Dance in Cuba (May)

  • Cuba
  • May 20 - Jun 3, 2016
  • Trip Size: 5 - 25 people


Deposit: $800


Join “Dance in Cuba” for an unforgettable travel experience. Hosted by Ramon Ramos Alayo, Amy Draizen and Amara Tabor-Smith, you will participate in a renowned dance program, enjoy great sightseeing and local excursions, and experience immersion into traditional Cuban culture. We will spend one week in Havana, and one week in the picturesque city of Santiago de Cuba.

The two-week program features daily workshops in popular and folkloric Cuban dance styles, taught by master teachers from celebrated dance companies. 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, a legendary church, 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 dine together as a group in some of the great restaurants and paladars, and then venture out to enjoy the plentiful and colorful nightlife, whether that is live salsa music and dancing, a dance or music performance, or just a walk along the malecón.  Perhaps best of all, in each city, you will enjoy a traditional Cuban party hosted by our local teachers to experience authentic food, music, dance and allegría “a lo cubano.”  

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

Round trip airfare from Miami, accommodations, two meals a day, local transportation, and all dance classes.

Not included:
Airfare to Miami, additional outings and excursions, nightlife (admission to clubs, etc), parties, private dance lessons

General Schedule:
May 19 - Fly to Miami
May 20 - Arrive in Havana
May 21 - Tour of Havana / Free Day
May 22-26 - Dance Classes in Havana
May 27 - Drive from Havana to Santiago
May 28 - Tour of Santiago / Free Day
May 29 -June 2 - Dance Classes in Santiago
June 3 - Fly to Miami
June 4 - Fly home from Miami*

* You may need to fly home on the 4th depending on flight availability and destination.

This program has been qualified for legal entry to Cuba.Trip costs:
$2675 double room / $2945 single room

One week option, either Santiago or Havana: $1950
Children 10 and under, 2 weeks: $1550

Registration closes April 15, 2016. Advance registration is required and enrollment is limited to 25 people.

Non-refundable deposit of $800 is required to register, book flights and visa arrangements.
Full amount to be paid by May 1, 2016, by cash or credit card.

NOTE** We also have a trip going July 1 -15. Visit:

For further details or questions, please contact:

What's Included

Round trip airfare from Miami, accommodations, two meals a day, local transportation, and all dance classes.

Not Included

Airfare to Miami,  additional outings and excursions, nightlife (admission to clubs, etc), parties, private dance lessons

