Published On: Mon, Sep 8th, 2008

Salsa Boot Camp: Day 1

So if you you follow this Blog, you know that I recently conducted a search to find a Salsa instructor in an article entitled I am trading my bowl of tortilla chips and salsa dip for dipping chicks to the
beat of Salsa… 
and followed up in the article Urban Jibaro enlists in a "Salsa Boot Camp"

Here is the latest update:

The First day of Salsa Boot camp

Today is the day I start my first lesson and I am nervous, mostly because of the fact that my whole life I danced what my father would have called "una Salsa chapuzera"…and I was complexed. I would look great doing "shines" by myself in the cut but as soon as someone tried to lure me to the dance floor, I managed to fumble it. Now that I think of it the only two people I have been ever been able to dance Salsa with without bruising their toes severely is my Mami  and and Florence (aka my lil sis from college), probably because they too only know the wack salsa two step stuff I been doing my whole life.

So I walk into Dance Atlantic before class with my youngest daughter and my homegirl Shellz Da Stunna as we are the final three survivors of what should have been a group of like 8 people that were gonna take classes together. A class just before our class was doing their "cooldown" which is kind of like a review of all the "shines" (dance steps) that they have learned so far. So I walk over to Dance Atlantic Founder, Melody (aka Sgt. Salsa) and she smiles almost as if she knew how shook I was…says hi and quickly asks us to line up as soon as the other group is done. I react like a typical shy kid on the first day of class and retreat to the farthest point away from Melody, which is not really like me. When I attended high school (and even college), I usually gravitated towards the front of the class, because the teacher did not pick on you as much.What I really like about this class is that its like 12 people, almost equal male/female ratio and very culturally diverse. 

So we start with the foundation of dancing on 2, what is called "the basic". This step is basically taking two steps forward, then two steps back…and the forward again. We all have these funny faces as we struggle to look at each other, the mirror, the instructor but stay on beat. 

"The basic" step can best be described by the following blurb from Wikipedia's article on Salsa on 2

Basic step

The basic movement common across most salsa styles is to step quick-quick-slow 2 times over two 4-beat measures (or 1 8-beat measure). Typically the quick steps are on beats one and two, and the slow step is actually a quick on beat three followed by pause or tap on beat four. That is you step left-right-left-pause/tap then right-left-right-pause/tap. 

So that is how we started…practicing this step a few times and it took me almost no time at all to realize that I did not wear the right shoes for this class. I had a pair of Tommy Hilfiger boot like shoes with a thick sole that made my feet hurt like hell.

So after learning the basic step, I quickly learned that what I used to do is dance on one, which allows for a lil extra "kick" when your feet go back. Looks really cool when you do it…not so much when you pair up with someone…there is nothing worse than a blood curdling scream of a Latina in high heel "tacos" when you step on her toes. So we move over to some other steps like "side to side" and then "the back step". After the class mastered these steps…it was time for partnering…

Partnering is when we practice what we learn in the first half of the class with a partner. What I really like about this school compared to the last school I tried to attend is that all the dancers alternate with each other. so we practiced the steps  about 6 times with 6 different partners. This also allows Sgt. Salsa (who is actually very pretty and looks nothing like a Drill Sargent) to see who may have difficulty grasping any particular step so that she can break it down. That is something that she does very well…breaking down the steps into a very simple format so that you can get every movement. 

Overall I knew she took it easy on us but my feet were killing me and I chose not to stay for the Salsa Social they were having that night. I just felt like I did not know enough…and I certainly did not have the confidence to dance with other classes that are weeks ahead….but…I will get there…It is a very comfortable learning experience. Check them out today…

Dance Atlantic Studio 

is located at 3390 Atlantic Avenue 

(bet Crescent and Hemlock)

Brooklyn, NY 11208

Tell them that the Urban Jibaro sent you!

Here is a description of Dance Atlantic from their MySpace

Atlantic officially opened it's doors in March of  2007.

The idea behind
Dance Atlantic was to be able to offer affordable and quality dance instruction
to adults and children within the immediate areas of Cypress Hills, East New
York and the neighboring South Ozone Park, Howard Beach, and Richmond Hill,
Queens communities.  Dance Atlantic is currently open in the evenings and on
Saturdays and Sundays offering everything from classes in salsa (on2), ballet,
tap, jazz, hip hop,  fitness and conga lessons (with Chembo Corniel).  For 2008,
we're looking at adding new classes to our schedule including; belly dance,
hustle, yoga/fitness, expand on music lessons, etc.

Our goal is to be
able to touch people's lives through the power of dance, music and/or art and be
able to uplift and contribute to a community that we live in and

On behalf of
myself and the Dance Atlantic team, I would like to thank many of you for your
genuine love and support and helping us spread the word about Dance Atlantic
within our community.

Peace and
blessings to you and yours…


Salsa Boot Camp: Day 1