Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

I did manage to get to Aqua the Sunday before Christmas: it was a great way to start the festive break. It's quite small but it's got a nice atmosphere, and the smaller, shorter classes (compared with Thursday) are a definite plus. The floor is tiled so take smooth shoes. Finished off the year's salsa (unless I get some tonight) by calling a couple of slightly chaotic but enjoyable ruedas.

Two new things coming up in the New Year: firstly Kate is starting a new Cuban salsa night on Wednesdays, later in January, with classes combined with rueda and dancing afterwards. Also she's organising a 6-hour salsathon on 24th February in aid of the George Thomas Hospice.

Can't wait to get back on the dancefloor...Risa starts again on Thursday. Andy and Lucy are on holiday for a couple of weeks so it'll be Kate teaching the intermediate class.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dance Britannia

Tonight is Irene's party in the David Lloyd Centre, and tomorrow is your last chance to dance in Cardiff before Christmas (in Aqua). But over the Christmas period BBC4 is showing a series about the history of social dancing in Britain that looks fascinating (click on the link above). If it's up to the standard of Jazz Britannia and Folk Britannia it will be well worth watching.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Monton de Estrellas

Andy had to start Monton de Estrellas twice last night so that Mikey could dance the whole thing. That's the song all the Spanish speakers sing along to - I do as well, but I've discovered that I can't dance well and sing in Spanish at the same time.

And for those who want to know what it's actually about, here's a translation I did a couple of years ago for a dancer whose favourite song it is.

I don't know why I'm singing to her
if I should hate her
with the strength of my heart
I stil haven't completely erased her
she's always present
like now in this song
innumerable are the times I've tried
to forget her and I haven't managed
to wrench out a single second from my mind
because she knows all my past
she knows me too well
and perhaps that's why she'd take advantage

because in love I'm a fool
who's suffered a thousand defeats, who doesn't have
powers to defend myself
but she always takes advantage
sometimes to reject me
and other times
she does it to keep me hanging on, that's how it is

Today I remember the song I made her one day
and basically I didn't know that would be bad for me
I gradually fell into an abyss
the same thing always happened
nobody knows what I suffered
a complete victim of her whims
but one day I opened my eyes
and angrily I wrenched her from my memory
little by little I made progress
and in the arms of another lover
I could bring this story to an end

But in love I'm a fool
who's suffered a thousand defeats, who doesn't have
powers to defend myself
but she would always take advantage
and if one day she'd kiss me, that was
just to keep me hanging on, that's how it is

That's how it was
just how it was
It was all because of her
I loved her, I adored her
but I had to hate her
That's how it was
oh yeah
it was all because of her
how I loved that woman
because I thought she was good
It was just like that
oh God!
It was all because of her
I could climb to the sky
to bring her down a bunch of stars
That's how it was
it was all because of her
a baby bird that was flying
and I took it to placate her
it was all like that
oh God!
it was all because of her
everything got away from me
and now I can't see her

That's how it was
just how it was
It was all because of her
she took me for a fool
that's how it was
I was in love with her
it was all because of her
she left me a novel
that's how it was
oh yeah!
it was all because of her
that's just how it was
it was just like that
oh yeah
it was all because of her
I loved her, I adored her
but I had to hate her
it was just like that
oh God!
It was all for her
how I loved that woman
because I thought she was good
It was just like that
oh God!
It was all because of her
I could climb to the sky
to bring her down a pile of stars
That's how it was
it was all because of her
a baby bird that was flying
and I took it to placate her
it was all like that
oh God!
it was all because of her
everything got away from me
and now I can't see her

Looking up

Risa has been great lately - last night I stayed until the end for the second week running. Even thought there were 'only' 75 people there last night (as opposed to the usual 300) there were plenty I wanted to dance with. Smaller numbers meant Andy could do a proper warmdown - the second one was fast and furious, just like the old days in Life.

Four ruedas in quick succession - one of them was manic - and from then on I hardly stopped. Quite a lot of Cuban earlier on, and then it got faster.

I'm looking forward to the New Year, partly because there's something new and exciting coming up in January, but also because I discovered just last night just how interesting one dancer is to dance with - and she's up for partnering me for a private lesson : )

Friday, December 14, 2007

Just like old times

Last night proved my point about Pontin's: I did actually have more good dances in two hours than in a weekend at Brean Sands. Pontin's has definitely done my dancing some good, though: not so much the new moves as a bit more subtlety. I danced with everyone from absolute beginners to advanced dancers like Anne and Sara.

Abby was in town again so that was great: we stayed until the absolute end which reminded me of old times in the Toad when I used to stay until the early hours of Friday morning. For the last couple of dances we had the entire upper level of Risa to ourselves and we made sure we used all of it! Afraid I'm not going to make Llantrisant tonight (sorry Tammi) - I can hardly keep my eyes open.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Brean (2)

Quite a lot of moans about Brean on Salsajive. And while Salsajive is notorious for moaning, I think they have a point.

Next year the combination is salsa and celtic/folk dancing, so that will really be one to avoid.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ho ho ho

Here's the Christmas break information for Andy's classes:

Bar Cuba last night 18th Dec, back 8th Jan
Bar Risa last night 20th Dec, back 3rd Jan
La Tasca last night 22nd Dec, back 5th Jan
Aqua Bar last night 23rd Dec, back 6th Jan

Not too much of a festive salsa drought : ) Must try to get to Aqua before Christmas - I haven't been there yet.


My first time at Brean Sands for three years, so I was very careful to pace myself - in bed by one on the first night. I was surprised how few people from Cardiff were there. I think the Swansea contingent was bigger. Maybe that's because the standard in Cardiff is a lot better than it was three years ago so people don't feel the need to travel.

