OOTD: Havana Nights

Wednesday night is Salsa night here in Manchester! Instead of the usual black ensemble favoured by dancers, last Wednesday I opted for something a bit more Eye-catching…This orange crop top from Miss Selfridge did just the trick and worked perfectly with my khaki harem pants to stay cool in the underground salsa bar. Accessorised with this pineapple necklace from Primark it was perfect for showing off the remainder of my ballroom tan!
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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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Date a girl who dances salsa

For those who are going out with a Salsera. My other half doesn’t dance and I wish I could explain properly to him that that doesn’t matter to me, this pretty much nails it! Great post!

Rhapsodies of the Barefooted Gypsy

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Date a girl who dances salsa. She is feisty, driven, confident. She dances her way through life in a way that she can dodge a bullet in the most graceful fashion. She is strong–physically, mentally, emotionally. She has arms and legs made solid from hardcore dancing. She’s been stepped on countless times with a 4-inch stiletto, she has fallen face flat on the floor, but that doesn’t stop her from dancing. She knows that like dancing, life continues on with or without music.

A girl who dances salsa is not afraid to make mistakes because she takes every wrong turn as a learning curve. She is a girl with a curious soul and an open mind. She will try bachata or kizomba, hiphop, even rumba. She will say yes to a new form of dance even when she has zero knowledge about it because a girl who dances salsa is…

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So, what are you waiting for?

When was the last time you tried something new? Something that you were afraid of, that took you out of your comfort zone? For me there’s nothing more exciting on taking a gamble on trying  a new experience and discovering that you really enjoy it! And by this I mean anything from trying a new restaurant to a new shade of lipstick. It may turn out to be a disaster, sure (bright pink lips reaaally weren’t my thing, no matter how fashionable!) but you may just uncover a new passion.

I guess my aim here is to convince anyone who is curious about giving salsa dancing a try to just be brave and go for it! What have you got to lose? Chances are if you’ve been thinking about it then once you get over any fears and actually turn up to a class, you’ll really enjoy yourself! There’s a reason so many of us are so keen on it ;) I know what you’re thinking though, it’s easy for me to say right? When I try a new salsa class or even a completely new dance style, I turn up with 8 years of experience behind me and I can’t deny that that puts me in a far less nerve-wracking experience than someone trying dance for the first time! Perhaps you are worried about people watching you, about turning up alone or simply that you won’t be able to do it? My question to you is how do you know that these fears are justified until you try it? And isn’t that half the fun? Allow me to share with you my experiences with my latest new challenge…snowboarding.

 

I always wanted to try it. Don’t snowboarders just like they have so much fun? And so cool! I’m definitely not cool enough to be a snowboarder and I’m afraid of being out of control, falling over and breaking myself. These were the thoughts going through my head when I signed up for a set of lessons on Manchester’s indoor skislope. Across 16 hours of lessons I fell over, lost control, landed on my bum/face more times than I can count on all my fingers and toes (all of which are all still intact luckily)! Slowly and steadily though I was improving and falling over less. It was such an amazing feeling once I could get from the top to the bottom of the slope in one go and with increasing speed, I was ecstatic! I then accidentally bought a snowboard (I like shopping) and today was my first time on the slope without an instructor present. It was terrifying! Suddenly I was out there on my own with no-one to help me and it felt like everyone was watching me as I fell over time and time again. Kids half my size raced past my with ease and grace as I lay flat out in the snow. But every time I got back up, brushed the snow off my hair/bum/face/just about everywhere, and carried on to the bottom. By the end of the session I had forgotten about my fears and just concentrated on improving and most of all enjoying the ride! It was so much fun! And actually when I did take the time to watch others, I realised that I wasn’t the only one falling over and that everyone was so busy concentrating on their own ride that no-one was bothered if I was falling over or not.

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My new board! Trying something new uncovered a new passion for me :)

I promise you that this will be the case if you were to try salsa! You probably won’t pick it up straight away, there will be some people there who seem to pick it up straight away and you will stand on some toes. Probably your own. But it’s a pretty safe bet that you won’t fall over, and if you do at least you won’t get ice down your back. So be brave and go for it! Ask yourself, what have you got to lose? You might just uncover a hidden talent and a new passion and I’m sure you’ll have have lots of fun along the way! See you on the dancefloor ;)

All About Me

This is me!

