Chillys Blog Turns 3

Today, Chilly’s blog turns 3. Yeah, that’s right, 3 years ago in 2010 I wrote my very first blog post. 3 Years later, I am still here. 🙂

2013 has been a crazy interesting year for me. Lots of ups and downs. One of the biggest downs has been that I have been unable to write as much as I would like to. In fact over April & May, I never wrote 1 single post. But I am trying to ensure that never happens again.

On the upside, it was totally mind-blowing to travel half way across the world & meet someone who when they saw me wearing my chillysblog t-shirt, told me they enjoyed reading it.

Some more highlights of 2013:

  • How to become a Salsa Badass. This is a really cool post and I thoroughly enjoyed writing it.
  • Travelling to the US for the 1st time, going to Las Vegas, attending the 15th LA Salsa congress and then my interview with an LA Salsera shortly thereafter.
  • Getting to know a fellow blogger and salsa lover in the UK called a Salsera in the City.
  • Starting my own dance school – Alisar Dance and getting that off the ground.
  • Getting back on stage and performing after a hiatus
Chilly & Sarah

Chilly & Sarah

So yeah, all in all – 2013 has been an interesting year. Lets see what Year 4 Has to offer.

Right now, the big excitement is the Mzansi Cape Town Salsa Festival starting in less than 2 weeks. So excited and cant wait for it! Ill be giving you a blow by blow from next week, so keep tuned.

Before I leave, I gotta say – check out the Salsa section of my blog and see if there is any post you might have missed or want to read again. Just so you know, I have some real gems in there.

Peace, Love, Happiness & Salsa!

Chilly is out!

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My Top 8 Solo Salsa Performances

Its been a while since my last post and things are so crazy for me right now. I cannot honestly say when my next post will be, but today I am making time to share one of the many in the works with with you.

A bit of history to this post. I LOVE social salsa dancing, its one of my top 3 favorite things in the World. Now in the past 3 weeks, I have danced every single day, but only 2 of those days have been social dancing. The other 19 days have all been spent on training & practicing for a performance and teaching, . Hence the inspiration for Today’s blog. I want to share with you my Top 8 solo performances by Salseros that have just blown my mind. I can just imagine the amount of training and practice that went into them & I am sure you will enjoy them as much as I did (especially the Salsera’s). So, here we go:

NO.8 – Lucky Sipin (Merecumbe)
Merecumbe happens to be my favorite Salsa song of all time. Lucky’s routine is fun & cool to watch.

MerecumbeNo. 7 – Alex Lima
The original Salsa soloist who is hitting those shines On1. (Totally destroying statements and myths about Musicality and the like. You can dance On1 or On2 and still be musical and amazing). Anyway, as a friend of mine mentioned that this list would not be complete without him and I have to agree.

alex limaNo. 6 – Adolfo Indacochea & Juan Matos
Technically speaking, this is not a solo performance (and I will break this rule 1 more time in this post, so let me just get that out of the way now). However, if you know me, you will know that these 2 guys are favorite salsa dancers and the Mambo style of Eddie Torres is what resonates with me. So this performance which is a tribute to the King, just had to be here…

adolfo - juan
No. 5 – Terry  Tauliaut aka The Beast
If you have seen Terry dance you will know why his nickname is the Beast & his solo performance would be no different…

terryFyi: there are 2  Salseros who are called Beasts on the Salsa  dance scene & for 2 very different reasons. They are Terry and Sean.Terry is nicknamed the beast because he has such an insane energy when he dances. Its raw yet controlled with an effortless touch of musicality. To put this in perspective, watch the video of him doing shines in the middle of a social dance: Click Here.

Alright, from here on out, things get tricky. The Top 4 could easily all be No.1
So I chose to list them in order of who surprised me the most. So here we go, the top 4 Solo Salsa performances of all time.

No. 4 – Frankie Martinez
One of the kings of the solo performance and a master at musicality, here is Frankie with his insane speed and unbelievable footwork at the peru salsa Congress.

No. 3 – Oliver Pineda
Arguably one of the best solo performances out there. This man needs no introduction. World Champion Oliver is in my opinion the most musical social dancer I have ever seen and it therefore comes as no surprise that his solo is just as musical:

oliverIf you like Oliver, then you might enjoy watching this other performance with him Johnny Vasques & Adrian Rodriguez. Its not in my personal top 10, but its a rare treat to see these 3 artists all perform together: click here.

