Film Review: Cuban Fury

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I finally got round to watching the film Cuban Fury (Studio Canal) this week and I’m so glad that I did! British-made, starring Nick Frost and about salsa I really hoped that this film would live up to my expectations of it, after all this has to be the only film ever made about the UK salsa scene. We follow the story of Bruce Garrett, former junior salsa champion as he attempts to regain his passion for dance and life in order to win the heart of his fiery, salsa-dancing boss. With the help of his sister and former trainer he is put through his paces and new friend Bejan helps him to re-discover his latin style to help him become himself again and dance with el corazon.

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OOTD: Summer Cocktails

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So it was my birthday this week which gave me the chance to pull out this little number for some cocktails in Manchester with the girls…

I’d been shopping for a dress for the occasion for a long time. I wanted a pencil dress, preferably white, with my signature nod to 1960’s Cuba and this Carmel dress from Celeb Boutique fit the bill to perfection! Made of a beautiful soft crepe it hugs your figure perfectly and cups are moulded so you don’t need to worry about what to wear underneath. The bright pink and green tropical print make it perfect for summer nights out or for a special occasion and the shape is so classic that it would suit all shapes and won’t go out of fashion. My new fav ;)

Dance rating: 4/10

Whilst I cannot praise this dress enough, it gets a 4 for the dance rating as the pencil style is rather restrictive for movement, but let’s face it, this dress deserves cocktails and soirees, not a sweaty salsa club!

http://www.celebboutique.com/carmel-tropical-print-pencil-dress-us.html

OOTD: Palm tree print for a Sunday afternoon

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Fashion doesn’t really have a place in my profession (Student and Scientist) so on the weekend I love to get dressed up if I’m going out! This isn’t a fashion blog but every now and again I’ll share with you some of my favourite pieces, as I love fashion inspired by Cuba and South America and I find it’s a great way to brighten your day in this grey and rainy city!

I went for afternoon tea yesterday with some friends (yes, I’m British, I love tea, we all do!), in this fantastic Alice in Wonderland-themed tea rooms (Richmond Tea Rooms, Manchester – would highly recommend). This gave me the opportunity to wear my new palm tree print shirt which I got from Le Boutique in Manchester. I enjoyed dressing it up yesterday with black trousers and jacket with white heels and is something that I would even wear for more formal days at work, however rare! It would just as easily work untucked with jeans and flip flops for a more casual look though.

When I used to teach salsa, ladies often used to ask me what they should wear or if I could recommend dresses etc for salsa nights, so I’ll start giving my outfits a dance rating, that is, how easy and comfortable they would be to dance in…

Dance rating: 7/10

I often dance in a shirt and these trousers, so this combo would work, however even on a sunny day in Manchester yesterday I was so warm and I think you would melt unless it was a really well air-conditioned venue!

Let me know what you think or if you have any recommendations of anything similar that you think I should check out! :)

 

3 Important Songs In My Life

I’m writing this as part of the Writing 101 course so I can improve my blog as much as possible, any feedback would be great! So, today’s challenge is HARD. I have to pick 3 songs, just 3, that are important to me  and my life and write about them without editing what I’m saying too much. But where to start? There are hundreds of important songs in my life, and I need a different ones for different moods I’m in. I wrote a post about this the other day actually, about different songs to combat different problems in my life, so for this one I’ll go from the heart and pick the songs that mean the most to me, regardless of how they are to dance to. Here goes…

 

Song #1: Bamboleo – The Gipsy Kings

I have loved Latin American music for as long as I can remember, before I even knew what it really was. As a child I can remember dancing to this song with toy castanettes in Majorca, I didn’t know what it was, who it was by, or even that it was in Spanish, I found all that out years later. But something about it, and indeed this whole genre of music that I called ‘holiday music’, because I only ever heard it abroad, made me want to dance. As I grew older it turned into my passion and look where I am now! Salsa addict! And I reckon it’s all down to this song, so thanks Gipsy Kings!

 

Song #2: Epoca – Gotan Project

The Gotan Project were introduced to me years ago by an older cousin who went travelling in Argentina and came back with their Revancha del Tango album, having taken an Argentine tango class. I have been in love with it ever since! It’s my go-to album for any situation, if I’m cooking, getting ready, working or having people round and want some music on in the background. It’s such a classy and sexy sound and I think anyone would find it hard not to be seduced by it. When teaching an Argentine tango class last year my partner had put on some of the old-style Argentine music, with accordians and such, and the class was slow and disinterested. A quick change to the pure sex that is the Gotan Project soon made the class sit up and pay attention, and indeed wanting more…

 

Song #3: Let’s Never Stop Falling In Love – Pink Martini

I wrote about Pink Martini in my last post about my favourite music, and I’m sure I’ll write about them again! Words cannot describe my love for this band and this is my favourite song of theirs, I have saved the best ’til last. If you haven’t heard of them I implore you to look them up! They were introduced to me in my teenage years by a dance teacher and they have provided the soundtrack to my life ever since! They are a cuban dancehall-style band full of latin rhythms but with flavours of jazz and other cultures thrown into the mix, all topped off by the beautiful vocals of China Forbes. Their music is sophisticated and sexy but also exciting and each song is vastly different to the last. Let’s never stop falling in love for me is the ultimate love song (I’d like it as my wedding song when the time comes!) and when I heard them perform it live last year in Liverpool it made me really emotional that they were there in front of me playing it live when it means so much to me. Just beautiful!