I am writing this post as Day One of The Daily Post Blogging 101 course. I know I’m a little late but I’m completely new to blogging and this seems like a great place to start! So here goes…

My name is Sophie, I am 22 years old and I live in the city of Manchester in the UK. By day I am studying for a PhD in Biochemistry but by night, and just about any spare second of my day, I am a Latin American  dancer. My passion is Latin American music and culture and I dance constantly, which can be embarrassing at times as I often get caught busting some shapes to the radio in the lab when I think no-one is watching!

I loved salsa music from an early age and went to my first salsa dance class at the age of 14. Despite the fact that this was with my Dad, who has the unfortunate medical condition of two left feet, I took to salsa straight away. 8 years later, I’m still going; there’s just something about the rhythm that I find iresistable! At university in Liverpool I started up the University of Liverpool Salsa Society which was loads of fun. Through teaching 3 classes a week mostly in Cuban salsa but also including  merengue, bachata, zouk and kuduro amongst others, I had found a way to share my experience and passion for dance with others and to this day the improvement and enjoyment of my pupils  is one of my proudest achievements.

Having moved to Manchester last summer I now just dance socially for the pure enjoyment of it, and what a fantastic city Manchester is to be a salsa dancer! Through this blog I hope to share with you my experiences of dancing in the North West along with dance tips, music and other interesting aspects of life in this vibrant city. I hope that this blog will be useful to fellow dancers and also to any  of you who are interested in trying salsa or letting some Cuban flavour into your lives. It would be great to hear from other dancers about your experiences of dancing where you live and any tips and tricks you may be able to share with me, as one of the joys of dancing is that you never stop learning!

Besos!

Sophie

 

Represent, represent Cuba – Manchester’s hidden Havana

La Habana, Cuba

La Habana, Cuba

There aren’t many similarities which spring to mind between Manchester,’The Rainy City’, and Havana, Cuba. In fact I can’t think of  a single one. Sure, with plentiful shops, nightlife, universities and football teams, Manchester has it’s perks and I fell in love with it as soon as I moved here last summer. But for a salsa dancer whose heart longs for the latin beats and sunny streets of La Habana, Manchester’s eternal rain and incessant obsession with Oasis  can somewhat dampen your spirits, quite literally. It was time to find somewhere where I put on my dancing shoes and let my hair down, pronto. With a little investigation it became clear that Manchester does in fact have a Latin side which it hides from the shoppers and day-trippers. A whole variety of Latin nights and classes catering for a wide variety of abilities and dance styles are available for Mancunians to try something new, improve techniques or simply enjoy hitting the dancefloor.

Having been a regular at Liverpool’s infamous ‘La Casa’ throughout my university years I am no stranger to the salsa world. Arriving every Thursday I would instantly be surrounded by friends and familiar faces, even the bar staff would know my drink order before I did. Here in Manchester  my passion for salsa is not shared by my friends and even as an experienced dancer I  was daunted by the thought of turning up to a bar and not knowing anyone. Who wouldn’t be?

Turns out I needn’t have worried. Mancunians are the friendliest people I have ever met. Within minutes of arriving in the Cuban dancehall-themed basement of Peter Street’s Revolution de Cuba one Wednesday I was invited to dance and by the end of the evening had made several new friends who shared my love of all things salsa. With a dancefloor packed with people twirling away to the Cuban beats and often a live band I had discovered my own piece of Havana in the heart of Manchester.

What I like the most about Salsa Social at RDC is the diversity of people and abilities. While there are are many experienced dancers who can head straight for the dancefloor there are also complete beginners trying out moves learned in the class beforehand, and both are equally as welcome. There are also those who ‘do not dance’ who prefer to have a drink (the rum selection is fantastic!) and just enjoy the atmosphere, many of whom are drawn down from the bar upstairs by the irresistible beats and sheer curiosity.

My advice to those wondering if they should try salsa would be to just give it a go! We’re a friendly bunch and once you start to feel the beat you’ll be hooked, I promise. See you there next Wednesday!