No.2 – Fred & Marc
Remember how I said I would break the rule again and include another duo? Well this is it. They are Fred and Marc and I had never heard of them until I saw this piece  For that reason and the absolutely brilliant routine, they earn the No.2 spot.

fred and MarcNo. 1 – Yand Klaise
Yand Klaise actually came to SA a few years back. I took his workshops and actually had a private class with him on Afro-cuban body movement and this guy is definitely talented. I just never knew how talented until I saw the performance he did at the Puerto Rican Salsa Congress. So he gets the Top spot as the No.1 Salsa Solo performance in my books. Well done Yand.

Yand-KlaiseAlright all. I sign off here. See you next week which marks my Blogs 3rd year Anniversary! WOWZA!

Live, Love, Salsa & Bachata!

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My interview with an L.A. Salsera

While @ the LA Salsa Congress earlier on this year, I remember  watching a particular Salsera at one of the pre-parties dancing with a Colombian performer and despite all the craziness going on, she held her own (Now if you have seen Colombian performers dance, you know that this is no easy task). So I made a mental note that I needed to dance with her at some point in the congress. We danced the next day and it was such a pleasant experience that we danced a couple of more times after that and she quickly became 1 of my top 2 favorite dancers at this congress.

I later on discovered that not only was she still a teeanger, she was one of those EXTREMELY rare people that learnt how to dance by going to socials without ever really taking classes and is actually damn good at it. (P.S. I do not advise this course of action for 99% of most people.)

So below is my interview with a remarkable LA Salsera –LEILANI DAVIS

Leilani posing her signature smile! :)

Leilani posing her signature smile! 🙂

Who is Leilani Davis?
I am 19 years old and my nationality is half Japanese and half White (mixed German, Irish and French).  Before I started dancing, I learned and competed in martial arts.  Currently, I am living with my sister and juggling work, going to school, and dancing!

When did you discover salsa dancing?
Back in 2007 I remember watching my sister dance ballroom, which included salsa. In 2009 my high school had a salsa dance team, which I eventually decided to join.

How long have you been dancing salsa for?
I took my first salsa basic in 2009 and have continued ever since. I discovered social dancing early last year and was addicted right away.

What do you love most about Salsa?
My favorite thing about salsa would be the energy   It is a way I can express myself. The dance itself is captivating and you can feel the positive vibes.

So I understand you never went to class, any particular reason for this?leilani3
I honestly wish I could have, but I didn’t have any extra money or time to attend. My dance team coach  in high school had taught me all I needed to know at the time.

How long did it take you to get good at Salsa? What helped the most?
I still feel that there is a lot to improve upon, but I do believe that I have grown significantly within the past year because I have been social dancing 3-6 nights a week.  Through social dancing, I have been able to dance with many amazing people who have helped me refine my technique.

Is there anything that contributed towards you becoming such an amazing dancer in such a short period of time?
When I first started dancing, one of the main “rules” I remember was not to back-lead. Since I have danced with so many leads, I have developed a light follow which has allowed me to pick up on the subtleties of the dance. Besides that, I am open to feedback. I know that all criticism will help me improve.

Have you ever considered becoming a salsa teacher or performer or doing it full time?
My interest lies mainly in teaching. I would love to share my passion for the dance with others. But in order to be successful with this, I need to get my name out, which means performing and competitions.

What has been your most memorable Salsa experience?
This past year I attended the LA Salsa Congress which was my first Congress ever. I became re-inspired by dancing with so many amazing dancers from around the world. The fact that everyone comes together from all around to share their passion for dance is beautiful.

leilani2Who are your top 3 favorite Salseros?
I honestly have a lot of people that I love dancing with. I couldn’t narrow it down just to 3. I enjoy when my lead is having as much fun as I am.

Who are your 3 favorite Salseras and why?
Once again, there are tons of amazing women out there that are very talented. But 2 ladies that really inspire me would me Alien Ramirez and Jennifer Silvas.  They are beautiful, confident, and very humble ladies. Their style and movement are exactly what I inspire to be like.

Where do you see your salsa dancing going five years from now?
I see myself teaching at different workshops around the world, performing at different congresses and having my own studio.

Any advice for new salsa dancers out there?
My advice is to go out social dancing as much as possible, be open to feedback and always be willing to learn from others. Above all else, HAVE FUN!

Any last words??
I feel very lucky to have met so many amazing people who are helping me achieve my dreams. They believe in me when sometimes I don’t even believe in myself; it has been amazing to be given so much support. This dance community has become a second family to me and I can’t imagine my life without dance.


P.S. If you enjoyed reading this interview, expect more profiles coming soon. Also feel free to post a comment and make sure you subscribe to follow my blog and receive a notification every time I post something. I would appreciate the support!

