Let the Salsa Lessons Begin

A converted house turned dance studio
A converted house turned dance studio

My original plan to become a superstar salsa dancer by not spending any money and simply hanging out at the clubs on the weekend was failing miserably.

I decided to take my desire to learn the dance more seriously, and found the dance studio near The Black Sheep hostel I had heard about from an Australian guy a few weeks ago.

I inquired about prices, and while the private lessons were just a tad more expensive than group lessons, I thought it would be more fun to meet some new people and go with the group lessons.

I had previously taken about 10 hours worth of salsa lessons at a studio in Washington, DC back in 2006, however I never went out to the Latin clubs to practice.  As a result, I forgot the moves I had learned, though I still remembered the basic steps and movements.

The first class was a lot of fun, though it was incredibly hot inside the studio, which is really the converted interior of a house.

There were two older Colombian women, and a young European girl studying abroad, plus three young Colombian guys.

The ratio was a person off, so after some basic steps on our own, I partnered with the teacher for a dance or two, before we began a rotation.

It is always interesting to see how women dance differently.  Some like to lead more than others, and of course until I become a stronger leader myself, I prefer the ones who are not so aggressive!

I decided to sign up for 2 hours a week, for a month, and see where that takes me, but that’s not all.  Lessons without practice outside the studio, won’t get me far.

So I am dropping my timidity, and looking for any willing Colombian partner to join me on the dance floor.

Plus, the Dinamo gym recently began offering a Rumba (aerobics) class which basically a dance class set to a variety of common tropical music here, such as salsa and meringue.

Since I am already paying for a membership, I can take advantage of those classes at no extra cost, and really accelerate my learning!

Unlike in the USA, the majority of women here in Colombia grow up dancing salsa, at least as far as I have found.

As a result, they not only love to go out dancing on the weekends, they’re damn good at it too, and often willing to take a gringo for a spin or two if he invites her (though odds may be lower if you don’t realize she is with her boyfriend or husband!).

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  1. It’s about 115,000 pesos for 8 hours of group lessons per month (two 1-hr lessons per week).  That is roughly $55.  It gets a little more costly for 4 group hours per month, and then private, but not by too much.  Well worth it.

  2. Dave,

    Curious to know if you’re still in Medellin and how your salsa progress is coming along. I just moved to Medellin in December and trying to figure out what the salsa scene is like here. From the little I’ve been out, it’s certainly very different from back home (states). I lived in Baltimore for two years so I’m guessing the classes you took in DC were quite different from the classes they teach here. The style from back home is completely different (they dance on a different beat out here). Although I’m not a professional, I was in a salsa dance company back home (Boston) and I’m looking to find people who are interested in learning the US style and not so fixated on the Cali style. There’s a Salsa Congress coming up in July here in Medellin where a bunch of US instructors have been invited. So I’m guessing there has to be some interest in the style.

    Let me know how your salsa experience has gone.


  3. Hi Walter,

    Thanks for checking out Medellin Living. I left Medellin July 2009, and am back at home in Virginia now. I miss it there, A LOT.

    Since getting home, I’ve been going to The Salsa Room (formerly Cecilia’s) in Arlington every week. It’s my favorite spot, but I’ve also checked out the other bars like Havana Village and Clarendon Grill.

    I actually attended the 2009 Colombia Salsa Congress in Medellin right before leaving – it was a lot of fun. I went to 2 nights of the social dancing, and it was quite an experience for me to be on the floor amongst some of the best in the world. I highly recommend it.

    As for the Colombian style, yes it’s different. They seem to move more side to side, and as they grow up learning to dance in their families, the women don’t often know the same patterns you or I might be familiar with. But I had a lot of fun dancing with them all the same. They certainly move their bodies a lot more naturally then typical American women I dance with now.

    I mostly hung out at El Eslabon Prendido, Cien Fuegos, and GAR Bar (Parque Lleras).

  4. Dave, thanks for the post. Adding to this post the option for free weekly dance classes in Medellín, including Salsa, with Dancefree, at various sites in El Poblado. You can view a lot of photos of the free weekly dance classes at http://www.facebook.com/dancefreeco, Dancefree’s website is http://www.dancefree.com.co/, and you can receive a weekly email that includes the locations, schedules, etc. of all of Dancefree’s weekly free dance classes by filling out the quick/easy free form at http://www.dancefree.com.co/contact/. Happy Salsa dancing. And Bachata, Merengue, Porro (common local dance in Colombia), and more 🙂