Learn to dance salsa in a day

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Posted by May B on Sunday 7th of April 2019




I encouraged my neighbour to join me on Saturday for an intensive five-hour Salsa Rapido beginners’ class at Bar Salsa Soho.

As soon as we entered Bar Salsa – on Charing Cross Road just five minutes’ walk from Leicester Square tube – we felt that Cuban vibe. There are Club Havana posters, rum barrels, dance images, patchwork booth seats and even forestry as décor. We descended into the dark depths of the extensive bar to join the other nervous-looking participants in the VIP area. Alastair, a young at heart 53 year old who has been teaching salsa since 1995, registered us.

It was a diverse collection of people – all ages and nationalities were represented in couples, singles and friends. There were visitors from Germany and the United States. One chap had been urged to join the class to improve his boxing footwork and several had been recommended to the class by friends. There was around 20 of us.

All nervousness was immediately dismissed as we ventured onto the dance floor and Alastair started the class. He was warm and funny and put us all at ease. His happy banter and gentle teasing made us all smile – he could get away with being a stand-up comic. And it seems he has done this at the Edinburgh Festival. So dance class with a comedian - Excellent! And amongst his sometimes risqué comments there were nuggets of psychological wisdom about the power of dance to increase confidence and forge bonds between people.

Straight away we were practising our “left right left pause, right left right pause” footwork and pretty soon we were twirling around with partners. Music was added after a while. That first two hour session took us from absolute beginners to competent dancers. After a quick coffee break (which was available in the café upstairs although we snuck out to Caffe Nero across the road) we had another hour session where more intricate moves were introduced.

Lunch time was at 2pm. Several people remained at Bar Salsa for lunch while others ventured out into Soho. Some sought out Italian delicatessens whilst my companion and I settled for lobster rolls at Smack on Dean Street.

By the end of the day, everyone was moving around the dance floor demonstrating some interesting moves. And finally Alastair provided some insights into his future projects – including a new dance concept called Mambalsa.

Afterwards, a few of the participants stayed to enjoy a well-deserved cocktail. At 530pm the place was starting to fill up with the Saturday night crowd and it felt like party central. My companion was positively bouncing when we left at the end of the day. It was a fun, relaxed and brilliant but tiring learning experience.

The cost per person is £45. The registration process ensures that there are equal numbers of men and women although you can sign up as a single or a couple as you change partners regularly.

Further information:

Alastair Sadler http://www.streetbeat.co.uk/Salsa-Rapido-Improvers-Day-Courses#intro

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