Monthly Archives: November 2007

Salsa makes you more creative?

I read this article about artists who use and dance to music such as salsa while they are painting their canvases for inspiration and creativity. Check out the article here.

I think this is interesting because after I started salsa dancing I became more creative in other parts of my life. I was an extremely practical person and could not really do anything artistic or creative, as much as I wanted to. It is almost as if salsa makes you more creative which puts you in a confident state about your creative self and you can do more with the artistic part of your life that is not even dance related.

I now have the knowledge that being artistic doesn’t always have to be a natural talent. With hard work and interest, you can turn a new hobby into something wonderful in your life. With that in mind, I am taking an introductory painting course and woodworking course in the new year to dabble in other artistic areas of my life. I hope everyone nourishes their artistic side with lessons in dance, art, music and more in 2008! Share your stories with us!

Watch and learn

Dancing and practicing is not the only way to improve your salsa. Watching others dance is also an excellent way to improve, motivate and encourage creativity and stretch in your dancing.

When you go out to a salsa club, dedicate a couple of songs to finding your favourite couple in the room and watch them dance. It will assist you with ideas about new turn patterns, body movement, musicality and partner dynamics. You may think it doesn’t affect you but watch often enough and you will see your own moves start to sharpen, your body movement and styling start to come out and your range of musicality will increase.

I prefer watching at congresses because you are looking at some phenomenal dancers and it is really inspiring. You may have to get over your “inadequate” feelings watching such good dancers. I remember the first congress I went to I couldn’t dance for the first night. I saw Milton Cobo dancing with Grizelle Ponce, who are still two of my favourite dancers, and that was traumatic! I couldn’t bring myself to dance after that experience. But I had to re-shift my thinking so that their dancing would inspire me to improve instead of shake my confidence. And I went out and danced all night the next day, trying a few styling moves I had seen.

You can also watch videos on the web. YouTube and MamboTV are two great websites for this but there are also thousands of clips online that will inspire and motivate you.

Happy watching!

My last classes :(

Last night I taught my last classes until January. It is always a strange feeling to not teach…you feel like you are supposed to be somewhere with people waiting for you. Have to get used to relaxing for a while!

It was a great semester – it flew by faster then any other. I found the students to be really enjoyable – fun and dedicated and ready to learn. I also find that every year the students get better and I have to add just a little bit more to the syllabus to keep them challenged and progressing. Maybe it is that their practicing has increased or maybe I just keep honing my method of teaching and it is easier to get through the material. Whatever the case it is nice to see the students mastering difficult combinations.

Many people are worried about taking a month off of salsa…they may start to forget the moves. To combat this, make sure you practice. Purchase the DVD and work along it. Go to salsa clubs – there is a least one club open every night of the week. Go to the Monday Toronto Dance Salsa practice at Adelaide Club – there are still two weeks to go. Go to the Toronto Salsa Practice sessions on Saturday at Trinity Church downtown.

We also have one more outing on Friday Dec 28th at 9:15pm at Plaza Flamingo. Come out and support our team of helpers who have been practicing their performance routine for months and are ready to show you their stuff!

I want to thank all my students for a great semester – it was a blast and I can’t wait to do it again in January!

Want to Get Inspired?

Wow I read a wonderful salsa blog post from The Unlikely Salsero, who I have commented about in a past blog. I love his blog and he recently wrote a Thanksgiving post that was very touching and inspiring. For every person right now who needs a little encouragement, motivation and drive to move past your current plateau or stage, read the blog post “Dancing: My Personal Thanksgiving”

Just like many of you, Don, The Unlikely Salsero, did not look or feel the part of a salsa dancer. He started dancing later then most and felt very awkward throughout the first few months of dancing. It is funny because everyone who comments about themselves to me in level 1 states that they have “two left feet” with such shame. It is almost like most of us think we are the worst dancers and there is no one else in our situation. This is not true. Most people don’t have a natural musical dance talent. It is something that is earned through practice and patience. And the reward is well worth the effort.

Don lists some of the benefits he has been privileged to be rewarded with throughout his salsa journey. Here is my favourite paragraph of the blog although I encourage you to read it in full. Here he states:

“He’s simply one example of someone who made a positive impact on me and I could fill twenty pages with more examples. I’ve become friends with CEOs, manual laborers, construction workers, teachers, bus boys, accountants, models, waitresses and waiters. You name a profession and I probably have danced with them or next to them. Nobody cares about my being an older white guy or having gray hair, as long as I continue to grow as a dancer and treat others well. I dance with women young enough to be my daughter and old enough to be my mom, and it’s all good. It’s amazing, and I don’t think it ends. Social dancing keeps me thinking about how I can be a better friend, connect with more people, and grow my circles of contacts. The diversity is a big win for me. Although I have to admit I’ve always loved people, social dancing opens a new, wide world of interesting relationships.”

Feel free to share some of your salsa experiences. Communication is a great way to move past the physical and mental blocks or hurdles and move to a new place where the rewards far outweigh the risks.

Girls Night

I love girls night and Saturday evening was no exception. I set up a small casual girls night (the last one probably before I leave to get married in 2 weeks) and it turned out to be a surprise bachelorette party. It was so much fun and so thoughtful of these wonderful friends. Of course an evening can’t be complete without salsa talk as these are all Toronto Dance Salsa instructors/assistants.

