Monday, November 7, 2011

Hot Salsa: Portland OR

Gee whiz – I think I’m on a bit of a Latin kick. I just find so many aspects of the culture appealing. (Probably because I’m such a Gringa.) Food, drink … and now dance. That’s how last Friday I found myself stepping into Paradise Studio for a beginner’s Salsa lesson.

At this entry level lesson, we were instructed on the basics of Rueda de Casino, a style of Salsa that originated in Cuba. To start, our teacher Tom, had us form a circle of alternating men and women, and face our partner.

He then coached us on how to execute the foundation step of the dance, called Guapea (Left-Right-Left-Pause-Right-Left-Right-Pause). It is fairly easy – and important – to get Guapea down, since it is the step onto which all other moves are added.

Once you master this basic step, the music kicks in and new moves are introduced, which “the caller” (in this case our teacher) announced at quick intervals. These moves can be rhythmic like “un fly” which calls for a single clap, or playfully flirty like hip-bumps, or even the occasional air-kiss. For sake of comparison, I found this style of Salsa to be almost a Latin version of square dancing – where the dancers keep moving and partners keep switching.

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But I am happy to report that if you're single, and are a bit squeamish about anything that smacks of being a “singles” activity – this does not. The emphasis is on learning the dance, meeting new people, and having fun. Of course, there are social opportunities (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) but not in an uncomfortable or overbearing way. Another great thing is that you can show up alone. This time I went with a friend, but have no qualms about going solo next time.

And yes, there will be a next time.

Paradise Dance Studio
826 SE Belmont St
Portland, OR 97214

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