In this booking guide you will learn everything there is to know about Latin and Salsa bands, from what they do to how to book them for your wedding, corporate event or private party.
Bring the infectious rhythms and joyous passion of Latin music to your next event, for entertainment that's Strictly Everyone Dancing all the way!
What Is A Latin Or Salsa Act?
Latin and Salsa bands are the musical heartbeat of Spanish-speaking countries, including most of South America, Mexico and also Portuguese speaking countries such as Brazil. Latin music is also the origin of dances that we know and enjoy from Strictly Ballroom to salsa dance classes, corporate events and private parties across the UK.
At Alive Network, we also include acts that play Latin-influenced music in this section, including Cuban sol, Brazilian carnival, Argentinian tango and European Klezmer tunes. In short, if you love to rumba, salsa, merengue, tango, samba or bossa nova, or enjoy the music of Julio Iglesias, Enrique Iglesias, Gloria Estefan, Shakira, or Ricky Martin, you're a Latin music fan!
We specialise in the salsa styles but can also apply that upbeat rhythmic vibrancy to other styles, and we find that makes us both specialist and yet widely enjoyed across age ranges and tastes. We get comments about how sunny and joyous, feel-good and rhythmic it was, and how everyone enjoyed it!
- Frankie of guitar and sax duo, Mamba Rumba
And if you’re a fan of the film or album “Buena Vista Social Club”, a Cuban sol band is your ideal choice.
A Cuban son band is traditionally made up of 6 or 7 musicians and includes a combination of trés (Cuban guitar / mandolin), upright bass, trumpet, percussion and beautifully harmonised vocals which all blend together to give son its distinctive sound. For such a small island, Cuba has given us international dance crazes such as the mambo, cha-cha-cha, rumba, bolero and salsa, which continue to delight and inspire to this day.
- The Cubanaires
These acts bring all the energy, enjoyment and musicianship of Latin music to any event. These acts are superb entertainment for events where guests may not know each other - Latin music is a great ice-breaker!
What To Look For In Quality Latin & Salsa Bands
The best Latin and salsa bands share one thing; a passion for the music combined with superb musicianship. Many of the musicians have Latin music in their blood; members of Cuban sol band, The Cubanaires originate from Santiago De Cuba and are well-known recording artists in their own right.
Many Latin acts specialise in one type of Latin music, but are able to play a wide selection of styles to suit the guests or audience at an event. Many bands offer a traditional set focusing on their speciality, and a more mixed set for those who want the excitement of Latin music to delight their guests.
It’s often tempting to assume that bands that have played in top UK venues are the best, but with Latin acts, it’s worth looking to at where else they have performed internationally. For example, Havana Nights salsa band have performed across the world including Dubai, Bahrain, Dominican Republic, Jordan and on numerous worldwide cruises.
There are also young Latin bands out there who are building their reputations one gig at a time. So, check out their Profile pages too, listen to their demo tracks and look at the photos - they may not have any video yet.
Above all, these types of bands are perfect to dance to, even if you don't know your Bolero from your Charanga, or your Merengue from a Meringue!! So, look for client reviews that mention how much their guests enjoyed the music, and the dancing too. The best Latin, salsa, and Cuban bands here at Alive Network have great reviews - you can find them at the bottom of each band's Profile page.
What Music Do Latin & Salsa Bands Perform?
These types of acts usually perform the classic songs in their particular type of music, usually sung in Spanish or Portuguese. While you may not have heard of many of these songs, some bands perform modern chart classics arranged in their own particular world-style. So, for example, the Latamba Show Band feature songs made famous by Michael Bublé, Sade, Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Pharell in their set.
What Format Do Latin & Salsa Bands Offer?
Most Latin and salsa bands are very flexible, offering a variety of lineups from a cool trio for drinks receptions to a full-on dance band complete with brass section, vocalists and even costumed dancers if you wish.
With a flexible line up The Cubanaires can reduce in size and play as a smaller ensemble or add extra brass, percussion and vocalists for a truly Big Band sound.
- The Cubanaires
When it comes to Latin and salsa music, size isn’t always important! The catchy rhythms and unexpected twists and turns of melody ensure that all band or formats are bound to prove irresistible to guests. So, take time to check out the talented duos and soloists too, such as the distinctive sound of accordion player Coeur Vagabond.