 

I can’t wait to hear all your interpretations of today’s challenge and maybe discover some new music!

A View – Riviera Maya, Mexico

Mexican Heaven!

Mexican Heaven!

Today I’m am at home writing my report for uni again. This is ten times harder than usual today because I know that on this day last year I had just arrived in Mexico for a blissful two-week holiday. I had finished with my undergraduate degree, exams over, dissertation handed in and had moved out of that awful student house in Liverpool. Weeks and weeks of hard work and stress were finally over and it was time to party the Mexican way!

The first thing that hit me was the heat and humidity in the air, how great it was to not be cold any more! The taxi driver was blaring some Prince Royce bachata all the way to the hotel and I just knew that all that work was worth what was going to be an amazing two weeks. Stepping out onto the veranda at the hotel I was greeted with the most amazing view: the sea was such a clear turquoise and washed up onto the perfect white sand of the beach, merengue blared out from the pool bar where people were drinking colourful cocktails and laughing and the sun was shining! I hadn’t seen sunshine for weeks having been trapped in perpetual revision hibernation! There was only one thing left to do, bikini on and straight in the pool! The following two weeks were the most blissful of my entire life; sunshine, sand, cocktails, new friends and dancing the night away, every night. Heaven!

I would give anything to be back there right now, but this report won’t write itself. Oh well, at least there’s always salsa tonight! See you there ;)

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AlgoRHYTHMS for motivation

Report writing essentials

Report writing essentials

It’s been a busy few weeks for me in Manchester; an upcoming deadline at uni has meant a stressful few weeks in the lab followed by long, lonely days at home this week and last writing up the report. Stress, stress and more stress. If there’s one thing that can take the stress away in an instant though, its music. I’m sure you’d all agree! As a scientist I work a lot with computational algorithms but aside from my usual research, over the past few weeks I’ve developed a few algoRhythms of my own to use music to get me in the right frame of mind for what I’m doing. Stress just disappears! Here are a few problems that we face in the modern world and an irresistable latin song that will make the problem just drift away…

 

1. Your alarm has just gone off and you reeeeally don’t want to get up and face the day…

This is probably the hardest part of the day for most people! At 6 am Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 are my best friends, a bossa nova or mild samba beat is perfect to perk you up  without being too aggressive and loud to make you want to crawl back into bed. I like Batucada (the beat) but if you’re not awake enough to find a specific song, just press play, make some coffee you’ll be away!

 

2. You’re at the gym, you want to get fit but right now you can’t be bothered…

This is me all the time! In this situation I challenge you to blare Kalemba by Buraka Som Sistema through your headphones and not want to move around. In fact any of their songs on any of their albums make great gym tracks, urban kuduro with an addictive bassline. Your ass will thank me later.

 

3. You’re about to have a meeting at work that you’ve been dreading…

Before a meeting I like to listen to Orishas, their urban salsa beats are surprisingly relaxing and help me to focus on what I need to do at times when I’m feeling nervous. Everyone has heard Represent, it helps me to remember that my supervisor doesn’t rule my life, and that no matter what, I’ll always have salsa in my life. Just don’t forget where you are and shout ‘CUBA!’ in the office…

 

4. You’re at work, trying to work, but all you’re actually doing is staring blankly at your screen…

I do this without even realising; sometimes I go into the lab and just stand at my bench staring at the chemicals on my shelves because I can’t remember/can’t be bothered to do what I’m supposed to be doing! My lab likes to listen to the radio station Absolute 80’s (it’s got some great tunes) but at times like this, almost like magic, they play La Bamba by Los Lobos and suddenly I’m dancing around and motivated to do my work. It’s cheesy and old but sometimes you need a party track at work to remember that there’s more to life than the 9 to 5!

 

5. You’ve just got home from a looong day, you want to eat something but collapse on the sofa and can’t quite manage to reach the kitchen…

Tito Puente is you man here for some proper cuban salsa. I love to dance around my apartment and the kitchen has the biggest floor space. When Tito is doing his thing you’ll want to get up and dance so you might as well cook while you’re at it! Ran Kan Kan would be a good place to start. Just watch your fingers with knives when you’re dancing around…

 

6. You want to go out to salsa, but your bed looks so inviting…

For this I usually need some proper reggaeton to get me excited enough to actually leave my apartment. I love classic salsa tracks but if I’m honest I prefer dancing salsa to songs with more of a reggaeton beat. I have roots in hip hop dancing and I find I can express myself more to songs with a heavier beat. My favourite reggaeton song to dance salsa to is Ella Me Levante by Daddy Yankee, so next time you’re struggling to motivate yourself to go out, put this on and dance around for a bit, you’ll be in the mood by the first chorus I promise!

 

7. You’re trying to get to sleep, but all the things you couldn’t focus on at work are now whizzing round in your head and sleep is impossible…

Always the way isn’t it? For this situation I’ve chosen a song by Pink Martini. Pink Martini have been my favourite band since I was a teenager, if you have never heard of them look them up! They are similar to a cuban dancehall band of the 50’s and play a lot of latin rhythms but with elements of jazz and other cultures thrown in to create a really unique sound and almost every song is different to the last one. Before I go to sleep I like to listen to Aspettami to get my brain to chill out, but any number of their slower numbers would do the trick!

 

Hope this has given you some ideas! If you have any suggestions of any songs that you find motivating and inspiring, please let me know, I’d love to check them out!