WHAT: Tom and Roberta perform in a student showcase of Estilo Dance Studio. This is an amazing, twice-a-year show that always sells out the Stardust Ballroom.
We'll be dancing bachata. Bachata is salsa's sexier sister. The show includes salsa, bachata and other styles at levels ranging from beginner to pro-am and semi-pro.
4 PM Performance (Doors Open 3:30 PM)
Admission: $15 Adults ($7 Kids Under 12)
10 PM Performance (Doors Open 8:00 PM)
Includes Lesson & Dancing Until 3 AM
Admission: $20 Adults ($10 Kids Under 12)
363 W Browning Rd
The social dancing after the evening show is always completely off. the. hook.
We strongly recommend the 4pm show for people who don't own dance shoes, and the 10pm show for people who do!
Enchufle double con something-double con abooya-double. Enchufle double. Then rock into the circle on one-two-three, setting her up for an outside turn that carries her in and out of the circle on five-six-seven, yelling "heeeey-ya" on the one-two-three. She echoes on five-six-seven. Do that twice. Dile que no.
Dedo. Break back on one-two-three, as for an enchufle. On three take her right wrist with your right hand and let go with your left. Outside turn her as she comes across and you turn right. Keeping that one hand, do an enchufle con muerte (enchufle with a hook turn for you), then a regular enchufle. Ends like the previous move with the rock into the circle, but no abooya and you only do it once.
Sombrero. Break back on one-two-three. Change hands and outside turn her as she comes across. Sombrero (arms over your respective heads) by seven. Dile que no.
Sombrero con bachanga step. Begin with a somebrero; stay that way. Tap forward on one, return your left foot to its usual place right away on two; same for the right foot on three-four. Keep that going through five-six-seven-eight. She does the same on the opposite foot (but still forward, not back). Dile que no.
Sombrero double. I'm surprisingly good at this, I think I've been messing with it on the social dance floor or something. Begin with a sombrero. Now, lift up the arms again and inside turn her as she comes across, settling into somebrero again by seven. Now lead her back across in a simple reverse cross body lead.
Chico derecho. Not really a move that requires any explanation, I'm just amused because for the first time in maybe eighteen years I heard a command in Spanish and immediately understood and carried it out without explanation or repetition. If only all calls were as simple... okay, that'd be pretty boring. Oh yeah, the move: guys step into the circle on one, step around their partner to the right, claim their next partner on five-six-seven.
Begin the setente as usual: Break back and come forward, making a wing with her; break back again and turn to the right, bringing her into a hammerlock.
Enchufle on one-two-three. On five-six-seven, DO NOT turn right, resist temptation! She's behind you now, that's a GOOD thing. On five-six-seven do a hand shuffle: your right to your left shoulder on five, your left joins it by seven.
On one-two-three bring the hands out in front of you, bringing her around you. On five-six-seven right turn her.
Enchufle (yes, you do turn this time); let go of the arms to undo the knot on five-six-seven.
Dile que no.
There is an additional rueda instructor at Estilo now: Sebastien. Sebastien has taught rueda in France. He's awesome. French-accented Spanish rueda calls are your best entertainment value.
He threw in some silly variations on the enchufle. Principe bueno is an enchufle ending with a kiss on the hand as you sweep by to the next girl. Principe malo ends with a turn away and a stomp. Principe... heckiforget ends with mussing the girl's hair wildly. DO NOT TRY THIS WITH STRANGERS IN CLUBS IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO TASTE SPIKE HEEL. In a way you won't like.
I worked on the candela, a not-too-fancy move that I've nevertheless had persistent trouble with, and seem to have it down:
Break back and cuddle her in, then push her out again.
On the third repetition, cuddle her in as usual on 1-2-3. On 5-6-7, keep both hands high, and turn left away from her. On 5, bring your right hand to your left shoulder (which is what kept biting me in the ass before). Now on 6-7 you'll settle the left hand to the right shoulder.
Now march in place in the direction you're now facing. When "paribe" (I think) is called, turn left to face your partner again, but keep marching in place.
When "dorito" is called, raise your left arm and walk under it to the next girl.
