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Published On: Sat, Feb 20th, 2016

5 Things You Need To Know Before You Start Salsa Lessons.

Dancing Salsa

Dancing Salsa

Here is the twitter version: In 2016… I am partnering up with Latino owned Salsa Salsa Dance Studio in Brooklyn NY to promote health, wellness and culture thru the art of dancing Salsa. Will you join me and get healthy? New Class Info Here

Hey everyone, I am hoping that you have had an amazing weekend. As for my weekends, they are getting better and better the more I get settled in to my new Brooklyn digs. If you been following my #SalsaSalsaNYC hashtag, you know that I signed up for salsa classes, I started not one but two classes a week and I have already started seeing incredible changes from a health perspective.

To those following, sending me the notes of encouragement and talking about joining me ((THANK YOU)), you all truly keep me motivated to not only continue my journey but to share it in a way that provides you value. This really started on the advice of my Physician “Dr. Super” who has been monitoring my health and has been pushing me to lead a more active lifestyle. After going into what I will call a diabetic crisis in the end of 2015, I decided that it was time to stop and remember that I was taking my life for granted (again).

So I started looking at all my options (thats what you do before the new year). My friends have suggested everything from Zumba, Yoga to Beach Body workouts and everything in between. I know that none of these options are for me. Being the cultural explorer I am… I decided to revisit my personal dream of becoming a kick ass Salsa dancer.

I was introduced to the owners of Salsa Salsa by my good friend Lisa Velazquez, a Salsa Salsa student and member of the Brooklyn Touch Bachata Performance Team. I was impressed with the school, the vibe and the history behind the school… I was especially drawn to the business owners (Marcus & Jose) who are driven to keep culture in an area that has displaced many Latino owned business due to gentrification.

Since then I have been blessed to hear so many stories about Salsa, specifically how the music and dance shaped some of your lives. I also heard that many of you want to dance again (and have been procrastinated) just did not know how to get started. I was just like you for a long time so I am going to share a few things that may help you get into a studio and getting your salsa on.

To start this post off… Here is a video showing a spontaneous dance session with my friends at Capicu Cultural Showcase. As you can see, only 6 weeks and I am becoming a more confident dancer.

.:Capicu Rewind:.If you missed the season premiere of Capicu Culture at the Evilolive Pizza Bar… This is just a taste of what it looked like… Juan Papo Santiago hosted a packed house over 30 talented open mic’ers, 3 powerful features, 2 couples that found love here and a #funnylatino (two of them if you count Papo). Each of you invested in “Mujeres on the Mic” and thanks to your generosity, the west coast will experience the legacy of the Nuyorican movement as told by Nancy Mercado, Peggy Robles-Alvarado, Maria Rodriguez and Vanessa Chica. Join us on March 11th when we celebrate our 9th anniversary and follow us on social media @capicuculture for community updates that matter.

Posted by George ‘Urban Jibaro’ Torres on Monday, February 15, 2016

 

So here is what you want to know if you are considering joining a Salsa class.

I will preface my list by saying that Google is your friend… find at least three schools around your place, read the reviews (Yelp is helpful)  and go to your tribes on social media (Facebook and Twitter especially) and ask your friends if they have every attended a class. One thing I have learned is that people are passionate about the studios they belong to, so you are bound to get great feedback about the schools you are considering. I will tell you that I personally recommend Salsa Salsa Dance Studio because of the community and the salsa social structure they support locally to give us a safe and fun space to come together and practice.

Once you have decided on a school… here are somethings that you may want to know before getting to the studio.

1- There is no fancy dress code: You do not have to get a “salsa outfit” to go to class. Appropriate clothing for class is anything you feel comfortable in , many people come to class looking like they are going to the gym which is cool since you will work up a sweat. Once you have decided to commit to your second month, it is recommended that you pick up some shoes that will be very comfortable. If you search online they are called Salsa Style shoes or Jazz shoes. According to Pito, our intructor you should try to get the ones that have suede bottoms. He also said the Capezio is a popular brand used by many students dancing Salsa / Bachata. I have curated a list of options available on amazon.com  –> Salsa Shoes (affiliate link)

2 – Courtesy is non-negotiable: When I say courtesy, 60% of that means good hygiene) You will be face to face with up to approximately 20 strangers in each class. You will become friends with the ones that you are courteous to. It is important that you smell good, that your breath is fresh and take a moment to introduce yourself to each new partner. The other 40% is for the leaders making sure that you are aware of body proximity, that you hold  him / her on their shoulder blade and no lower. Also that when you cup the fingers with your left hand that you do not wiggle them in an awkward way. Last but not least, do not look at your foot work, that will not only trip you up while your learning but your partner may feel like you are staring at their body.

