Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cuba closed for refit

Bar Cuba is closed for a refit until 20 June.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Africa and Tasca

Intrigued to see that there's an African Dance Night advertised every Friday at the Riverbank Hotel (opposite the Millennium Stadium).The variety of music mentioned on the ad is pretty wide, from Zouk to Hiphop, presumably including Latin-influenced stuff as well. Might be worth checking out for anyone who's at a loose end on a Friday night.

It's Natalie and Lisa's birthday bash in La Tasca on 3rd June, with an 80s theme. When I saw Lisa's message I thought "why 80s? ", and then realised that's when they were born. Which makes me feel very old : ( Should be a good night, though.

Monday, May 22, 2006


...are quite handy for salsa 'revision'. I sometimes forget important details of moves, or add in bits I shouldn't have. I couldn't work out what I was doing wrong with this move until I remembered I'd asked Sue to film Sarah and me after we learnt it at Andy's advanced workshop last year. (Turns out I'd added a superfluous half turn).

Yes, I went off line a bit there, but at least it's not as embarrassing as this which was filmed three years ago after I encountered a fellow salsa fanatic at a training event. I was pissed but that still doesn't excuse my elephant steps and flailing arms - as you can see Karen managed to stay perfectly elegant and poised despite the booze and my unsubtle lead.

(You need the QuickTime plugin to see the video clips).

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Henry Viña at the Gate

First time I'd been at the Gate and I thought it was a cracking venue: an excellent new wooden floor in a converted church (bit hot, though). I went with Sarah and we got there around 8 to find the second class had already started. Apparently there were only two levels - beginners and improvers/intermediate, so the standard in the class was variable to say the least. But I'd definitely go to another of his classes, as I thought his teaching was very clear. He teaches regularly over in Fiesta Havana.

Shame about the lack of publicity, though that did mean there was plenty of space on the dancefloor. There were only a dozen or so experienced dancers there. The music was good, and I spent most of the evening dancing with Sarah so I was happy. I hope they'll organise another event like this soon.

The plan was to head on to La Tasca afterwards, but after refuelling at a takeaway on City Road and realising how tired we were that seemed less attractive, so I was home by midnight.

BTW Andy's running Saturday workshops all through June - the details aren't up on his website yet, but I assume they will be soon.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Rueda etc

Rueda at Bar Risa was enjoyed by all, I think. Gorka is Spanish but his English is excellent, and as Kate told me, unlike some Cubans his timing on the calls is spot on. Some nice moves including 'mujer policia' (policewoman) where the women get to frisk the men for a change. Perhaps a bit of rueda practice could be fitted in every week.

Henry Viña is teaching at the Gate in Roath tonight - it's a fiver, starting at seven with beginners so I assume intermediates will be about eight. The venue is supposed to be excellent. I've never been to one of his classes but he's supposed to be good.

MoFlex and Helena are teaching at Fiesta Havana during half term (31 May) which I'm going to try to get to - I really like his teaching.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Not, not the bar near the Hilton, but the theme for this week's Risa - Cuban-style salsa, with rueda. Looking forward to it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Last weekend I was mostly...

...staring at an empty dancefloor waiting for people to turn up...

Or at least, the woman who asked me to dance with her at the Hard Rock Cafe for their Cinco de Mayo celebration didn't make it - still recovering from injuries sustained at the Salsa Congress. Actually, I needed an early night so that wasn't too much of a problem. Apparently they had capoeira later on. Not sure what that has to do with Mexican independence. Different continent, different language - but I suppose it's south of the border so that counts somehow.

I got to La Tasca too early as well as I'd just been to see a film and it wasn't worth going home first. I also thought I might get to dance with Laura on an empty dancefloor, as she's the only really good dancer who regularly gets there early. She wasn't there this week and by the time the stars turned up it was seriously crowded. There's a mix of Cardiff salsa people, a crowd of young Spanish and Latin Americans who come every week (some dancing salsa and some not) and drinkers. The drinkers aren't a problem unless they start trying to dance in which case it does get a bit hazardous - fortunately that wasn't the case this week.

As I've said before, it's a real party atmosphere and you have to go with the flow rather than trying out all those flash moves. You certainly find out who can really dance compactly (Irene gets the prize this week). Andy doesn't play a lot of new stuff here: it's more crowd-pleasers for the Spanish and Latino contingent, which means that there's a lot of familiar stuff which is easy to dance to. Once again I left during the extended reggaeton: I'm too old to wiggle like that.

BTW Just had a look on the Salsamania site where there's now a photo gallery. Looks like Thano and Kate in a couple of those pictures. (Actually it's funny how often you see Cardiff people dancing together when you go to Fiesta Havana.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

More Risa

Last night was great. I got off to a good start by dancing with Sue K earlier on (haven't danced with her for ages) - one of those dances that sets you up for the evening. The lighting was a bit better so it was slightly less like a school disco. The music was spot on, better than what the star guest DJ played last week. It's so nice to have space to dance in. Left very sweaty and happy at 12.15 having danced more or less solidly for two hours. And I even got a lie in this morning.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Made it to Risa last Thursday. First impression: it's big, and there were loads of people there. I never realised there were so many people trying to learn salsa in Cardiff. There were several new good female dancers who I hadn't encountered before.

It's ideal for lessons: three classes could run in parallel without being cramped, though even here there were so many people that rotating partners got confusing. The warmup was entertaining (merengue rather than salsa, and nowhere near as frenetic as the ones Andy used to do in Life).

The salsa class only lasted an hour because of the bachata workshop. A really nice sequence which seemed fine in the class, though the lead I thought I'd perfected didn't seem to work when I tried it on the dancefloor later on.

Tony Lara's bachata class was entertaining and I learnt some new stuff that will come in useful. And then it was time for the free dancing. Plenty of space and plenty of people - at least earlier on - and the music was good despite the mixing.

Pretty much everyone I wanted to dance with was there so I had some nice dances, including one which was great fun, but it started thinning out quite early. I'm not sure whether it was the heat but I was knackered and several of the women I danced with said they were too. It wasn't helped by the lighting which makes it feel like a school disco - I wonder if they can do anything to give it a bit more atmosphere?