When "daiquiri" is called, reach over your partner's arm to the arm of the next girl, but don't go anywhere yet! When "zefir" is called, complete the move by raising your arm and passing your current partner under it and behind you, welcoming your new partner in front of you.
When "dile que no" is called, cross-body lead your partner and you're back to normal.
Baillala dos: dile que no, tap your left on eight. Give her a free spin inside turn. Turn left yourself.
Adios medio: like a regular adios, then step into the middle of the circle, then step out five-six seven. Repeat that bit.
Siete coca-cola: dile que no, tap your left on eight. Roll her in, push her out again, continue into a 360. Don't let her get away from you, keep her close, keep it tight and continuous, don't let her step back and away.
We spent a lot of time on the setenta complicado again, which is good because, we'll, it's complicado but it's nice to have it falling into place and not completely beyond me anymore. Rock.
We need more people in the rueda! Philly has a zillion salsa dancers, we need more rueda visibility. Any salsa dancer can pick it up quickly...
I rueda really a lot. But I've been trying to learn the setenta call for months. The dam finally broke tonight.
I have goofy explanations for my triumph: my brain is full of gourmet theobromine thanks to solestria! Rapid progress is only possible with $20 chocolate bars!
But it's really because I took the parts of the move I did have down and incorporated them on the social dance floor... a lot... building my vocabulary of basic moves so that I can better understand complete sentences. This is almost always the real reason why you "just can't" learn a pattern: you don't know the pieces yet. Break 'em down.
Setenta. Break back on one, then bounce back, coming side to side with her on three; the two of you are like a wing at this point, with you on the left. On five-six-seven, as she comes across, right turn her into a hammerlock; turn right to face her.
Enchufle on one-two-three. On five-six-seven, chaqueta: tuck your right elbow outside her arm.
Dile que no (cross-body lead), bringing your elbow in again on one-two-three.
Setenta complicado. The first set of eight is the same.
Enchufle on one-two-three. On five-six-seven, make a window with your right arm; as you step back on five and return on six, pull her through it; on seven turn left to face her, letting go with the right hand. Reclaim her left in your right; you have a normal hold again.
Enchufle on one-two-three, stopping her with your right hand on her hip so she winds up facing the same direction as you. On five-six-seven, glide her back.
Dile que no.
Siete. Easy-peasy one. Dile que no, tapping on eight. On one-two-three, break back and roll her in; on five-six-seven roll her out again.
Dame por... something: cross-body lead opening on one-two-three. On five-six-seven, inside turn her into a hammerlock with your left hand, letting go on seven; she comes across but you remain facing your new partner, and go straight into guapea (basic). This means your next partner is clockwise rather than counterclockwise. That also happens in other calls when pariba is added to them.
Darlin and Mike said something to the effect that they need to add more calls soon, so I expect to be back in kindergarten very shortly. But it was a very nice feeling to be Right There With It.
I like the feel of rueda moves and I'm noticing that they are very leadable on the social floor in Philly, since we dance on one here anyway.
It's funny... Mike teaches rueda in a way I find very accessible, but will still lose me occasionally in a bachata class. Darlin Garcia does exactly the opposite, I've never had any difficulty following the steps of his bachata classes because he feels bachata is first and foremost about developing a good connection with your partner (*), not turn patterns. But I still drown sometimes in his more advanced salsa and rueda classes.
I've written about some of these before, but this is mostly for my benefit anyway, so phbbtt. These really clicked into place tonight and I'd like to keep them there.
Sombrero. Dile que no (cross-body lead). Tap your left foot on eight, changing hands; now right is over left.
Lead her across on your right, turning her to the right as you do so on one-two-three. On five-six-seven, march in place.
On one-two-three, sombrero (settle your right arm over her shoulder and her left over yours. On five-six-seven dile que no.
Montagne. The first two sets of eight are the same.
Enchufle con muerte (enchufle, then hook turn to the right, keeping both hands high).
Regular enchufle, march in place on five-six-seven.
Sombrero and dile que no.
Dedo. Very similar to montagne, but lead with just a handshake hold (right to right, no left hand hold). But of course you can't sombrero from there. So going into the final set of eight, switch your grip to a buddy grip. On one-two-three open up into the circle. On five-six-seven dile que no.
