My interview with SalsaPicao

This week, I am posting a Q&A done with a Fellow Salsero and Blogger – Wil.

Wil is from the United States and  has his own blog called Salsa Picao (http://salsapicao.com/) which has lots of cool videos, songs and posts about Salsa.

Wil and I have recently become acquainted and I have just done a Q&A about him and his blog. When you are done reading the post, do yourself a favour and go check out his blog and see for yourself why he is one of my favorite Salsa Bloggers.

1. When did you start your salsa blog? Why did you start it & which post is a MUST read?
I started my blog towards the end of 2011…it was actually Dec. 28th.

Having a salsa blog was something I had wanted to do for years. This was my second  attempt at blogging about salsa. I created a blog 2 years ago but I just put up a few cool patterns that I found on you-tube and I never continued with it. I think it’s probably better that I waited because now I have more to blog about with these few years I have been  dancing.

Which blog post is a must read? Well, the way I would pick is a post that I’ve personally looked at more than 5 times and that would be “Key ingredient to a great salsa dance: Salsa Music…duh”. I really enjoy this dance by Shani and Cristian. It’s such a great song that they’re dancing to and the musicality is beautiful.

When did you discover salsa dancing?
Being a child of Puerto Rican parents we would always have music playing. From traditional puerto rican folklore music to latin music like salsa and merengue.  I remember attending family weddings and always spotting one or two couples dancing salsa. These couples always looked good and sometimes everyone would just stop to watch them dance. I enjoyed it so much— it just looked like the music was actually just guiding them throughout the song.

How was your first experience taking a salsa lesson?
The first time I ever took a salsa lesson I was 18 years old. Growing up in CT all you’ll find is dance schools that focused on ballroom style of salsa. They taught me proper form, technique, I believe it was On 1 style. Back then they didn’t even teach on count. They taught using the “Quick, Quick, Slow” method. I know there are schools out there that still teach this way. I find it funny but it does help get you moving. After paying for 6 lessons  and learning probably 6 small patterns I was done with it. Didn’t take another lesson till
3 years ago.

How long have you been salsa dancing for?
I started dancing 3 years ago after my ex-wife wanted to take Salsa classes together. I was hesitant at first because I had taken classes before almost 13 years prior, but those lessons were Ballroom focused salsa. I wasn’t too impressed with that type of salsa dancing and even though I did learn some patterns I still felt like I hadn’t learned a thing, but after taking this one group salsa lesson it completely changed my mind. It was the first time I had experience On 2 style and I was just so amazed with it that I was determined to stick with it.

How long did you take salsa lessons for?
Once the On 2 bug bit me I took lessons pretty much consistently for a year and half at this dance school in CT.  Then my instructor mentioned to me that I should venture out to NY to take lessons from some of the best salseros in the world.
So I headed to New York and I jumped around from salsa instructor to salsa instructor trying to find my fit.
I started with Frankie Martinez then took classes with Eddie Torres, Melanie Torres, and Yamulee Dance Company. I finally landed with Juan and Caridad Portella from Cache Dance Studio.

What made you stay with that dance school?
Besides being awesome people I really felt that Juan’s style of teaching was what I needed to really retain what I had learned from all the other great instructors.
Pretty much every instructor teaches a new pattern for each class, but the way Juan  teaches is that he builds on what he taught you prior which makes it a bit easier to remember patterns. Also, his classes were filled with enough partners to practice with.

Any advice for new salsa dancers?
I’ve heard it from every instructor…”You need to go out dancing to get better.” It took me a long time to do this, but once you start you’ll really start to gradually improve.

Have you ever considered becoming a salsa performer?
I have been asked this question quite a few times and for me it’s always surprised me because I still feel like i’m an ‘ok’ dancer.

That being said, I have thought about it, but being the type of person I am I would want to really commit myself 150% to practice, which means it would mean hours and hours of rehearsals.
This would be very difficult for me since I have a son that I love spending time with.
Also, I never started taking salsa lessons with the intent to perform at a Congress or Festival. My goal was to able to dance on 2 timing to one of my favorite Salsa bands El Gran Combo. I was able to fulfill this goal last year when they were the featured band at the New York Salsa Congress.

Who are your 3 favorite Salsa musicians/bands and your favorite songs from them?
1. El Gran Combo  – Song: “Vagabundo” As I mentioned before, anyone who knows me knows I am a HUGE Gran Combo fan.

2. Wayne Gorbea – Song: “Estamos Chao” – This is a tough choice because there are sooo many bands/musicians that I enjoy but I’ve seen Wayne live a few times and I love the music he plays.

3. Tito Puente – Song: “Hong Kong Mambo” – Tito was a pioneer and one of the first musicians to involve dancers with his band performances. He has to be on the list.

Your most memorable dance experience?
Wow, this is a tough question to answer. I’ve had so many great experiences and some bad ones as well. Let’s start off with my most memorable WORST experience I’ve had. When I first started social dancing I was attending Jimmy Anton’s Social in New York City. This social is the longest running social that occurs every other Sunday throughout the year. I had attended Jimmy’s a few times but I was still a beginner so I was still very nervous  when I danced—but I did dance. So this Salsera asked me to dance and as we were dancing I’m trying really hard to remember patterns that i’d learned, but as most guys know – you can’t remember a thing! As we were dancing I guess the look I had on my face was that of fear because the woman leans over and tells me “Honey, relax, no ones going to kill you.” HA! I laughed about it afterwards but at first I was taken aback by her comment. Right there at that moment I realized that I was taking dancing way too seriously and that I needed to enjoy the dance. I haven’t seen her since but I would love to tell her that she had a huge impact on my salsa dancing.

My most memorable Best experience was when I attended the New York Salsa Congress and my favorite salsa band was performing—El Gran Combo. When I first started taking lessons I had set a goal for myself to be able to enjoy dancing “On 2 Timing” to the Gran  Combo performing.
It was amazing. They performed for two hours straight! I still get chills thinking about it.

Your top 3 favorite Salseras.
My top favorite Salseras? This is another tough one. I’m such a fan of so many. There are different reasons of why I like some over others. I think I’m going to have to pass on this  question because I really can’t decide. HAHAHA.

Who are your 3 favorite Salsa Dancers and why?
1. Juan Matos – I first saw Juan on YouTube and became an instant fan of his dancing. Love his styling and just seeing the music move him is really inspirational.

2. Frankie Martinez  – What I really love about Frankie is how he took salsa dancing and created his own “Afro-latin Funk” style of dancing. I’ve witnessed a few of his dance  company’s performances and they’re pretty amazing.

3. Adolfo Indacochea – Again a huge fan of Adolfo style. His musicality is tremendous.

Where do you see salsa dancing going in 5 years from now?
I’m hoping that it will continue to grow. It’s great to see these Salsa Congresses around the world and more people joining salsa classes. Salsa really did change my life and I want it to do the same for others.

Now go check out his blog Salsapicao.com

Live… Love…. Salsa!!!!

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About Chilly

Causality - I believe for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Cause and Effect. I am the cause - what will be the effect?
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