Pico's the pick for salsa


Cuban quartet Fascinacion live up to their name at the Rembrandt Hotel's Mexican restaurant

Mexican cuisine waits for Bangkokians to have their fill of Italian or Japanese first, but one can deny that the restaurants are lots of fun. That boisterously colourful decor and all those surprises for the taste buds guarantee sombrerowearing magic.

And at Senor Pico, the Rembrandt Hotel's 17-year-old Mexican restaurant, the tasty dinners always end up as festive parties thanks to the energetic dance band onstage.

Fascinacion from Cuba is current¬ly bringing salsa back to Senor Pico. The quartet - guitarists Guillermo and Adolfo and percussionistsingers Daisy and Indiana (Indiana also plays flute and piano) - have been gigging the globe since 1993.

Britons, Swedes, Finns and Emirate Arabs have discovered that they too can tango thanks to Fascinacion's irresistible rhythms.All four musicians carry a degree from Cuba's National Conservatory of Music and a promise to keep play¬ing different styles until your feet find something they can tap to.

"We can also play Brazilian music, Mexican tunes like the merengue, boleros and even Arabian music - we lived in Dubai for 13 years and can sing in Arabic," Guillermo says through a translator. "Our root music is, of course, Cuban. We come from the country of salsa - we have the rhythm in our blood!"

The Fascinacion frenzy begins with some slow percolation. The Latin tunes are laid back early in the evening, but the beat picks up a few notches after dessert, and soon you're pushing tables aside to clear the dance floor.

Once you're addicted and begin living la vita Latina, check out other venues around town that enjoy the same sort of party:

 Coyote, the Mexican chain, has a branch on Convent (02 531 2325) where women get free margaritas on Wednesday from 6 to 8pm and Saturdays from 10 to midnight.

The Coyote on Sukhumvit Road near the Phrom Phong Skytrain station (02 662 3838) has a full-blast party every Tuesday from 6 to 8pm.

Bed Supperclub on Sukhumvit Soi 11 does a Latin-influenced "Rumba Caliente" bash in the White Room every Wednesday with DJ electronica. The Bt700 entrance fee includes two drinks. (02) 651 3537; www.BedSupperclub.com

Temples Irish Bar has salsa nights every Monday and pints of beer cost Bt112 all night. (02) 253 0157

The Tapas Room Club on Silom Soi 4 (02 234 4737) is smitten with Latin seven days a week, and on occasional weekend nights there's a percussionist tripping up the tempo.

Don't know how to dance? Head to the Bull's Head on Sukhumvit Soi 33/1 any Tuesday, Cuban expatriates Beisy and Hector give beginners salsa lessons from 6.30 to 8pm, and advanced dancers can join in at 7 to show off. Bring a dancing partner - it's Bt400 per couple. (02) 233 4141 or (02) 234 3590 

Gotta dance

Fascinacion takes the stage nightly except Monday at Senor Pico's in the Rembrandt Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 18, open daily from 5.30 to 1am. Call (02) 261 7100, exten¬sion 7550, or see what's up at www.RembrandtBkk.com.


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