(*) Which is to say, hot.
This is huge because it's quite difficult to learn names on a loud, crowded dance floor! Suddenly I know who everybody is and have at least a little insight into where they're coming from. Suddenly I hear about parties. Etc.
Facebook's official line is that they are not a "social networking site." They are a "social utility." They make this distinction because the phrase "social networking site" is associated with sites like Myspace, where people tend to have lots of fakity-fake Internet friends (*) to whom they feel no real connection. Facebook takes a different approach, strongly encouraging you to connect with real people you know from high school, college, work and other social circles. They want to be seen as a tool that enriches and strengthens real-world connections.
Almost everything on Facebook bends toward this end. The photo and note-tagging systems are great for connecting things you share with the real people that are in them.
I did say "almost everything." Third party Facebook applications (like Superpoke) are not especially impressive in this department. Though I've written half a dozen, I don't use any third party Facebook apps at all myself. But this is partly because the built-in capabilities of Facebook are very complete and well-designed already. There just isn't much room for non-frivolous third-party apps.
Facebook's "suggest a friend" feature has been particularly awesome in the salsa scene, rapidly filling in the gaps and putting people in touch. My biggest problem now is pacing myself so that I don't "friend" people faster than I can truly connect names with faces. I'd like to get this right.
If Facebook needed a case study to prove that Facebook is a useful social utility and not an emptyheaded "social network," the Philly salsa scene would definitely fit the bill. But Facebook doesn't need case studies at this point, I suspect. The big bang has already happened, in scenes all over the country. And we're definitely richer for it.
At this point, speculation about What Could Go Wrong With Facebook is like speculation about What Could Go Wrong With Google. We love them, we really effing love them, but what if they someday woke up and decided to be evil (**)? So far, neither company is particularly motivated to be evil. But Facebook, unlike Google, hasn't felt strong pressure to be profitable yet. Time will tell.
(*) As opposed to real Internet friends! Yes of course meaningful connections can begin on the Interwebs. Stand down photon torpedoes.
(**) Facebook had a brief, dumb, ill-advised flirtation with evil when they offered "targeted advertising" in a way that revealed far too much to advertising clients. I much prefer the "thumbs up, thumbs down" system they have now which allows you to self-categorize by voting on ads... if you want to, that is. I do think that Facebook, like Google, should be able to use your profile data to serve you appropriate ads— there's nothing inherently evil about that— but only if they can do so without revealing your Facebook user ID to the advertiser.
Half past midnight: hit the hay. I can sleep until eight-thirty. I've planned this carefully.
Seven am: don't feel sleepy. Get up. Big mistake.
Thursday, 7:30pm: intermediate salsa class. Making dumb sleepy mistakes.
8:30pm: bachata class. At some point, become too tired to analyze how tired I am; all remaining brain cells decide to focus on actual dancing.
9:30pm: rueda class. Far from perfect, but able to remember long moves that usually defeat me... some percentage of the time, anyway. A strange focus permeates my brain.
11pm: arrive at Miami Cafe, running on nothing but adrenaline.
11:30pm: dance with B. I knew B. was really, really good. I did not know quite how good, or quite how well-timed my second wind was gonna be. Have front-row seat for numerous quadruple free spins.
11:32pm: the universe explodes into shiny little fragments, every single one of which is totally my bitch. Dance with each of the fragments until it unfolds into a new universe made up entirely of chocolate pudding and bottles of Chimay Cinq Cents. Rueda moves and lots of other stuff are suddenly fair game on the social dance floor.
12:30am: Arrive home, still flying. I CAN SEE THROUGH TIME!
12:31am: whoa. Very sleepy now. Good night peoples.
I could see an arts & culture paper or the like making serious use of this thing for club schedules in general, with not a whole lot of modification. There could be some $$$ in that. Hmm.
Unfortunately, the addition of support for special cancellations and reschedulings means that I have no remaining excuses to finish entering all the listings I've received for venues in Greater Philly. Once I decided to open up the site to more than just the city itself, the job got a whole lot bigger. But it's worth it, having all of this in a single well-organized place.