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August is the month for Alisar Dance Company

Alisar Dance LogoAlisar Dance Company was born on 26 January 2013. (The name comes from my salsa monicker which is Spanish for  “Smooth” as this is part of my ultimate Salsa ambition)

While it has been around for a little while it was only in June that I decided that its time for some big things to happen. Now as a result, August is the beginning of the changes for Alisar Dance Company.

Just so you know, the website is under construction (but it will be Awesome once it comes out). If you however want to follow what I am doing, go onto facebook and like the Alisar Dance Company page.

So what is going on in the month of August?

FlashmobMy first production which happened to be a Flashmob happened on the 3rd of August 2013. This has been a bucket list item for a long time and I decided it was time to make it happen. It was also used to promote the Cape Town Salsa Festival  (which is taking place from 31 October to 3 November 2013). The flashmob consisted of 45 people and we flashmobbed 3 locations including the Airport and the V&A Waterfront (one of the biggest Malls in Cape Town) You can check out some of the highlights by clicking the pic.

More videos and pics of this event are coming soon, so keep an eye on my page.

What else does August hold for Alisar? Well it also marks the beginning of my Bachata Alisar Bachata ClassesClasses. I have been talking for years about being Cape Town’s first Bachatero (other than George Daniels) and now I think its time it happened. So starting 21 August I plan to start pushing and promoting the Bachata scene and the Wednesday class is just the beginning. Watch this space as I have some amazing things planned.

Lastly, August also marks the return of my workshops in Cape Town. I had taken a long hiatus from Cape Town workshops and now its time I got back into the swing of it.

So keep an eye out for Alisar Dance company, not only in the month of  August but for the rest of 2013!

Que Viva La Salsa!

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Salsera in the city interviews Karel Flores of Yamuleé

So my kindred blogger (The Salsera in the city) managed to interview one of my favorite Salsera’s: None other than Ms. Karel Flores. You should go check it out, & dont worry its short & sweet!

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The Stargate Challenge

Interest in salsa has grown dramatically over the years & this increase has produced many amazing dancers and performers. However, alongside all the professionals there are people like me: Salsa Enthusiasts People who are not professional dancers BUT SHARE THE SAME PASSION FOR DANCE. Thus the Stargate challenge was born, giving a chance to these Salsa enthusiasts to showcase their talent & love for Salsa. (Click the pictures in this blog to view the various stargate performances.)

SA Salseros

The Croatian Salsa Festival’s Stargate challenge actually happened to be my very first time on an International stage. My friends & I (The South African Salseros) entered the stargate challenge in 2012 and got the chance to perform in-front of thousands at the Best Congress in the World.

DouglasnDawnNow as this is a challenge, a winner has to be chosen based on feedback from the judges and audience participation. The winners of the challenge get the cost of their pass refunded to them and they are chosen as the opening act on the Saturday night (which is the main night of the congress when all the professionals perform). Last years winners were a couple called Douglas and Dawn and they earned it!

As I was in Croatia again this year, you bet I was in the audience front and centre waiting for the 2013 Stragate challenge to begin.

Stargate Challenge 2013 summary…

New Generation New Generation – These group of teenagers from Italy are trained by the Cuban Legend, Alberto Valdes. They were the winners of this years Stragate challenge and are they the definitely the New Generation. They brought an insane amount of energy and sabor on stage & left the audience wanting more. Definitely a well won victory.

Latin PassionLatin passion – I don’t know much about this group except the fact that they are from Italy. Their routine was definitely Adolfo style and they put on one hell of a performance. You definitely wanna give it a watch and see how much passion this group brought on stage.

Las Caras LindasLas caras Lindas – This is a Crotian ladies group and I actually know 2 of its members. Dora is my favorite social dancer of 2013! An amazing dancer and very fun & cool person. The other lady Eleonora was my partner for the Adolfo bootcamp at this same congress (more on that later). I am a fan of this ladies group and they most definitely had the crowd and me screaming for more! Watch their video to find out more.

CessecenceCollective Essence -A Ladies group from Austin, Texas whom I briefly met at the LA Salsa congress a month earlier. I got to talk to them in Croatia and they are really cool Salseras (1 of the members in the group and I had my most fun dance of 2013 at this congress.) As for their routine, they brought some serious flavor that they were chosen to perform at the Berlin Salsa Congress all expenses paid (except flights that is).

Salsa CompanySalsa Company – This is a German group (I think) and they dance On1. Just to clarify, I love On1, but rarely (and I do mean RARELY) have I seen an On1 group this tight. Almost all groups dance On2, so this was a very pleasant surprise!

Impro On2

ImproOn2 – I happened to dance with 2 of the couples in this group during the Adolfo bootcamp. They are from Hungary & I liked their routine and so I am posting it for you guys to see.


