San Diego is a big convention town as we all saw with the recent Comic Con International Meeting here this last week. Every time there is a big convention in town I inevitably receive a ton of emails from people asking me where the best places to dance salsa here in San Diego. One thing I’ve noticed from these emails is surprise when the people I write to learn that there is not a regular salsa club that is open on Fridays and Saturdays in the Gaslamp Quarter . Indeed, the best salsa dancing downtown is located at Café Sevilla Tuesdays through Thursday in my opinion. Sometimes, though, it would be nice to have salsa dancing downtown on a Friday or Saturday night for a change.
Well, looks like change is coming our way, albeit for one night in August.Aubergine, the uber upscale restaurant and club venue , is opening its doors to salsa dancing on August 22nd , 2008. Located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter (and across the street from Café Sevilla), the club is known for its fashionable and unique vibe that would serve well as a salsa dancing venue. (Indeed, there are lots of places downtown that would be great salsa and Latin dancing venues but unfortunately the club owners haven’t been all that open to the idea).
The event is hosted by Angel and Tulane from A Time to Dance Studio who will be providing a lesson. There will also be dance performances by well known groups like Majesty in Motions Pro team and the Sexy Salsa Divas.
The San Diego Salsa and Latin Dancing Meetup Group will be in attendance at the event this night and I’ve organized a place to RSVP for the event . You can find out all the details about the event there including instructions on how to get placed on the VIP guest list.
If you’ve followed Ritmo Bello in the past you may remember a saying that I used to post on my old website that read “If you can walk, you can dance!” Well, I’m pleased to report that I’ve been wrong all this time. Let me explain.
Absolutely Dance Sport, a specialized dance studio catering to the disabled here in San Diego, opens its doors on August 5th , 2008. The focus of the new studio is to bring more attention to a growing movement called Wheelchair DanceSport . Wheelchair DanceSport is a partner dance competition where at least one dancer in the pair is in a wheelchair.
Wheelchair dancing is not actually new. Since 1977, international competitions in Wheelchair Dance Sport have been organized and supported by organizations like the International Paralympic Wheelchair Dance Sport Committee and International DanceSport Federation. There is even an American Dance Wheels logo similar to the NBA’s iconic sign as seen below:
Wheelchair dancers participate in combination style dancing with an able-bodied partner or duo dance with two wheelchairs. The dances that are performed with wheelchairs pretty much are the same ones that a non-disabled couple can perform. That means that a wheelchair dancer could dance salsa, samba, cha cha cha, rumba, paso doble, and other popular Latin dances.
I found this tango video especially captivating to watch:
My immediate reaction to all this is that I am very thankful that there are people in the community concerned with bringing dance to the disabled population. Indeed, if I were ever in a position where I needed to rely on a wheelchair I would most likely seek out this studio to be around empowered individuals passionate about salsa and latin dancing.
The local San Diego dance scene (which includes salsa, tango, samba, and other types of Latin dancing) is expanding and garnering more exposure worldwide. San Diego’s salsa dance scene, though, is definitely still in development compared to larger market areas like New York and Miami. From time to time I like to take a look outside of my own area to see how others are spreading salsa dance within their own communities. As a salsa dancer in the local San Diego dance community, I am always looking for examples of how others are helping promote the genre and spread the virtues of the dance.
Los Angeles, although a short drive away from San Diego, presents a totally different and vast salsa dance experience as compared to San Diego. Recently I found an organization similar to Ritmo Bello in Los Angeles that helps inform the local community regarding salsa dancing related information. Vida Salsera, Spanish for "Salsa Life", has kept the Southern California/Los Angeles salsa community up to date with its salsa dance scene, including special events, concerts, and live music performances since November of 2005.
I sat down with Dena Burroughs of Vida Salsera to talk about her experiences in promoting salsa dancing in her own community:
Ritmo Bello : San Diego and Southern California are areas where Salsa is very popular. What does your organization offer to the community in terms of Salsa dancing information?
VidaSalsera:VidaSalsera.com is primarily a calendar of live music events, mainly of Salsa bands, in the L.A. area. However, I have a smaller “Out of Town” section in which I post events for as far north as San Francisco and south as San Diego. I have separate sections for Salsa clubs in L.A., as well as information on bands and DJs that someone could hire, instructors, CDS, and so forth.
Ritmo Bello: What are the origins of your organization?
VidaSalsera:I started VidaSalsera.com in November of 2005. It was truly a project of love – I wanted to create a site where I could support the Salsa movement in L.A., particularly the artists and musicians, with the freedom of expression that would only come from owning my own site.
Ritmo Bello : On your website I see that you promote many different types of events and even have areas where musicians can list their information. Can you tell me a little about how that started?
VidaSalsera:I got deep into the Salsa scene about a decade ago. I went through that crazy euphoria that new dancers all get into – I wanted to do nothing but dance, at every spare moment of my day. As time went by, my infatuation with Salsa dancing matured into a real love for the music itself and an appreciation for those who make it so beautiful, who are so talented, yet really do not often get the attention, or the recognition, they deserve – the musicians. Without them, there’s no music to dance to. My intention is to, in whatever small way I can, support what they do so that the music will not end.
Ritmo Bello: I also saw on your website that you offer information about other things such as salsa music information. What’s been your experience with salsa over the years and the public’s response to the music & dance?
