunches, private lessons, nightlife.

Before You Go

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

Now that you've signed up, here are your next steps:

1. Make flight arrangements to and from Ft. Lauderdale (see below.)

2. Take out money for the trip. (see below.)

3. Make a copy of your passport.

4. Gather clothing, suitcases, gifts, etc. (see below.)

5. Arrange for phone/data service if desired.


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

- Our flight will leave in the morning on July 11th, so we recommend you arrive in Florida either the day before (July 10th) or take a red-eye flight, to land early 7/11.

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

- Expect an airport departure tax of $25. (One time fee, no need to pay upon return)

- Each traveler is allowed up to 50 pounds with no charge - this includes all checked, carry-on and personal items weighed together. If you exceed that amount you will be charged approximately $2/lb. Additionally, each checked bag is $20.


- 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 good.) 

- 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. 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…) On at least some of the nights we can decide as a group to treat the teachers and all share the expense. They will be very 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.


- 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. Casa particulares are a more authentic way to experience Cuba, and you will be able to get to know the families who house you.

- 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 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. Everyone needs to eat at the same time; our wonderful hosts cannot be expected to serve several different meals! If you won’t be there at the agreed upon dinner time, you will have to make your own arrangements.

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

- Only drink bottled water! You can buy water at any nearby market, where it is about 1 CUC 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.

- As a group, we can decide which classes to focus on each day.

- 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 on the first day (after that we can walk!), 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 are buses as well. Ask us for the best options. 


- 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 usually need to purchase an internet card for about $6 for one hour of computer time. You can purchase from the hotel, or search for a better deal and buy on the street. 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, so dress accordingly!! 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 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

- 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!) 

- Washcloths for the room. Bath towels will be provided.

- Sunscreen and bug spray

- All necessary prescription medications, plus a personal supply of Advil, Immodium, Neosporin, band-aids, etc.

- Extra sunglasses, glasses

- Wet wipes, hand sanitizer

- toilet paper or tissues 

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

- Ear plugs (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

- 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

Rooms will have two beds, and private bath.

Deposit: $800
Two weeks, Single room

Private room and bath.

Deposit: $800
One week, Double room

Join us in Havana July 11-18 or meet us in Santiago July 18-25.

Deposit: $800
One week, single room

Join us in Havana July 11-18 or meet us in Santiago July 18-25.

Deposit: $800

only 1 left

Available options

Extend your stay (or travel on a day other than those specified for the group)
Deposit: $800

Two weeks, Double room
Past Trip

Who’s interested

Your Organizer

Ramon Ramos Alayo
10 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 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. Amy Draizen has been traveling to Cuba to study dance since 2002, and now works with CubaCaribe doing fundraising and events. She is thrilled to be able to share her passion for Cuban music, dance, and culture as Trip Leader for Dance in Cuba.


Thank you Ramon & Amy! I had a wonderful time with the great group of dancers and teachers and family hosts Cuba is a fascinating and beautiful country, very warm and welcoming people. The only problem for me was with lack of internet communication in Santiago and not always knowing when meet up times were. Cheers, Barbara
By Barbara Hunt for Dance in Cuba! Dec 2017 on Jan. 08, 2018
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
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