Lastly, I would like to say thanks to the godfather of Salsa for filming and continuing to film all the Stargate challenge performances. I appreciate it and I am sure all the teams who have ever performed, do too.

Alright that’s it for this week. See you next Thursday!

P.S. If you like my blog, post a comment and make sure you subscribe to receive a notification every time I post something. I would appreciate the support!
Live – Love – Salsa!

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SBO: The Online Salsa Class Evolution has begun!

Online Salsa classes have been around for a while. As a matter of fact, Addicted2Salsa (which is probably the most well known online resource to learn salsa) has been around for more than 7 years.

Today though, I want to talk about a new player on the market who is determined to be the evolution of online salsa classes – Allow me to introduce to you: (hereinafter referred to as SBO). This website was created to allow every dancer, regardless of their location or schedule, to be able to learn from some of the best Salsa and Bachata instructors in the world.

Yes - Karel is Insanely Hot!!!

Yes – Not only is Karel 1 of the Best Salseras in the World, she is Insanely Hot too!!!

SBO was first introduced to me by the remarkable Karel Flores from Yamulee  & I later found out that my favorite Salsero Adolfo Indacochea was also on the site (n.b. more about Adolfo in a post coming soon).

I recently got in touch with Nate Strager  the founder of SBO and I asked him a few questions about his inspiration & plans for SBO. Below is our interview (he was kind enough to also give me the inside scoop on some of his plans for SBO. Remember – You heard it here first!)

Enjoy reading and a Special Thanks to Nate and SBO for taking the time out for this interview.

Que Viva La Salsa!
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Nate Strager

Nate Strager

Who is Nathan Strager?
I am a husband, dancer, promoter, teacher, performer, entrepreneur, and humble student to dance.

When did you discover Salsa & how long have you been in the Salsa scene?
I discovered Salsa through a friend of mine Antwan Johnson who kept telling me about Salsa. He finally had to drag me to the Mayan Club in downtown Los Angeles. When I walked in I was blown away. From that moment on I knew this is what I wanted to do. I have been dancing Salsa for about 15 years now.

In your own words and for people who don’t know, what is SBO and when did it start?
SBO is a website that was created so that you can have the best of the best in the world in Salsa and Bachata instructors to take class from every week. I thought how amazing would it be to take a NEW class every week for half or even two thirds less cost than a regular class, AND you can watch it for days.
SBO was launched on January 3rd, 2013

What was the inspiration behind it?
The inspiration behind SBO was because I travel a lot teaching and performing and the people I know travel a lot teaching and performing. It gets really tiring when we travel to an event and it’s anywhere from 3-20 hours on a plane. Then you have to rehearse, then you have classes, then you have private lessons, then of course it’s very important that you social dance. Then you have to travel back 3-20 hours on a plane. By the time you get done your body is exhausted. Every time you would leave a different City or Country people would always say, “I wish I could take class from you every week“.  So I noticed that all the instructors were selling DVD’s, but to me that sucked not only for the instructor who had to carry around 50 DVD’s at a time, but also for the student who was buying a DVD that had material on it that was anywhere from 1-3 years old. As a student you always want to learn what’s new. Salsa and Bachata are ever changing, and I feel people want what’s new. They don’t want to learn old moves or technique – they want what’s new.

Is it working as you envisioned?
SBO in only six months old and has well surpassed my vision. The response is mind blowing. We have over 2,000 members form over 40 countries already and it’s growing by the day.

Any future plans for SBO you would like to share?
SBO is already the biggest Salsa and Bachata School in the world, but we are already working on SBO MOB. SBO MOB will be where you can learn choreography online from your favorite instructor then that instructor will choose an event where everyone that learned that choreography can go and Mob the floor in the middle of social dancing and perform that choreography. It could be 30 people …. It could be 300 people. This gives people the opportunity to learn choreography from their favorite instructor for around $50 and then be able to actually go perform it with that instructor. SBO Mob will be the next big thing and you heard it here first. We are also making SBO a part of everyone’s everyday life. I want SBO to be like Facebook in the fact that you are checking in on SBO all the time to learn and see what’s new.

How many instructors do you currently have on SBO at the moment?
SBO currently has 15 instructors

Any instructors you planning to add in the near future?
Island Touch is coming on board soon. We are just working out the terms. I am also working on Jorjet, Frankie Martinez, Super Mario, and Ricardo and Karen

How did you decide which instructors to add onto your site?
Everyone has their own opinion as to who the “best” Salsa and Bachata dancers are. I wanted to go after who I thought was the best not only now, but who is still going to be the best 5 years from now.

