Monthly Archives: July 2008

Sunday Socials

I am so happy we decided to hold weekly practice sessions at Empress. It is such a nice way to spend a Sunday evening and we finally have a great alternative for students who are not ready to go to the clubs.

Whether you are too young to get into the salsa clubs or are just not ready confidence/skill wise to make that leap, Sunday Salsa Socials are a great alternative. There is a weekly DJ playing great music, the lights are turned down to make dancing less stressful and add to the ambiance and there are plenty of helpers to dance with everyone.

If you are a more advanced dancer then come out too! We had plenty of instructors, helpers and senior students who come out and would love the challenge.

If you would like to be a guest DJ for an hour for the socials, let us know also!

Our next Sunday Social will be after the long weekend on Sunday August 10th from 5:30 – 8:30pm. Remember there are no socials scheduled on long weekends.

Here are the photos from this Sunday’s outing where we had about 100 people dancing up a storm. See you at the next outing!

PS the office is closed Thursday July 31st to Tuesday Aug 5th. Email us and we will do our best to get back to you. Classes on Friday and Saturday are on as usual and Sunday and Monday are off for the stat. Have a great wekend!

Who thought it would be so hard?

So you’ve taken the big leap and signed up for salsa level 1 only to find that it is really hard! Harder then you thought or expected. Good dancers make salsa look so easy!

Yes learning to dance can be somewhat difficult but just like an new activity a little time and persistence goes a long way. And remember, it is FUN work – not the boring kind! The hardest part to learning to dance is surviving level 1. Once you’ve done this it gets a lot easier and with some practice every semester becomes easier and more fun.

I always tell my students the same story of my first few months learning salsa. I was a terrible dancer. I hadn’t taken any lessons and just decided to go out dancing at Babaluus with some girlfriends. When I finally got up the nerve to accept a dance I was mortified as to how bad I actually was and there were no improvements for a few months. My girlfriends got better and better and I struggled, not even knowing the difference between salsa, merengue and bachata.

Of course looking back I can see I handled it all wrong. If I had just taken some lessons I could have avoided subjecting myself and my partners to fairly awful dancing. However I learned salsa on the dance floor and after a few months of struggling the light finally came on and all the hard work (and embarrassment) paid off. I finally started to follow properly, move my body and begin to look and feel like a dancer. That first year I danced almost every night of the week and by the end of the year I was already entering my first competition.

If you are a student you are already leaps and bounds ahead of where I was. Just keep at it, practice at home, visualize the moves and go out to practices and outings and soon you will see why it is such an addictive pastime!

Enjoy your salsa journey!!

The Spring Helper Outing

What started out as a disappointing Saturday morning turned into another great helper outing! Every semester I take the helpers out to celebrate all their hard work over the semester. With the opening of the studio I didn’t get a chance to do this until this weekend but better late then never! We had a great beach day planned out with a trip to Rockwood Conservation Park and Beach around Guelph for a day of swimming, kayaking, volleyball and more.

Well Saturday morning comes with lots of clouds and promises of all-day thunderstorms so I quickly scrambled around and came up with a rain-day back up plan. Everyone met at Putting Edge which is an 18-hole glow in the dark inside mini golfing area. After playing some fun arcade games we headed in teams of 4 to play and it was great fun. Many of us haven’t done this in years and we were surprised as to how much fun it actually was.

After mini golfing we all heading downtown to an upscale restaurant called Monsoon at Adelaide and Simcoe for a 3 course meal. It was great to catch up with everyone and hang out for the evening.

Overall a great day – thanks to all the helpers for making it fun and for all your help in the spring semester. For all the summer helpers we will have our summer outing very soon – maybe finally at Rockwood!

Interviewing Burju – Part 3

Thanks to Burju for sharing advice and guidance for our students and readers. Here is the final part of her interview. Hopefully when you attend your next salsa congress she will be instructing or performing so you can experience Burju’s style and be inspired!

SG – “What does salsa mean to you and how has it changed your life?”

BH – “For me Salsa is the genre that has brought together all the styles of dance and movement that I am passionate about. It is where I found I can truly express myself through movement to music that has captivated me since I was a teenager. It’s changed my life because it brought Victor, my partner and fiance, into my life and together we have made this our career and life’s work. It is something we both love and can share together.”

SG – “What are some of your salsa goals for 2008?”

BH – “Some of my goals for 2008 is of course to continue to grow as a dancer personally. To evolve in style and range of movement. I also hope to really challenge myself as a choreographer by pushing myself to try different things and take risks. I hope to put new choreographies out there that really make people think and appreciate the versatility that Latin music has to offer. It’s a scary thing to put yourself out there with something different for everyone to judge, but as an artist I’m striving for different and to have an influence on the evolution of this art form.”

