In a dimly lighted wooden-floored ballroom in Cardiff, people learned how to dance salsa all night.
It is not fun to sit down and watch your family members have a great time pulling out their best salsa moves at every family event or party. They always tell me it’s easy, but I never believed them. However, after many years, I finally decided to join my Latin family and learn how to dance salsa. So, I booked a ticket for the monthly Saturday Latin Party Cardiff to fulfil my quest to answer the question: How easy is it to learn how to dance salsa?
It was a monthly event held at O’Neil’s St. Mary Street hosted by Salsa Buena Dance Classes Cardiff & Cowbridge. They organised two dance sessions for salsa and bachata (but let’s focus only on salsa) before the social, which lasted until after midnight.
I went with my girlfriends that night, and to be frank, I was a little bit hesitant. I only learned how to dance when I was in primary school. It was ballet jazz, and I wasn’t that good.
As soon as we arrived, I was planning on buying a drink and mentally prepare myself to be embarrassed. Yet, it turned out that I was right on time for the warm-up. It consisted of about a hundred of overwhelmingly good salsa dancers following the instructor’s “simple” salsa dance steps. I tried following along, but it was too fast for me; so, I just did my best and enjoyed the fun atmosphere.
The advanced dancers were staying with the guest instructor Nicolai V in the main ballroom, while the beginners were asked to go to the back room with the other instructor Roger Wilson.
It was a pleasant atmosphere; we were all a bunch of inexperienced dancers who wanted to learn how to dance. First, Wilson welcomed us and gave us a small speech to just have fun and not complicate things.
We had to do a circle, and the girls were to go around that circle and switch dance partners every few minutes. It was quite fun going around and dancing with someone new. Just when you think you got the hang of it, time to switch for a new partner and figure out your steps again.
Wilson gave us the salsa starter pack steps: He taught us the rumba, the mambo, and the basic steps. The rumba consists of taking steps on each side, the mambo takes steps to the front, and the basic takes steps to the back. After mastering them, he taught us a bonus step: how to make a turn.
“It’s interesting how you get to explore what your body can do when you follow the steps and enjoying the music,” said Naomi Lawes, a beginner at salsa.
After teaching us these new moves, Wilson stressed counting the steps in a manner of 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 (on 3 and 7 you go back to center), finding the rhythm of the music and letting the man be the lead.
“If you don’t follow the rhythm, you’re not going to be able to keep up with your steps,” said Wilson.
He made sure that everyone was enjoying themselves without feeling uncomfortable or awkward. “Mess up over and over, and guess what? it’s fine,” Wilson said. “We’re here to learn and have fun.”
In the end, we put what we learned to the test. We headed to the ballroom and joined the rest of the dancers. The pros were dancing with the beginners, people were laughing, bodies were shaking, and no one cared about anything other than having fun.