The quality of teaching was very variable, again: just because somebody can dance spectacularly, as in the shows, doesn't necessarily mean they can teach. And some of the lessons were ridiculously full. Full marks to the teachers who could handle it: I could see why Lee Hunter is UK Salsa Teacher of the Year by the way he taught a very neat and usable intermediate level sequence to a class which must have numbered in the hundreds. Thanks to Anne I have a phone video of me dancing most of it correctly with June so I'll inflict it on somebody on Thursday night...

I've been embarrassed about my crap bachata for quite a while now, so I found Ian and Rohan's classes very useful and danced a lot of bachata over the weekend. Rohan's salsa twosome class (which Kate had been press-ganged into at very short notice) was entertaining and taught a twosome move I've always wanted to learn.

I overheard a group of punters discussing which level to do: one guy was saying "at intermediate level they teach, at Advanced level they just do moves". Most of the Level 3 and 4 classes I went to had too many moves in them and not nearly enough breaking down and explanation. The advanced classes weren't technically difficult, but they were a test of memory. I walked out of one particularly bad example when the teachers piled on yet another move when I'd already lost track of what came next. I've said it before and I'll say it again: demonstrating is not the same thing as teaching, and everybody needs repetition whatever level they are at (or think they are at).

The other thing you don't get in a crowded class is any check on whether you are doing it right: I was told of one lambada class where the teacher failed to notice that all the leaders had got the basic step wrong!

It took me a long time to warm up and really relax into my dancing, so I was relieved when things started to flow in my first dance on Saturday night. This was before it got really crowded, when it became hard to spot people to dance with and there was no space to do anything clever with an unfamiliar or inexperienced partner. Fortunately my fastest dance of the night was with Sara.

While I enjoyed the night and stayed until after 3 I would probably have had more really good dances on a good night in Risa. Which makes me think that instead of a weekender I might do better to spend a night somewhere that does a good class and where the standard is going to be high. I might head up to Birmingham for a Friday night once the festive season is out of the way.

On Sara's recommendation I did David and Jennifer's class on Sunday morning. Really nice moves, taught in a very clear and structured way, but I was half asleep: even though the sequence wasn't that long I lost the plot big time : ( Fortunately I videoed Stellan and Sara doing most of it so I can do some revision. What I did enjoy on Sunday was the free dancing. Too tired to learn anything, but some nice gentle dances made for a good afternoon. I gave Sunday night a miss and headed home.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Last night

I seem to have fought off that cold I thought was coming, or perhaps it's just biding its time until Pontin's. So I got to Risa last night after all. A bit quiet - I think a lot of people are saving their energy for Irene's bash at the Electricity Club tonight, which I can't unfortunately go to – but Abby was down for the weekend. I've just checked back through the blog and it's two years since we last danced together but it certainly didn't seem it: it was great fun.


When I said I had a space available in a double room at Pontin's, I was referring to a room with two single beds.

At least one person didn't understand that. So I'd like to make it clear that I wasn't planning to charge anybody £130 for the privilege of sleeping with me ; )

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sunday salsa is back!

Andy's got a new venue for Sunday nights : )

Aqua Bar in St Mary Street, near the indoor market.

Beginners 7pm, Improvers 8pm, Intermediates 8:45pm. Free dancing from 9:30 to 11pm.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I knew I'd forgotten something - Irene's organised a Christmas party with Mauricio Reyes at the David Lloyd centre on 22nd December.

Also, if you're planning to go to her event on Friday it's only £8 if you're just coming for the free dancing, and there will be dancing afterwards in Conti's (as the Electricity Club turns into a pumpkin at midnight). I hope I'm still going to make it as I can feel the dreaded throat bug creeping up on me : (

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


(Spanish for 'success'). Three kinds of success in O'Neills on Monday night - sticking to my resolution and speaking Spanish to Cristina, calling a decent rueda, and the lift I learnt off Andy working with a partner who didn't know it was coming : )

There's loads of stuff coming up over the next few weeks, which is a welcome change from when the 'festive season' used to mean a month's salsa drought.

This weekend and next weekend Andy has a series of workshops from beginners to advanced at Fitness First off Newport Road (nice venue for workshops).

Next Friday (30th) is Irene's party with Lee and Shelley at the Electricity Club in Pontcanna.

Thursday 6th is the Bar Risa Christmas Party with Tony Lara and Daniella, and that weekend it's Pontins at Brean Sands.

Week after that (14th) is Tammi's Christmas party night with Leon Rose in Llantrisant.

Anything else anyone's aware of?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The last Pontin's place

I've just booked what is apparently the last available double room for Pontins, so if anyone needs a place please get in touch - you can email me by viewing my complete profile and following the 'email me' link. Alternatively I'll be at Risa on Thursday. Cost is £130.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lots going on

Lots going on apart from Pontins, including Irene's party at the Electricity Club on the 30th (one of my favourite dancers, who I haven't danced with for over a year, is planning to come so I'll definitely be there). And then there's Tammi's Christmas party with Leon Rose on the 14th: tickets for that are going fast.

I went to La Tasca for the first time in ages on Saturday. I must get there more often. I had a good time (took me ages to warm up) though it was very crowded. I got asked to dance by a really stylish, expressive dancer who I hadn't danced with before: she said she goes to Risa which is good as it would be nice to dance with her with a bit more space.

