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BARFLY ON THE WALL

Amorama brings salsa, bachata and cha cha cha to Clearwater

Latin music fans dance to bachata music at Amorama Nightclub in Clearwater.

Luis Santana/tbt*

Latin music fans dance to bachata music at Amorama Nightclub in Clearwater.

After writing about Classy's Jac's Lounge in New Port Richey a few months ago I received several emails, many of which had a common theme — people were interested in checking out Classy Jac's but also wanted to know about places to go dancing in Pinellas County.

It wasn't long after that I heard about Amorama.

Amorama is a Latin nightclub that recently opened in Clearwater. It features a variety of different styles of music and dance from the Caribbean and South America. I'll admit to being not an expert on the subject, but it sounded like something that readers might be looking for — so I put it on the calendar.

From the outside, Amorama couldn't possibly be pegged as any sort of a nightclub or bar. Located in a shopping center off Ulmerton Road, Amorama blends in with the shops and offices. Inside, it could hardly be mistaken for anything else.

The interior is tidy and simple, nearly minimalist; the focal point is a medium-sized dance floor in the center of the room, between the entrance and a small bar at the other end. When I arrived, a salsa dancing class — held from 7 to 9 p.m. every Thursday, courtesy of Simone Salsa Dance School — had just let out, and couples were trying out their new moves.

The dance floor, sparsely illuminated by a few brightly colored club lights, is surrounded by tiered seating on three sides. Low tables around the perimeter of the dance floor serve as resting areas for partners cooling off between dances, and high-top tables along the wall are great for people-watching or just relaxing and enjoying the music. My girlfriend and I, being in possession of little to no dancing skill, took a seat at the bar.

We were greeted by owner Fernando Gallo, who was eager to fill us in on the details of the various dances. See, at Amorama, everyone gets to try their hand — or foot, as the case may be — at a variety of regional styles originating from Cuba (salsa, cha cha cha), the Dominican Republic (merengue, bachata), and Mr. Gallo's native Colombia (cumbia, vallenato).

The club is open four nights a week, with classes on Thursday and Friday and free dancing afterward and on the weekends.

Dancing is naturally the main focus at Amorama, so the bar — thick, bamboo shelving, a black granite countertop, and a few backlit shelves of stemware and pilsner glasses — is as simple and neat as the rest of the club. On the left, you'll find white and rosé wines, as well as a few domestic beers; on the right, there are red wines and imported beer, most originating from Latin America. Another option is the house sangria, a lighter and more refreshing version than many of the sangrias that I've tried elsewhere. It was quite good.

As we sipped our drinks, we watched the dancers weave in and out of different styles as the music changed. Most of the dancing was salsa, which is lively and animated. Then we saw some bachata, which is more dependent on footwork and hip motion, with the dancers moving in a smaller area. In some cases, we were told, dancers will even move around in the space of a single tile.

If you have an appreciation for Latin dancing, or if you've ever wanted to learn, you may want to consider Amorama. The environment didn't seem intimidating for a beginner, and the classes could probably help you lose that designation in short order anyway. Or maybe, like me, you're content just to enjoy a drink as the dancers swirl in the background. Amorama's low-key, classy atmosphere works well for both.

— jg@saintbeat.com















Amorama

13501 Icot Blvd, Clearwater; (727) 239-7888

The vibe: A Latin bar and nightclub with an emphasis on dancing, from the salsa to the cha cha cha.

Booze: Beer, $3.50-$4; wine, $5.50-$10.

Specialty: The homemade sangria emphasizes citrus more than spice, making it a better fit for summer nights spent dancing than the cinnamon-heavy mixes you may be accustomed to. If you'd prefer a beer, try the Aguila, a crisp session lager from Colombia that won't bog you down but that still has a decent body.

Hours: 6 p.m. to close Thursday; 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday; 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday, ; 5 p.m. to close Sunday. Closed Monday through Wednesday. Thursday and Sunday closing hours vary, so call ahead.

Amorama brings salsa, bachata and cha cha cha to Clearwater 08/11/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:13pm]

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