October « 2010 « Salsa Addiction Centre
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    Salsa-we’en Special: Choosing the Best Costume to Dance In

    Last year I learned a very valuable lesson about choosing a salsa-friendly costume. While my ‘Zorro’ costume worked for the most-part there were two fundamental flaws that made dancing almost impossible: I could barely see through my mask and my hat made most of my moves impossible. Luckily I made some quick fixes and the costume was a hit; hopefully with a few tips you’ll have much more success from the get-go!

    Can you move in it?
    Thinking about being a robot or some kind of spiked-out monster? Think again. If your costume impedes your movement or the movement of your partner, you’re going to be sitting out quite a few songs.

    Can you see?
    Last year my Zorro mask killed all of my peripheral-vision to the point where I bumped into someone within a minute of wearing it. If you’re planning on wearing a mask, do the ‘basic-test’ in it; all you need in to try a simple basic in the store and see if you can see what’s around you.

    Does it breathe?
    I was checking out a fantastic panda costume online, but eventually gave up on it as I knew that I’d overheat within a few minutes and have to sit out an hour at a time. Find costumes that are relatively thin, breathable and won’t cause you to de-hydrate.

    Does it restrict your dance moves?
    Anything with large wings, brims, spikes, extra body parts or antennae may cause you to get tangled up!

    Make-up!
    Make sure your make-up and effects won’t run while you sweat it out! The last thing you want is your mascara to change your J-Wow costume to being a Snooki.

    Suggested Outfits – Lady Gaga, Jersey Shore, Alice in Wonderland, Glee(ks), Lindsay Lohan, Justin Beiber, Katy Perry (a personal fav), Mad Men, Vampire (watch out for the cape though), Harry Potter, Avatar, Rihanna, Pirates, Ninjas…

    Suggest Masks – Masquerade masks that have wide eye slots, Large-eyed Character Masks, Masks that only cover the top-half of your head (Frankenstein, Homer Simpson, etc.)

    Well, with only a handful of days left, the TDS Halloween party will be at Acrobat at 8:45pm this Saturday!!! Come out and dance with all of us ghouls for a pretty spooky night! Don’t forget that the TDS Helper and Pro teams will be doing their thing as well as a massive birthday dance for Sara!!!!

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!

    Congress Report: Day 4

    Waking up only hours after going to bed, the helper performance team assembled in the ballroom. Surrounded by the many other student teams, we forged through our early-morning haze and put the final touches on our routine. Satisfied that we were ready, we all went our ways and gathered only a few hours later to prep for the final part of our weekend, the student showcase!

    Extra nervous and quite excited it was time for the TDS team to take flight and we had a great time doing our salsa routine! Everything seemed to go in slow motion yet was over before you knew it! With big sighs and all screamed-out from cheering for the other student teams; we bid our farewells and thus concluded my Congress weekend of madness!

    While I wish I could’ve attended the Sunday night showcase; my body was completely exhausted and I spent the rest of the weekend on the couch!

    A fantastic weekend and a wonderful time, I highly recommend checking it out next year, if you haven’t yet been!

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!

    Congress Report: Night 3

    While tired from dancing till about 2:30am the previous night, I managed to drag myself out of bed and down to make the workshops. Started simple, I went to a beginner’s lesson with Ana Masacote. Later on I did a sexy workshop with Como Mango and also partook in a great Dominican-style bachata session!

    Learning quite a bit, and regretting not getting up earlier to catch some of the morning workshops, we all went out to dinner and prepared for the Saturday night performances and dancing! All I can say is that if you’re just going to pick a night to check out the Congress; this is the night. Everyone was on their A-game and each performance just seemed to get better and better!

    Needless to say, that by the time the dance floor was ready, everyone was taking the floor burning to try out the new moves and styling that they learned during the day. Resuming my ambassador-duties, I took to the floor and danced till about 4am! It was an amazing opportunity to dance with such varied and great dancers. The best part, was Orquesta de Menor a Mayor, a fantastic salsa band from Puerto Rico!

    With an early morning practice only hours away, I knew it was time to get some sleep and rest up for yet another crazy day of salsa!

    Congress Report: Night 2

    Excited for what the weekend of events would bring from this years’ Salsa Congress, I made it down with plenty enough time to browse the vendors and pick up a new pair of shoes (and some DVDs and a few t-shirts…) It wasn’t long before a few friends arrived and we took our seats for what was a great night of some memorable performances. I always enjoy watching the congress performances as you see how people celebrate salsa from all over the world!

    From beautiful costumes to amazing performances, I was really proud to say that some of the more memorable showcases were home-grown! From United Salseros’ amazing Studio 54 routine to an excellent shines routine from ifreestyle; it was really inspiring to know that Toronto has amazing talent who can shine with the internationals!