I think it's time I made a public resolution (and if I make it public I'll have to stick to it): I mustspeak Spanish to all the Spanish dancers. It's too easy to stick to English because they all speak English much better than I speak Spanish, but I've got to practise because my Spanish is rapidly getting worse : (

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mood enhancement

I'd been feeling pretty down all day, partly from the cold that stopped me getting out on Monday, but I had so much fun in Risa last night. It helped that my first dance was with Debbie who was really on form. Kate led some great rueda - personnel varied but it was all two pairs or small group, including Debbie (leading), Nuria (back in action - hooray!), Cristina and Gemma. After that I really felt relaxed and confident, and had some of the best dances I've had for ages including a very long dance with Lucy. Unfortunately I had to leave early (early start this morning) but I left on a real high.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bar Q

Sunday night salsa at Bar Q is no more...Andy's looking for another venue. Shame.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


To anyone waiting to see the pictures I took at Risa the other week, I'm afraid I won't be putting them online – they were absolutely terrible! I'll have another crack sometime soon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Saturday salsa party cancelled

Tammi's salsa party on Saturday in Llantrisant has been cancelled, unfortunately (I was looking forward to it). Her next one is a Christmas party on 14th December with Leon Rose.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Last night

I was nearly sensible last night: after a day in North Wales and a three hour drive back an early night was tempting. But I dragged myself off to O'Neills and I was glad I did. Lots of nice dances, including the Other Kate who I'm glad to see is becoming a Monday night regular: a couple of years ago she was my favourite Cardiff dancer but she's been off the scene for a while.

For someone who'd been feeling completely wiped out earlier that evening I think I was on pretty good form. Best dance of the evening was with Nathalie, who was on great form and really inspiring. Yes, dancing with someone that good makes me aware of my limitations; but on the other hand it doesn't really matter because she makes even the simple stuff look dynamic and stylish. I decided to make that my last dance of the evening and go home on a high.

This Saturday is another of Tammi's party nights in Llantrisant, this time with Marchant Birch and Davina. More info on her website.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Haven't been to a lesson for ages but I went to two this week. Kate was teaching at Bar Q: a very Cuban sequence called 'La Fuenta'. Very hot and most of the advanced dancers were off at the salsa congress. There were some good people there who I hadn't danced with before but nobody stayed around long for the free dancing.

I also did Andy's class at Bar Risa, which had a real shortage of men. A nice sequence: unfortunately I had to duck out halfway through as my shoulder started playing up. Some good rueda afterwards with Kate.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Haven't been to Risa for weeks, largely because I've had important things to do on a Friday for which I've needed a reasonable night's sleep. I musn't leave it so long next time - I had a great time in the hour I spent there. Good music, nice dancers and not too hot. The highlight was a rueda with Kate (who's teaching at Bar Q on Sunday as Andy's away at Congress): a small group who all knew what they were doing, keeping it fast and fairly simple. Also nice to dance with Lucy who I haven't danced with for ages, and bachata with Jorja. My bachata is rubbish, but Jorja is such a stylish dancer that she managed to make it look as if I knew what I was doing.

Andy's got some stylish DancaLatina t-shirts on sale for the poseurs (think I might get one).

For the Swansea crowd, there's a new Friday night (dancing only, no lessons) starting tonight at La Tasca.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Back on form

I had such a good time last night in O'Neills. I was only planning to stay for an hour but I was there from nine until 10.30 and only sat out one dance. I think it was partly the good music, partly that several of my favourite dancers were there, and partly that I'm getting fitter: the good autumn weather means that I'm getting more cycling in than I did in the 'summer'. Some people think salsa is good exercise: it's definitely better than no exercise, but I think that to be really fit for dancing you need to build more fitness than you get from dancing, if that makes sense.

I had a pretty good time at the Electricity Club: Rohan was his usual charismatic self and I particularly enjoyed his rueda in the free dancing afterwards. The salsa trio class was less successful, partly because of the wide variation in ability. I really don't want to be critical, but this is the second event I've been to recently where the guest teacher, who's supposed to be teaching an intermediate (or in the other case, intermediate/advanced) class, has been faced with a class at least half of whom are no more than improvers level. This is frustrating both for the teachers and for the more experienced dancers who have assumed that intermediate/advanced means what it says. So this is a plea to anyone who's bringing in guest teachers: please make it clear that beginners and improvers shouldn't be doing the higher level classes.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

No more Conti's

Salsa on Wednesdays at Conti's has been cancelled - punters weren't drinking enough. A shame after the work Lisa and Shahid put into it, but hardly surprising given the venue's track record. Let's hope they can find another venue soon.

Friday, September 14, 2007

No Risa next week

Don't forget there's no Salsa at Risa on 20th September because of the rugby. You'll have to get your fix by going to Irene's event at the Electricity Club on the Saturday. Nice to see that Rohan will be teaching something different - rueda and salsa trio - instead of just another workshop of salsa moves.


Looking forward to Tammi's event on Saturday night - hope to see some of you there. Angus is a very good, clear teacher. He was the best teacher I saw when I went to Pontins three years ago.

And the good news is that I should be able to get to Pontins this year - haven't been able to make it for the last two.

Friday, September 07, 2007


Sad news from Swansea - Friday nights at Cafe Mambo are coming to an end (and before I even managed to get there). A shame, as I've heard that the atmosphere was great.

Looking on the bright side, it might mean that we see more of the lovely Swansea dancers like Sally, Nicky and Jorja here in Cardiff.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Three weeks away from the dance floor meant I was really struggling last night - sloppy lead, going through the motions. It got better later on, particularly after a dance with Lisa.

I'm definitely spending too much time online: I danced with someone last night and realised that I could remember her screen name but not her real name - oops!

Glad to see that No 10 has moved to a Wednesday night, avoiding the direct clash with Risa. I gather it was very busy last week - as well as Shahid and Lisa they also have Irene and Hugh teaching 'on 2'. More details on the classes listing page.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bar Q

I finally got around to visiting Bar Q again on Sunday. They'd moved the class to the top floor, which I think (and hope) is temporary: it was ridiculously warm. At least there was a chillout room at the back with air conditioning going full blast, so you could cool down for five minutes before getting back to the dancefloor. I did the intermediate class, which was the first one I've done for a while. It was good: I think 45 minutes is just the right length to learn a sequence you can actually remember. For some reason (maybe because I've actually started getting a bit of exercise over the last few days) I was in a much better frame of mind for dancing than I have been for weeks. I had a great time in the free dancing and lay awake buzzing for ages when I got home.