I picked up Eleanor from her after school activities a little early and brought her to the Rosin Box to purchase her first pair of jazz shoes. Eleanor already has ballet flats for her ballet class, but they are soft-soled, therefore not appropriate for her salsa class. According to the proprietor, the jazz shoes we purchased are Mike Andino's recommended practice shoe for salsa. and they are only $30. I could've purchased heels she'll outgrow in five minutes for $75, but I did not. I could have purchased an extremely handsome pair of English shoes for myself for $120, but I did not.
On the way east from there, we naturally passed Capogiro, and succumbed to the inevitable. O the pain. Half pumpkin, half dark chocolate for me. Eleanor had half chocolate, half vanilla. Total: $10.
We resumed our trek and soon passed Genji Sushi Express at 1720 Sansom Street. I'd already made dinner plans of my own with nohx, but it was dinnertime for Eleanor, who promptly inhaled california and avocado rolls. I nibbled on edamame. $15.
We stumbled across an Obama volunteer office and picked up new buttons. Little 50-cent ones for both of us, and a $1 "Woman for Obama" pin for Eleanor.
There was no getting home without passing Borders! Restraint was shown: paperbacks only. Eleanor bought Flyte, the second book in the Septimus Heap series. I picked up Ilium, the first in a newer series by Dan Simmons, author of Hyperion. I recently reread part of the Hyperion series and was sad to finish Rise of Endymion. I... may have had something in my eye at the end. $12, all told. Eleanor also spent $6 of her own money on an Eleanor Roosevelt bookmark.
After dropping off Eleanor at her mother's I met nohx for dinner at the Royal Tavern. It is good to have palz in one's own 'hood. I spent $10 (with tip) on the tempeh club sandwich, which is tasty. I avoided the temptation of more expensive fare... but mostly because the advertised pumpkin ale did not exist. Also, I am still a rueda newbie and I'm okay with that, but I don't like to screw up for reasons that are within my control. So drinking before class is not a great plan.
Around nine-thirty I hit rueda class at Estilo, which was even better than usual. The rueda actually flowed as it so rarely does when moves are being taught. $10 (which I forgot to pay... oops... I'll pay Saturday Mike!) I also met, or re-met, Julie of Salsa in the Suburbs, a great latin dance studio in Media, PA (suburban friends take note). This morning I sent her a login for the Salsadelphia back end; she's my guinea pig for Project Let Everybody List Their Own Stuff. I'm excited to see how it plays out.
Afterwards I felt pretty done in, but there's a new salsa night at Glam on 2nd street in Old City and I had to give it a shot, seeing as Joe Figueroa is involved. Also, I had the impression it was free.
So I went. And it was not free, it was $7. There were maybe twelve people in there, a good mix of men and women... all sitting down. That was a little odd, but I recognized some people so I made the decision to shell out a few bucks and head on in and scoop up a girl.
And boom: in this tiny little place, there were exactly enough men and women to go 'round; everyone could dance at least a little, some people could dance a whole lot better than me; everyone was incredibly nice. And we all rocked out until a little after midnight and decided to go home at pretty much the same time. Yes, separately.
A wonderful day. Also: a $96 day. This is why cash is never petty and it is why I don't indulge in "little, affordable" things every time I get the urge. It's also where all my damn money went in the nineties (well, the portion of it that isn't in my house). You gotta make choices. I don't regret indulging yesterday at all— I was overdue— but you can bet this is not how I roll on a daily basis.
I blog about the salsa moves I learn in in clubs and studios. I do that for my own amusement. I don't claim to be particularly accurate, nor do I claim to be the Greatest Salsero Ever. Reading my blog is not the way to learn to dance— go forth and take a lesson!
To save time, I generally do not explain the basic step, cross-body lead, etc. over and over. I usually describe every set of eight beats in a single paragraph. And if you're meant to let go of a hand... I'll say so.
