Dancing Kuala Lumpur

Dance Studio Frisk & Swing

I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur (KL) many times, but only on my last trip I started to explore the local Salsa scene…and I’m glad that I did…because it’s great…but not without it’s challenges…please read on!

Saturday: The Origin

The Origin

The Origin is one of the main places to dance Salsa in KL. It’s located in a neighborhood called Bangsar, which is known for it’s clubs catering to the Indian crowd. Quite some interesting scenes to watch on the street after dancing…more about that later. It’s quite difficult to get to, since it’s a 15 min walk from the nearest metro station. Getting home from there can also be challenging, because public transportation shuts down before midnight in KL and Grab is expensive and you might experience long wait times.

The dancing happens on the second floor. The floor is great and they have good AC and a good sound system! There’s also an associated dance studio with a number of dance rooms with mirrors and great floors. Not sure who teaches there. There’s not entrance fee, but beer is about $5…expensive compared to Vietnam.

I’ve been to The Origin twice on my previous trip. First on a Thursday, and it was completely empty (2 followers only, but they were very friendly and I’m still in touch with one of them now). Here’s a tip if you explore the dance scene in another city: don’t only dance, but be social! Walk up to people and talk to them! Get contact information! They’re happy to see you, because you’re the New Kid on the Block. They will be more than happy to tie you into the scene, and before you know it, you’ll know what’s going on before it shows up on the FB pages. So back to that Thursday night. It was very empty, apparently because a dance studio was having a dance party that I learned about too late , but I went back the next day and it was packed… I had a blast! I had arrived a little bit too late though and the crowd on the dance floor was thinning out quickly. Still, I was amazed at the skill level of almost all followers!

So on this trip I went back to The Origin on Saturday…and I was not disappointed! It wasn’t long before I was asked to dance instead of me having to ask ladies.

Again I was very impressed by the skill level of the followers in KL, for two reasons:

  • They actually listen to the music! In Vietnam, many ladies get off the beat the second you “give them leash”, because they don’t listen to the music themselves, they completely rely on the leader.
  • They enjoy dancing solo! In Vietnam, dancing solo can end up leaving the follower looking at you awkwardly, doing one hundred basics, waiting for you to come back and pick them up again. Not here! They actually dig in and solo away themselves, play with you….so much fun!

The place is somewhat small and it can get crowded, but most people are experienced dancers that don’t run their partners into the neighboring couples (that reminds of the little guy in Saigon…he’s a good dancer but he’s hell to dance next to…I avoid him like the plague). The music is great…for all 3 styles they play (Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba)…the DJ’s (one of them being Alex) play the kind of music that encourages to play with the music…not that pseudo-Techno-Salsa called Salsaton!

After dancing you can enjoy the dramas going on on the street. That’s what nightlife is like if you’re not dancing Salsa: People come out of the clubs completely wasted…girls and guys alike…they can’t even stand upright anymore. Fights start, people throw up….what a nightmare! Watch our or you find yourself involved in a fist fight or have someone puke on you shoes before you can jump into your Grab! I don’t know how they can afford getting wasted given the alcohol prices in Malaysia!

Wednesday: V’s Lounge

V’s Lounge

Not sure what V stands for, but V’s Lounge is a posh bar and restaurant close to the Menara landmark tower. They even have an impressive wine “cellar” (not in the basement, though).

It was easy to get there with a Grab from my apartment and I decided to walk home instead of bothering with Grab during peak time.

The place is nice, but: no people! Only 3 followers…this is starting to become a pattern in KL…a gal I’m exchanging WhatsApp messages with told me that the turn out in KL during the week can be low…yep…3 is definitely low! One of the ladies was a reasonable dancer, very good frame, but a bit on the slow side. The other one was fun for Bachata…Salsa with her was OK. A beautiful gal from Bangladesh ended up being a total beginner, but it was fun to teach her some Bachata.

Very friendly staff!

Thursday: Sky Lounge @ Nu Sentral


On Thursday I had the choice between going back to The Origin or try out a new place: Sky Lounge in Nu Sentral. Nu Sentral (pseudo-English for New Central, I guess) is close to Sentral, which is the main metro station in KL. Getting there with public transportation is easy, but it’s just as easy to get seriously lost within the gigantic station. Google Maps showed me a somewhat complicated walk to Nu Sentral…I’m sure there are easier ways! KL is NOT made for walking! Sky Lounge is on top of Nu Sentral…close to the movie theaters…by the time I got there I was wet from sweating, but the AC inside the bar is so good that I was dry within a few minutes. Sky Lounge is a spacious and luxurious bar with a GREAT and big dance floor, but….yep, you guessed it…no people! Maybe 3-5 followers! I might have to abandon dancing during the week in KL. The DJ of The Origin later told me that they had about 20 people….I had made the wrong choice! Maybe it had to do with the DJ, because the music was HORRIBLE! The Salsa was 50% so-called Salsaton (a mix of Salsa and Reggae…or, more simply put, Salsa with a drum machine plastered all over it). I absolutely HATE it! The drum machine levels out all the beautiful nuances Salsa has! The other 50% were pretty much solidly in Marc Anthony’s hands…alright…much better, but still not the jazzy Salsa with nice Piano or drums solos that I prefer.

