Amateur Salsa Dancing Competition: $2,000.00 Total Cash Prize!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hope you are all doing well after this Easter weekend.

I wanted to let you know about a salsa dance competition to take place at Club Menealo in Tijuana Mexico. It is the 2nd binational amateur Salsa Competition with the schedule as follows:

Thursday May 8th is the beginning of preliminary competition.
Thursday May 15th is the 1st Semifinal.
Thursday May 22nd is the 2nd Semifinal.
Thursday May 29th is the final competition.

1st place takes $1,000
2nd $700
3rd $300

All couples must be 18 years old or older to compete.
Length of songs must not exceed 2 minutes 30 seconds.
The routine must be at least 80% salsa.

Interested contestants must attend the preliminary competition.

For more information please email and please reference Ritmo Bello in your email to them. Thanks!

What are the best shoes for dancing Salsa?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hope all is well.

A friend asked me recently to share my thoughts on the best type of shoes available for salsa dancing. I thought I’d provide a short overview of some typical types available. Here is a list of types of shoes and their functionality for salsa (Please note this list originated from another website, Cornell

Character Shoes

for ladies

A low heel, a modest look. Closed toe for dance floor safety and modesty. T-strap version available as well. Capezio and others make these. Very popular to start out, wide heel for balance. Suitable for ballroom as well. under $40.
High Heels
for ladies
Feeling more daring? The open-toe, sandal high heel is pretty hot. There are numerous versions of this style, with mesh, rhinestones, various colors (red!), etc. These Tara Abrazos are indeed pricey – $185. Also suitable for ballroom. Generally, shoes with this look run around $100.
Latin shoes
for guys
You will always see someone wearing these at a latin dance. They are also common in the ballroom world. I can see how shorter guys would like them. But I am also not attracted to the look of the so-called guys “cuban heel .” Perhaps I am in the minority on this topic. I also don’t like the way they pitch the weight forward. I prefer a more grounded movement style, but others like these shoes for the very reasons that I don’t.
Ballroom shoes
for guys
A fairly common choice for guys. They have all the right characteristics. You can find 1/2″ heels as well as the standard 1″ heels. I prefer the lower heel and like a grounded feel. You will always see several guys wearing these at the clubs.
Dance Sneakers:
Salsette III

They may look strange but I’ve heard they are great shoes – for classes and club dancing. Salsa, swing, ballroom, etc. Suede sole is standard. Great internal memory foam cushioning – no extra cushioning needed. Mesh uppers breath, and help make the shoe very lightweight.
Aris Allen Wingtip
for guys
Not just for swing, popular for dress-up salsa too. There are many variations on this spectator or wingtip shoe, but Aris Allen at has definitely gotten it right – lightweight, fits as close to the foot as they can get, great internal padding – needs no inserts, gorgeous, top quality, and slick for sliding.
for guys &
for ladies
That’s right. Custom dance shoes made for you in the USA. Perhaps you like the Cap Toe or Spectator look, but you are tired of the norm. Maybe you want ivory and navy, or faux snakeskin, or like shown here, chocolate and tan. Many styles for guys and women. Suede or hard leather soles. Very lightweight. 6-8 weeks wait. It’s worth the wait. Under $150. Ask for Ginni at
Dance Sneakers:
Not super spinny, but you can get a leather sole put
on at a good shoe repair place. The Bloch DRT has plenty of cushioning & support, maybe too much? Some of these dance sneakers put you so far off the floor, you don’t even know there is a floor. If you are short, you will be taller. Slight disadvantage: if you are tall, it will make you lots taller.
for guys
The Bleyer Balboa has a nice salsa look. $60 price range. Lightweight. The $20 Bleyer memory foam inserts are quite good. Made in Germany. Savoy Style (888) 507-2869
Jazz shoes:
If your feet are super healthy, maybe you can get away with these. Lycra & Spandex, split sole, Sansha JS3, a cheap jazz shoe with a suede sole! A mere $13.00 !?!?! Super low to the floor, ultra lightweight. Super fast footwork shoe. The Lycra and Spandex form closely to the foot, and once your foot is in there, has a great look. Protect your feet! Add a top quality memory foam or Spenco rubber insert. More? Wear Thorlo walking socks WX13 – great padding, moisture wicking (yes, you CAN get black Thorlos).
Bowling shoes Some dancers love ’em (cushioning, plus slippery sole.)
They tend to be a bit clunky, not so good for fancy footwork.
Good for dancers with three feet (shown).
Chinese slippers
for ladies
Some women love these. They are cheap (under $10),
but no support, and little cushioning.
Put in a Spenco athletic or thick memory foam cushion,
and you’ll like them better.
Oxfords tend to be heavy and clunky.
It may be possible for your shoe repair expert to replace the rubber sole with leather or suede.