Off to Brittany from Friday: if I manage to score some salsa when I'm over there I'll post a report when I get back.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Coming up

Well, I wasn't dancing very well on Monday night - I'm not fitting in enough practice. Best dance of the night was Cristina who it's impossible to have a bad dance with. The previous time I'd seen her was at WOMAD, having just seen a terrific set from the wonderful Lila Downs. Great Mexican cantina music for crying into your cerveza, and an extraordinarily lively and fun performance - when you see pictures of Lila she always looks moody and intense, but she hardly stopped smiling and never stopped moving. After watching her set I found myself speaking Spanish to Cristina when I came across her wading through the mud, which I never usually do because her English is so much better than my Spanish.

There's loads of exciting stuff coming up in the Autumn. Tammi kicks off with a night featuring Angus Peters, one of my favourite salsa teachers, on 15 September, at the Three Saints in Llantrisant. The following week it's Irene's turn at the Electricity Club in Pontcanna, with Rohan Brown (who I haven't seen for years). This looks like a really entertaining night, including both improvers rueda and intermediate salsa trio (one man, two women - or vice versa as I once saw Anna the scientist dancing it). The real biggie is Tammi's boot camp on 8-10 February with Edie the Salsa Freak, who's a world-famous teacher, and with evening party nights - Robert Charlemagne on the Saturday and Moe Flex on the Sunday.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sierra Maestra...

...are playing the Big Weekend this Saturday in Cardiff civic centre - 7.30, free, which is a bargain. I've seen them twice before and they are really good.

Monday, July 23, 2007


I finally managed to get to Bar Q last night despite having to come back the scenic route from Leicester, and danced with Sarah for the first time since March. Q is a really nice venue - decent sized dance floor with a good surface, enough light that you can see what you're doing and a nice crowd of people (including some of the old Wharf regulars). I'll be going whenever I can, and next time I'll try to get there in time for the lesson. The dance floor is a bit slippery in parts, but that's a minor issue. Really good to dance with Sarah again - looking forward to Thursday.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Last weekend didn't quite go according to plan, and by the time I got to Monday night I could barely put one foot in front of the other, let alone dance. But I've been told it was a brilliant night with a fantastic atmosphere and the band were great.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tired but happy

Not many people in Risa last night again, so I wasn't expecting a great night. But I had a really good time. Nice to have some different music, particularly those long salsaton tracks. At least, it's nice when you've got the right person to dance with - with some people I find I've 'said' all I have to say on the dance floor in three minutes, but I was lucky last night.

It was good to have an easy, gentle and relaxed proper dance, rather than rueda, with Kate. The other standout dance of the evening was Sally who I last danced with in Swansea months ago. I thought she was good then, but a ten-minute track last night revealed that she's a terrific dancer with bags of style and poise (and a sense of humour, necessary for some of the moves I tried out on her). She's someone you can have a dance 'conversation' with: doing the same move with different timing, exaggerating pauses and playing with the beat, and improvising.

I used to know several women who I could dance with like that, but one has retired with a bad case of NDB* and the other two haven't been out for months.

*Non-dancing boyfriend

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Saturday at the Gate

Rohan Brown's teaching at the Gate on Saturday - more info on their website (click on the link above). These events finish relatively early (11pm) which is just time to get down to La Tasca and dance til 2.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


All set to go to Bar Q on Sunday but a stinking cold intervened, and it stopped me going to O'Neills last night as well. Not happy, particularly as Sarah was going to come dancing for the first time in months. I hear that it was good, with a nice atmosphere and a good floor. I'm going to miss it next Sunday as well, unfortunately. Definitely planning to go to Palenke in O'Neills next Monday, though.

I'm going to be seriously fed up if I'm not better by Thursday...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Just heard that it's fancy dress, and the theme is James Bond, Evil Villains and Bond Girls. As I look ludicrously old if I wear a tux I think I'll go as an evil villain. Fingers crossed that my favourite dance partner will be OK to come - she's been out of action for months but is hoping to make it.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Llantrisant pics

Lots of pics of Tammi's Llantrisant event on her Picasia album. I thought I'd escaped being photographed until I came across this one of me spinning Sarah T (this was the day she officially became Dr Sarah - congratulations!)

Sundays are back!

Andy and Lucy have finally got a new Sunday night venue. It's the Q bar in Greyfriars Road, opposite the New Theatre. Starts July 8th. Really looking forward to it.

Lessons are 7pm absolute beginners, 8pm improvers, 8.45 intermediate. Dancing until around 11 or possibly later.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Monday night fun

Don't know why I'm finding O'Neills more fun than Risa lately, but there it goes. Perhaps it's because I can always guarantee that there will be a handful of people that I really like dancing with, or maybe it's that the atmosphere is more laid back. I certainly seem to be dancing better there than I do at Risa - I've had a couple of nice compliments lately. Last night's highlight was a really nice dance with Cristina, who I suspect may be the best dancer in Cardiff.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Friday night

Had a bit of a surprise when I turned on the TV yesterday afternoon to be confronted by Moe teaching salsa. He was at Glastonbury, leading a (male) Radio 1 presenter who was a bit surprised to be Moe's "bitch" (the presenter's words, not mine).

Friday night was a real success for those who made it. Nice venue with plenty of dancefloor space and a good atmosphere. I thought I was going to miss Moe's lesson but as it happened he turned up at the same time as I did - 9 - due to traffic problems. The lesson was rueda: good, though a bit crowded and with quite a few beginners. I think in future it would be good to have something else for beginners, because Moe and Lee both had to tone down the level of their lessons. I did learn some new stuff, though, principally 'pelota con clave' which was a new one on me (you clap in time with the clave, which is an interesting exercise when there's no music playing!). I was lucky to be next to Debbie who was leading: in rueda it makes a lot of difference if the person upstream from you knows what they're doing.