    With the performances complete, it was time to fulfill my ‘salsa ambassador’ duties! Sporting glow sticks, a group of volunteers from various schools went out and danced with anyone who asked or looked like they were a bit shy to ask. The dance floor filled up quickly, and with it came many amazing dances and an all-in-all great time!

    An eye-opening night, filled with great music and the chance to dance with many fun dancers; Friday night kicked the weekend into high gear!

    Congress Report: Night 1

    Waiting for my friends in the beautiful lobby of the Weston is a pretty nice way to start off this years’ Salsa Congress. As I sipped my Cuba Libre, one can’t help but reminisce about the past few years that I’ve been doing salsa. It seems only yesterday that I started in Ems’ level 1.

    Rushing into the ballroom we take our seats as Jennifer starts the night’s festivities. Wouldn’t you know it, but Sumeet (whom I performed with in the TDS Helper Team) is in the Pro-Am competition, and wow, he rocked it! Taking Silver, Sumeet represented Toronto Salsa in fine form! If you’ve never danced with him, ask him; or if you’re a leader, watch his style as one can learn a lot from him.

    The competition was fierce this year, ranging from Amatuer to Pro and ranging a few different dance styles including Hustle. There were so many competitors this year that we didn’t even get to dance until about midnight! I can’t complain though, as it was amazing to see dancers of such calibre. It was also great cheering for Oscar’s & Caryl’s dancers.

    One thing I found very interesting is how a crowd reacts to some performers and not to others. Many of the couples were on their ‘A Game’, but it took something special for the crowd to really show their love. A couple from Pureto Rico really blew my mind as their musicality were unmatched… mental note, ask that girl to dance.

    Speaking of dancing, it wasn’t long before the dance floor was cleared so a friend of mine and I decided that we should test it out. Spoiled from Acrobat’s floor, the first thing I noticed was that this floor was a bit ‘sticky’. Seeing how beautifully the competitors danced on it, my respect for all of them went up about 30%.

    The dancing was pretty fun although maybe it was something in the air as I was super rusty and off my game. It was fun to try out a few things from my past lesson and work on my connection as I ended up dancing quite a bit. If you’re new to the scene or a seasoned vet, come out for the workshops or dancing, trust me, it’s fun and you learn a lot!

    It was really great to see the winners of the night as you could tell how elated they were from winning…I’d love to experience that. Maybe next year?

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!

    We’re not broken, merely syncopated

    A good friend once told me that most of the people who get into salsa, do so because they are in some way, broken. Whether it’s from a failed relationship, workplace stress or simply lacking confidence; we all come to our level 1 classes searching for something. After spending many hours thinking about being broken, I suggest a revision to this concept and say that we’re not broken, but beautifully syncopated.

    For those of you who aren’t as big of a music-theory geek as I am, the definition of syncopation is as follows:
    Syncopation is a general term for a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm; a placement of rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn’t normally occur.

    More simply put, anything syncopated in a song doesn’t conform to the regular beats. Yknow when you hear the horns play at really odd times? that’s a syncopated rhythm.

    Let’s get back to the subject at hand as having been feeling out of my element lately. Was I broken when I started? yes. Having gone through a life-altering break up, I was at a pretty low point. Overweight and about an ounce of self-esteem, I stumbled around learning my basics and that crazy ‘back-across-together’ move. I would go to socials and dance 1 or two times before feeling frustrated and heading home.

    Something happened along the way, I think it was closer to the end of level 3, where I started meeting some pretty exceptional people who started charming their way into my crazy world. Next thing I know, I’m starting to say hi to more and more people and dancing perhaps, 10-20 times a night. It’s from these people that I realized that all of the stress from work, all of the hurt that haunted me from my past and everything that ails me; it just disappears.

    While we may see ourselves as broken shells of who we used to/want to be; Salsa sees us as syncopated. We are
    not cast-aways but simply people with rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn’t normally occur. What hasn’t killed us has only made us stronger dancers.

    You see, it’s because of our stresses, our pain and remorse that makes us better dancers. Our inner demons arise and cause us to move and express ourselves in ways that we wouldn’t be able to anywhere else. I see people who you’d never suspect be great dancers start moving and just become beautiful.

    Ask anyone and they’ll tell you of one day where they could barely go on and when the music hits them; they light up and feel amazing.

    That happened to me today at Sunday Social. I had a weekend that pushed some old wounds to the surface, told me I was broken and made me believe it. Forcing myself to go to social, I saw some of my most favorite dancers, and they reminded me, through their dancing, that I am not broken; but beautifully syncopated.

    So if you’re having a rough time lately, or feel isolated or frustrated that your life hasn’t turned out like you had planned… Join me on the dance floor for some serious group therapy. This is the salsa addiction centre, after all.

    The dance floor is my rehab, break-backs are my 12-steps and coca-cola’s are my breakthroughs.

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros