Moving to London was all about starting over. This doesn’t necessarily mean letting go of anything and everything that meant something to me in the past. For example, I am still putting my data science hat on sometimes, even if my current work doesn’t require it. Nevertheless, it is difficult to incorporate some of the things we loved to do in the past into a new life and a new routine when you become an expat (all over again). Dancing salsa was a big part of my life a few years ago, but to be fair I stopped going even before I moved to London. It’s been on my mind for a while, and it was something I want to try to pick up again.
Salsa in London: class at Salsa Tropical
As in any big city, London has ample opportunity to explore salsa dancing. After looking around, I settled on trying out Salsa Tropical. In part because their locations are fairly convenient for me (central and a bit east of central), and mostly because they seem to really know what they are doing. Quality of teaching is of course critical as well, as is location because when it comes down to it I can’t afford hours of travel to get to and from class.
Wednesday night, it was time for class. I dusted off my shiny old salsa shoes, and made my way to the location, just steps from Holborn station. It took a little searching for the right dance school, but some of the reasons I like this one are:
- I can join anytime (missing a class is not a big deal)
- Mixing and matching Saturday and Wednesday are possible
- Each class gets two instructors (male and female).
- And…. the best part is, you don’t need a partner to join.
When I arrived I assumed that the girls may be in the majority. In a very far past I danced ballroom, before salsa. It was always the case in ballroom dancing that women were in the (vast) majority. It worked out for me back then, because I was paired up with an experienced volunteer, who helped me progress much faster than I otherwise would have. In salsa the gap was a bit smaller, but even then it tended towards more women than men. This time, the unbelievable happened. Men were in the majority this time around. This was easily revolved with a few ladies from Salsa Tropical being there to fill in when needed.
The class started off with following through basic steps, individually. Both teachers demonstrate at the front of the room, and with the music on everyone starts to get into the groove of things. One thing I love about the location is that there are no mirrors. When I took salsa classes in the past we used a gym studio, and there were mirrors all around. It can be useful when you are maybe a bit more advanced, but right now it would also make me a bit self-conscious. After the solo-dancing, we are grouped into the beginners and improver groups, and partner up. Every few minutes, we switch partners. This is something I forgot about salsa but reminded me of taking classes before. It’s actually awesome, even if you do come with a partner you plan to be dancing with regularly. Learning to dance with various people, of various heights and with slightly different styles helps you be a better dancer. Salsa is ultimately such a social group sport. When going to clubs you are meant to dance with everyone and it is my absolute favourite part of it. Nobody comes with an agenda other than having fun, and dance. This means it is not weird to be asked by a much older/younger, taller/shorter person. None of that really matters. It is a night out in London that doesn’t involve the pub. With pubs being so hard to escape in this city, with so much of our social lives playing out in them, it’s nice to escape for something different.
Halfway through the class I noticed I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s been a very long time since I’ve had that feeling, and I realized how very much I missed salsa dancing. I can’t wait to go back to class again!
For a preview, check out the video!
It’s so hard to find stuff to do in London that doesn’t take you to a pub. Awesome idea.
Great post, Chris! And I’m happy to hear you got back into salsa dancing again, it’s been ages since I danced.
Btw, still loving that picture 😉
Love the picture too Tanya! good times! We should have you visit sometime, and check out the London salsa scene 😉 or before long I’ll be back in Toronto anyways.