The free dancing was good, with quite a few people there who I hadn't danced with before. There were a few over from Bristol/Bath. I danced with Tammi for the first time in years (she's usually too busy leading). The DJ did a good job, and one of the reason it worked was he didn't play any long tracks. Long tracks are brilliant if you're dancing with the right person, but in a situation where a lot of people don't know each other it's good to keep changing.

Moe made up for his late arrival with a series of lineups, from salsa to salsaton and reggaeton, which kept the buzz going. It was interested to see the CBL/Cuban contrast between his and Lee's styles: they're almost polar opposites, with Lee's dancing being precise and very controlled and Moe's being extrovert and enviably funky. I'm looking forward to Tammi's next event and I hope a few more of the regular Cardiff crowd will make the effort. A great start to the weekend.

(I remember when Andy's lineups used to be as much fun as the ones Moe did on Friday. I think it's a bit harder in Risa with 200 people, compared with the 20 or 30 who used to go to the classes in Life. I used to like the lineups there because back then they were the one thing out of his class that I could actually do!)

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Really enjoyable night last night. A really nice atmosphere, and I really enjoyed the exhilarating and funky lineups from Moe. Surprised to find this morning that both knees are still functioning properly!

Thanks to Tammi for organising it (and taking a serious financial risk) - looking forward to the next one.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dirty dancing

Risa was packed last night. I haven't been to a salsa lesson for months, but I thoroughly enjoyed Andy's class even though it was very hot and crowded: I think an hour's worth of teaching is enough for me to absorb, and the sequence ended with a really neat move (which I must practise before I forget it).

I do quite enjoy bachata but I didn't get much out of Tony and Daniella's workshop, partly because it was so crowded. There's also something a bit uncomfortable about practising 'sensual' moves with women who I know aren't normally flirtatious dancers. I gave up when they got on to reggaeton. Maybe I just wasn't on form - most other people seemed to be having a good time.

The rueda went well this week (apart from me forgetting how to do setenta complicada). Let's hope Kate finds a venue soon for a regular class.

By half eleven I was ready to move on, and Lisa and Shahid's night made a good contrast to Risa. It's nice to have the option of somewhere calmer to finish off the evening. Two nice dances with Lisa, one with a woman I didn't know, and by the time I danced with Rachel I was feeling more like a dancer than I had all night.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mucho calor

Jeez, it was hot in O'Neills last week with no aircon. A shame, because there were loads of good dancers there and I was wiped out after less than an hour. Fortunately they'd fixed it by last night and I had a great time: it's rapidly becoming the night I look forward to most. Liz had hurt her foot but that didn't keep her off the dancefloor for long, and she was as exciting as ever to dance with.

I finally got along to Lisa and Shahid's new night in Mill Lane after Risa last week. It was pretty quiet when I got there, but the post-Risa crowd soon started arriving. Nice to dance with Lisa for the first time for a while. She said the numbers in the club had been going up and down through the night. Dancing on the small stage was very good at keeping me on line and within my space as well - I've got a bit sloppy with all that room in O'Neills and Risa, I used to be much more precise in the Toad.

Bachata night with Tony and Daniela at Risa on Thursday: should be fun. Next week there's Tammi's masquerade ball on the Friday (22nd), with Moe Flex and Lee Hunter.

Friday, June 01, 2007

New header

Hope you like it.

I had every intention of calling into Lisa and Shahid's new venue but I was having a good time in Risa - by the time I left I was danced out. I danced with Sophie (foreground in the picture above) for the first time in months. (There are more pics of Risa from a few months ago on my Flickr site - see link on right).

Fortunately my knee held up (more or less). I wasn't on my best form - apart from the handful of dances on Monday I hadn't really danced for nearly a fortnight. But it was good to be back. Best dance was with Anne from Northern Ireland: she is such a good dancer and so easy to dance with.

If anyone's desperate for some rueda Kate's teaching Gorka's class in Swansea tonight and will be including some rueda.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Live band Palenke are playing O'Neills on July 16th, from 21:30 until 23:30. Tickets are on sale now on Monday nights at O'Neills.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Salsa tonight

For those of you who are desperate for a fix (like me) Irene has a salsa night tonight at Fairwater Conservative Club (map link - NB if you're coming from the south you can't turn right off Western Avenue into Ely Road). Beginners at 7, improvers at 8, freestyle until 11.) If you fancy going further there's also salsa sabrosa in Bristol.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

ow ow

This is frustrating. I'm tempted to go out tonight but I know it would make my knee worse. Can't see it being better for Swansea tomorrow night either. Though this is the first time in five years that an injury has stopped me dancing, so I should think myself lucky.

Andy's got Tony and Claudia back for some more bachata at Risa on June 14th, which should be good. He'll shortly be announcing a new studio-based Sunday night class, which I'm looking forward to - I'm not the only one who's missing the Wharf. Hope there will be time for free dancing afterwards as well.


Hurt my knee doing merengue on Monday night. That'll teach me. Means I might miss both Risa and Lisa and Shahid's new night tonight.

I did have a lot of fun on Monday night though - it's a lot better than it used to be. Too hot, though: they need to do something about the air conditioning.

Here's an interesting event: the Norwegian Rueda Congress in Brighton, 6-9 September. Gorka's trying to get a team together: if you're interested contact him (if you haven't got his details, contact me through the link on my profile and I'll pass on your details to him). I'm quite interested in going but I don't think I'll be joining in a team for the competition. Anyone who saw the rueda on Monday would probably agree with this, though actually the first one went surprisingly well seeing as how I hadn't called one for weeks.

Monday, May 21, 2007

New Thursday night

Lisa and Shahid are starting a new salsa/Latin night this Thursday, 24th May. It's in No. 10 nightclub in Mill Lane, with three rooms: salsa classes 8.30 -9.30 and 9.30-10.30 in room 1 followed by Latin music until at least 2am, and 'chillout Latin House' in room 2. Free entry for dancing, classes are £4 for 1 or £5 for both, or you can pay £10 and get classes plus a free meal in Conti's.

