Dancing Salsa like an Irishman

20 Mar
Dancing for truth, justice and good old St. Paddy

Dancing for truth, justice and good old St. Paddy

Last Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration of everything Irish and a great excuse for a party. Never one to turn down an opportunity for a rumba (party) I held a “little” shindig in my apartment to celebrate St. Paddy (NOT St. Patty), Cali-style.

All in all I had about 70 guests and a great time was had by all with lots of great music, great dancing and a whole lot of sweating in the tropical heat.

Video Antics
As you know from previous posts like this one I’m a big fan of videoing oneself dancing in order to see where you need to improve and how you’re progressing.

So I got a friend of mine to grab a quick video of my dance-partner Kelli and I dancing a mixture of LA and salsa caleña. Check it out below.

First off, I know, I’m sweating like an animal. If people can sweat dancing salsa in Ireland in the winter, just imagine what it’s like dancing in the tropics.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cali-style salsa, you can recognize it here from the basic back step (side to side in some cases) and the more circular, cuban-style turns. The majority of stuff with complicated handwork is LA style.

Post Game Analysis
One thing that I’m finally starting to improve is my eye contact which is something that I’ve always had trouble with. It might just be the fact that I’m dancing with Kelli who I’m very comfortable with by I manage to get a nice amount of eye contact in during this dance.

One thing that annoyed the crap out of me is the fact that I still hold back from doing more complicated Cali-style moves and footwork when I social dance. I tend to stick with the safe stuff which doesn’t do me any good in the long run.

Help the Irishman Out
What do you think yourself? Where do you think I can improve or what do you think I need to work on? I thrive on constructive criticism so if you think you could offer me a little bit of advice please let me know in the comments.

Excellent New Song
The song we’re dancing to in the video is “Mother’s Delight” from the new Irish salsa group “Baile an Salsa”, check them out. It’s a mix of traditional Irish music and salsa and I really think it’s a fantastic song for dancing linear On1 or On2 salsa. It’s not the most appropriate song for dancing salsa-caleña, however, so that may explain why I didn’t do many Cali moves in the video.

Dancing Alone
You might want to know why Kelli and I are the only couple dancing in the video. I asked the same thing to a Caleño friend of mine that night and he told me it was because the locals weren’t familiar with the song (or the Irish-style music for that matter). He said that caleños tend to only dance to music they’re familiar with. I’ve noticed this when I’ve DJ-ed before, anytime I put on a song that isn’t heard regularly in the clubs in Cali, people tend to shy off the floor and get some conversation in instead. Just a little observation.

We had a great time here in Cali last weekend and I hope you all had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day too, wherever in the world you are.

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10 Responses to “Dancing Salsa like an Irishman”

  1. Roisin March 20, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    I am hardly one to advise, as my dancing is very latin and I cant keep up with all the acrobatics in Europe! You are an amazing dancer, you lead strongly and make it look easy. If you want constructive critism however, I would like to see you dance more from the heart, and let your body itself (and feet) move more rather than concentrate wholly on turns. If you slow down, and concentrate on moving your body in places it has never moved before, waist, shoulders, feet that for me is what seperates a good dancer from the rest of the European dancers. Technically you are the best, but I would love to see you respond more to the music, and pick up more of that caleno rhythm, I am sure people over there have told you this??

    • The Dancing Irishman March 20, 2013 at 10:25 am #

      Agreed Roisin,
      The only thing is that doesn’t work so well with the particular song that I was dancing too.
      Give me something slower and with a little more “golpe” and I do move a lot more, the music allows for it. I’ve also noticed that I move differently with caleñas than when I dance with European/North American dancers, there’s definitely more room for movement with latinas!

      • Roisin March 20, 2013 at 11:01 am #

        yeah, I guess improvisation and free dancing is what I meant in conjunction with the turns, if you can combine the two then that is optimal. I think with your style of dancing Cali was the best place for you to go to develop the bits that were missing! Keep it up, you are a good representation of Ireland abroad in all senses!

      • The Dancing Irishman March 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

        Thanks Roisin. Looking forward to seeing you whenever I get back to Ireland!

  2. Jim Kirwan March 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    Very good Richard for afellow who could not put one foot apast the other when you left Ireland.You are taken after uour Mother.Love you.

    • The Dancing Irishman March 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      Thanks mam, although I don’t think I’ve ever seen you dance yourself.
      Glad to see you’re using the internet more. Might want to work on the typing a bit 😉
      Love you too!

  3. Andy March 21, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    Hi “dancing Irishman”

    I’ll get straight to the point, my opinion, you are trying to hard….
    Colombians in general don’t care about the style of dancing, we just move to the rhythm and call it dancing.
    I once found myself dancing to the national anthem, no one cared, some laughed and after a minute another couple were dancing next to us.
    so, unless you are looking to be a professional dancer, and there is no need for professionals in a party, just let it flow…..like mum says: “eso va en la sangre”.

    That LA style of dancing i thought it was more European style, just turns and turns and wait cos i think i can get a turn here, wwoopps, stepped on some ones toe lets turn…., only pirouettes , but that’s just my point of view, no negativism there.

    • The Dancing Irishman March 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

      Yeah LA style is the style of salsa most common in non-latin places so you’ll definitely have seen it around Europe.

      • Andy March 29, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

        Is any of the other rhythms getting you too?…… like cumbia, bachata, vallenato o merengue? just like salsa….. cos the best parties are always varied with all of them…… in a party, i don’t seem to like too much, the people that seat for too long, its not polite i find it…… and don’t get me wrong, I’m a propa drum and bass head.

        I also think that in your list of salsa tunes you need to put at least 1 more from Fruko but i guess we can always name at least a dozen more names too!

      • The Dancing Irishman March 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

        Hey Andy,
        Yeah I dance a little Bachata, a little Vallenato, a little Regeton and some Pacifico too. I’m a big fan of the cross-over parties here. It can get a little repetitive if you have to dance to the same type of music all the time.
        And the playlist is definitely a work in progress. Plenty more songs will be added in the future.

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