Before You Go

Useful Information! TRAVEL: - We will be flying from Miami to Havana on Friday, May 20th, with Marazul Travel. Our flight leaves at 2pm, so we need to be there at 10am for check-in. (And yes, we really do need 4 hours!!) - PLEASE ARRIVE AT 9:30. We will meet in front of the International Hotel at the Miami airport. (more info to follow) - If you are flying into Miami the day before, it is a good idea to book a room at a nearby airport hotel, such as the Miami Marriott. Amara is making some of those reservations so you may want to check with her. ( A red-eye on the 19th also looks do-able. - We will provide you with all the necessary visas, etc. prior to travel. - Expect an airport tax upon departure of $25. - Each traveler is allowed 44 pounds with no charge - this includes all checked, carry-on and personal items weighed together. If you go over there is a charge of approximately $2/lb. Each checked bag is $20. - Our return flight will be on Friday, June 3rd, at 11:30, arriving in Miami around 12:30. There are often delays, customs, etc, so it is a good idea to book your flight home from Miami either late in the day, or the following day, June 4th. (And a hotel room on 6/3!) - Check flights to Miami on cheaptickets… it doesn’t look too bad! MONEY: - In Cuba we will be using CUCs, (pronounced “kooks” or “say-oo-says”) which is essentially money for tourists; Cubans use a different currency - cuban pesos. - Cash only!! US Credit cards are not accepted yet, nor are Traveler’s checks. It is useful to bring money in larger denominations ($100’s are good.) - You can change money upon arrival at the Havana airport, if you want to have some immediately available. The official rate is 87 CUC/dollar. (ie. $100 USD = 87 CUCs.) After that, you can arrange with Ramon to have his contact, Chino, change money for you at a better rate… maybe 90-92 CUC’s/dollar. - 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 not an 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! 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 you 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. LODGING: - In Havana 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. - We will be 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 at the charming colonial Hotel Libertad, situated in the historical center of Santiago de Cuba, facing 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 the hotel 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: - Laundry is usually available at the casas and at the hotel for a small fee. Well worth it!! FOOD AND DRINK: - Breakfasts and dinners are provided. In Havana we will all eat at one central casa for both meals. 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. - In Santiago we will eat breakfast at the hotel, and dinner at local restaurants. -There is now a proliferation of really good 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 rum 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 back with you! DANCE CLASSES: - 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. TRANSPORTATION: - 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 to Santiago! The bus will be comfortable, air-conditioned, with a bathroom, and 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 Ramon for the best options. TECHNOLOGY: - 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 $6-15 for one hour of computer time. You can purchase from the hotel, or search for a better deal and buy on the street. The guy who will change you money (Chino) will also be likely to have internet cards available. - 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 WHAT TO WEAR: - 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. 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. - You will need a sweater for air-conditioned venues and for the bus ride. What you wear on the plane should be enough. WHAT ELSE TO BRING: - A copy of your passport to bring with you when you go out at night - A small towel to bring to class (we will be sweating!) - A folkloric skirt if you have one - 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 as high quality - Ear plugs (could get loud in the city!) - Snacks: protein bars, nuts, jerky, etc. - bathing suit - small umbrella Tips/Gifts: - 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 SAFETY: - 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. - The hotel will have a lock-box for safekeeping of your valuables. WEATHER: - Hot!! There may be occasional rain, so a small umbrella could be useful. General Itinerary: Friday 5/20 - Arrive in Havana. Settle into your casas. 7p Dinner at Casa Milagro 10pm Dance the night away at 1830 Saturday 5/21 - 8-9 am Breakfast at Casa Milagro Free Day in Havana! 7pm dinner Sunday 5/22 - 8-9am Breakfast Thursday 5/26 9am - leave for dance class 9:30-1pm dance classes Free afternoons (see below for some suggestions!) 