It’s a big adjustment to go from 8-6pm office work to making your own schedule. What to do when you’re living in Cuenca but not working, or you’re working very little? When you’ve been to Ingapirca, Gualaceo, and all the museums….learn something new! The great thing is that Cuenca is filled with clubs and classes for the young at heart. Some of these businesses have no websites (I tried to give at least the intersection in these cases), or just have facebook pages. List is of course biased towards the activities/clubs that interest me the most as well. Last updated 10/23/2013. This list is by no means complete, any other fun clubs/activities comment here! PS, that’s me trying to learn aerial silk dancing.
Arts & Crafts:
Dibujo Cuenca, a club that meets weekly Fridays to sketch interesting subjects, everything from acrobatic silk dancers to Harajuku girls. Spanish only.
Foto Club Cuenca, a photography lovers club, meets every other week currently at the Alianza Francesa, for a technical talk on photography. A great mix of professionals and hobbyists, 90% local Cuencanos. Also goes on various outing to practice. Usually 30+ people show up. Spanish only.
Cuenca Crafters – a group of ladies (mostly gringas) who get together to do their favorite crafts! I brought some jewelry-making supplies, and they were knitting, crocheting, etc.
Salsa and Bachata Classes, (Shameless self-promotion) private and group classes in salsa and bachata by yours truly, in LA-style or NY-style “salsa en linea” and bachata. Bilingual
Argentine tango classes at Center Dance International – Taught by an argentine guy. Monday- Friday. Spanish only.
Contemporary dance classes – Look for “Milena Rodriguez” on Facebook. Costa Rican dance teacher who does contact improvisation, contemporary, etc. The location has changed several times, so ask her for latest info. Spanish only.
More salsa classes: Other options to learn salsa in Cuenca include the major Spanish schools (free classes for students, but very, very, basic at Simon Bolivar and Amauta), Salserios (salsa en linea and Kizomba), Cachumbambe (cuban-style salsa and bachata) and M2 Dance Fitness (aerobic-oriented cuban-style salsa). Personal rant – as a fellow salsa dance teacher, the bad thing about Cuenca is that every other person on the street will offer to teach you salsa lessons, but there are actually very few people here who do it well.
Reggaeton / urban dance classes at Escuela de Baile FAMA. Well known for reggaeton and urban dance. Spanish.
Break Dancing at So Original. Cuencanos who break dance! No website yet, but walk along the 12 de Abril. It is a couple blocks west of Plaza Otorongo on 12 de Abril, right above the Pharmacia.
Pole Dancing at Aerial Cuenca: Pole Dancing and yoga in various hours throughout the week. Remigio Crespo. Spanish only.
Espacio Vacio: a dance and arts space, which has among other items, aerial silks classes, the Japanese art of Butoh, yoga, children’s art therapy, and contact improvisation. Located in El Centro with a beautiful view of the Tomebamba river. Mostly Spanish.
Sarabic: A dance school specializing in Eastern and Asian dances. Offers group belly dance classes and bhangra classes. I came to beginning belly dance classes here, incredible if you really really want to learn how to “shake it.” Shimmies and body rolls anyone? Spanish only. In El Centro.
Nafre Kanira: Another Middle-eastern / Belly-dancing school. Right on Calle Larga.
Gaia Estudio de Danza: A belly-dance school focusing on fusion and tribal style located in Remigio Crespo. Spanish only.
Capoeira Angola: A hole in the wall place to learn Angola style capoeira. Various weekly schedules Monday-Friday. I’ve walked by and seen people doing anything from drumming to martial-arts inspired cartwheels across the floor. In El Centro at Mariscal Sucre and Coronell Guillermo Talbot (near Plaza San Sebastian)
Fitness and Yoga
Pilates Reina Moscoso: A pilates studio with reformer machines. I took one trial class, great workout! Various weekly schedules. Located in Plaza Otorongo. Spanish.
Centro Sat Nam: A yoga studio. Plaza Otorongo. Spanish.
Gimnasio Dorian: A somewhat grungy gym in El Centro. Has weights, bicycles, but no treadmills. Somewhat disappointing aerobics and bailoterapia classes. I.e. my instructor once read the sports section while he was teaching the step aerobics class, not exactly inspiring. $22/month. Located in El Centro at Simon Bolivar and Tarqui.
Bodycare Gimnasio: A beautiful gym by Mall de Rio, on the way to Turi. I did a trial day here and I loved it – spinning, TRX, pilates reformer, bailoterapia. The only thing is it is far away from where I live.
Art Gym: A small, personal weight-lifting gym in El Centro. $15/month. No-nonsense and the owner will coach you through a personalized routine. I am a member. Alfonso Jerves 4-27 y Calle Larga
Bailoterapia (Zumba) classes. Outdoors in many of the plazas in Cuenca. Typically around 7 or 8 pm. Google “bailoterapia” and the name of the park closest to you to find their facebook page. Spanish only. Free, put on by the city of Cuenca to improve the health of the public.
Crossfit classes: There are two cross-fit gyms in Cuenca with classes all day. Looks like great fun, I almost joined but it ended up being too far for me (by Yanuncay). They are called Cross Fit Cuenca and The Zone Cuenca
Spanish Classes: Learn Spanish gringos! You can find this all over, from private tutors to the major language schools (Simon Bolivar, Amauta, and Cazhuma). Some will also teach you Ecuadorean cooking.
Italian classes (La Dante Italian School). Already learned Spanish? Time for Italian. Maybe not quite as useful here as Spanish, but you’ll always be ready for Venizia!
French classes & Alianza Francesa: a cultural center where you can learn French classes on weekly schedule. Also offers movie nights and the occasional French cooking workshop!
Spanish/English chat interchange: a group which meets to chat, socialize and practice Spanish and English. First 30-45 minutes is Spanish, then another 30-45 minutes in English. Meets weekly at Lounge Café in Parque la madre saturdays at 1pm
More Spanish/English chat interchange. Another intercambio group is sponsored by Ecuassist (a gringo-assistance company/real estate firm). Meets Tuesday/Thursday at Fabiano’s restaurant at 4:30-5:30. Presidente Cordova 4-84 and Mariano Cueva.
Republica Sur: A cultural center with tons of events – movie nights, sometimes salsa nights organized by yours truly.
Arca Cuenca: The local humane society / animal shelter. Accepts volunteers for everything from cleaning dog crap (for the brave!) or you can do as I do and pick up a cute dog for a walk along the river.
Cuenca Vegetarian Society (new!): A club that meets at vegetarian restaurants, organizes potlucks, etc. Interested in animal activism and eating healthy.
Cuenca Despierta (i.e. Cuenca wake up!) A shamelessly hippie organization focused on everything new age, meets at California Kitchen. Spanish only.
Club de Andinismo Sangay: a club, mostly locals, which organizes primarily strenuous and/or overnight hiking trips to various parks all over Ecuador (with the occasional easy/moderate dayhike thrown in). Mostly locals
Cuenca Singles: a group of single baby boomers which organizes various social events and dances, primarily retired gringos, although there’s a small minority of locals as well.