Ever wanted to dance but couldn’t find the opportunity? Maybe you’ve seen a group of people dancing at the Hive on Tuesday afternoons and felt like it might be something worth trying?
Last year I was one of those who always enjoyed watching people do Salsa. Whenever I was walking from the Union Building on a Tuesday afternoon, I always told myself that I was going to try it someday because everyone looked really happy. So this year, I kept my promise and started going to Salsa classes.
I must admit, after only 3 classes, I can easily say that it is one of the best things I’ve ever experienced at UEA; it is a chance for me to clear my mind for a couple of hours and it’s a great opportunity to socialise with other people.
For this issue of Concrete, Daniela, the President of Salsa society, kindly responded to all my questions and talked about their plans for this year. So if you’re in search of a new hobby or are interested in Salsa and Bachata but have so many questions on your mind, keep reading this interview.
Who is teaching the Salsa and Bachata classes?
The Salsa classes are being taught by a Cuban teacher Jose Ferrera and Will Richardson. Our Bachata classes are taught by Gabor Kiss. All of them are very experienced, funny and enthusiastic people and they’re really good teachers.
A lot of people turned up to the ‘Give it a Go’ session and the first class of the semester was very crowded. Do you think dancing in the Hive helps you get more attention and makes people curious about what’s happening?
We did have people coming to the ‘Give it a Go’ session because they saw us dancing at the Hive, so I think it definitely helps to catch the attention of the students. On our first class this year we had quite a lot of students that stopped to take pictures and look around. Some of our beginners are intimidated by this at first, but once the music starts the shyness fades away.
Can you talk about how you divide the classes? Because everyone is not at the same level. (beginner/intermediate/advanced)
All our classes run for two hours, so we can give people of different skill levels a chance to learn something new. We have our beginner’s class in the first hour of Bachata and Salsa, where we teach the basic steps in the first few weeks and then continue on to increasingly more complicated moves. Some people join in the second semester so we run a smaller absolute beginners class on the side, but we encourage them to join the main beginners class later on so they can start learning all the more exciting turns. On the second hour of Salsa, we divide into two groups: one for improvers/intermediate dancers and one for advanced dancers. Improvers is basically for anyone that was coming to Salsa the previous year and wants to practice old moves and learn more complicated ones. We also advise beginners to try it out if they have a dancing background or if they feel ready for something a little bit more challenging. Advanced is for more experienced dancers, and we often get people from the city who have been dancing for a couple of years to join us in this class as well. Bachata runs similarly, first hour beginners and second intermediate/advanced.
If someone starts as a beginner, do they have a chance to finish the year as an advanced dancer?
Yes, of course! We have a couple of people in advanced this year that started dancing at the beginning of last year. Obviously it takes a lot of practice and dedication, and we have found that learning to confidently lead and follow is almost as important as learning the moves themselves, but with enough commitment some beginners might be able to skip right over to advanced if they stay with us next year. Even our more casual members have a solid dancing basis by the end of our classes in May, and most of them finish the year as confident dancers.
Do people have any other opportunities to dance apart from the classes on Tuesday and Friday?
Yes, apart from the classes we have monthly parties for our members and we often collaborate with other societies to make the parties more inclusive. We also advertise events in town like the weekly Thursday parties at Cuba Revolution and the monthly Candela parties at the Canary Club. Both parties have a mixture of not only Salsa and Bachata but Merengue, Reguetón and Kizomba (other Latino and Afro-Latino rhythms). We are planning a couple of workshops this year for our members who want to get acquainted with these other types of dance as well.
Are you planning any interesting/fun socials this year?
We do have some socials planned. We are working on our first party right now, and it’s going to be a collaboration with the Latin American society and the Language society. We also want to have more non-dancing socials, perhaps a collaboration with Horror Film society for Halloween, just so that we have time to properly chat with the members and get to know them better and have fun.
Last year you did a live performance with great choreography. Are you planning to do it again this year?
We would love to do more performances and we plan to perform again this year in the dance show and maybe in Go Global too. If more opportunities were to arise, we would consider it for sure. In fact we are already talking about choreographies.