Lessons in a dance studio are not enough to become proficient at salsa. I learned this back in Washington, DC circa 2006.
You need to practice, at least once a week, and preferably more in the beginning. So with that attitude in mind, I am being more proactive than ever.
Last Tuesday, after my second lesson of the week, I invited Marloes, my Dutch classmate, to El Eslabon Prendido for some salsa practice.
We headed there by taxi around 9:30 pm, and before we even entered the bar, ran into Guiomar, her friend, a French couchsurfer, and Adriaan. I made sure to introduce Marloes to Adriaan, as they both hail from the Netherlands.
Once inside, we all sat together, along with 2 more Dutch women who were friends of Adriaan (actually, one of them is a new intern for Colombia Reports).
And it wasn’t long before I asked Marloes to dance. After all, we had a few new moves to practice from class. It eventually became more crowded, and the dancing more difficult.
I have dubbed it “an extreme salsa learning environment” because the stronger couples tend to take up more space, and unintentionally end up bullying around the less skilled couples.
Women’s long hair would whip me in the face as they spun around in a frenzy to the faster rhythms. But it’s all in good fun.
My last dance was with a Colombian woman who was leading me in a dance that resembled nothing I could identify with. It was really awkward, but I waited out the song to the gregarious laughs of Guiomar who was dancing next to us.
Thursday night, I joined Martin and an American girl, Laura, from his Spanish class near Estadio for more dancing. Laura had invited her Colombian friend, who also brought a friend, and a New Zealand guy new to town.
This created a perfect male to female ratio, which is an important logistical concern with salsa dancing. No one wants to be on the sidelines!
We stopped into Tibiri but it was empty, so we walked a ways further and ducked into a different bar, though it was empty too.
We got a table, and with the dance floor to ourselves…danced! It was a nice change to have an empty bar and dance floor on which to practice. No worries about people watching you or getting in your way.
Eventually the DJ switched to reggaeton, and we made our exit, returning to Tibiri to find more people had arrived, including a group of couchsurfers Martin had invited. More dancing with new people in smaller, though still not very crowded, Tibiri.
Before catching a cab back to Envigado with Martin, I was sure to chomp on a greasy, late night arepa con queso (with a little sweetened, condensed milk on top). Yum.