Wednesdays at Brasils, Sonya Elmore of La Luna Dance Studio teaches an intermediate salsa lesson. She repeats each pattern for two consecutive weeks, giving us a chance to get it right. And sure enough, I made a mistake in last week's post. Plus, she added more cool stuff. So here you are. Come on out to Brasils and learn for yourself:
Last Week (corrected)
Around the world. Give her a plain ol' outside turn (right turn), but keep both hands. This is the bit I left out last week.
Enchufle on one-two-three (break back and come over; the arms pass by on her left as she comes over). On five-six-seven, turn yourself left (not the usual hook turn to the right); don't let go with either hand.
Now the tricky part; thanks to Joe of La Luna for spotting my moment... extended moment... of doubt last week and helping me nail this one:
Man's right turn with arm switch (not a hand switch). Keep both hands. On one-two-three, lower your left hand and turn right, under your right arm. Keep your left elbow below your right so that things don't disentangle— that's what I kept having trouble with. By three bring your left elbow up again as you come around. On five-six-seven, with your right forearm, flick her right arm up and away (breaking its connection to your left hand). Her arm lofts up and settles down on the other side and you're in a plain ol' two-hand hold again. (Just a reminder: if I don't mention letting go of a hand... you don't! Until that final flick there is no disconnection or change of hands involved in any of the above.)
Cross-body inside turn with a fake caress. In essence this move is simply a cross-body lead with an inside turn, keeping both hands (you open up to the left by three, then extend her left arm forward on five, push back and turn her left with your right hand as she comes across, keeping the left hand low so that she wraps into it). The fake caress just takes it up a notch: on one, bring your right arm over and around her head, bringing it back again by three as you open up to the left.
End of inside turn, and basic step. Right now she's halfway through her inside turn, facing away from you. Let her finish coming around and wrapping into your left arm on one-two-three. On five-six-seven, just complete the basic step.
Flick-switch-catch and cross-body inside turn. She's facing you again. Your left hand is at her left side now, holding her right hand, and your right hand is holding her right. On one, with your right hand, flick (toss) her right hand down and away, behind her back. On two, let go with your left hand, replacing it at her side with your right. On three, catch her left hand behind her back on her right side (your left), opening up to the left as you do so. On five-six-seven, let go with your right hand and inside (left) turn her with your left hand as she comes across for the win.
Normal hold, left hand only. Walk-walk-turn her, bringing your right hand to her left shoulder on three, turning her right on seven. Don't telegraph your intentions ahead of time, just walk her across.
Man's half right turn on one-two-three. On one, you step forward— not to the right. Step to the left a little, even. By three you're both facing in the same direction and you're out of her way (at her left); change her right hand into your right. On five-six-seven, inside turn her as she comes across (that is, she turns left). Now you're in a handshake hold.
Give her a plain ol' right turn, but claim her left hand underneath with your left on one. After her turn your left hands are on top.
On one, bring your left hand behind her head and let go. On two, bring your right hand behind her head and let go. On three, open up for a cross-body lead and claim her left hand in your left. On five-six-seven, inside turn her as she comes across.
Taught in Mike's intermediate 1:30pm class:
Double handshake hold, rights over lefts. Outside turn her.
By one, bring your left arm behind her head so her elbow is locked, letting go with your right hand. Open up to the right by three (not to the left as you normally would for a cross-body lead). On five-six-seven, half left turn her. On seven, stop her with a "hug" around the shoulders with the right arm, turning half left yourself on seven so you are both facing back the way she came.
On one-two-three, break back, letting her pose (you still have her left in your left to point out with). On five-six-seven, roll her into your left arm (this is a left turn for her, but you keep your left hand low so she wraps into it and must stop turning as she faces you again).
Change hands on one, opening up for a cross-body lead by three. On five-six-seven, check her again: again it's a left turn for her, but while your right arm stays high, it stops at her right shoulder so she must remain facing away.
On one-two-three, use that right arm at her right shoulder to "run her around" (turn her half left to face you again). I had trouble with this bit, don't take me too seriously here. On five-six-seven, she naturally walks forward (because you're well out of her way), and you signal her for a right turn with your right hand so that she rolls into your arm again.
After that it's just a chase scene (that's as far as we got).
Last night at Brasils:
Enchufle on one-two-three (break back and come over; the arms pass by on her left as she comes over). On five-six-seven, turn yourself left (not the usual hook turn to the right); don't let go with either hand.
