You don’t have to look too far in Medellín to know that dancing is a huge part of the culture.
Go to your local supermarket and you’re likely to hear salsa music as you browse the aisles. It’s a staple on the city buses too. But it’s not just salsa here.
There’s the beats of reggaeton, the romantic tones of bachata as well as cumbia and even tango.
And with crossover bars playing every kind of music, there’s no excuse not to dance to at least some of it. If you’re lacking in the skills department, you’ll feel more comfortable if you take some lessons first.
Dancefree, offers the following schedule of group classes:
- Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for Group Intensive Classes. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
- Thursdays from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for Free Salsa Class, followed by Salsa/Bachata Night from 9:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
- Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays as announced in Dancefree’s online calendar at www.dancefree.com.co/
As of November 2014, the cost is 10,000 pesos ($5) per class, except Thursday which is 100 percent free to attend. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. so you can practice freely both before and after the class.
If you’re going to be attending the group classes a few times a week, consider paying for the monthly membership, which costs 40,000 pesos ($19). This includes entry to all group classes, events and shows, priority access and discounts at the bar.
According to Bill, the General Manager of Dancefree, students often practice until 10:30 p.m. or later on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and until 2 a.m. on Thursdays.
And being someone who absolutely loves to dance, I went to a group class to experience their instruction firsthand.
As there’s no need to bring a partner, attending a group class gave me the chance to meet other people. The turnout was good, making it all the easier.
Dancefree has already provided thousands of free classes to Colombians and foreigners from more than 70 countries in the past three years. They also boast the largest dance floor for salsa and bachata in Medellín.
The class began with warm-up exercises, the girls on one side and the men on the other, before moving straight into some of the moves. I was quickly swaying my hips to the beat.
Then we learned the basic steps before being separated into three groups: beginner, intermediate and advanced.
Having learned salsa back in the UK over the course of 10 weeks, I was used to just one female and one male instructor per class, but Dancefree’s student-to-teacher ratio is much better.
The more instructors available, the easier it is to get personal attention, which will help you learn faster.
Plus, they have shows performed by national and world champion dancers, so you can see how it’s really done. The world salsa and cha-cha champions are just a few of their recent guests.
In fact, the class was so good, I booked private lessons. The more lessons you take, the cheaper it becomes and Dancefree is one of the cheapest studios in Medellín for taking lessons.
You don’t have to take salsa either, as they offer classes in bachata, tango, milonga, porro, merengue, foxtrot, bolero and kizomba as well.
With bachata being my favorite, I opted for 10 lessons. Although I was nervous for the first one, Edison, my dance teacher, made me feel so relaxed that I was completely at ease for the full hour.
As of November 2014, private lessons cost 35,000 pesos ($17) each and as I was taking 10, the cost was reduced to 33,000 ($16) per hour.
Having one-on-one lessons gives you the opportunity to practice the moves properly and find out where you’re going wrong.
The best thing is that there’s only a couple of private lessons happening at once, so you have plenty of room to maneuver your way around the dance floor.
Here are two of the instructors showing how bachata should be done:
Dancefree offers private classes seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. I booked two lessons a week, timed to finish just before the group classes began, so I had the option of joining them too.
Although my Spanish needs improving, I could easily follow Edison’s instructions as I listened to the bachata beats in the background. After only my second lesson, I noticed improvements in my posture and moves.
There is nothing more satisfying than hearing your teacher shout out “ESSO” after you’ve executed a dance move perfectly.
Dancing is also a great way to keep in shape and although it’s only been two weeks, my shape is already changing.
I feel fitter and am toning-up and no longer aching after my dance classes. I’m confident that by the end of 10 classes, I’ll be dancing like a pro.
In fact, I’m even thinking about taking tango classes next!
Dancefree offers a fun, comfortable environment to learn to dance in and if you’re new to Medellín, you should definitely check out their group classes.
And with the mission “to create careers for Colombians, make dance and fitness accessible to everyone and make the world a little bit happier,” Dancefree is the perfect place to learn.
You can view Dancefree’s online calendar of classes, events and shows at www.dancefree.com.co/calendar.
Through their website, you can also sign up to receive a weekly email that includes all scheduled classes, events and locations.