Sport of the Month London Salsa
Salsa is a style of dance that originated in Cuba and is now danced all over the world. The salsa is an upbeat dance in which the movements tend to be more side-to-side than forward-to-backward. The TotallySporty team met up with one of the best well-known salsa dancers in Britain and the 1991 UK salsa champ, Richard Pierre.
What is salsa?
As said before, salsa is a type of dance that originated in Cuba. There is a basic six-step routine to the salsa, in which the movements tend to go forward and back or from side-to-side. The salsa is similar to the mambo. There are two main styles of salsa: Cuban and crossbody.
The salsa scene in the UK began some time ago, but has really taken off in the past few years. Around 20 years ago there were only about 3 salsa clubs and 4 salsa teachers in the UK. Most of the teachers, if not all, were from abroad. Today there are teachers from both the UK and abroad and there are salsa clubs all over the city of London.
There are four general levels of progression in salsa: beginner, improver, intermediate and advanced. Each individual school also has their own sub-levels. At Richard Pierre’s salsa club, Salsagold, his beginner courses are 7-weeks (class once a week). His improvers courses are 11-weeks (class once a week). Pierre said to go from beginner to intermediate takes usually about a year.
Why should I participate?
Salsa dancing is both a great way to get in shape and also to meet new people. Just like any type of dance, there are physical benefits to salsa dancing. Dancing increases muscle tone and coordination. Dancing can also burn more calories per hour than biking or swimming. Dancing helps reduce stress and increase energy. It can also help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and reduce heart rate.
Salsa is also a very social dance. At Salsagold, Pierre has every one switch partners so that they dance with other people. Dancing with other people, obviously helps to meet new people and can make the class more fun. Pierre also talked about a “new to town” benefit that is when you go to a new town that you aren’t familiar with, you can go to a salsa club and meet new people right away.
There are three things that make a good salsa dancer: 1. what you’ve done before (i.e. physically fit); 2. what you do during class (pay attention, work hard, etc.); and 3. what you do after class (practice, listen to salsa music).
How do I get started?
There are many salsa clubs throughout London. Salsagold has classes every Tuesday and Wednesday at 6.30 pm at Murphi’s Bar on Clerkenwell Rd. Sessions are £7, but if you contact Richard Pierre, you will be able to get a free introductory class. You can come alone, with a partner or with a group. Everyone is welcome, even absolute beginners.
Salsagold also offers Saturday intensive workshops. The workshops take place in King’s Cross and are from 12-5 pm. The workshop covers the essentials of a 7-week course in one Saturday. If you want to participate in the intensive workshop, you must book in advance and the cost is £25 per person.
Private classes are available on Sundays and Mondays. They cost £40 per person.
Salsagold also puts on salsa socials every 3 months on a Saturday night. The salsa socials are a way for you to go out and dance in a nightclub or bar and show off your salsa skills. The purpose is so that you have confidence to go anywhere and be able to dance.