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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

21 October 2008

21/10/2008 - Salsa

Class #2
Warwick Salsa (Salsa), Alyssa Davison, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK - 14/10/2008

My inner thigh (I think?) was still sore from all the half-guard on Sunday, but that didn't seem to matter for dancing. For the first time in years, popped out to Top B with my gf on Monday, which was very bizarre as its now in the 'Temporary Events Structure' thing that looms over you on the way to the Sports Centre. As my gf aptly described it when we first went in earlier this term, it looks very much like a glorified wedding marquee, with a dance floor surrounded by chairs and tables. Still, cheap drinks (thanks to the £2 entrance: another big change from when I last went!), and got a chance to try some salsa steps. Basic, but hey: nice to see we can get the simple stuff working.

Back to class tonight, sticking with the beginners. Alyssa and Mark went through the usual, with the mambo, sidestep, lady's turn and cross-body, but added in two new steps. The instruction also seemed a bit more methodical, as I found it easier to understand the cross-body and man's turn (previously, I think I'd been doing additional steps after getting confused).

The first new step was nice and simple, called a flare, although I was tending to go through it too quickly, I think:

• Step out with your left foot, turning so you're now facing sideways
• Raise your right foot
• Step your left foot back to the starting position
• Step out with your right foot, so standing sideways again, but other direction
• Raise your left foot
• Step your right foot back to the starting position

To go through the cross-body again:

• Cross your left foot past your right
• Bring your right foot around, so you're now turning towards your left
• Complete the turn to your left by bringing your feet back into line. At this point, you'll be perpendicular to your partner, your arm forming a 'gate' for her to walk through
• Step back with your right
• Step across with your left
• Bring your right foot into line: you should now be facing the opposite direction to when you started

Also, remember to keep your arm on your partner: I kept letting go in the freestyle bit after class, but got the hint after repeating prodding by my gf. While I think the cross-body is therefore getting better, I'm still having trouble with the man's turn:

• Step your left forward and twist your left foot inwards, also turning your torso
• Continue the turn by angling your right foot and leg back
• Spin and return to the previous position
• Then mambo back as normal (step back, shift weight, bring feet back in line)

The part I find difficult is spinning around quickly enough to come back into the starting position, while still keeping in time. I was being too slow on the turn, so that's something I'll need to work on: perhaps getting some more slippy shoes, like Georgette recommended in her last email, would help me too.

Alyssa then moved on to a more advanced version of the man's turn, where you start doing things with your arms:

• Do a normal mambo first, but as you step back on the count of 4-5-6, bring your hands down and back, so you're holding both of your partner's hands
• Start the man's turn as normal, stepping your left foot forward and twisting inwards. However, this time you're also going to switch your left hand to their opposite hand at the same time
• As you turn by angling your right foot and leg back, switch to their other hand, feeding it through past your back.
• Complete the turn, and as you do so, switch hands again. This should mean that you're gripping with your left hand. Bring your right hand on top, offering it to your partner for them to grip

That's the first part. You'll now mambo back (to complete the man's turn sequence), then go for a lady's turn on the next sequence. So, mambo forward, then do a ladies turn as normal, but still holding those hands, raising them over your partner's head. Finally, to untwist your arms and get back to the normal one hand and one shoulder position, you 'comb their hair' (I think that's what Alyssa called it). Fairly simple:

• Mambo forward as normal, bringing your hands up and over their head
• As you go back, bring your hands back, letting go as you do so

Its going to take a while to get the hang of that, though my gf and I tried it a few times during the freestyle. Mark and Alyssa also gave us some advice, which was handy: Alyssa advised us to now move on to the post-beginner class, but I'll miss their instruction. Less intimidating being taught by fellow students, not to mention that you're supposed to be comfortable with the cross-body to do the post-beginner. I think I've just about go it, but don't want to be holding people up: more home practice required, I think!

Like last week, got a video on my mobile to try and remember the steps, though couldn't do the arm thing solo. I didn't bother trying to keep in time to the music, as I had enough trouble with the steps themselves (with which there is still plenty wrong, as you can see: somehow only turned halfway on the cross-body). That's my gf's voice at the end, wondering quite why I was wiggling towards her:

I'll get another chance to dance this Friday, as there is the first proper salsa social, at Latin Night. Things kick off in the airport (which people now just refer to as Rootes Social Bar, from what I've heard) at 21:00, then heading out to Tempo (what used to be Grumpy John's, basically, but cut in half due to the union rebuild) at 22:00. Unfortunately my gf can't make it, but should hopefully be a chance for me to get to broaden our social circle.

I recognised a few people from last week, Sarah and I think Carmeen (or Camreen? Will have to check that next time I see her, unless I totally mixing up names), along with a couple of others whose names I didn't catch. They should hopefully be in the post-beginner with my gf and I next week: not sure how many fellow noobies will be at the social on Friday, but its easy to socialise when there's alcohol. :D

We headed off to Varsity again after class, but Mark mentioned that while the two more advanced classes (post-beginner and intermediate) do normally go there afterwards, they often finish later than the beginners. So, most likely they were around tonight and last week, we just didn't recognise them. Should be a bit more sociable next week, when we'll be stumbling through the post-beginner class ourselves.

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