It'll be interesting to see how this works out seeing as it's on the same night as Risa.

There's another new night plannned to start in the near future - I'll put more details when I have them.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Great night

Peter told me I looked knackered when I arrived, but that wasn't how I felt. I'd had a feeling it was going to be a good night and I wasn't wrong. Great to dance with Carys early on, for the first time in months. Shame she doesn't come out more often. I had a couple of dances with Sam, who told me that she used to go to the Toad. I never danced with her there, but she's really good fun to dance with.

Highlight of the evening was dancing with with Núria's friend Avríl for the first time. Usually when I dance with somebody new it starts off a bit tentative, but she was dynamic and funky right from the off: a terrific dancer and the most exhilarating dances I've had for a while. So I stayed later than I planned and went to bed still buzzing.

Just noticed it's the first of May today, and my first dance of the night was with June and the last was with Avríl...

Richard Williams has an article about 70s salsa in today's Guardian. Not too keen on his description of modern salsa as "a kind of sexy aerobics for singles", though.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Seis de Mayo

There's a special Cinco de Mayo celebration at Chiquito's next Sunday (the 6th of May) after Anna's class.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Irish salsa congress

Now this (click on post title) looks interesting, and I'm actually free that weekend. Anyone else from Cardiff planning to go?


If you want to know what Anna Constantinou's new Sunday night venue is like, you can see in this video of her and Shahid dancing. (You need the free QuickTime plugin to play it.) I'm going to scrutinise the video closely when I have time to see if I can nick some of his moves.

Chiquito's has the potential to be a nice venue once a few more people know about it: I went for the free dancing and would only have had Anna to dance with if she hadn't strongarmed a couple of her students into staying around and dancing with me and Shahid. (I had a couple of nice dances with Anna herself as well.) Maybe some of the Wharf/Burleigh Academy regulars would like to try it? It's very convenient, being in the middle of town and with free dancing starting early so you can get there and back by bus.

I hear Andy's out of action for a while after a mountain biking mishap - hope you recover fully soon, Andy.

I'm up in Gogland again until Thursday this week, and I probably won't get back in time for Risa. If I've got any energy left on Friday I might finally get round to giving Cafe Mambo in Swansea a go.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Instant Karma

Big fun last night. A blissfully smoke-free La Tasca on Saturday had helped to get me back on form (really nice to dance with Lisa again, even if we were wedged precariously into a very tight corner between the edge of the dancefloor and two veteran Cardiff men neither of whom are known for their compact style).

I'm afraid I don't always dance with my fair share of beginners at Risa, but last night at O'Neills I topped up my karma by dancing with several inexperienced dancers. It paid off: I had an inspiring dance with Cardiff's smallest leader which made me move up a gear. She's great: technically superb, fast, lots of style, and best of all she always seems to be enjoying herself.

I also danced with someone new who was a lot of fun and has the right attitude and a lot of potential. I stayed later than usual as I'm not working today (taking my daughter back to college) and finished my night with a very long, very sweaty, and very exhilarating dance to 'Tim Pop con Birdland' with Debbie. Great.

Has anyone else found that they're sleeping better since the smoking ban? I used to put the lack of sleep after a night's dancing down to exercise and the buzz of dancing, but I think actually other people's nicotine had a lot to do with it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bachata video

Away working on a training course this week so I'm missing Risa tonight. Fortunately I found another salsa dancer among the delegates, who I introduced to bachata. (If you've got a slow connection I wouldn't bother clicking the link - it's not the most exciting dance video you'll ever have seen.)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Missing out

Just when I thought things were going really well I miss dancing for a fortnight. It was only supposed to be a week but that didn't work out. So my leading was pretty sloppy in Risa on Thursday - it doesn't take long to lose that edge.

Things got better later: quite amusing too, trying to follow Kate's rueda calling when she was a little borracha. I called one myself later on and was relieved that it was a lot better than the one I tried in O'Neills a couple of weeks ago. (That one ended in chaos with Miranda in hysterics. I don't think it was entirely my fault: it does help if everyone in the circle can remember what 'dos' and 'por abajo' mean...)

I hope Andy finds a new Sunday night venue soon: I could really do with a dance tonight. I'm away again until Friday, so next weekend I'm going to have to get to either Cafe Mambo or La Tasca.

PS Did anybody else spot Nathalie in the first of the new series of Doctor Who?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Following my previous post on the subject a couple of weeks ago, I've just heard that Friday night salsa in Swansea has now moved back to Cafe Mambo in Kingsway.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Since I mentioned Lisa's planned workshop last night five people have registered an interest on salsacardiff. Glad to know somebody reads this!

Monday, March 26, 2007


Here's a nice clip (click on post title) of some cool bachata. Well, they do say it's a street dance.

Lisa is hoping to organise a bachata workshop (traditional Dominican style) - anyone who's interested should let her know. So far I'm the only person who's responded to her post on salsacardiff asking for expressions of interest, but I know there are plenty of people in Cardiff who like bachata.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hanner canrif

I'm writing my age in Welsh so that not all of you will know how old I am...

Last night was the first meal at Cibo's for a while that hasn't been accompanied by four or five glasses of Nero D'Avola and a sambucca. I stuck to one glass, which makes it the least alcoholic birthday since I was 15. Well worth it, though, particularly as Sarah came out to play (and it was 'play' by the end of the evening: much hilarity as I tried to think of wackier ways of leading and to work out just how many spins she could do). After she left - unlike me she has to work today - Anita took over. That was fun too, and it was also very illuminating when she started teaching me to follow her lead. I've followed strong leads in the past, but I've never followed a woman with a subtle lead before.

