The universal language of dance

Coming from Brooklyn and two subway exchanges later, I arrived at South Bronx. It was my first time.

I identified from the sea of faces the young man I was supposed to meet: an African-American man with dreadlocks. I approached him and introduced myself. He said his name was Bless.

We walked together for ten more minutes with some small talk, before we finally stopped in a spot below the bridge by a colorful graffiti mural. I looked around, and observed some skateboarders practicing their tricks looking at us. They left after they satisfied their curiosity, only to be replaced by bikers driving around with loud Harleys and leather jackets.

I shrugged, but I was also sweating, my eyes darted left to right, trying my best (and failing) to act like I was from the ‘hood.

Bless opened his bag, to take out some biscuits, water and bluetooth speakers.

“So… this is my first time dancing hip-hop.” I admitted.

“That’s alright,” Bless shrugged as he offered me some of the biscuits. “Do you do other dances?”

Five years ago, I would’ve responded with ‘I don’t know how to dance’ / ‘I have two left feet’, / ‘I ain’t got no rhythm.’

Funny how things change. “Yes. Pole. And latin dances. Salsa, bachata, samba. Some belly dancing.”

“Perfect. Because we will do a lot of isolations.” Bless said.

I didn’t really take up any form of dancing until late 2013; just 5 years ago, when I started to do solo travel. Hmm, It’s funny how I learned a lot of survival skills since I started to do solo travel–swimming, surfing, skating, and even improv (e.g. art of B.S.).

Apart from drinking, the two other important social lubricants in are smoking and dancing.

I don’t smoke, but I do like moving bodies.

The value of dancing is more apparent once you are in a foreign land that speaks a different language. When you are lost in translation, you just let the eyes–and the bodies–do the talking.

¿Te gusta bailar?

universal language of dance.JPG

Dance is a language on its own–speaking with movement, and at the same time listening to the other person. It’s all about identifying the signals: the slight push of a hand to signal you to step back; a gentle nudge at the shoulder to signal you to turn; a slight motion to the direction you are heading towards…

In that sense, dancing makes you more intuitive in understanding people and their body language. What a one-second gaze vs. a three-second gaze means; when a nudge is friendly or when it is something more; and microsecond gestures that may help distinguish actual disinterest from just playing hard to get…

It’s learning to become more sensitive to changes: because a slight change in vocal tone, in frequency or in energy–these micro-changes always signal a change of direction; or attraction; or behavior.

its showtime nyc

Bless is really talented, and is actually part of It’s Showtime NYC! a New York movement that promotes street culture and provide professional development opportunities for the street & subway dancers and youth in the city. They teach and perform hip-hop for a social cause-– 100% of the proceeds goes to Dancing in the Streets INC.

Bless proceeded to teach me the basics of hip-hop–waving, locking and popping. It was challenging for someone so new to hip-hop, but we had an awesome afternoon filled with goofing off and some laughters.

27023482_1024208507721292_5088012985175491349_o

When we ended, it was already late afternoon and starting to get dark.

“It’s not very safe around here,” Bless said, hence he insisted to walk me back to the station. He shared that he has known too many friends who already ‘got shot and stuff’. He then told me that dance probably saved his life away from the gangs and the streets.

I asked Bless what he does apart from dancing. “That’s all I ever do. Even when I’m not dancing, I’m thinking about it.” Bless responded. He listens to the music all the time, he practices his move when commuting to and fro, his whole life revolves around his craft. “In fact, I think I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life.”

And although my new friend didn’t have much in common at first, we ultimately got more close, bonded by the same zest for dance and music.

 

Advertisements

Cebu’s sizzling salsa scene

You get tired of the night club scene after a while: same crowd, same scenario, same cliché dance moves. I’m not really a creature of habit so after a couple of recurring same-old, same-old  nights I was ready for a change of scene one evening of 2015.

So I got hooked. For the next three months I came with my girlfriends once a week to dance salsa and bachata. The community was then so small and closely knit. But it was a great change of scenery, where stranger bodies just don’t grind on you and touch you in inappropriate areas–you actually get to meet a lot of great friends through salsa!

Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 12.41.23 AM.png

It’s so easy to approach someone and ask them to dance with you–no matter the language you speak, dance is universal. When I find myself alone (traveling/living), I reach out to the local salsa community to meet new and friendly faces. This is how I met some great people in Taiwan and US. I’ve never been to Latin America, but that’s next on the list!

Take note that everywhere in the world except New York dances ‘on 1’, whereas NY salsa dances ‘on 2’. You need to know these technicalities else you will feel lost like an idiot if you find yourself in a latin club that dances a different style than you do.

