Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Latin nights that should be on your bucket list

Dance the night away in downtown Madison
Maria Brunetta
Sotto is one of many downtown Madison locations with Latin dance nights.

If you’ve been to a Latin night or have listened to some sort of Latin music, whether it be artists like Bad Bunny, Peso Pluma or Selena, you know there’s nothing like listening to the infectious beats of reggaeton, dancing the bachata or attempting to learn how to salsa. In Madison, Latin Nights have become increasingly popular with several locations offering them throughout the weekend. 

I went to my first Latin dance social in 2020, a week before COVID-19 shut the world down, and it was an unforgettable experience. For the night’s first half, we learned the basic steps of classic Latin dances like rumba, bachata and salsa with different partners. After the workshop ended, we practiced our dances for the rest of the night. When I came to Madison, it was exciting to learn about the city’s vibrant dance scene and it has become one of my favorite ways to enjoy a night out. 

Sotto Night Club


Every Thursday night, lines are out the door for Sotto, one of the few clubs in downtown Madison, located at 303 N. Henry St. DJ Frecuencia Infinita is the resident DJ who plays a mix of oldies from various Latin American countries, as well pop and reggaeton hits from Latin America. While the lines are long, Sotto is always worth checking out for those who are looking to dance. It’s a great space with the dance floor and bar in two separate places. Attendees have ample room to dance and also relax for a bit.

Sotto owner, Susan McKinney, shared that her daughters, who were born in Mexico, created Noche Latina to boost Thursdays by offering music that appealed to the Latino community. It was started in 2017 but gained popularity in 2018 after the addition of DJ Frecuencia Infinita.

“There is a vibrant community of people from Latina families in Madison who find Sotto on Thursdays nights, a place to be together and enjoy music they are familiar with,” McKinney said. “Sotto’s Latino Thursdays also attract non-Latino 21+ students and neighbors, exposing community members beyond those with South American roots to Latino American music.”

You can never go wrong with Sottos, despite the long line, it’s worth the wait. Doors open at 9 p.m. and music starts at 10 p.m. with a $5 cover.


Sushi restaurant by day, club at night, Tavernakaya hosts “TK Late Niteswith a “Caliente Fridayshosted by DJ Chamo starting at 11 p.m. It’s a small space that gets crowded very quickly with the bar and dance floor meshing into one. DJ Chamo provides a great mix of beats, but it’s more for dancing things like bachata or salsa. For those who love to dance and don’t mind a small space, this is a great spot. 

Personally, I thought the space was too small to really be able to dance but if you’re looking for a more lowkey spot to listen to music and dance, I recommend Tavernakaya. 

Tavernakaya is located at 27 E. Main St. with a $10 cover.

Cardinal Bar

Cardinal Bar is a historical staple in downtown Madison that has been around since the 1970s — though the recently reopened Cardinal Bar 3.0 last summer. Latin nights there have always been popular, talk to anyone who grew up in Madison and has connections with the Latin community and they’ll tell you they went to a Latin night at least once. The Cardinal Bar is a perfect spot for those who love to dance with a large dance floor and a large bar with lots of seating space in a separate area.

In my opinion, Cardinal Bar takes the top spot for the best Latin night. I eagerly check their Instagram weekly to see if it’s in their schedule for the weekend. DJ Chamo played a great mix of salsas and bachata where I could dance with my partner, but as the night progressed he played more reggaeton, making it feel like more of a club.

Cardinal Bar is located at 418 E. Wilson St. and typically has a $10 cover for Viva Saturday. Visit their Instagram page for weekly events.

Robinia Courtyard

This bar is a hidden gem on East Washington Avenue and it’s one of my favorite spots during the summer because not only does it have two separate bars on location, it also has an amazing outdoor courtyard. Robinia hosts Latin Night every Thursday and it’s 18+! Unlike the other locations, Robinia hosts Latin bands instead of DJs. Every first and third Thursday of the month, La Combi is the featured band. The second and fourth Thursdays feature Rebulú Group. If there happens to be a fifth Thursday in that month, the night will be hosted by either band or another local band.

This is a perfect spot for people wanting to get away from the club scene with the hopes of learning to dance and listening to live music.

Latin Night begins at 8 p.m. with a $10 cover. Lessons go from 8–9:30 p.m. and dancing goes until 12:30 a.m. Robinia Courtyard is located at 829 E. Washington Ave.

Capitol Social

While this is not a bar, The Capitol Social hosts Latin nights and Latin dance workshops at several locations throughout the city, including Robinia Courtyard, Sottos and The Cardinal Bar. They became the first monthly dance social in Madison in 2018. Their socials are a place for people to dance, meet new people and enjoy good music. They host ¡A Bailar! Wednesdays at Sotto with lessons being from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. and dancing going until 11:30 p.m. with a $7 cover. On Thursdays, they facilitate the dance lessons at Robinia Courtyard. Check out their website for more events throughout the city.

Listening to “Sweet Caroline,” “Jump Around” and “Doses and Mimosas” at the classic State Street bars can be fun, but it can get old. As a Brazilian student, I long for a night of dancing rather than just standing around and drinking, so Latin nights have become my go-to night out. If you love to dance or want to try something new, give these events a try.

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