The first gal, a young spinner, was absolutely phenomenal! But she left right after our dance just to come back right before closing. A tall Asian lady also was fun to dance with. Then there was this girl….how to put it…she was “a bit” on the heavy side…well…not only a bit….QUITE A BIT! I didn’t have high expectations, but WOW, this lady could DANCE! Another lady wasn’t really used to LA-style Salsa, but was able to manage. I told her to dance Cuban style with me, me trying to follow her. So even though the turn out was VERY low and the music very often just sucked, I ended up having a good time!

Getting home proved to be a challenge, again, though. Google Maps indicated that public transportation was still running and I somehow was able to find a shortcut from Nu Sentral to Sentral, but it was closed already. Then I went to the Meridian hotel to wait for a Grab…12 minutes wait time! Between the low turnouts and the issues with transportation, I’m starting to wonder whether it’s worth while. But then I remembered that gal with the red shoes I had the first dance with…

In the meantime, a girl bought me a ticket to a party at a dance studio on Saturday….seems to be the thing to go to on the weekend, and the DJ of The Origin told me to come back on Friday….I’m considering it!

Friday: Back to The Origin…

The Origin (when I arrived @ 9:30 pm)…
…and one hour later!

…no pun intended! Alex had messaged me that the night before they had about 20 people, when I was trying to scrape by with 2 followers at the Sky Lounge! So I headed out to Bangsar to The Origin again. I arrived at 9:30 pm…and the place was empty! No one! Not again, I thought, preparing myself for another lost night. I went to have dinner nearby and came back around 10:30 pm…PEOPLE! And still more were showing up! GOOD dancers! The music was just how I like it: classic Salsa with lots of improvisation! I ended up dancing until 1:30 am! Another great night at The Origin! This time I had decided to not deal with public transportation and just take a Grab to and from there…no problems, waiting times and trip fares were reasonable. The Origin has dancing from Thursday to Saturday. I heard that on Thursday it draws a crowd dancing mostly Cuban Salsa.

Saturday: Latin Party @ Frisk & Swing

Frisk & Swing Dance Studio

Dance Studio Frisk & Swing
Frisk & Swing Dance Studio

Having a recent negative COVID test was mandatory, so I bought one at a KK (similar to 7/11) for $1…negative….good! Dated and sent the test result to the studio owner.

The gal that I had met at The Origin on my very first night there, Gery, and her friend Anita had mentioned a Latin dance party at a dance studio called Frisk & Swing to me, and Gery had even gotten me a ticket. I had not been at a Social at a dance studio ever since my early days in the Bay Area, so I was curious.

Anita had told me to get there at 8:30 pm, but it was 9:30 when I arrived. Of course the party was already in full swing! I met Gery right away and she introduced me to the owners. The Frisk & Swing dance studio is HUGE! The main dance room can be separated into two rooms with mirrored dividers for classes, but they were pushed aside for the party. The atmosphere was relaxed, lights were down, not stiff and formal like you might expect from a dance studio. Of course many people knew each other from classes. The floor is flawless. Actually, you cannot enter the studio with street shoes…only dance shoes or socks.

Wearing a mask during dancing was mandatory, which was a bummer for me because I can’t quite let go completely without seeing my partners reaction. But apparently, another studio had had a bunch of COVID cases after a party…hence the precaution.

The music was great, but not quite as much in tune with my personal taste like in The Origin.

Later during the party I met Anita, who I had never met in person before, and she pointed out to me who the good Salsa dancers are (especially On 1, because the studio teaches On 2), which was very helpful. Some of them were indeed very good, others I didn’t really click with.

I had a very good time at Frisk & Swing, but I wasn’t quite in the Zone as much as I was at The Origin the night before…maybe it was the dancing with mask, maybe because many ladies prefer dancing On 2 and don’t quite enjoy On 1 as much…not sure.

When they switched on the lights, I realized that I will miss dancing in Kuala Lumpur! The conditions (space, dance floor, AC, sound system) are ideal and so many good followers to dance with!

Frisk & Swing will have a 3-day event in October and I’m already making plans to come back!


  • The skill level of the followers in KL is among the best I’ve seen yet in South East Asia…absolutely fantastic! 400% of what I typically experience in Vietnam! You can just get into the Zone with them, you don’t have to constantly worry about them “getting it”! And they LOVE you LOVING it!
  • The people are very friendly and welcome you with open arms!
  • The premises are top notch! Luxury bars with great dance floors and AC that’s actually making a difference! In Vietnam, I often look as if I had fallen into the swimming pool after half a song…I always have to bring 2-3 shirts and a towel… here I hardly break a sweat! Energy must the REALLY cheap in Malaysia!
  • Alcohol is a bit expensive.
  • Transportation to and especially FROM the clubs can be challenging, expensive and time consuming.
  • During the week, the MAJOR issue though is TURNOUT: It’s so frustrating if you finally make it to a place…a GREAT place…and then it’s EMPTY! I was told that before COVID, the Socials during the week were more crowded, but now people are worried…or have just gotten accustomed to not going out.

2 responses to “Dancing Kuala Lumpur”

  1. As a dancer from the USA living in Malaysia the last 4 years, I concur with your findings. KL offer’s consistently the best level of dancers in Asia. Having dance and taught in all of Asia, including your beloved Vietnam, you can rest assure that KL offer’s the highest level of dancers in all of Asia … specially that lady with the red dance shoes

    • You’re so right! I found my two last trips to KL so inspiring! So much so that I’m going to model my new Salsa Social in Da Nang after the party I went to at The Bodega! The Social will be in My Casa! Thanks for your comment!

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