Oscar Ochoa's passion for salsa dancing sprouted at age 9, grew rapidly at age 18 when he began taking formal lessons, and blossomed at age 24 when he won first place at a salsa competition. Today, the founder of Miami Salsa Driven combines his dancing expertise with the physical discipline he's developed from years of practicing tae kwon do and Brazilian jujitsu to lead detail-oriented salsa lessons. His team puts a big emphasis on creating an environment in which beginners feel welcome and unintimidated by advanced dancers trying to show off complex moves, such as the iceless triple axel. Students have ranged from seasoned dancers to a first-timer police-department captain, who actually ended up joining a professional dance team. Located inside the Tempo Music and Dance Academy, Miami Salsa Driven's classes focus on improving students' self-confidence and fitness levels with hands-on instruction and practice. One of the studio's walls is completely covered in full-length mirrors, allowing dancers to adjust their posture to match the instructor's or enjoy uninterrupted eye contact with themselves.
It's impossible to explore all of Miami's cultural, culinary, and entertainment hot spots in one day?unless you're attending Palette Miami. The annual shindig corrals a wide swathe of Miami's tastes, sounds, and sights onto the sprawling green spaces of Biscayne Boulevard. There, visitors can sample cuisines from restaurants including Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, Pride and Joy Bar B Que, and Mina's Mediterraneo, then pair them with a beer and saki tasting.
In between bites, participants can peruse goods from local vendors and take in some live entertainment. U2 tribute band U2 by UV adopts the cool swagger of the Irish rockers on hits such as "Even Better Than The Real Thing" and "With or Without You," while Elvis impersonator Pelvis mashes classic Elvis songs with classic rock tunes to create a musical fusion not found since rap-polka.
Leading an eco-friendly lifestyle and enjoying an occasional shopping spree aren't mutually exclusive. Go Green Fashionista proves just that, with events and pop-up shops that highlight green shopping options. Beyond making hats out of fallen leaves, there's also shopping vintage and patronizing designers who work with recycled materials. The organization's team donates to green foundations as they work, too, with missions from planting trees around the world to housing the underserved.
The Flavor of Broward showcases complex bouquets of wines from around the world—and their interplay with plates from upscale South Florida restaurants. Top chefs and eateries serve gourmet samples at festival booths, and visitors wash down their food with wine, rather than with a wine glass full of more food. Entertainment for the other senses, such as live music and a car show, rounds out the event.
Ever since football became too rambunctious for the limited confines of mess halls, it has been performed in stadiums. During this year's Pro Bowl weekend, celebrate the only sport legally allowed in football stadiums with today's Groupon. For $7, you get a single-day entry to the South Florida FanFest at the Miami Beach Convention Center—tickets normally cost $15 at the door. The exhibition, a 200,000-square-foot sports-memorabilia and card show, is the largest of its kind in Florida and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on January 29–31. There is no purchase limit, so pick up a few to attend all three days. Gift a few to your old high-school football teammates to relive the glory days of the Bash Brothers.
Miami Takeover unites South Beach's comedians, parties, and clubs into a single, multiday itinerary. But the guest list includes folks from across the country. The destination party experiences include the whole package: all-access passes to the festivities, air fare, hotel accommodations, meals, and even drinks. And local residents can get in on the fun, too, as they also offer tickets sans travel packages. Residents and transplants alike will have the opportunity to mingle at the Meet and Greet, which kicks off the festival.
This year's four-day extravaganza includes a comedy show at the Miami Convention Center?hosted by funny man Eddie Bryant?the Sexy on the Beach Day Party, and an all-night Shorts and Sandals event at Nikki Beach. The weekend culminates in the Cirque du Wylie, a five-hour dance party at Mansion Night Club featuring tunes by VYBE, Sugar Bear, and Dee Jay Casper, the world's only ghost DJ.