Learn more about Salsa on the Square and the history of the event.
Salsa on the Square is a 3CDC produced free event created by Bill Donabedian and Nicholas Radina in 2008. This annual weekly summer music series takes place every Thursday, May though September from 7-10pm on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati and features live Latin bands and large dance classes .
The 2021 season sponsors include continued support from P&G and new partner, Fifth Third Bank.
The event features live local, regional and national Latin bands specializing in Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Latin Jazz. In addition to the live music, local dance instructors host large dance classes teaching basic and intermediate Latin dancing. Great food and cold drinks are always on hand!
Salsa on the Square 14th season runs Thursday, May 6th and through September 30th.
The complete 2021 performer and instructor line-up was announced in May 2021.
While managing the transformation of Cincinnati’s Fountain Square in 2007, 3CDC’s Managing Director, Bill Donanbedian attended the Mad Frog music venue which hosted the popular Monday night “Salsa Night” with the popular local latin band, Tropicoso. Impressed with the event, Donabedian approached local Cincinnati musician and Tropicoso band member Nicholas Radina to help create a “Salsa Night” on Fountain Square. Radina put together the concept of the event featuring a live latin band with dance instruction on the band breaks — heavily leaning towards booking Cincinnati talent. With some feedback from a few local Salsa fans and friends, Radina officially named the event “Salsa on the Square” and began building the event. Donabedian left 3CDC in 2011 to create Cincinnati’s Bunbury and BuckleUp Music Festivals. Radina continues to program and promote the event.
Listen to radio interviews with Nicholas Radina talking about “Salsa on the Square”.
Cincinnati has a wealth of talented musicians fueling a vibrant and diverse music scene. Cincinnati’s Latin music legacy dates back to 1987! Many bands have formed and several have remained very active — in fact, local favorites Son Del Caribe and Tropicoso have been at it for over 20 years! Radina has always tried to program the event with a strong emphasis on Cincinnati’s local groups and musicians, including:
- Azúcar Tumbao
- Cla’ve Son
- Mambo Diablo
- Monk River
- Orquesta Kandela
- Son Del Caribe
- Mambo Combo
- La Formula
- ¡ZUMBA! Band
- The Amador Sisters
- Somos Música y Sabor
- NuyoRican LF
- El Ritmo Del Mañana
- Dayton Salsa Project
- Al Son Del Iya
Groups booked from other cities include:
- Brian Andres and the Afro-Cuban Cartel (San Francisco, CA)
- Groupo Tumbao (Indianapolis, IN)
- KY Salsa All-Stars (Louisville, KY)
- Cosa Seria (Louisville, KY)
The Dance Instructors
Many local dance instructors take part in Salsa on the Square by hosting large dance classes, on the band breaks, teaching the basics of dancing salsa, merengue, bachata and cuban rueda.
Current and past dance instructors include:
- Liliana Marsuzzi — Salsaires
- Diana Hoffman — Kama Salsa
- Ivana Adler & Frederic Angus –Salsannati
- Emma Willig — Volaré Dance Project
- Robert Rice — Cuban Salsa Cincinnati
- Malik Spencer — RevealYourLove
- Jeff Link — Bembe Cincinnati
- Herman Recalde –Salsa Underground
- Terri Atkinson — Atrevidos Dance Company
- Michael Beck — Midwest Latino
- Doreen Beatrice
- Marilyn Kuntz
Listen to a interview with instructors Ivana Adler and Frederic Angus of SalsaNati for WNKU radio talking about their relationship to the music
Salsa on the Square –The Photo Book!
In 2009 local photographer, writer and musician Victor Vélez created and published “Salsa on the Square– The Book”. The book features photography of fans, dancers, bands, and instructors at the event — truly capturing th essence of Salsa on the Square.
Salsa on the Square Compilation CD!
From 2009 to 2014, Nicholas Radina created and produced a recording project, “Salsa on the Square Compilation CD” featuring original music and arrangements by the seasons’s performers. Over 3,500 of these recordings were given away for free, weekly at Salsa on the Square. A total of six compilation CD’s were produced between 2009 and 2014 resulting in over 40 original songs and arrangements! Recordings were made at various Cincinnati studios including Group Effort , Audio Grotto, and Ultrasuede by local recording engineers Bill Gwynne, Ashley Shephard and Nicholas Radina. Artwork for all the CD’s were designed by Bobbie Schneider.
The evolution of the “Salsa on the Square” t-shirt.
In 2014, the first official “Salsa on the Square T-Shirt” was designed by local photographer and artist, Michael Jackaman. The t-shirt design options were posted on the Salsa on the Square Facebook page for fans to vote on their favorite. The following year, Jackaman was at it again with a brand new design, and once again the fans voted for their favorite.
Early fans may remember the official event ending time for the inaugural 2008 season was just 9pm. The following 2009 season, the event ending time was permanently changed and extended to 10pm!
New Stage and Production Upgrade!
After the renovation of Fountain Square in 2008, the stage and Tyler Davidson Fountain had been moved. During the first three years of programming, the stage consisted of a small, raised granite platform with some additional temporary staging to increase the performance area while covered by a tent. Although quite small for large member Latin bands, the performers and fans endured. In 2013, a agreement was made with P&G and 3CDC to upgrade staging, lighting and sound.
In 2020, the “Fifth Third Center Stage” was completed — a permanent performance stage on Fountain Square that it is presented as a gift to the City of Cincinnati. The Fifth Third Center Stage, designed in partnership with 3CDC and the City of Cincinnati, fulfills a long-term community objective for a state-of-the-art public venue on Fountain Square. The stage design and construction represents a $2 million investment by Fifth Third.
The official food vendor for 2021 is Mazunte
Past venders include:
- Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant
- Antojitos Restaurant
- Elusive Cow
- Mama Made It
- Papa John’s Pizza
- Skyline Chili
Current 2021 presenting sponsor is P&G.
2021 Partners are: Fifth Third Bank and La Mega 97.7 FM
Past supporting sponsors include:
- PNC Bank
- Belterra Park
- Contemporary Arts Center
- Camarena Tequilla
- Cincinnati State College
- Kiss 107 FM
- State Farm
- UC Health