Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rueda de Casino & Rhythm (or the lack thereof)

I have now been to three different venues which teach Salsa.

#1: Cuba Mia—not recommended (address: Salta 508). Granted, this is based on only one class, but that's my verdict. I've had over a half-dozen Salsa teachers that taught Salsa based on an 8-beat pattern. This makes sense because it takes 8 beats to complete the basic salsa pattern. The teacher at Cuba Mia told me to forget that and that I should dance based on a 4-beat pattern. I had a bad taste in my mouth from that point forward. Moreover, the entire group of people in our class (there were multiple classes at the same time) were dancing differently and so I couldn't really watch them to see what they were doing—which was necessary since I didn't know the names of the patterns in Spanish and so merely listening to the teacher was inadequate. There's more. The teacher was demonstrating moves at full speed and he would do them only a couple times and then expect us to be able to do them. Next criticism: the teacher was making a noise to emphasize the beat and he did it on three—bizarre. Moreover, his beat didn't correspond to the loud music that the other class was using. VERY confusing. Also, the floor was concrete and was somewhat rough and uneven. Not ideal. It was the single worst Salsa class I've ever taken. I don't plan on going back.

#2: Club Mambo—recommended (address: Terrada 50). The class was small and the teacher was good. Despite my compliment of the instructor, there was at least one song where he had us dancing 1 bar off. This is a pretty common thing to see, but I cannot help but be baffled when experienced dancers—and especially instructors—are off by a bar. I simply can't understand how someone can be a good dancer and not be able to hear when a musical phrase begins. Regardless, it was a great class and I plan on going back. The class was at 7:30 P.M. on Sunday evening. Another class was offered at 1:00 P.M. on Tuesday, but I was in Spanish class, so I didn't go. I may go to that class, too, next week. I will definitely go back to the one on Sunday.

#3: La Salsera—recommended (address: Yatay 961). This was the first club I went to here in BA—that was last Saturday. The class was large and well run. Although it was a challenge, as the teacher spoke quickly, it was a beginning class, so I got through it with no problem. As I've already mentioned regarding other classes, there were a time or two when the whole class was off by a bar. Don't know if this was the prof's fault, or just random.

After this class was the intermediate class. I just watched, but I'll probably go to that one next time instead of the beginning one. It looked great and they learned a really nice pattern.

Then there was the general dance later in the evening. Don't know about going to other places just to dance, but La Salsera seemed great for this. The songs were excellent and there were lots of people there.

Last night I went back to La Salsera for the beginning class in Rueda de Casino—finally, I'm to the topic to which the title of this post refers, other than the rhythm issue. Rueda de Casino is a group Salsa dance where everyone stands in a circle and is arranged guy/girl/guy/girl/etc. The leader calls out moves and everyone does them simultaneously. Moves also include changing partners in varyingly complex ways, such as just moving from the person on your left to the one on your right, or performing some kind of turn and then moving two or three partners around the circle while clapping a specified number of times in the proper rhythm while moving. I saw this kind of Salsa dance for the first time in Rio de Janeiro and thought it was very cool. Now I'm learning it. The teacher was great. Again, however, I had trouble with the time. The other (intermediate) Rueda de Casino class was dancing to a song and we didn't seem to be consistently dancing at the same pace as the song. Maybe it's a fault of mine that I have an absolute need to hear the beat and begin the pattern at the precisely the right moment and know what the correlation is between the pattern and the music, but that's the way I am. At least when I'm on the dance floor with just one other person, I can kick things off exactly when I want to. I just need to learn some more patterns and practice them!

Also at La Salsera, there was an intermediate Salsa class before the Rueda de Casino class. They learned a really cool pattern. I'm planning on going to that class next week, and then the Rueda de Casino class. I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but there were severe problems in this class with starting the pattern one bar off. Despite this, the pattern was really nice.

After the Rueda de Casino class, I went over to the apartment of a friend of Patricio's (remember, Patricio is my Spanish teacher). A couple other guys were already there and I joined them in watching the last half of the La Boca v. Brazil futbol game. Since La Boca lost, I learned approximately one-hundred-thirty-seven ways to cuss and complain after your futbol team loses. I also had a couple portions of an excellent dish called Locro. It had beans, sausage, and other stuff. Remember, I'm not into food too much, so "other stuff" is pretty technical food speak for me. I also added a little bit of the liquid from a jar of all sorts of spices and peppers. A tiny spoonful added some nice kick. It was a very tasty dish.

I'll be going back over there tonight for an asado, or BBQ, on the rooftop.

On a separate note, I fell down the stairs at the hostel the other day. Actually, that sounds more dramatic than it actually was. The stairs are marble, thus slick. My foot slipped, and I fell. My butt and right elbow took the brunt of the fall. My butt was sore a few days after, and my elbow was in intense pain from the moment of impact. About three days later, it still hurts when I touch it, but not as intensely as before. Could've been worse.

Finally, an update on current events in Argentina. Just the usual, really. The farmers are protesting the hyper-high export taxes—41%!!! This tax rate was announced during harvest time. They protest by blocking the roads. Then the truckers protest the blocked roads. They do this by blocking more roads. And, there's a school in BA without gas, so there's no heat, so the students are cold. So, all the students are protesting in the streets. Drums, signs, chanting...again, just the usual.

That's all for now. Hasta luego.


senloe said...

I'm not so adept at Salsa, and hopefully someone else will comment, but I believe Salsa is more about the feel of the music rather than the count. You also have the syncopation between the rhythm and the melody which may also add to the feel of being off count. Some say not to break on the 1 count since that can take away from the fancy moves from your follow. Others say to break on the 2nd count to emphasize the beats between the stronger 1 & 3 counts. Of course I take this as break whenever you feel so inclined to.
Of course I don't know what I'm talking about since I've only done it a few times at the Century in Seattle and I suck.
Have another cervasa and enjoy daincing with the hot girls :)

Jay said...

Hey, Steve.

It's good to hear from you, as always.

I think my biggest problem is that I am so anal. I have this need to dance with precision and crispness. I'm working on the feeling part, but that's the hardest for me. I am convinced, however, that one can dance with both precision (i.e., move in concert with the music) and feeling.

Still, all I really need to do is learn the patterns in class, regardless of whether I think we're on th beat or not. Then, when I'm on the dance floor, I can listen to the beat, listen to the phrases, and move at the right instant. We'll see how things progress and what I learn.

Besides getting together to go shoot up at Rainier (or wherever) after I get home, we'll have to go Salsa dancing!

It will be good to see you!

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like you need to have a beer before you go to class!

(Jill's Friend)