Which instructor required the most amount of convincing to come on board?
Island Touch was the toughest. They have built such a dominant name in the Bachata world that they wanted to make sure that SBO was credible and long term……and I’m still working on Jorjet .

A lot of these Instructors travel all over the World, how do they always have a video ready each week?
The instructor can upload from anywhere in the World on their own as long as they have an internet connection. So a lot of times you’ll see Adolfo or someone else in a hotel room or Karel in a ballroom or Fernando traveling and taping. All of the instructors know the importance of putting up new fresh material every week.

Does it take a lot of work to coordinate?
It is up to the instructor to tape and upload on their own. I am focusing on expanding and making SBO a dominant global presence in the Salsa and Bachata world, and taking Salsa and Bachata main stream.

How much does it cost for people out there to use SBO or subscribe for the videos?
1 video is $7.60, 4 videos is $25.50, and 12 videos is $63 which is definitely the best value.

I noticed your videos are only available for a week. Why don’t you have them permanently available once someone pays for them?
OK, I get this question A LOT…. When I did my research on other online instructional websites I found that all of them failed or are failing for the same reasons. The first is there’s too much content. Some of these websites have hundreds of videos.  In today’s fast paced world nobody and I mean nobody has time to sit down and learn two or even three videos at one time. You can’t retain that amount of information. Even if you record after a workshop at an event of what you just learned you may watch that video a few times, but the odds of you going back home and watching it over and over again for months are slim to none. So I created something different. I feel it’s important to keep learning new material every week. This way the student will continue to improve on what’s new – new technique, new styling, new moves, etc. If you go to a live class, that class will only last one hour and it cost you $10-$15 per class. With SBO you can learn a NEW class every single week and watch it for seven full days from Monday to Monday as many times as you want for as little as around $5 per class. The value in that is massive, AND you’re learning from the best of the best in the world at your own convenience and on your own schedule.

We also created a session for each instructor called Beginner Boot Camp. Beginner Boot Camp is for the first time Salsa or Bachata student who has never taken a class or needs basic technique. These classes never expire because the beginner student needs more time to practice the basics then an intermediate or advanced student. So we do cater to the beginner student as well.

I see you are also involved in the Las Vegas Salsa Congress. Is salsa all you do or do you have another Job?
I work in real estate as my regular job, but I work for myself so it enables me to dance, travel, teach online and do the Las Vegas Salsa Congress.

What do you love most about Salsa?
Salsa is a life changer. It’s amazing!!!!!! Salsa is a one of the few dances in the world where you can dance with a different partner every single song. It’s everywhere!!! No matter what city or country you travel to there are salseros there that live and breathe Salsa, and the music is AMAZING. The music is infectious and it doesn’t matter if you speak Spanish or don’t speak Spanish, Salsa is danced from the heart.

What is your most memorable Salsa experience?
It has to be this year’s 10th Annual Las Vegas Salsa Congress. I have worked so hard for the past 15 years to become a better dancer, teacher, performer, promoter and person – it just seemed like it all came together this year. The positive vibe at this year’s event was something that I had never seen before. It was unbelievable.

Any advice for new salsa dancers out there?
Keep learning!!!!!! You can never stop learning. My company Sin City Salseros takes jazz, Sin City Salserosballet, hip hop, and Afro Cuban classes every single week along with SBO classes from other Salsa instructors and you can never stop learning. The more you learn the more you’ll be able to enjoy the music and your dancing. Never – never – never stop learning.

Any last words?
SBO is the future of taking Salsa and Bachata classes from anywhere in the world. There will always be a new class for you to learn from every week. We also have Beginner Boot Camp ladies styling classes that will never expire, and classes for the student who wants to take their first Salsa or Bachata class. We are going to continue to improve SBO every week with new features, new instructors, and we will eventually have a Kizomba instructor as well.

Thank you to my wife Olivia, Virginia Cano, Sin City Salseros, and all of the SBO instructors who believed in this website when it wasn’t even built yet. All of the instructors trusted me and I will never forget that.
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P.S. Thanks for visiting my blog. If you liked this post, feel free to like & share. Remember to subscribe to my blog to ensure you never miss a post…. More amazing interviews and other Salsa posts coming soon….

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Salsa Badassery – How to become a Salsa Badass

Suit up

The Suit does not make the Man! Its the Man that makes the Suit! Now that I think of it, maybe this should have been a picture of Iron Man instead or Barney Stinson….? Nahhh! Barney is way more Awesome

Ever seen those guys at Salsa Socials who wear suits while its 60 degrees outside (600 degrees inside) yet they never take their jacket off??? Well forget about them because being a badass is not as simple as wearing a suit or an insanely hot dress (Even though suits are awesome & insanely hot dresses are my favorite.’ Side Note: expect a post on the different kind of people you meet at Salsa Socials! Coming soon….)