Risa was a great end to my birthday and I left feeling twenty years younger.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I've decided Wednesday's not such a great idea after all - better to take Friday off work and have a long weekend. So I'll be at Risa on Thursday (my birthday itself) instead. I'll try to get to Bristol during the Easter holiday instead.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Two changes of venue: Andy's classes at the Burleigh Academy in Newport have now finished. He'll be announcing a new Cardiff Sunday night venue soon. Bad news for dancers in Newport, but good news for those of us who enjoyed the Wharf but have found Newport too far for a Sunday night.

Also Gorka's popular Cuban Friday night in Swansea has now moved to Coffee Cesso in the National Waterfront Museum. More details on the Swansea Salsa website. Cristina told me I missed a really good rueda in La Tasca last Saturday with Gorka and Kate taking it in turns to call.

Thursday night in Risa was great this week: three nice fast ruedas to start, and I danced with someone new who was really good. I stayed much later than planned.

I've got a major birthday coming up (you can probably guess which one) so I'm hoping to get to Bristol to celebrate on Wednesday night.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Shame it's the last week of the rueda course on Wednesday (though I think we may have persuaded Kate that she should run rueda sessions regularly). I've really enjoyed it, and Thursday in Risa showed that we've all improved hugely compared with a month ago: two ruedas in quick succession with Kate calling in her inimitable style (fast, with plenty of 'dame dos' and 'por abajo').

Both O'Neills and Risa were a bit quiet last week, though. I wonder where everybody was?

Monday, March 05, 2007


Salsamap is an interesting idea: you can search for salsa in a particular town or area and it'll show you the locations on a map. Cardiff is quite well represented if a bit out of date; but because it relies on organisers getting in touch some areas don't have any events listed yet. I think sites like this have to be really proactive - they should start by scouring the listings on salsajive and elsewhere. It'll be a useful resource when it's more comprehensive.

Beginners' and improvers' night

Irene Constantinou is organising a special salsa night for beginners and improvers on Saturday 24th March in the
Heath Sports & Social Club at the University Hospital of Wales. It includes an introduction to Bachata & Salsa. Doors open 7.30, lessons are 8-9.45, tickets are £10 advance or £12 door. Includes two classes, performance, buffet and dancing until midnight. Freestyle dancing from 10 until 12 is just £6.

For more info contact her on 07877375317,

Sunday, March 04, 2007

"Find women!"

said Kate on Thursday, so I found Anita and someone managed to rustle up a few more for a large, fast rueda. Great fun - we had three ruedas in quick succession - though it started to get a bit unwieldy towards the end. Some of the women in the circle obviously hadn't encountered real rueda before and were a bit startled when the 'por abajo' calls started and men started coming at them from the opposite direction!

All that dancing with Sarah last week has got me dancing in a more subtle and inventive way, at least with partners who respond well to subtlety. Standout dances were two tracks in a row with Sally from Swansea; Emma; and a bachata with my favourite bachata partner.

That 'Rough Guide' CD is on constant play in the car and the track with the pedal steel (Chica de mi Barrio) is growing on me. Actually a lot of bachata lyrics reminds me of the 'crying into your beer' style of country music. 'Amor de mi Vida' is one of the saddest songs ever: the love of the singer's life has died in childbirth, and he promises to look after the children for her because they're all she left behind when she 'went off to the sky'.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Rueda y bachata

Thoroughly enjoyed last night's rueda class. Kate's a great teacher with a really generous, inclusive approach. I think we should try and persuade her to do rueda as a regular class rather than short courses.

She mentioned afterwards that she used to do gymnastics, which explains why her dancing is so graceful, controlled and 'grounded'. It also backs up my pet theory which is that the best teachers come from a sports background, and one reason they are so good is that they understand the importance of repetition in learning physical skills.

I finally managed to track down the 'Rough Guide to Bachata' at the weekend. I love bachata: there's something about its earthy, rustic quality and the yearning vocals, and that's without even considering how sensual it is as a dance. The 'Rough Guide' is a mixed bag, with some brilliant tracks and a couple which are frankly cheesy.

Most of the songs are about lost love, though there's a nice uptempo one where Teodoro Reyes boasts that he has two women, a blonde for the daytime and a brunette for the nighttime - I thought those kinds of lyrics were for merengue rather than bachata. There's also one song featuring country-and-western style pedal steel (no, it's not a great combination). Standout track for me is Yoan Soriano's 'Ya Encontre La Mujer'.

BTW, for those who love rueda and bachata, you can of course combine the two.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Three nights running...aagh

Getting Sarah to come to Risa last night meant it was two days rather than six months : ) I wasn't feeling quite as inspired as Tuesday, but this was my third salsa night running. We still had really good fun, though - at one point we had the whole of the raised floor area to ourselves so we could do some really silly stuff. It's not just that Sarah is a great dancer and a really good follower (which she denies) but she's also willing to try anything and treat it as a joke if it goes wrong. Good thing with some of the daft moves I try and make up when I'm dancing with her.

No Kate : ( so I ended up calling a rueda myself with the other Sarah, Jordy, and a good woman dancer whose name I've forgotten (sorry). I really need the practice: I think I averaged about one call every four measures, so it wasn't the most exciting rueda ever. Positive things were that I think I managed to time all the calls right, and I actually managed to call setenta and do the move correctly.

Getting a bit too old for three nights running - I'll have to spread it out next week.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


That was such fun last night!

I'd been feeling like s*** all day, having not slept well, but I was walking on air when we left Bar Cuba. I'd finally managed to get Sarah to come dancing for the first time in about six months. Apart from one dance with Sara, I danced with Sarah all night, and instead of just repeating stuff it got better and better.