Tango Congress Info

Here is some info regarding the Tango Congress in Toronto from Tango Soul. For more info email

‘El Congreso’
Argentine Tango Congress – October 8 to 12 -Toronto, Canada

Yes!!!! Tango Soul Productions with UofT Faculty of Music and ‘La Universidad Nacional del Tango’ Presents:
‘El Congreso’ The first Argentine Tango Congress in Canada.

From October 8th to 12th 2008, join us for 5 days immersed in the Soul of Argentine Tango!

Wine Tasting and Press Conference
Live Orquestras
Tango Shows
Dance Workshops
Tango Music Workshops
Lectures and Discutions
Film Education

Burju’s Advice – Part 2

Here is Part 2 of my interview with Burju from Boston who is an international salsa instructor, performer and choreographer.

SG – “Are there any things students should avoid doing in their development?”

BH – “The only thing I can think of that students should avoid doing in their development is acquiring bad habits by practicing bad or incorrect techniques. It’s important to take lessons in order to find out what the correct techniques are. It is also important to do your research when looking for instructors to make sure you have found professionals with adequate credentials and experience to teach you.”

SG – “Are there any obstacles you can remember experiencing in your salsa development and how did you overcome these obstacles?”

BH – “Sure I have faced many obstacles, I still face them today. I struggled with spinning for a long time when I started, and today I struggle most with continuing to evolve my style and evolve our choreographies. You know you are continuing to grow if you keep facing obstacles because you are pushing yourself to try things you never have before. The thing to do is just keep working at it. I get frustrated all the time when I don’t get something right away but I’ve learned that I have to put in the time and have the discipline to work at it.”

Definitely inspiring to hear that everyone struggles to grow and develop artistically. Stay tuned for part #3 of Burju’s interview. But in the meantime check out their website at

Our Grand Opening Party!

I am still recovering from our Grand Opening Party this past Sunday. It was such a long day but well worth all the effort as the party was a huge success and everyone had a blast. So nice to see everyone enjoying themselves in the new studio – feels the same as having a housewarming party that is a hit!

Evan and I were out very early on Sunday shopping for all the yummy desserts and decorations for the evening. By noon we were setting up at the studio, then I taught 3 hours of class and I don’t think we left the studio until 11pm which was a long day but everyone’s energy and enthusiasm kept us fully motivated!

At 4pm Evan, David and Annamarie began to set up the tables, chairs, balloons, etc. With the help of Emely, Joanne, Karina, Sara and many more the studio was transformed for the evening. We opened the doors to DJ Evan’s awesome salsa at 5:30pm and by 6:00pm the studio was hopping. Throughout the evening we had many TDS friends and students drop by to enjoy the tasty desserts and dance the evening away. It was great to see so many faces.

Monica, Selena and Annamarie took care of providing everyone with a Spanish version of their name and there were some very creative and sexy nametags in attendance. Thanks also to Joanne and Daniel for helping.

At 7pm Alfred and Nina started off the performances with a bang. Camela and Manuel performed their choreography from the finals of the competition and finally to end the evening off Bryant & Faye from Tango Soul Productions performed an Argentine Tango routine. We raffled off some salsa T-shirts and DVDs also – congrats to the winners!

I was worried that the studio wouldn’t be able to handle the amount of dancers we expected but we had about 250ppl in the studio from 5:30 – 930pm and at no time was it packed so I know that our Sunday Socials will always be spacious.

Big thanks to Evan – it was his debut as a DJ and I thought he did an awesome job! He will be DJing this Saturday July 19th at 9pm at Peridot Lounge for our next outing as well as at our first Salsa Sunday Social this Sunday July 20th from 5:30 – 8:30pm at Empress Walk Studio. Hope to see everyone there!!

Salsa Concerts in T.O.

I just got this email from Luis Mario Ochoa who performs live salsa music around Toronto….here are some events for you to see!

“Just a quick note to inform you about my upcoming performances:

- Friday, July 11th – 9:30 PM – Luis Mario Ochoa w/ Hilario Duran (Quintet) at Harbourfront Sirius Stage – Ritmo Y Color – 235 Queens Quay West

- Saturday July 12th – 7:30 – Luis Mario Ochoa with Son Ache at Covent Garden Market – Caliente Festival Hispano London, Ontario 130 King St.

