Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Sam Zawadzki.
Do you want to dance like a gringo for the rest of your life?
Perhaps is it time to unleash your inner Latin American spirit…
Having recently moved to Envigado I quickly learned that everyone in Medellín can dance, from the teens to the octogenarians. It really is true that dance runs through Colombians’ veins.
It dawned on me that if I ever wanted to have a social life in Colombia then I would have to learn how to dance.
I began my search for a dance teacher by asking everyone I knew for recommendations and I also searched on OXL.com.co a South American equivalent to Craig’s List.
After much hunting I lined up a day of classes with different dance teachers. I wanted to try a few, rather than just settling on the first.
I am a slow learner and comically lack in physical coordination so I wanted private dance classes, thus minimizing my self embarrassment. The costs ranged from 20,000 to 30,000 pesos ($10 to $15) per hour.
My first class was a free taster session at Balcon De Los Artistas. This school is one of Medellín’s hidden gems.
Forget the glitz of Poblado, if you want an authentic dance school you’re going to have to travel.
I jumped on the metro to the Hospital station where I was met by a friendly dance instructor, we grabbed a cab to Manrique Oriental, a 10-minute ride up the hill. Beside a large bakery cafe is a tiny set of steps that lead the way up to the Escuela de Danza.
When I got to the studio I was impressed by the collection of trophies. It was clear that the school had fostered multiple champions in it’s time.
Many of the titles were incredibly impressive, my favorite was “WSF World Undisputed Salsa Champions 2008” that’s right folks, undisputed.
I met my teacher, Tatiana, who was wearing staggeringly high heels and the class began.
Tatiana had the patience of an angel. We spent the first half hour going over the seven basic steps again, and again… and again.
Eventually, I started to get it, and we worked on some turns and new moves. As the hour ended I was really starting to enjoy myself.
Dancing with Tatiana was a pleasure. She was such an incredible dancer that I felt like I could be a good dancer too.
After the lesson, I headed back to the metro station and started emailing to cancel all the other dance classes that I had lined up. I wanted to learn salsa from the best, and I had discovered the secret location where they dance.
Perhaps it was a rash decision to cancel all my other taster classes, especially since I had set out to try a few different teachers. But, I see it as a testament to the quality of instruction at El Balcon de Los Artistas. After the class, I knew this was the only place I wanted to learn.
I got to watch one of the school’s dance teams practice. I was amazed that humans could move so quickly.
It was impressive that in just a few weeks, a group of teens from Medellín would get the chance to shine at an international dance competition in Miami.
Even though it would take me 45 minutes to get from Envigado to the school, I knew it would be worth the journey. I was going to learn dance were some of the worlds best Colombian dancers were learning.
El Balcon De Los Artistas wasn’t a business for squeezing money out of tourists, it is an authentic local institution dedicated to dance!
The school offers all types of dance so if a break from salsa is required then one could try bachata or even tango.
If you want to get social, there are also a selection of group classes available. Private classes cost 120,000 pesos ($56) for four hours or 250,000 pesos ($116) for 12.
I’m already getting excited about trying out my new dance moves back home in Scotland.