BASS Weejuns
A pretty laid-back looking shoes, BASS Weejuns are the classic Carolina Shag shoe as well. If you want to spend lots more for a more comfy shoe, try the COLE HAAN : several upscale versions of the classic penny loafer. Any loafer will do, however. (Leather soles for sliding and spinning, of course.)
Tango shoes Some women like laced tango shoes, others prefer the hot look of black high heels (with fish-net stockings, tight short dress, etc.). Lycra material looks way cool for men or ladies. And you don’t need to polish it!. WORLD TONE MUSIC has them. Also SHOWTIME DANCE SHOES , Georgia (800) 433-5541.
Basketball shoes Not so good for salsa: they grip the floor,
they are big, they don’t flex well.
If the treads are worn down, maybe ok.
otherwise, they are floor-grippers.
Running shoes Not so good for salsa: they grip the floor,
If the treads are worn down, maybe ok.
otherwise, they are floor-grippers.
Not recommended, for obvious reasons. But I have seen them on the feet of some really top notch dancers. For the rest of us, these boots don’t naturally lend themselves to fast footwork, that’s for sure.
Flip-flops Some people love to dance salsa in beach thongs. I wouldn’t recommend flip-flops, however – loose fitting, no support, not spin-worthy, etc..
Tennies Not a great choice for salsa: they grip the floor,
If the treads are worn down, maybe ok.
otherwise, they are floor-grippers.
Bare feet Not so good for salsa: unless you are in a real “roots” kind of mood. Bare feet grip the floor, you cannot spin. it hurts more when you get stepped on, or stub your toe. It is pretty hard on the balls of your feet. In spite of all this, some people like to dance barefoot or sock footed.

San Diego Salsa Festival Coming in Fall 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hey everyone,

The San Diego Salsa Festival is coming again to San Diego September 19-21st. The festival brings world renowned performers, instructors, bands and DJ’s to San Diego. I went to the same event last year and it was cool to see not just visitors from out of town in competition, but also to see the local dance talent compete.

Make sure you visit Ritmo Bello for continuous updates about the San Diego Salsa Festival.

You can find out more information about it at their website (if you go there you might want to tell them that it is not COLUMBIA but COLOMBIA – I’m referring to their listing of Ricardo and Viviana from Cali, Colombia as seen here in the picture from the website. This isn’t the first time somebody has misspelled the name of the country much to the disdain of Colombians around the world and here in the U.S. This is apparent looking at articles and others like this on the internet.)

That aside, the festival should be great. ;-)

A Special Message from Mary at Havana In Alaska…

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hi Everyone,

Mary from Havana in Alaska is quickly filling up spots for her cruise and asked that I put up some information for anybody that still wants to take advantage. Check it out

John ;-)

Put on your DANCE SHOES and Join Havana in Alaska this summer for the Salsa adventure of a lifetime! Book before March 15.

– 18 hours of dance workshops with a stellar faculty including Felix Bambury Webbe of Habana, Cuba.

– 5 on board salsa parties with DJ Melao of Cubamemucho

– 7 days of cruising Alaska’s Spectacular Inside Passage on the Carnival Spirit

– Sails August 13 from Vancouver and arrives near Anchorage, Alaska on August 20

– All dancing styles welcome and All levels welcome

– Party only packages are also available

Find out more at


Cubans, who have left their tiny island, are sharing their culture in all corners of the globe. One man, Felix Bambury Webbe, recently moved to Alaska where he is sharing his love of music and dance with a delighted audience.