Now the tricky part; thanks to Joe of La Luna for spotting my moment... extended moment... of doubt and helping me nail this one:
On one-two-three, lower your left hand and turn right, under your right arm. Keep your left elbow below your right so that things don't disentangle— that's what I kept having trouble with. On five-six-seven, flick her right arm up and away (breaking the connection to your left) with your right.
Just a reminder: if I don't mention letting go of a hand... you don't! Until that final flick there is no disconnection or change of hands involved in any of the above.
As taught... more or less... by Sonya Elmore last night at Brasils. Intermediate salsa lessons every Wednesday. Sonya also teaches at her studio, La Luna.
Enchufle con muerte: enchufle, exchanging places on one-two-three. On five-six-seven, hook turn yourself under the arm. On one-two-three, let go and brush past on your way to your next partner. On five-six-seven, cross-body lead your new partner.
Adios con muerte: adios (break back on one, right hand to her left hip by three and get out of the way so she can pass on your right; on five-six-seven right turn her with the hand at her hip; her arm passes over you as you turn right). On one-two-three, rather than just walking forward three steps to your next partner, execute a progressive left turn to reach them. Five-six-seven, cross-body lead them as usual.
Hilo: starts out as an enchufle con muerte. Then travel to your next partner with a progressive left turn instead of a simple walk forward.
Sombrero: cross-body lead her, changing hands by five, right hand on top. Tap on seven, getting out of the way so that she can pass on your right on the next set of eight. On one-two-three, right turn her as she comes across (yes, you're turning her on one). On five-six-seven, settle your arms behind your left shoulder and her right. Cross-body lead her.
Coca-cola can replace any of these cross-body lead endings, indeed any cross-body lead anywhere at any time. Coca-cola can strike without warning. Do not taunt happy fun coca-cola. Really. You have no idea: your left hand to her right shoulder by one, opening up for a cross-body lead by three. Free-spin left turn her (i.e. tug toward you and release on five) as she comes across. 360 her around. You gotta lead this, put some oomph into it, don't be shy.
Pasilla is another alternate ending. On five-six-seven, open up to the circle, allowing your partner to do the same. On one-two-three, go get the girl to your left. I am never quick enough with this, so I suspect I'm still not doing it quite right.
Roughly... very roughly... as taught by Mike Andino at Estilo Dance Studio. Rueda classes are held every Thursday night at nine-thirty. C'maaan, you know you want to! I do recommend completing a basic salsa class first. Plenty of those at Estilo too.
... Or is it? I've tried it on my phone, of course. But I haven't tried it on an iPhone or an iPod Touch. I'm wondering if it might be better to just let those devices see the full site.
Your feedback, mobile geeks, is very welcome.
(Yyyeah, I probably will have to at least get a Mac as my next laptop, so I can emulate the iPhone... my laptop, coincidentally, is dying. The three-year service plan is up, and guess what, the mouse has started to experience fits of clicking itself. These last anywhere from a second to 30 seconds. Joy.)
I made it to rueda class tonight after volunteering for Obama for a couple hours. And this is what I learned on my summer vacation.
You may assume I got the name of every single move wrong; saves me the time of italicizing stuff:
Enchufle, but afterwards stay open to the circle opening up your partner that way too; then on one-two-three go pick up the girl to your left, not to your right.
Adios, with the same change at the end.
Break back, swinging her in; then push her back out again. Do that for two sets of eight. On the third set of eight, start out by breaking back and swinging her in again, then turn yourself right and settle your hands behind you so that her arms are crossed, her left on your right shoulder, her right on your left.
Start marching forward, one-two-three, five-six-seven... the circle has closed up at this point.
When the caller calls... darn, I forget... turn to the right and face your partner again.
When the caller calls "dorito," raise your left arm and walk under it to reach your next partner.
When the caller calls "daquiri," extend your left arm and take the right arm of your next partner, but don't go to them yet. Wait for the caller to say... darned if I can remember. Then they pass under the arm and come to you.
When the caller calls dile que no, cross-body lead and open back up to a normal distance between couples.