VidaSalsera:I am convinced that knowing what a song says, for example, makes a huge difference in how you enjoy it, even how you dance to it. The lyrics of a song can make you laugh when they’re funny, and when you laugh your composure, your body movements, your actual dance, changes. By the same token, when the song is romantic and perhaps manages to remind you of your current or past love, the experience of listening and dancing to it is transformed. Because we are in the U.S., and because many of the Salsa lovers here are English speakers, I have a hunch they’re missing out on a very important part of the Salsa experience. That’s why I started the “Salsa Lyrics” section on my site. Slowly, (because it’s very time consuming) but surely, I am translating the lyrics of Salsa songs into English. Hopefully, those who read them will remember what a particular song says the next time they dance to it. I think a few people agree with me because the lyrics request link of my site is one of the most active ones.
Ritmo Bello: I had an opportunity to visit your YouTube channel today and see that you’ve posted lots of salsa related videos for the public to view. If an artists or somebody looking for exposure to your audience wanted to have a video posted what is the process like?
VidaSalsera: Invite me over to a gig! I will do my darn best to get a good video. I have limited resources, mind you. I go around with a small, yet amazing, Sony camera that does wonders, and I do look for the right angle, the right light, and the right moment to come up with a good shot. YouTube is a fabulous resource for artists. Some of my videos have been watched thousands of times. The video I took of Gilberto Santarosa at The Mayan has been viewed over 70,000 times! That floors me, but that shows you the power of the Internet to make things known. Every musician should take advantage of it.
Ritmo Bello : I know that you are based out of Los Angeles, California and have great insight into the Southern California salsa scene. Do you ever make your way down to San Diego for a little bit of salsa dancing?
VidaSalsera: I make my way everywhere. (Helps that I am a little hyperactive, a little A.D.D. and a lot insomniac. ::smile::) I have been to the La Jolla Marriott , to Club Miami , to Cafe Sevilla , to Havana Restaurant, to the Harrah’s Rincon, to many Salsa places in San Diego. And, for the record, I have very lovely memories of Thanksgiving holidays at San Diego’s Café Sevilla, from many years ago, when Salsa was my best friend during some rather lonely times. I will always treasure Café Sevilla’s turkey and stuffing dinners to the sounds of Salsa. That should be a tradition that should never die.
Ritmo Bello : Anything else you’d like to share with the general public?
VidaSalsera:There’s this story about how, when the great philosopher Socrates was in prison, a voice spoke to him on a dream, saying, “Practice music, Socrates!” For most of his life Socrates had been trying to separate philosophy from art, from music. Years later, Nietzche used that “Practice music, Socrates!” to point out that humans are best when they combine both their thinking ability with their appreciation for the arts; that we can be thinkers, serious people, responsible, and so forth, and still have a passion for music, for poetry, for art as a whole. For those of us whose passion is this music and this dance… it’s all good – Nietzche would approve. So… Practice Salsa, everybody!
Ritmo Bello: How can the Ritmo Bello audience reach you if they want to find out more information about your organization?
VidaSalsera: My name is Dena Burroughs. I am at www.vidasalsera.com and firstname.lastname@example.org Say hi anytime. Suggestions, information, commentary and constructive criticism are always welcome. Thank you, John.
Ritmo Bello: Thanks Dena for all that you do to promote salsa dancing!
Tango dancing has moved in many new directions over the last few years. Here in San Diego a unique dance ensemble called TANGOCENTRIC is making its mark on the dance scene.
TANGOCENTRIC originated with 6 talented dancers under the direction of Susan Lake .
Experimenting with Jazz, Ballet, and contemporary techniques, this innovative dance company is pushing the boundaries of what we all know as tango. Definitely not for the weak of heart, the challenging choreographies break the traditional look of what we have accepted as tango dancing today.
Saturday morning on August 9th, the first TANGOCENTRIC dance auditions will take place as the company continues to find its place in the theatrical dance community. For anyone wanting to expand their dance experience, this would be a dance "must" according to Susan Lake, director of TANGOCENTRIC.
For a while now I’ve been following another independent writer and publisher passionate about salsa dancing, the WanderingSalsero. The WanderingSalsero , managaged by a gentleman named Art Williams, is an informative and highly visited website with all sorts of salsa dance related news, views and reviews.
Art recently posted an article about Ritmo Bello’s newly redesigned site that you can see on his website. One thing I wanted to clarify if you do see the article is that Ritmo Bello has no connection with Mike Bello from the Mambo Fellow . Ritmo Bello is managed by yours truly, John , and will continue to provide quality salsa and latin dance information for the San Diego, California area and beyond.
Since launching Ritmo Bello last year here locally in San Diego, California I’ve been able to meet and interact with numerous salsa based organizations around the world . The love that I have for the music and dance we all know as salsa has the great effect of inspiring people to do novel things to promote the genre.
Here in my hometown of San Diego another local group, Addicted2Salsa , has done some really great things to promote salsa dancing. Primarily using their great video capabilities , Anthony Persaud and Addicted2Salsa have launched countless videos online covering everything from salsa basics to advanced salsa combination moves.
The video here caught my attention because I really think that salsa is something that can be integrated into our everyday lives. What better way to integrate salsa into your life than with a tool that most of us already have, an iPhone. The video tutorial covers resources you can access online using an iPhone that include Pandora , Midomi , Shazam and of course AOL radio . In past Ritmo Bello articles I’ve written about similar services online that allow you to fully integrate salsa music into your daily experience and Anthony’s video is a great visual explanation of how you can access these resources.
Thanks to Anthony Persaud and Addicted2Salsa for providing a great resource!
The night will focus on Colombian culture including an examination of its multicultural society – including connections with Mexican, Caribbean, African, European, Middle Eastern, and Native American influences. It will also highlight the strong influence of the indigenous people to the region including the Muisca , Tariano, and Quimbaya peoples. Of course, the night will also focus on the great musical influence Colombia has made on the world. Many modern day Colombian songs and instruments are linked to this early influence. There will be live Colombian music, Colombian dance, and Colombian cuisine during the event.