One of the conversations we had is how drama-free the TDS team is in comparison to many salsa groups. From past experience I know that just like work or school, salsa groups have lots of drama, competition, romances and friendships gone wrong. But with our TDS core team of instructors and helpers which has more than 60 people in the group, it is very rare to hear of any incidents. Everyone is really there to be social and enjoy the fun, stress-free environment. This is what I love most about what I do. Seeing students catch the salsa bug and grow and develop into helpers and really come out of their shell and become different people. They may move on to other groups in the future but I can be proud that their initial first years of salsa experience were positive, passionate and gave them a really good base of friendships, dance partners and dance experience.

Thanks for the great conversation and evening ladies – you all rock!

Last Night at Babaluu’s

I went to Babaluu’s last night again. Last week was so much fun and Evan and I are trying to become more consistent with our dancing so Wednesday nights are dedicated dance evenings.

They have added cover for men on Wednesdays now. It is $5 and includes coat check which is still a great price but it is good for everyone to know. We didn’t have cash on us and had to go back to the car in the sleet to grab some. Not sure if this is a permanent change but bring extra cash on Wednesdays gentlemen!

I danced for about 1 and a half hours. I am usually busy dancing with friends and very rarely now get asked to dance by people I don’t know but last night I had two new dances as well as a dance with one of my level 4 students and helper, Ozzy. I was just passing by when I heard him say to Sara, one of my instructors, that he was definitely not going to dance with me – one instructor was enough for the evening. So of course we had to dance after that comment ;) Great job, Ozzy!

I also danced with Evan, Rob, Tawfiq and Angus…all great dancers. I can’t believe how good everyone is getting. Evan has a great trick he does before he goes out on Wednesdays. He looks through our videos of salsa moves or even YouTube for new moves and memorizes one new move and tries to practice it that night so it will be incorporated into his regular repertoire. Works very well!

We saw tons of Toronto Dance Salsa students around so come out on Wednesdays and practice your salsa!

Advanced Body Movement Class

I have been receiving questions about the new specialty class we have posted for January. It is the Advanced Body Movement and Styling Class on Wednesdays from 9:15-10:15pm at Adelaide Club with Caryl.

This advanced class is intended for those who have completed level 5 or by permission. This 9 week course will cover the fundamentals of body movement, individual styling as well as styling during partner work for both males and females, and timing, rhythm and musicality individually and with a partner. The goal of the class is to transform the student into a “dancer”.

Every semester we focus on a different specialized salsa class so that students can being to advance to the next level. Styling is one of the hardest but most rewarding parts of the dance because when you start to look like an advanced dancer you begin to feel like an advanced dancer and that is when you let go and really feel comfortable on the dance floor.

If you are in level 4 and feel confident about your dancing, please send me an email and I will assess whether you are ready to go into this class.

Salsa at Our Open House

So Evan and I finally moved into our new townhouse last month and decided to hold a big Open House for our friends, co-workers and all the salsa helpers.

We were a little worried because 60 people responded that they were coming and while our new home is quite spacious, 60 people may be cutting it close.

Well all 60 people did end up coming and within a couple of hours the tables and sofas were moved and the salsa addicts had turned our home into a salsa club! The non-salsa friends watched in wonder as the salsa helpers danced their way through song after song. Evan and I through in the towel and started dancing too although socks and hardwood floor makes for one slippery dance. The good news is that our floors have never been so shiny!

It is funny to watch salsa dancers. We have a hard time sitting still when salsa music is on. I put on salsa music throughout dinner and everyone couldn’t wait to push the tables aside to bust out the moves.

Hope everyone had a great time. We’ll be sure to do it again!

Singles Class Vs Regular Level 1

What is the difference between the Salsa for Singles Class versus our regular Salsa Nightclub 1 class versus our 7 week salsa only class? I have gotten this question a few times so here is the difference:

The Salsa for Singles class is geared towards single people between the ages of 20-35yrs who want to meet other singles in their age range. It is not just for the point of meeting a potential romance. It is also to make new friends and enlarge your social network. The syllabus (what you learn) is exactly the same as our level 1 class. However, with this class everyone rotates so you get to dance with everyone in the class and it is a more social setting. Many students will form groups after class and go dancing on their own.

The 7 week salsa class that we have available occasionally is just salsa so it doesn’t have the Merengue and Bachata classes that the 9 week class has. The salsa syllabus is exactly the same but it is missing the other two dances.

Hope that helps clarify your questions!

Babaluu’s Last Night

Well I am afraid to say that it has been a while since I visited Babaluu’s for my salsa fix. Babs has been my favourite salsa club for 8 years straight. Still not sure why as it is always packed, way too small, and hot. Still, the vibe is right, the people are great and I can usually leave with a big smile on my face.

Last night was no exception. Evan and I arrived at about 10:30pm and the place was hopping. I immediately danced with Tawfiq, Evan, Rob, Ya Ya and a few other fun dancers. It was really great to be dancing again.

I did worry throughout the evening that I would be elbowed in the face by other dancers. It wasn’t that it was packed, but people were dancing big with elbows everywhere. That is one thing I would recommend people be conscious of – their elbows. They do way more damage then feet or bodies. No major incidents last night which is good news!

The music was ridiculously fast. I actually love fast salsa music – it is so energetic and makes you really want to shake it. However, it was so fast everyone was getting winded. It would be great if the fast songs were surrounded by slower songs so we can last longer. Wow, never thought I would be complaining about fast music…maybe I am getting older????

Thanks to everyone for the fun dances. If you haven’t been to Babaluu’s Wednesday is my favourite day…easy going, fun and friendly.