With its ability to play bass line and melody together, an accordion is like a whole band in the hands of one person. I play music from many cultures, famously French, Italian, Tango and Klezmer. I provide a distinctive acoustic sound for the average sized wedding reception, party or corporate event, whether champagne on the lawn or during a formal dinner.
What Equipment Will My Latin Or Salsa Band Require?
A large-scale salsa band will require significant stage space for all their players, and will be best suited to larger rooms or marquees. A duo or trio will require far less space, making them suitable for more intimate venues or unusual spaces. Whichever format you choose, make sure there is plenty room for people to dance, as they will inevitably be up and dancing within moments of the music starting…
Larger bands will require a bigger performance space and may need a raised stage to ensure they are safe from energetic dancing! Your band may also require a section of stage or dance floor for their dancers, if they bring them. If you’re not sure what to provide, just ask your Alive Network advisor who will be more than happy to help.
Some bands bring bigger sound systems than others, which could require extra power sockets and extra space on stage or in their performance area. Smaller Latin groups will probably bring their own small PA systems or play an acoustic set, so you can enjoy a live, authentic sound.
Most bands do not provide lighting, so if your venue is particularly dark or badly lit (such as a marquee), do be prepared to hire in some extra lighting to set the party mood. Check before booking with your venue, as they may have lighting available, or call us here at Alive Network for advice.
- Outside Events
Not every band is happy to perform outside, even in the summer. If they are happy to perform in the open air, always provide a weatherproof tent or covering that protects the band from unexpected rain or blazing sunshine! Remember, people will probably want to dance to the music, so make sure there is an area for this that’s relatively flat and free from rabbit holes…
What Space Will A Latin Or Salsa Band Require?
Space requirements do vary, but overall most bands perform best on a good-sized stage or performance space where they can move about and really get into the party vibe. After all, no guitar player wants the trumpeter in his left ear, or the vocalist to be unable to get their hips swaying without bumping into the keyboard player!
Some acts may require a space that is deeper rather than wider to accommodate instruments such as double bases, drum kits and trumpets.
The accordionist needs very little to keep him/her happy. For longer gigs a chair (kitchen type – no arms please) is welcome, and enough elbow room where things are crowded and hectic.
What Performance Length Will A Latin Or Salsa Band Offer?
Most Latin music acts can tailor their performance timings very much to suit your event. At a wedding, they could provide 30-40 minutes of acoustic music during your drinks reception with two or three players, take a break, then get everyone up and dancing at your wedding party with their full band format.
If you want the band to be the main act at your wedding party, most bands will play two sets with a break in between. Expect the band to play two sets of around 45 minutes, or opt for a one set performance of up to 90 minutes.
However, bear in mind that Latin music is thirsty work for the band and your dancing guests, so everyone will welcome a chance to sit down, have a cool drink and a plate of food from the buffet, if you’re having one. Bands will often provide music in between their sets through their sound system - Grupo Latino provide this for free, for example.
Our band can play up to 2 hours of music over a 3 hour period though is usually asked to play 2 x 45’s. We normally allow 1 hour to set up.
What Options Will My Latin Or Salsa Band Offer?
Latin and salsa groups are so keen for everyone to enjoy the music to max, that they usually offer an impressively wide choice of options/extras.
- Salsa band Dispersion Pequena usually perform as a 7 piece band, but can scale down to a five piece and up to a 10 piece band. You can also add a salsa DJ or dance tuition - or both.
- Latino London have a standard 6 piece lineup that can expand to a massive 14 piece band plus 4 extra dancers if you have the space - and the budget.
- The Latamba Show Band offer their “Tropicalicious” Latin Brazilian Show with live band, vocalist, dancers in Brazilian Carnival costumes and enough feathers and sequins to out-dazzle Strictly!
What Will A Latin Or Salsa Act Cost?
- A talented Latin music soloist, such as Coeur Vagabond, will cost less than £250.
- Duos or trios cost from £350 to £750 depending on the experience and multi-instrument skills of the group members.
- Most four-piece bands cost at last £850, rising to around £1000 for experienced salsa bands and groups.
