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Live Salsa & Latin

Alberto's
736 W. Dana St., Mountain View (415/968-3007)
"Discotheque" is a French word, but at Alberto's, it is pronounced with a Spanish accent, especially on Sunday, which is officially Disco Night at this downtown Mountain View institution. The decor recalls a low-budget movie version of Havana, Miami or East L.A. The ambiance varies night to night: Tuesday is salsa night (dance lessons begin at 7pm); Wednesday is Caribbean night (look for steel-drum bands or reggae). Cover ranges from $10 to $15, with a discount for those holding a monthly pass, available for $25.

Club Caribe
1001 S. First St., San Jose (408/297-7272)
The people are friendly, the dance floor huge and the music loud (but it's a good kind of loud). Club Caribe features both live DJs and live bands, with tunes ranging from ranchera to banda to tejano. This is a clean, well-designed club, with seating around the dance floor from which patrons can watch the dancers twirl and still see the band. High ceilings and good ventilation keep the smoke at bay and the climate cool. Open 8pm­2am, except Sunday.

Club Miami
177 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose (408/279-3670)
Hot, hot, hot sums up Club Miami. Steamy salsa music blasts through the strobe- and neon-lighted club. It is both upstairs and upscale. Sharply dressed dancers move, spin and sway to the unending thump, thump of the merengue music. Thirsts are quenched with beer, wine and the occasional shot of tequila. Tight clothes are required for both sexes to advertise the goods. The patio provides a place to talk, scam and watch the hip Latinas smoke cigars. Cover runs $5­$10, Thursday­Saturday.

Copa Cabana
2618 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose (408/272-3481)
For 16 years, the Copa Cabana has been bringing live music and entertainment to south San Jose. Located in the Alum Rock Plaza, the club features both live DJs and live bands playing everything from salsa and cumbia to ranchera and tejano. The flashing lights and glitter ball radiate '70s, but turn away from the crowded dance floor, and it seems more like an earthy local drinking spot. The manager describes the dress code as "formal," and patrons do seem to dress up for the evening. Open 2pm­2am, seven days a week.

Jose's Caribbean Nightclub
2275 El Camino Real, Palo Alto (415/326-6522)
There are very few places in the valley where you can eat Cuban food and dance to live reggae till 2am. Jose's Caribbean Nightclub and Restaurant is one such place. With bright pink and blue place mats on the tables and a well-stocked indoor tiki bar, Jose's attracts an eclectic clientele--mostly dancers--from Latinos to yuppies to youths. At Jose's, you can munch on fried plantains and Creole alligator, wash that down with a pink Hawaiian Hurricane, polish your meal off with a smooth Cuban coffee and then hit the floor for salsa classes. (A little Dramamine might be in order, first.) Call for the somewhat erratic schedule at Jose's ahead of time, and then be prepared for something entirely new. Open till 2am weekends.

The Latin Village
1899 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose (408/259-7712)
The Latin Village is the place to find the traditional Mexican charro (cowboy) in his full regalia: jeans, boots, a wide brim Stetson and, of course, holding it all together, buckles the size of the East Side. The large band of caballeros playing cumbias and rancheras pack the dance floor while lonely Latinas wait to be asked to join in the fun. The room is smoky, the beer is cold and there are plenty of waitresses to serve up brews. Parking is free, although the cover charge comes and goes depending on the mood of the doorman.

Towne Oak Supper Club
407 Town and Country Village, Sunnyvale (408/732-5500)
By day, a quiet ivy and brick lunch restaurant with a glassed-in atrium, and a quiet clientele on the other side of 40 munching on the Towne Oak Steak Bomb and the Towne Sizzler. There's a quiet, upscale bar, flanked by portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Mae West, serving Gordon Biersch Märzen, Talisker single-malt and cocktails. On Saturday nights, the Towne Oak comes to life with live salsa, cumbia and merengue with such bands as Orquestra Borinquen and Orquestra Cadencia; free appetizers and CD giveaways are offered to lure in dance fans. Open daily, 11:30am­2am.

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From the June 12-18, 1997 issue of Metro.

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