UPDATE 05/14/2007: We’ve received feedback from some salsa-addicts out there that this review is a bit “out-of-date.” The scoring we have at the bottom is relevant only to the particular outing. We have been advised that things have changed and it isn’t the popular spot it once was. To be confirmed.
This years last outing with Toronto Dance Salsa was at Acrobat Lounge – an old favorite for Friday nights. In fact, Acrobat will always hold a special place in my heart because this is where I met my sweetheart, Alfred. Yup, this is where my love affair with salsa really began – 1.5 years ago. But fond memories aside, I love the hardwood floors, rich burgundy decor, and the cozy atmosphere of this place. It used to get a little too cozy with so many people on the dancefloor, but that is a problem no more! Acrobat’s maximum capacity has been reduced to 150 people, which means two things:
1) You must get there early to ensure entry, and
2) More space for you to dance!
If doors open and the lesson starts at 8:45pm, I would suggest getting there 5 mins earlier just to be safe. You don’t want to end up standing outside in the line-up, especially in the winter.
Alfred and I gave the beginner lesson at this outing, and Sharon and Evan taught the advanced lesson! Luckily for us, there was a smaller sized group, which is much easier to teach. We did a simple combination that included many of the moves they had already learned in level 1. But for the last part we included a new move for them as an added challenge. I think by the end of the lesson, almost every couple could do the combination…Yay! Sharon and Evan taught a much more complicated turn pattern for the advanced dancers. And from what I could see, everyone was able to follow the moves that were being called out…Good Job!
After the lesson, the music was turned on and everyone enjoyed a little social dancing. Then, the floor was cleared and everyone gathered around to watch the night’s special performance. We were in for a special treat. Spotlights turned on and Emely and Karem appeared in matching red and black costume. They had been practicing their own self-choreographed dance for weeks to prepare for this performance. As the music started, they started dancing in unison, matching the tempo of the music with their body movements. It was smooth, it was sexy, and I saw lots of good use of body waves in their performance. I also saw some pretty intricate turn patterns, neck drops, and dips. They carried out their routine seamlessly despite Emily’s injured toe – what a trooper! Fantastic performance guys!
The rest of the night was lots of fun. There were only about 70-80 people, which made for lots of space to dance. A cameraman was there to capture the whole evening. And if you gave a testimonial that night, you might find yourself on Sharon’s new instructional DVD…coming soon to a screen near you!
Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year!
2464 Yonge St. (3 blocks north of Yonge and Eglinton)
Cover: $10 (Ladies free before 10pm, excludes lesson)
Dancing: Friday (Beginner and Intermediate Lessons at 8:45pm)
Coat Check: $2 (Mandatory)
Fun Factor: 4
Overall: 21 (out of 25)
Nina and Alfred had made a good start into this blog, but have been swamped by a few non-salsa priorities. We’re ramping up for some well needed vacation time, but won’t leave our readers hanging until our return. We’re headed for Asia, and being the salsa addicts we are, we hope to report on the salsa world all the way out from the Far East but until then, we’ll be posting a few reviews of salsa music artists and hopefully another club review.
The Jazzmen of Salsa – Les Jazzmen de la Salsa
Who are the Jazzmen of Salsa? We’d never heard of them, and Sharon lent us some of their material to check them out. When we first saw the cover, our initial thoughts were less than promising. A bunch of jazz musicians from Montreal playing some sort of jazz fusion salsa? Even a lesser skeptic would have had their suspicions. Happily for our ears, this group delivers more than a lukewarm blasphemy of salsa. Their energy and creativity is very listenable and for the most part danceable. For those unfamiliar thes terms, there can be salsa music that can be nice to listen to, but difficult to dance to and sometimes vice versa. It is best of course for the artist when their music is both nice to listen to and fun to dance to.
As their name implies, the group attempts to add jazz elements into an underlying salsa beat and style. They do this without being repetitive, and are able to change things to keep things from becoming tedious. The song titled Hip Salsa Hop has a typical salsa keyboard pattern at first but unexpectedly breaks into a jazzy styled break. The tune definitely makes one want to hop, especially to the tight horns and saxophone playing off one another. Hip hop it is not, but the smooth blues style of this song definitely makes one wish it wouldn’t stop.
As for the song labeled Cowboy’s Salsa, the humor of such a combination really shows itself in this tune. It is fun and demonstrates the composer’s creativity and the musician’s ability to adjust to the fusion of styles. The clave in combination to the music makes one wonder if a whinnying horse will crash through with a cowboy at any point. There is a video on the group’s website that shows a couple named Eve and Thomasz dancing to this song in costume, and are a fun complement to this song.
Salsa’s Boogie sounds like somebody convinced a Dixieland jazz band to play salsa. At times it is hard to pick out the salsa in this song, but the the clave is there and it is difficult to fault someone for trying something new and fresh.
So in general, this group does well to bring something new to the salsa world. More for those with an open mind than a purist, the manage to bring a bit of both genres without ruining either. Not an easy task, and that in itself deserves an applause. This band looks like a fun group to see live, so hopefully they swing by Toronto someday.
You can visit The Jazzmen of Salsa at their website: http://www.thejazzmenofsalsa.com/