Monthly Archives: January 2008

Mambo Peligroso: A Novel

While on vacation I ran out of books and decided to peruse the cruise ship library’s selections of novels and I came across a salsa dancing novel, the first one I have ever heard of or read. Of course I was extremely excited about my find and borrowed the book immediately.

The novel is called Mambo Peligroso written by Patricia Chao. It is centered around the New York Mambo Scene in the late nineties and does a great job of describing salsa dancing and the addictive lives of serious salseros (or Mamberos in New York).

I am not going to do a formal book review mainly because books are so subjective. However here are some things I will share. I didn’t love the book unfortunately. The writing style was not to my taste and it went from being purely based on dancing to a very gritty portrayal of the main characters’ sexual relationships. If that sort of book doesn’t appeal to you then this is definitely not the book for you.

However, the parts about the salsa dancing were bang on and it was really interesting to read about mambo in a fictional work so overall I am glad to have read the book. Here is the write up that Amazon has listed for the book:

Chao takes readers for a floor-scorching spin in this novel set in the sensuous world of salsa dancing. Japanese Cuban immigrant Catalina Ortiz Midori is sure she is ready to leave New York until the day she sets foot in Alegre Studio in the heart of Spanish Harlem. From the one-eyed teacher who beds women from every borough to the streetwise single mother who dances like a dream, Catalina (“Lina” to her fellow dancers) encounters New Yorkers whose personal histories are as compelling as their moves. Here is a world where lawyers and bricklayers alike ooze passion from every pore. The more Lina dances, the closer she feels to her long-neglected Latin roots. Chao, author of Monkey King (1997), is an accomplished mambo dancer and one-time member of the performance troupe Casa de la Salsa. Her descriptions of (literal) New York stomping grounds like the Palladium and Copacabana dazzle; her hot-blooded characters are believable and complex. This high-voltage novel will have readers furiously flipping pages and tapping their toes–perhaps even pondering some salsa sessions of their own.

If anyone reads it, let me know what you think. If there are other dancing related books that you can recommend, I would love to hear about them!

Classes Started!

My first classes in 6 weeks have started and it feels good to be back! I had 3 classes yesterday at Northridge starting with level 1, then level 2 and followed by level 3.

Each class was so enjoyable and the time just flew by. With about 40 people in each class plus 8 awesome helpers, there was great energy and enthusiasm. The level 1 class was a bit worried in the first few minutes but within 15 minutes they were Merengue dancing and meeting new people. It is really great to start with Merengue because there is little pressure to coordinate. Even if students don’t get the hip/knee movement they can still start to understand rhythm and start to memorize choreography of turn patterns. I was so proud of the group. They got the moves easily, executed well and made it a blast.

With my level 2s and 3s, I noticed they were really worried that they had been off for so long and had forgotten some of the syllabus. Not to worry if you are in this situation. I always say it takes 2 classes to get back on track. The first class back you may feel a little forgetful and self-conscious but the review makes a big difference and so when you come in to class #2 you are ready to learn and feeling much stronger. By the end of class #2 you are back on track!

By the way we have confirmed our first outing for Friday January 18th at 9:15pm at Plaza Flamingo and will email the evite tomorrow.

Can’t wait to see more new students tonight at Eastminster!

Dec 28th Outing To Plaza Flamingo

After 3 weeks of being away it was amazing to see so many people turn out to dance, celebrate and support our helpers last Friday at the last outing of the semester to Plaza Flamingo. We had over 300 people there with 3 packed lessons from 9:30 – 10:30pm.

Emely and Michel taught the absolute beginners lesson. Rob and Velina taught the level 1 class and Evan and I taught the intermediate class. As usual everyone rose to the occasion regardless of the difficulty of the turn pattern.

The highlight of the evening was the Helper Performance Group’s choreographed routine. Caryl held a class in the fall for helpers only which focused on learning an intricate choreographed routine with the end goal of performing the routine. 5 couples debuted the performance in the iFreestyle Holiday Party on Dec 9th with great success. The other couples (6 in total) performed at Plaza at 11pm during the outing and it was a great performance. The choreography was excellent (gooooo Caryl!) and you can see the work put in by the performers. Here is a list of the couples that performed on both evenings:

iFreestyle Holiday Party
Nina and Tyrone
Velina and Alfred
Anna-Marie and John
Ildi and Manuel
Stella and Barry

Plaza Flamingo Holiday Party
Carolina and Mark
Kelly and Khemara
Stella and George
Pansy and Alex
Karina and Barry
David and Katie

We were very lucky to have plenty of photographers in the house. Shawn Jamali is a professional photographer and was interested in capturing dancers in motion. Avijit Bandyopadhyay who is a former TDS student, also wanted to capture the event. Caryl video-taped the performance and took plenty of photos. As soon as we get them all we will post them for you all to view.

Evan and I wanted to thank Caryl and everyone who participated in our Wedding Dance. Evan and I were married in St. Thomas 3 weeks ago and Caryl surprised us with a wedding dance after the performance…very similar to a birthday dance except both of us got a chance to dance with other partners. It was a lot of fun so thank you again for thinking of us and participating!

All the couples will be performing again at our first Montana’s outing at the end of Jan/beginning of Feb. We will announce the date soon!

Welcome Back!

Happy holidays everyone and welcome back if you have been on vacation or off from work! It was a great December with so much excitement for many of us…it definitely feels a little strange trying to get back into the swing of things but there is so much planned for 2008 that I can’t help but get excited!

Classes begin this Sunday Jan 6th and every week new classes are starting. So far we have had over 700 registrations which is amazing and we will likely pass the 800 mark by mid January.

Everyone is asking if we are going to post more classes. We have a new Monday night level 1 class that we are posting this week at the Adelaide Club. Other than that we may look at posting one or two more classes in February so check back often.

As for January outings, I know you want to start planning your salsa calendar, so I will give you some tentative dates. Please note that these outings are not confirmed yet but I will keep you posted as soon as I get the ok from the clubs. We are looking at an outing to Plaza Flamingo on Fri, Jan 18th and the big outing with the helper performance team on either Sunday Jan 27th or Feb 3rd.

I have many goals for Toronto Dance Salsa for 2008. Here are a few that I will be focusing on:

1) Hold a 2008 Amateur Salsa Competition. We had one last year and it was absolutely amazing and I would like to continue this new tradition with a bigger and better event.
2) Hold a Dance-A-Thon. I have been wanting to give back in some way for some time and I am hoping to put together a Dance-A-Thon which would be great fun as well as raise funds for charity

I would love to hear about everyone else’s salsa resolutions so share away and looking forward to seeing you all in classes/outings soon!