Monday, March 31, 2008
RT's Group Class - Beginner Social Latin
A lot of you maybe know, and if you don't you should! RT teaches a group class on Monday nights at 8pm. It's a Latin class, but not really Ballroom/Rhythm Latin it's more of what you will find when you go out to a Latin club or a more social style Latin party. If you have taken Ballroom/Latin classes then go out to the Latin club or other social setting you may have the same shocked look that I did when I first went. Those are not the dances you've been learning! Well, the basic of Salsa and Mambo are similar enough that you can probably hold your own on the floor, but there are a few more Latin dances that most competitive style or formal style lessons won't teach you. That's what RT's class is for. I would be completely lost on a lot of what I see and do out socially if I hadn't learned from his class.
First you get to brush up on your Salsa, which most of the students at the studio I dance at don't work on... they work on Mambo... similar... but if you're like me...one small change can ruin the whole thing... this is good old On1 Salsa...you get to learn Shines, those playful little steps that happen when partners break frame during a Salsa. Which is great, I actually got to use one the other day and they make GREAT at home practice!
RT also covers Bachata which is gaining in popularity at a rapid pace here in Chicago, nearly any social Latin event you go to has a beginner class at the start, lately they're ALWAYS Bachata classes... RT's class is the opportunity to work on it in a much smaller, much more friendly environment. One or two of RT's classes and you can show the classes at the social events a thing or two about Bachata. Not to mention that a nice social Bachata is FUN!!! It's a lot more playful than even a Cha Cha, and if you get really good...watch out! You move your hips, get to spin, all the things everyone is always worried about doing well in public you can get the BEST foundation in this class!
Lastly, the dance I'm probably the most proud to have in my social Latin repertoire is Cumbia. RT doesn't cover it in every class, but if you request it he may be able to make the time. Cumbia is a Columbian dance, and is very similar to Salsa in attitude and has a similar up tempo. The basic (I describe as back-cross-side-tap... repeat) can be done as part of Salsa, but to make it official Cumbia you add a bounce on the 2 and the 4 beat. Which combined with the Cumbia music makes me think of a chicken bopping around the pen. That's just me though... you may listen to the music and think I'm crazy, in which case you'd be in good company.
Compared to the other two dances RT covers Cumbia takes a while to learn, it took me THREE full classes before I could even remember the basic (back-cross-side-tap....repeat) and a lot of practicing in my cube at work... now I can't get it out of my head... I really like it- bouncing and all! What I like the most is that it's like that one trick card you always want to have up your sleeve, because it's rare to find someone that can do it. I'm all about knowing something rare or unusual. I love it when I'm out and a Cumbia song comes on. The floor will likely clear out, or some couple will attempt a Salsa, very few actually know the Cumbia step, even fewer as exacting and attractive as RT teaches it. This is the ONE time I'll actually step on to the floor (albeit close to the edge) and start dancing Cumbia all by myself, or if my dance friends know it too so they'll join me. Sometimes I can remember some of the other steps that go with it there is one that scoots, and the turn is preceded and followed by 5th positions... I'll attempt those too...but really I'm all about the basic right now.
I began attending RT's group class when he started it maybe a year ago... then it got to the point where I pretty much knew everything he was teaching so I took a break. It is a beginner social Latin class after all so there is a point at which it all gets very repetitive, but I will pop in every now and again to keep my social skills in tune. If I'm having a bad day or coming off a rough weekend I'll use it as a great way to get in a good mood. I also love to see new people in there discovering dances they didn't know existed!
So, if you're looking to start picking up on some Social Latin, the kind of thing you'll see when you go to the Latin Clubs then jump into RT's Latin class... it will give you the foundation you need to really feel comfortable about your skills. The class is not cycled in eight week sections or anything, anyone can come at any time and it costs the same as a party. Definately dress comfortably and be prepared to get a bit of a work out in, the fun kind!
If I'm around and you're feeling stuck don't hesitate to ask me about the steps after class. RT can always help you too, but he unfortunately only has a minute before his next lesson, where as I am never usually in a rush and can always practice!