A first for Latin culture in the US is Felix’s cruise to Alaska featuring the music and dance of Cuba.

This week-long cruise will be an experience to remember for a lifetime. There will be several hours of dance classes each day with Felix and a stellar dancing faculty and dance parties at night to the very best Cuban music.

And if that wasn’t enough, the scenery is the best planet Earth has to offer. Giant glaciers, beautiful mountains, long days of sun, amazing wildlife!

The Carnival Spirit will be sailing from Vancouver on August 13, 2008 to begin this 7 night 8 day adventure, dancing and cruising through Alaska’s Inside Passage. Along the way our ports of call will be Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau and Skagway. There will be ample time for both dancing and exploring!

Visit for more information.

A Salsa Dancer Travels: The King King on Hollywood Blvd

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hello everyone once again from Los Angeles! I went out last night for some Tuesday night Salsa at the King King on Hollywood Blvd.

Located on the famous blvd of stars , the King King reminded me of the speak easy establishments of years gone by with its entrance in the back rather than the front. The Asian themed venue, with its concrete floor and red allure can be best described as "gritty." Emphasizing the virtues of "music, love, happiness, and peace", the decor at the King King counterbalanced this starkness to make for a nice venue.

The dancing itself had a slow start but dancers started coming in after 11pm. Many of the people who I met did not appear to be salsa dancers at first, especially with their Andy Warhol looks and different hair styles (I thought this one women’s hairdo was going to cause me some damage with all the hair spray spikes she sported.) Most came in casual garb (jeans).

Although there was no band, the DJ played some pretty good older salsa songs that I recognized. All in all it was a good night.

Special thanks to Karla Long, booking agent/manager at the King King, for the VIP treatment.

That’s it from Los Angeles. See you all again in San Diego soon!

John ;-)

A Salsa Dancer Travels: Night out at Zanzibar for Tumbao- Salsa Dura in Los Angeles

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Greetings once again from Los Angeles! I’m having an excellent time here and was fortunate enough last night to go salsa dancing in the City of Angels. The venue was called Zanzibar and the night was Tumbao – Salsa Dura . Located not too far from the 3rd Street Promenade , Zanzibar was the perfect place for some Monday night salsa. The venue itself had an old brickhouse feel, complete with rustic wood floors that gave an ambience of middle eastern flavor. Most people in attendance were casual as expected for a Monday night sporting jeans (of course I went looking like I was ready for Saturday night salsa dancing but hey its my style).

I arrived early in the night to observe the lessons being given by Cristian Oviedo , who competently and with his own unique flair taught a bustling group of eager salsa dancers. After the beginning and intermediate lessons, the general dancing began and true to the name Tumbao there definitely was a great latin groove in motion. For a Monday night there was a great turnout that rivaled many of the most frequented locales in San Diego on busier nights (imagine a Cafe Sevilla on a Thursday night but filled with great dancers and space to dance). Personally I had a great time dancing and appreciated a venue that strictly played salsa songs (with an occasional cha cha cha) as the main form of music.

As with any salsa venue, the management and staff have an important impact on how a night turns out and I’m happy to report that I was treated with the utmost respect. Special thanks to Destiny at Zanzibar for the VIP treatment and opportunity to enjoy a salsa night in Los Angeles.

I’m here for a couple more days and I might go out dancing once again while here. If I do you can read all about it here. Until then, keep dancing and God bless!

A Salsa Dancer Travels: Los Angeles

Monday, March 3, 2008

Greetings from Los Angeles!

I’ve taken a short trip to our northern neighbor and hope to take advantage of the time here to go salsa dancing. Specifically, I’ve found at least three different venues that I can choose from for tonight. They include Zanzibar in Santa Monica, El Floridita in Hollywood, and Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill on Sunset Bvld. I’ll keep you posted on which venue I attend tonight and will write out a complete review. Until then, I’m going back to checking out the scene here… Hey, I think I just saw Jim Carey!

John ;-)

John F. Bello

Meet John ;-)

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