For those of you that don’t know (pretty much everyone… I’m sort of secretive about it) I’m a bit salsa obsessed. Looking forward into the route planning future in Bogotá it seemed like we wouldn’t be passing through Cali, The Salsa Capitol Of The World. With my urging we decided to remedy the situation by hoping on a bus to spend a week taking some classes covering the fast step-work of their particular style of salsa.
For those not acquainted with the various styles of salsa there are a bunch plus or minus a few depending on how you’d like to think: LA (On1), New York (On2), Puerto Rico (Power On2), Cuban, and Caleño (from Cali). The differences can be small, subtle or large depending on the two you’re comparing. If a city has a salsa culture it’s often a mix of influences depending on a multitude of factors (Founding Fathers, later outside influence etc) and the people of that place are often unaware that other styles exist (which is Good and Fine). I learned salsa in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (in classes where in fact Heidi and I met) and there they dance LA On1 with some stolen movements from a more traditional Cuban style (At least in the school where I was taught. Each school will put out students dancing in subtly distinct ways… ex: maybe a teacher likes dips and so the alumni of the school know a lot of dips while in a different school they teach flashy hand games). Really the subtlety can reach great values ending at the focus of an individual dancer.
In the end I felt that I had learned quite a lot in our short time in Cali. The experience turned out to be a bit of a salsa overdose between the classes and practicing the moves in between (with me taking it a bit seriously, as a cheapskate wanting to get my money’s worth out of the classes (poor Heidi who likes to enjoy things like a normal person)). The ride out and back were, in addition, my first rather long bus rides traveling in Latin America, giving me a taste of the travelers normal mode of existence hopping from place to place. I rather prefer pedaling my bicycle.
-Visiting The World Capitol of Salsa and seeing them do their thing.
-Getting to learn quite a few steps, at least seeing the principles in slow motion.
-Deciding to do the classes. I’m a tight-wad and although supporting some salsa teachers and learning are things I definitely support I get caught up in the cyclist on the road mentality.
-Perhaps too much salsa? I had to take a break after the trip.
-Not doing a whole lot of other activities (not sure there are lots of options but…).