- Sunday, July 13th- 3:30 PM – Luis Mario Ochoa & Cimarron at Salsa On St. Clair Festival, Toronto

- Thursday 17th – 8:30 PM – Luis Mario Ochoa Quintet at Hotel Le Germain – 30 Mercer St. Toronto. (sold out event)

- Saturday July 19th – 3:30 PM – Luis Mario Ochoa & Cimarron at the Beaches Jazz Festival – Woodbine Stage.

- August 1st – 10 PM – Luis Mario Ochoa & Cimarron at Lula Lounge 1585 Dundas St W.

- August 5th -8 PM- Luis Mario Ochoa & Cimarron at the Oshawa Jazz and Blues Festival – Jubilee Pavillion – 55 Lakeview Park Ave – Oshawa

Hope to see you at one or more of my shows.

Thank you for your support, it helps me keep going!

Luis Mario
Cuban Music Productions”

Upcoming Salsa Events!

Well I did say the summer is the best time to know how to dance salsa! There are so many events both through Toronto Dance Salsa and though the City of Toronto’s festivals.

Let’s start with our Grand Opening Party at Empress Walk which is being held this Sunday July 13th anytime from 5:30-9:30pm. We will have performances, Evan will be spinning the tunes (his first DJing gig so come out to support him!) and there will be lots of dancing and celebrating. Attendance is free and open to any TDS student or friend. The studio is at 5095 Yonge Street (between Finch and Sheppard) on the 2nd floor.

Following the grand opening party will be our outing to Peridot Lounge Saturday July 19th at 9pm. We rarely ever get a Saturday venue so if you like going dancing Saturday nights come out and support us so that we can make this a regular evening for us. Peridot is an awesome venue at 81 Bloor St E (at Yonge) with two floors of dancing and a great patio.

After Peridot we begin our weekly Sunday Socials at Empress. A social is a dance party where you can casually practice your moves in a comfortable environment. Every Sunday from 5:30-8:30pm come out to our studio at Empress Walk. Cover is only $7 and you can dance for 3 hours.

Salsa on St Clair – this is the best salsa related festival. I posted last week some details on this so find the post and attend!

More events to come soon!!

Competition Last Friday!

What a fantastic evening Friday turned out to be! With almost 700 people in attendance the 2008 Toronto Dance Salsa Amateur Competition Finals was a smashing success. The evening started off with a beginner lesson with Velina and Jennifer and an intermediate lesson with Rob and Sonya. Despite the large crowds both classes were fun and by the end of the hour the students were able to execute the combinations.

Social dancing began immediately after the lessons until 11pm and although we had so many people in attendance there was still lots of elbow room to really dance.

At 11pm sharp George(ous) began the competition. As usual he was funny, engaging and entertaining and the crowd really enjoyed the introductions and funny stories. The judges were introduced: Teddy and Rene from United Salseros, Angus from iFreestyle, Ana Machada and Salsa Steph from Go Dance Mambo.

Then it was time for the competitors to do their warm up. All the couples warmed up on stage for 2 minutes at which time George called each couple to perform. Each couple had been working for the past 4 weeks to create a choreography to a 2 to 2.5 minute routine and the effort was evident on stage. I was really proud of everyone – most of them had been in my level 1 a year or two ago and to see them on stage in costume performing in front of hundreds of people was amazing and inspiring.

Once the competitors finished I ran to add up the scores with Sara. At this time we had 5 performances by iFreestyle, Go Dance Mambo and Mambo Mosaic. Each one was unique and very entertaining. Thank you to all the performers who took the time and energy to perform that night.

Immediately after the performances George announced the winners – it was a very exciting moment for everyone! The winners were:

1st Place – Kelly and Barry
2nd Place – Camela and Manuel
3rd Place – Therese and James
Runner Up – Marsha and John
Runner Up – Jennifer and Tyrone

Barry and Kelly won the following:
A full Canada Salsa Congress Pass for each of them, a full Miami Salsa Congress Pass for each of them with 1 night hotel stay, a full World Salsa Competition Pass for each, 3 pairs each of dance shoes from both Century Wide shoes, Gabellini Shoes and Addicted to Dance Shoes, dinner & show from Plaza Flamingo, Peridot Rest Lounge Gift Certificates, 1 year membership to Lula Lounge’s salsa Fridays, t-shirts from Shokkwear, Meet Market Adventures Gift Certificate and Trophies

Congratulations to everyone for competing. It is such a courageous thing to do and many people don’t realize the amount of work that goes into performing so I am very proud of everyone.

Thank you to everyone who made the evening rock – Evan, George, the judges, the performers, the sponsors and the competitors. Looking forward to seeing you all next year at the 2009 competition!