Thanks to my friends at AXE, I have some new options for those heavy work outs, salsa classes and long nights at the socials. 

 

Got a beautiful @cutterandbuck bag filled w/ all kinds of magic from my friends @Axe – Thank you #findyourmagic

A photo posted by George Torres (@urbanjibaro) on

   

 

3- Safety is critical: If you have not been very active and you start your class you may want to consider getting to class 10 minutes early so that you can warm up and stretch. Many dancing injuries (or discomfort) happen because people do not observe the basic warm up exercises that they would for other types of physical activity. Here is a cool video that can help.  

 

     

 

4- This is totally a social experience: In an ideal world some people would love to bring their significant other, but if you are single… you could not be in a better place to get out and meet people. The lessons in my studio are broken into two segments. Solo Work: This is where you learn certain moves (also called Shines) as individuals. The instructor breaks down the shines in (6 steps) and you practice alone. The second half of class allows you to partner and practice turn patterns with different partners in rotation. If you are part of a couple that wishes not to rotate… thats ok too.        

 

 

  My first clip on day 1… My class has over 54 students in it from all walks of life. Here I am doing my very first partnered basic. Here is a little advice…. If you are going to take any kind of dance class, here are some tips to make it a great experience. Make sure you dress comfortable, because you are going to sweat. Please, make sure you have your favorite breath mints / gum handy… Fresh breath is non negotiable Now that you have fresh breath, be social… Smile and say hello. Introduce yourself as you go thru the dance rotations. You will be close to everyone in class at least once, make sure you are smelling fresh… And do not over do it on the fragrance. Less is more. Last but not least, make sure to go to the socials and practice. It is a great way to meet people in other classes, get inspiration and practice in a real life club like setting. In our case… The place to be is Tumbao at Yayos. WEPA!!! 💃🏻🚶🏼Follow @SalsaSalsaNYC or visit www.SalsaSalsaDanceStudio.com for info on their upcoming events /workshop calendar.   A video posted by George Torres (@urbanjibaro) on

 

5- The studio is invested in your development: Many studios host Salsa Socials, these are parties intended to provide you a safe space to practice with other students in your studio (and maybe even people from other studios). I have attended two very popular socials in Brooklyn, both a block away from my studio and both sponsored by the studio itself. The first one is TUMBAO at Yayo’s Restaurant (Every Thursday) and Cherry Tree (1st, 3rd and 5th Friday of each month). These social provide you with a club like experience without all that extra clubby stuff. Just really cool people networking, having some drinks and practicing their Salsa (and Bachata) moves with students and instructors alike. At the end of the day… it is all about muscle memory, so practice makes perfect (and a whole lots of fun).

 

 

  DO NOT AVOID THE SALSA SOCIALS BECAUSE YOU ARE NERVOUS… EVERYONE IS NERVOUS.     

 

If you ever meet Marcus from Salsa Salsa ask him how long it took him to start social dancing (LOL).  

 

  Now… because this is part of #ProjectoHealth, my personal health initiative, I want to keep sharing it with YOU thru Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Periscope (via Katch). I want you to see my transformation from every perspective… and live it with me. Our goal is to create a great conversation around health, wellness, culture and how it all comes together with the beat of a ‘clave’

I want to thank Salsa Salsa for being open minded and allowing me to document and share my experience with my community… I think this is going to be a fun few months.

To follow along… follow me on all social channels “@UrbanJibaro” or Follow the #SalsaSalsaNYC hashtag and join the conversation. Here are my social links –>      Salsa Salsa Dance Studio is conveniently located on 4th avenue near Brooklyn’s Atlantic Center. Just a few blocks from the Barclay’s Center, Fort Greene’s theater district, and Park Slope’s lively salsa social scene, Salsa Salsa Dance Studio is proud to belong to a vibrant and growing center of art and performance.

New Beginner Class Starts March 3rd –> For more class schedules and pricing –> visit their website at http://www.salsasalsadancestudio.com/

Buen Provecho… See You On The Dance Floor!

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Posted by George ‘Urban Jibaro’ Torres on Thursday, February 18, 2016

5 Things You Need To Know Before You Start Salsa Lessons.