Ok, so now that we have established being a bad ass has got nothing to do with what you wear, how do you become a bad ass? (Note: Badass is being used in this post in the urban term as someone who is calm, confident & in control on the dance floor.)
Well, to answer this question I got 3 pointers for you and then i am gonna compare them against the words and wisdom of one of the most bad-ass people that ever walked the planet.

1. It boils down to technique

It takes a hell of a lot of technique to kick Chuck Norris A$$!

Wanna know how? Insane Technique!

Bruce Lee did not kick Chuck Norris ass with luck. He had a lot of technique and literally created his own fighting style.

So if you wanna be a badass, the first thing you gotta do is work on your technique. This includes working on your core, working on your spins, perfecting your lines, improving your balance. e.t.c. To be a bad ass, you gotta work like a badass!



You don’t get Ripped like Bruce Lee by sitting on your ass!

2. To get technique, you gotta practice

Now in order to get this technique you gotta practice, practice and practice. Then when you are done, practice some more.

There is a theory that states it takes 10,000 hours of for someone to master a skill. Mastering a skill is a pre-requisite to being badass.

Now while it may not take 10,000 hours, if Salsa badassery is what you want then guess what? You have gotta put in the time.

There are simply no shortcuts!


3. Not just any practice, but perfect practice is key!

Do you want to know the difference between champions and average people?
Average people do something over & over again until they get it Right.
Champions do something over & over again until they can’t get it wrong!

Remember – Practice does not make perfect, only Perfect practice makes perfect.

It pays to push yourself in the right direction!

It pays to always push yourself beyond what you think is possible!!

Once you embrace those 3 pointers, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Alright, those are my words of wisdom. Now go forth and become the best bad-ass you can possibly be!

Till next week people, Love your Life and be bad-ass!

P.s. hhmmmm, I wonder how many times I used ‘ass’ in this post?…..

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A Salsera in the City

I LOVE Salsa. Well, I guess that’s kind of obvious.
This week I am gonna interview someone who loves Salsa too. She goes by the name of *Sorrel but her pen name & blog is – Salsera In The City. She has recently joined the ranks of Salsa Bloggers (you know, one of those annoying people who likes talking about salsa so damn much they now have to write about it. As if talking about it 24/7 is not bad enough).

So read about what got her dancing, inspires her to write and keeps her going. After you are done, I urge you to head over to her blog, read a post or 2, make a comment and subscribe and keep up to date with what goes on in the mind of a Salsera In the City….


When did you start your salsa blog? Why did you start it & which post is a MUST read?
I literally started my blog about three weeks ago! It’s still a bit of a baby of course and the audience so far is limited, but that’s ok with me for the moment. It’s cool seeing someone in Japan has stumbled on to your blog… or the day when I wrote about Jose Diaz I had views from the US. I wrote some of the first blog posts and set everything up in about 48 hours! The first night I kept waking up to write down blog post ideas for the future, haha. It was a bit frenzied to be honest, and I think that’s part of why I started it up. I’m always talking about salsa to people who perhaps know very little about it…. so whilst my friend’s are very understanding and do show genuine interest, when I start talking about why I think ‘syncopation is the key to a great performance’, they begin to nod off…and obviously I don’t blame them! The blog is a bit of an outlet for me and I think it’s a great opportunity to get to speak with other people in the salsa world.

In terms of a must read, I really think my post about asking men to dance is great for girls who have just started dancing, and then for the more advanced dancers, perhaps: ‘’Why I like dancing On2..’. I’ve been working on some awesome new blog posts, including an interview with a salsera in Barcelona (you know who I’m talking about Chilly) which is so fascinating if you want to know what it’s like to take up your passion more seriously and that will definitely be a must read! I also have an AWESOME interview coming soon…! It’s a surprise! 😉

When did you discover salsa dancing?
My dad used to play salsa music when he took me out at weekends as a young child and I still get the same feeling of joy from it today. Barely a day goes by where I don’t listen to salsa in all its forms, latin jazz, cha cha etc; So I guess I would say the music lead me to the dance… Because salsa, in the UK especially, is still something of a night club dance I didn’t get the opportunity to take lessons until I joined university. I signed up in the first week, paid my subscription bam…done. I didn’t even know anything about salsa dancing at that point, but I thought… with such great music, how could I go wrong?