7pm dinner at Casa Milagro Wednesday 5/25 - 7pm Party with all the dancers/teachers at Isaiah’s house Friday 5/27 - 5:00am Leave on bus for Santiago 7:00pm Arrive in Santiago Dinner Saturday 5/28 Free Day in Santiago Sunday 5/29 - 8am Breakfast at Hotel Libertad Thursday 6/2 9:00am Leave for dance classes at Teatro Heredia 9:30-1pm Dance classes Free afternoons 7pm dinner Monday 6/30 7pm Party in San Luis with dancers and teachers Friday 6/3 Fly to Miami Afternoons in Havana: We will be done with classes at 1 or 1:30, which leaves you an entire afternoon to do as you please!! Here are some great ways to spend the afternoons in Havana: 1. Walking tour of the city: Havana is a treasure. There are endless places to explore and you really can’t go wrong! If you want a guided tour, you could check with Havana Tour Company, located in the Hotel Ingleterra. Or just head out and explore! Many places are easily accessible on foot from our casas in Centro Habana. Here are some sights you may want to visit: El Capitolio - A must! Habana Vieja - Charming old Havana neighborhood. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes Museo de la Revolution Plaza de la Revolution The Malecon - famed seaside wall. Great for people watching! El Prado - grand boulevard El Morro - Fortress on the sea. Beautiful at sunset Plaza Vieja - Plaza de la Catedral Colon cemetery Copelia - in Vedado area(best ice cream ever!) Plaza de Armas Callejon de Hamel El Nave - art warehouse Also catch a bicitaxi if you want to give your feet a break! 2. Day at the Beach: The best beaches near Havana are the Playas del Este, around 30 minutes from the city. Find a cab or car near the Parque Central; be sure to set the price before you go. (It should be around $25.)You might also want to ask the driver if he can stay, or return to pick you up. Bring a towel, sunscreen, a picnic, some rum, and be prepared for a luxurious, super fun day. 3. Take private dance Lessons You can arrange with any of your teachers to have private or semi-private lessons for $20 per person/hour. They may suggest a space, or you may have to see about finding one. A great way to go deeper into your dance practice and form relationships with your Cuban teachers. 4. A Day by the Pool If you want to get away from it all for a moment, try spending the afternoon by the pool at the Hotel Nacional. Gorgeous old world charm, good burgers, relaxing pool. 5. Day Trip to Pinar del Rio Those of you who are interested can take a day trip to the magnificent Pinar del Rio region, about 2 hours from Havana. The best way to do this is via Cubatur trips. You can go to the Cubatur office in the Hotel Parque Central to sign up. A bus will pick you up at 7 am from the lobby of the Hotel Parque Central, and you will return by 7pm. (Note: this means you will miss one day of classes.) The trip costs approximately $70/person and includes a visit to a tobacco farm, a rum factory, a boat ride through the caves, an enormous spectacular mural on a cliff, incredible scenery (rivals ANY place in the world, IMHO!) and lunch. Well worth it. Nightlife: Salsa/Timba: Casa de La Musica Vedado (very close to our casa!) Casa de la Musica Miramar 1830 - beautiful outdoor club on the water Hotel Florida - Fabricca del Arte - new trendy performance/art space. Jazz: La Zorra y El cuervo Jazz café Cabaret /Theater: Tropicana, Hotel Nacional Hotel Melia Cohiba El Teatro Nacional - check for dance performances from the National Ballet y mas SANTIAGO: 1. Walking tour of the City Santiago is a much smaller city, so you can walk it easily. Some sights you will want to include are: Plaza de Marte, across from Hotel Libertad El Morro - the fortress on the water The Malecon Parque Cepedes, where you will also find the Hotel Casa Granda y la Catedral Walk down Calle La Ramada and Calle Heredia Plaza de la Revoltion (near the Teatro Heredia where we’ll be dancing) Museum of Rum 2. Afternoon trip to El Cobre Take a bus ride (around 45 minutes)to one of Cuba’s most celebrated sites, the Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre, a majestic cathedral in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, visited by cubans from all over the country who come on pilgrimages to pay their respects to the Virgin of Charity. 3. The Beach! Catch a cab in front of the hotel, (around 10-20 CUC, set price beforehand!) and head to Siboney Beach (around 30 minutes), or El Frances (a little farther but really nice.) 4. Day at the Pool Hotel Melia Santiago - for a get-away-from-it-all relaxing day by the pool! El Club de Osia - swimming pools, pool tables, bar, more local color Nightlife: Clubs: La Claqueta Casa de la Trova - great son bands And many more! Ask!!

Bookable Until

May. 20, 2016

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  • Jun. 05, 2016

    Ramon, thank you so much for everything including introducing us to amazing amazing dance teachers and dancers to organizing such a dynamic group of people to travel with. Now I'm back in Panama but I'm already planning my next trip! See you in San Francisco!

    Alisa Clayton Alisa Clayton
  • Jun. 12, 2016

    The trip was an absolute blast, from dance lessons in the morning (after excellent breakfast at main case, and hotel in Santiago) to various wandering and discoveries in the afternoon, equally excellent dinners, more dancing with our teachers at clubs in the evening, or attending phenomenal ballet and jazz performances. All this thanks to Ramon, and other organizers, who were superb, caring, attentive. Talk about value for money!

    Andrew Ross Andrew Ross
  • Jun. 14, 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!

    amara  smith amara smith