- For acts with five or more members, the cost is largely dictated by the line-up and number of players. If your budget is tight but you want a bigger band, look for new up and coming bands such as Septeto Salsa, a seven-piece band from Yorkshire who costs just shy of £1000.
- Expect to pay between £1200 and £1900 for specialist bands such as The Cubanaires, or Merengue Madness.
One way to get the best band for your bucks, so to speak, is to look for locally based bands. If the band have to travel less miles to your event, and can get home before 1am, they will offer better rates. This often applies to midweek bookings too, and for bookings out of the summer wedding season.
What Are The Differences Between Latin & Salsa Acts?
With so many different genres of Latin music, let alone all the dance types, the main difference will be the music each act or band will play, and the style of playing.
The best way to work out what would be best for you and your guests is to listen to the demo tracks on each band’s Profile. Just bear in mind that most bands will bring in their full forces to record demo tracks, and if you love the brass sound from one band, say, make sure the band you’re booking includes their brass section!
If you look carefully at the various options offered, you can often build a whole evening’s entertainment from just the one band. Enjoy an acoustic trio for the drinks reception, a dance lesson for your guests to learn the moves, and some professional dancers to show them how it should be done! Budget for extra brass players for punch, extra percussion for extra rhythm, and a DJ to keep everyone dancing even when the band are taking a breather.
Finally, remember too to read each band’s Customer Reviews, which give an insight into what the band are like in performance, and how much guests enjoyed them.
Is There Anything Else I Need To Know?
Most Latin and salsa performers have very straightforward requirements, but all will appreciate a little forward planning before their arrival, including:
Welcoming committee: all performers will feel reassured if there is someone to meet them on arrival, show them to their changing room, and introduce them to whoever is running the event.
Changing rooms: any band will need a decent-sized room in which to change, rest up between sets and store their own clothes, equipment boxes, etc. If this room can be locked, so much the better. Whatever you do, please don’t disrespect the performers by asking them to change in a toilet!
It is customary for our clients to provide food, drinks, changing facilities and parking. The band needs to be advised on access to the venue and whether there are any noise limiting devices.
- The Cubanaires
Dinner and soft drinks: all hard-working Latin music performers deserve a proper meal to sustain them through a busy evening of entertaining your guests. Ensure there is a tab set up at the bar or easy access to soft drinks (not alcohol). Most bands will also welcome a supply of bottled water, which is safer to have on-stage with them than glasses of drink. Many performers would appreciate the offer of a cooling beer or glass of wine after their show, but don’t be surprised if they decline - most of them will have to drive home.
Parking space: Most bands will need a parking space as close to the venue as possible, especially if they have heavy instruments or specialist equipment.
The logistics of our act are very straight forward, being very compact etc. We'd need a loading/parking space for our hi-top van, and, for indoor events a, maximum of two sockets for lights and PA. However, in our simplest setup, we can perform unplugged with no need for any mains supply.
- Mamba Rumba
Adequate power supply: your performers will require access to 13 amp sockets. Do check that your venue’s electrical system can provide sufficient power for larger bands. Marquees or historic venues may have limited power availability.
Sound limiters: Many UK venues use sound limiters, and most bands with brass section loath them! Sound limiters detect the decibels (volume) your band produces, and if it exceeds limits set by the local council, it cuts your band’s power supply. Most Latin dance and salsa bands can adjust their lineup accordingly - but only if they know to do so in advance. Ask your venue ASAP if they have any sound limiting equipment in place and let Alive Network know at time of booking.
How To Book A Latin Or Salsa Band From Alive Network
First, browse all the Latin, salsa and world music roster here at Alive Network, and just click on bands that take your fancy, or fit your budget. Once at their Profile page you can enjoy the demo tracks, and check out their videos too. You can request an instant online quote, do an availability check for your event dates, or just click to book your choice!
Once you've booked, an Alive Network team will contact you during office hours to double-check details such as venue, band format and your event timetable. You can ask them any questions at this point, make any song requests, etc. (The Alive Team may need to check these details with the band as a result.)
Once your booking is confirmed, you pay a small deposit, and we'll email you your contract. This contract is legally binding for your peace of mind, and will be countersigned by the band themselves.
Once your contract is signed and returned, you will be put in contact with the band or their manager approximately three weeks before the event to discuss final arrangements.