How was your first experience taking a salsa lesson?
As it was in a university, my first class was actually run by other students, so there was nothing intimidating about it all. A lot of people in a room trying to peer over each other to follow the basic step. I suppose the first couple of times I found the close proximity of the partner-work strange, but I got over it. After learning the basic step and a girls turn I was so excited I went home and looked up some videos on the internet to help consolidate what I learnt. As soon as an opportunity came up for the beginners to take part in a short choreography, there I was at the audition. It’s strange, but unlike anything else life, salsa didn’t really require too much thought; if it’s there, I’ll do it.

How long have you been salsa dancing for?
It will be three years this October…

How long did you take salsa lessons for?
I took lessons and performed with my uni regularly for 1 and a half years, as well as monthly events in the Midlands with Mauricio’s Latin Motion. I also went to the occasional congress and kept up lessons at places in London like Bar Salsa and Fiesta Havana in the holidays between term-time. This past year, I have really upped my social dancing since being in Paris and I find the level here to be uniformly higher compared to what I was used to back in the UK. I haven’t taken any lessons apart from a 2 day course with Adolfo and Tania and at the Monaco salsa congress. That’s something I really regret, and if I could start again I would get my act together and take lessons at Mouaze’s school.

Any advice for new salsa dancers?
– Make your lessons as regular as possible- if you leave long gaps it is harder to improve at a rate you can see and you might even regress!
-Social dancing in the beginning is terrifying, but don’t let it hold you back. Apologise if you have to, but do it, dance!
– Don’t wear stilettos… leave that for the time being
– Start listening to salsa music in your spare time and counting
– Watch, watch, watch other people. I actually think this is the number 1 thing that helped me progress very quickly. I knew where I wanted to go. It’s all good going to lesson, but if you don’t have aims, understanding of what is possible and inspiration… where can you really go?

Have you ever considered becoming a salsa performer?
Yes, every night when I close my eyes… Haha. I can say that it’s definitely something I would love to do and of course there are all the little voices in my head that say… “but you didn’t do ballet as a child”or, “you’d need to be ten pounds lighter” etc. I’m going to take a year out after university and in that time I’ve got some goals I want to meet. I’d like to find a partner eventually and just have fun. Frankly, even if I never became a performer, I would be happy teaching, helping to organise events and nights… to me it’s the music, the social scene and if I get creative opportunities to perform where I’m not paid, I would take that too. As long as it is part of my life in some concrete way, it doesn’t need to be as a world touring performer… although, I won’t lie.. that be freakin’ awesome!

Who are your 3 favorite Salsa musicians/bands and your favorite songs from them?
Oh gosh… difficult question Chilly! I would say Jimmy Bosch, Otra Opportunidad is one of my faves… but I suspect that’s quite a predictable answer, sooo…

In support of new salsa bands I would say La Excelencia from New York. I wouldn’t really choose to dance to their music (salsa dura!) but it’s so great to listen to. I’m not a big fan of salsa romantica which is what most modern salsa music seems to be so these guys are definitely up there for me. All I need to do now is learn spanish so I can understand their lyrics, which I’ve heard are about poverty, discrimination etc..

Oscar de leon… absolute classic.. you can’t go to a salsa club and not hear Oscar! ‘A El’ is one of my favourites because it’s a bit different and I like how it changes up.

Ray Barretto (this one isn’t salsa)

I also have to mention Tito Rodriguez, Ismael Rivera and El Gran Combo, I’m a big fan of the sound of old tracks… they have such a great quality.

Your most memorable dance experience?
I think my first congress is something I will always remember. It was the Cyprus congress. Until that point I didn’t really have a grasp of what the salsa ‘world’ was… it was the first time I’d seen professional performers and real high level social dancing. It kind of blew my breath away (so cheesy I know). I also think I find it quite painful too…to see just how much of a beginner I really was: I felt so inferior at that point, but it also gave me a motivation and a purpose.

Your top 3 favorite Salseros.
Adolfo Indacochea, Jose Diaz and Frankie Martinez

Who are your 3 favorite Salsa Dancers and why?
Karel Flores has a really unique and natural style and you can’t help but watch her when she is on stage. She knows how to accentuate certain things and she knows how to make it look like she isn’t putting in too much effort, I love that. Yamulee are genius in general..

I already wrote Adolfo in Salseros category but that left off Tania Cannarsa… she’s such a great partner for him and is really starting to develop her own style… She always looks great and I loved the afro-cuban inspired performance she did with Adolfo:
… in this one I actually look at her more than him! However, my all time favourite performance of their’s is one of their least hyped… I think I’ve watched that performance 30x !