Still, nothing beats like home. I have moved several times over the past three years, but whenever I am in Cebu I always try to attend the socials were organized by Cebu Salsa Club. Essentially, it is part of the experience of ‘coming home’.

The Cebu salsa community has since then has grown by leaps (kudos to Jilly and John!). I don’t recognize most of the people now. Everyone is getting better each visit. It’s impressive! They have salsa nights three nights a week now, too!

21231210_1546909998704876_4629782359617323704_n

WEDNESDAY – SALSA NIGHT
Every Wednesday
No Cover Charge
2-for-1 on Bacardi Mojitos all night
Maya Mexican Restaurant
Crossroads Mall, Banilad
Call Maya for dinner table reservations ✆ (032) 238 9552
Salsa | Bachata | Merengue | Reggaeton

FRIDAY – SALSA NIGHT
Every Friday
No Cover Charge
2-for-1 on Cuba Libre
Maya Mexican Lounge
Crossroads Mall, Banilad
Call Maya for dinner table reservations ✆ (032) 238 9552
Salsa | Bachata

SUNDAY – SALSA NIGHT
Every Sunday
No Cover Charge
2-for-1 on Tequila Cazadores Margaritas all night
Maya Mexican Lounge
Crossroads Mall, Banilad
Call Maya for dinner table reservations ✆ (032) 238 9552
Salsa | Bachata | Kizomba

If you’re new to the scene and would like to learn social dancing (maybe as a dare, maybe as a new year’s resolution, or maybe to impress a date?), Cebu Salsa Club also offers classes on salsa, bachata and kizomba! Classes start in February, advance registration here: https://goo.gl/forms/NxQenQBSFlWHUATy1

19029335_1673987269330481_3043338339431256282_n

If you want to keep connected with fellow enthusiasts and keep updated about salsa socials and events, join the Cebu Salsa Club FB group, Cebu Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba Dancers FB group.

Still haven’t convinced you enough? I’ll try to with 5 more reasons as to why everyone should dance salsa. Read the post here.

Why everyone should dance salsa

You get tired of the night club scene after a while: same crowd, same scenario, same cliché dance moves. I’m not really a creature of habit so after a couple of recurring same-old, same-old  nights I was ready for a change of scene one evening of 2015.

I heard about salsa night at Maya Mexican finally decided to see it one Wednesday evening when I had nothing to do. And it’s just what it’s name means: salsa is hot, and I’m not talking about the dip!

salsa night maya cebu

Not convinced and still a little shy? I’ll give you five good reasons why salsa dancing should be mainstream!

1. Salsa is sexy.

Salsa is sexy. A guy friend I brought there said: “This is cool. It’s like a scene from the Dirty Dancing movie.” It unleashes the inner latino/a in you. Without noticing it, your hips start to do the talking.

It’s not that difficult too–and this is coming from someone with admittedly two left feet.  After learning a few basic steps from one salsa night, you can already look like you know what you’re doing. If your lead is exceptional, you’ll look just as awesome as well. Just go with it!

2. It will never be a cock fest.

Maya has a lively and more international crowd. At any given salsa night, male to female ratio is 1:3. What are the chances to having that ratio in any other party or event? Close to none.

So if you’re tired of dancing with other dudes and need more female eye candy, you’re always welcome to check Salsa Wednesdays out.

3. Salsa Nights also mean Buy 1 Take 1 on Mojitos!

Yes, you heard it. Maya Mexican Restaurant also offers Buy 1 Take 1 on Mojitos and P395 on all burritos all night long, only every Wednesdays.

4. There will be some respect of personal space.

I don’t like a lot of things about clubbing: the sweat, the smell, and the ‘accidental’ groping. Good thing you won’t have to deal with these with salsa. Sure, you’ll still be sweating(salsa is good cardio workout!), but at least you won’t come out smelling like smoke and a mixture of other people’s smells.

5. It’s free.

Oh shat, I had to wait ’til the end of my post to announce the most important thing: it’s free! There’s no cover charge. Grab your most comfortable heels and check it out.

Salsa Wednesdays are every Wednesdays at 8:30PM to 12:00 midnight at MAYA Mexican Restaurant, Crossroads, Banilad Cebu City.

If you’re new to the scene and would like to learn social dancing (maybe as a dare, maybe as a new year’s resolution, or maybe to impress a date?), Cebu Salsa Club also offers classes on salsa, bachata and kizomba! Classes start in February, advance registration here: https://goo.gl/forms/NxQenQBSFlWHUATy1

If you want to keep connected with fellow enthusiasts and keep updated about salsa socials and events, join the Cebu Salsa Club FB group, Cebu Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba Dancers FB group.