I was expecting it to be fun but it was something else: by about the third dance I was doing stuff I'd forgotten I could do, and we had the kind of effortless connection which lets you just play and improvise: making the moves very small, make the lead very light, slow right down then speed up, try out subtle and adventurous stuff including things I wouldn't even try with anyone else. Magic. Hope I don't have to wait another six months before she comes out again...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Los Van Van in London next Friday

Los Van Van are playing the Hammersmith Palais next Friday, 23rd February, for the opening night of the 'La Linea' Latin music festival. One not to be missed for the Cuban music fans. Unfortunately I'm going to miss it :(

Los Van Van are the leading Cuban band, led by Juan Formell, the inventor of the 'songo' style. You'll be familiar with some of their tracks - eg 'Temba, Tumba y Timba' and 'Este te pone la cabeza mala'.

A brief warning, by the way: there's a CD around called 'The Best of Juan Formell y los Van Van'. I bought it and was disappointed to find that it's all older stuff (which isn't really to my taste) and doesn't have any of the storming more recent tracks.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Just a quick post to say that if you haven't been to O'Neills for a while you might be pleasantly surprised by the music under the new management. Trevor plays some really interesting stuff, including some unusual mixes or versions of familiar tracks.

It's also attracting some people I wouldn't expect to see there - I had a really nice dance with Lisa on Monday.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Not quite as planned

Definitely suffering from sleep deficit last week. I thought I'd get an hour's nap before Risa and woke up two and a half hours later :(

I went to Irene's event at the Electricity Club on Friday. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people were there considering the weather. There were some good dancers in the classes, including some from over the bridge.

Nicolai's classes had some really nice moves, but I wish he'd teach shorter sequences. I'll definitely use some of what he taught but I've already forgotten some of the good stuff. I can imagine absolute beginners - of whom there were a few - being completely intimidated by his beginners/improvers class.

Other good stuff included a floor show from the Constantinou girls and a nice buffet (the dolmades were great - can I have the recipe?). The music was good but the pace was a bit relentless: it would have been nice to slow it down a bit now and then as it was pretty hot. It was a relief when he played some bachata tracks towards the end.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


The improvers' rueda course was good last night, with some talented dancers there (Cristina, Nuria and Jordy for a start). Like most people I stayed around for the beginners which also had some good dancers, including one woman who I'd never encountered before.

Missed Monday as I was too tired, and the trip to Bath on Saturday is off. So I may well go to Irene's event at the Electricity Club tomorrow night. Nicolai teaches some nice moves.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I dragged myself out to Risa on Thursday even though I hadn't really shaken off my cold. It was worth the effort: I had a good time and I got the nicest compliment anyone's ever paid me about my dancing.

This week is looking very busy: I should be at O'Neills on Monday, there's rueda on Wednesday (there are still spaces for men on this), Risa again on Thursday, and my first visit to the Claverton Rooms for ages on Saturday. I'm going with Anna and Lee (the scientists) so it should be like old times.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh no...

Salsa was going really well and then I went down with a throat infection on Friday. I had to pass on the lift I'd been offered to the Claverton Rooms and I missed O'Neills last night. Worse, Sarah G has just emerged from six months' hibernation and asked me if I want to go dancing tonight and I've had to turn her down : (

I'm going to be seriously fed up if I'm not better in time for Risa.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Kate's new rueda course starts at Tiger Tiger on 7th February. It's five weeks: 7.30-8.30 for rueda improvers and 8.30-9.30 for beginners. At £25 it's a bargain. Men are in short supply, so if you're interested email or text her on 07870248827.

Getting into gear

First visit of the New Year to La Tasca on Saturday. Looked a bit iffy at the start - four men and no women - but by half eleven things were looking up. One guy brought four women with him which evened things up. Really glad to see Laura there: once again she tells me she's going to make the effort to come regularly. Let's hope so - she's got so much natural talent.

The dance floor filled up later on. Other good things included meeting a couple of good new women dancers I hadn't encountered before, dancing bachata with Anita (I think we almost looked as if we knew what we were doing), and dancing with Sofia for the first time in months.

It's been a busy week. I was working in Ammanford so I checked out the Monkey Bar in Swansea on Tuesday night. Dylan Thomas' "ugly, lovely town" is looking decidedly slick nowadays, but the Monkey Bar is pretty funky, and being Swansea it's pretty friendly too. I had some nice dances with Sarah T and we managed to sneak into the rueda as well. I knew a couple of the other dancers there, including Nicky. I didn't realise she'd be DJing - luckily she found time to dance with me as well. The music was good, too: not purist salsa, with a fair bit of merengue and other stuff. There were a few Latinos there, including one woman who was leading two other women in salso trio at one point. I had a very entertaining dance with Sally who gets to Risa occasionally. She couldn't remember where she'd danced with me before, and when I told her she said that explained why I was doing 'Cardiff moves'.

I wasn't sure whether Risa last night would be a good idea as I was really tired and had an incipient sore throat. But I had a brilliant time and left feeling totally refreshed. Part of that is because a lot of my favourtie dancers were there, but it's also a lot to do with the music which was spot on, with some really nice slow tracks among the fast stuff.

I'm supposed to be going to the Claverton Rooms tomorrow evening if my cold holds off.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Back into it

Back into salsa and back into blogging. I've been really busy and I've been trying to spend less time on the computer. But since two people asked me last night why I hadn't posted for so long I'd better get on with it.

I really like O'Neills under new management (Charlotte). The music is great. I used to rely on going home reasonably relaxed after a Monday night and getting a good night's sleep. Not last night, which was the most fun I'd had for weeks. I was finally attempting to drag myself away at twenty past ten after staying later than I intended when a cracking long fast track came on and I just had to dance it with Theresa.

A few good things coming up - the Claverton Rooms on the 27th (think I've got a lift lined up for that one, which gives me an incentive) and Irene's Valentine's event on the 9th.

Finally Salsamania's Wednesday night in Bristol has moved to Jongleurs, which is supposed to be bigger and better. I'll have to try and get over there soon.

(Techy note for bloggers - posting to the new Blogger with the latest version of ecto is blindingly fast, which might encourage me to post more often).