Shani Talmor always looks great social dancing and I enjoy her style. She’s super sexy and if I was ever in NYC I would definitely take her styling class

And… I know this is cheating but I also have to mention..
Selene Tovar and Rodrigo Coratzar do some really great performances, I love their musicality and smoothness.

Where do you see your salsa dancing five years from now?
I hope I’ll have my spins to perfection. That’s definitely been one of the most challenging things for me and it’s still a work in progress. I also hope that my musicality will be completely manifested through my dancing. I want to spend a year training with my favourite school and this should go a long way to getting me where I need to be with the technical foundations so that my musicality can flourish. I also hope to have taken plenty of dance classes in other styles by this time to be completely at ease with my body and have core strength. And obviously, we will have social danced by then

I would like to thank you Sorrel for taking the time out to feature on my blog. Readers, head over to Salsera in the City and when you like what you read, don’t forget to like & subscribe! 😉

Till next Thursday, Love YOU(R) Life (how do you do that? Simple – Love what you do!) Peace!

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The 2013 LA Salsa Congress Review (Part 1)

It’s good to be back.
So I was recently at the 15th annual La Salsa Festival & I am gonna write a 2 part series about it:
Part 1 is some of the most significant things that stood out for me at this congress – the highlights and lowlights.
Part 2 will be a bit more detailed explanation on my experience of the workshops, dancing and of course the Bands + much, much more.


There are No words to describe the epicness that was the bands at the LA Salsa Congress! – Johnny Palanco, Grupo Niche, El Grand Combo, Fania All stars!
They were all insane and rocked the Congress non-stop. The bands were 65% of the reason I went to the LA Salsa fest and I must say, they did not disappoint. The entire trip would have been worth it for just Fania All stars. Now to get the other 3 bands as well, now that just made this entire trip – PRICELESS!

My favorite social dance of the entire congress was on the Sunday night, dancing with Cecile (from Terry & Cecile) to Achilipu (my 2nd favorite Salsa song) being played Live by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico.
We were so “In the zone” that people formed a circle to watch us dance and and some even took out their cameras to record .

Nina from Sweden is my absolute favorite dancer in the World. I first met her in 2011 which was also the last time i saw her, so seeing her again, dancing with her and taking a workshop with her and Zerjon (her partner) was amazing and actually 10% of the reason I went to this congress.

The other 10% of the reason I went to the congress was Emily from ‘Junior and Emily’ who even though I unfortunately never got to dance with, I did attend their workshop, talk to them and watch them perform. If you dont know who they are, do yourself a favour & watch one of their videos.

I have been trying to idenitfy my favorite workshop of the event and I have to say its a toss up between the cha-cha class with the Palladium Mambo legends and a hip hop class with Sweden’s Nina & Zerjon. Both were epic for entirely different reasons, but I can’t choose between the 2 which was better, so I declare it a tie.

There were some killer performances, but I have gotta give it up to the Colombians – every time one of them went on stage, they absolutely killed it. My favorite performance was Kevin & Gabby with Baila Conmigo also from Colombia. These 2 kids who are about 6 or 7 years old tore up the stage and brought the house down. It was positively inspiring to see kids at that age with that amount of talent, it had me hooting and hollering like a mad man.

So by now you should know I had been involved with helping get the kids from Khayelitsha to perform at the LA Salsa congress (The remaining 15% why I went to the congress). I can tell you that there were many times it seemed like things would not work out, but it all came together in the end. So on the Sunday night to finally see them walk on stage and perform and get a standing ovation, well that just made it all worthwhile.

Watching 2 guys dancing gaychata. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind guys dancing with guys or ladies with ladies. In-fact I believe that any Salsero who Teaches or performs should be 100% comfortable enough with their own masculinity to deal with abit of Bromance. But I aint gonna lie, the guy on guy dancing at the congress was WAYYY too much that it became a norm and not a novelty and the Gaychata was the biggest shock of all.

The Wednesday and Thursday parties were a bit of a sausage fest and it basically boiled down to the rules of the jungle – survival of the boldest! You had to be predatory in nature to get a dance because there were like 2 guys for every single girl.I am sure this negative was a positive for the ladies because even those who could barely do a basic were busy on the dance floor the whole night.
NB: This dilemma changed significantly on the Friday night and thankfully the ratios really balanced themselves out for the rest of the congress. 🙂

This wraps up my highlight reel. Were you at the LA salsa congress or any other congress recently? If so, what were your highlights and lowlights? Drop me a comment and let me know.

Part II is coming soon & till next week Thursday….Live & Love your Life!

P.S. don’t forget about our own Mzansi Cape Town Salsa Festival taking place 31 October – 3 November, 2013!

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