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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

28 October 2008

28/10/2008 - Salsa

Class #3

Warwick Salsa (Salsa), Billy, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK - 28/10/2008

Headed to the salsa social last Friday, which was a nice way to get to know some of the people at the club. My dancing left rather a lot to be desired (mostly consisting of wiggling around on my own, then briefly stepping on someone's feet when they asked if I wanted to dance), but the socialising was fun. Looking forward to getting my gf along to the next Latin Night: she was already booked up last Friday, unfortunately.

Tonight we were moving up to the post-beginners class, which was a little daunting. By this point, we're meant to have mastered the cross-body turn, which I'm still not too sure about, and even less confident on the man's turn. However, once you’ve done two beginners, you're supposed to know enough for the post-beginners, so I was hoping we'd be ok.

This also meant that we were being taught by a professional instructor rather than a fellow student, which again meant it was a bit more intimidating. Billy has a very different teaching style to Alyssa: as he kept mentioning, he likes to push people, so went straight in with a number of complex techniques. For those of us who had only been to two lessons of salsa before, this was somewhat bewildering, and I spent much of the lesson deeply confused. Still, hopefully that less gradual style will mean that I learn faster, though I'll be floundering for a while before I can get my head back above water.

From what I remember, there were three main techniques that I think I just about understood, with the help of my gf during the freestyle (which so far has always proved to be the most useful part of the lesson). First off, a dip (Billy mentioned something about a 'calypso turn', I think, but not sure):

• Mambo as normal for the first two beats (so, step forward, lift your rear foot
• Instead of stepping back on the third beat, step out to the side. As you do so, raise your hand and your partner's hand up high. They should now be close to you.
• Holding your partner high on their back, carefully lower them and twist, keeping your arm raised.
• Lift your partner back up. I'm not quite sure how the fifth, sixth and seventh beats match up: maybe dip, twist and lift?

The next two I can recall both emerge from a half-completed cross-body turn:

• Cross your left foot over your right
• Turn to the left, stepping around with your right foot
• Step your feet back into line.

Your partner, meanwhile, ends up in line with you. That confused me a little, as I wasn't sure if you are turning on the cross-body, or just stepping to the side. Either way, once you're there, we learned two options. First one:

• Having done the cross-body on steps 1, 2 and 3, mambo back for 5, 6, 7.
• As you do so, turn towards your partner, placing your other arm on the crook of her elbow.
• For the next count, you're going to push your partner away by pressing on her arm, spinning around after you do so.

That's where I again got confused, as I wasn't sure how to do the spin. Was it like a normal man's turn, or some particular sequence of steps? The next option from the cross-body was a bit simpler, as it was indeed basically just a man's turn after the cross-body, switching hands, then mamboing back.

We were also shown some kind of hand changing thing, which I didn't understand at all. Something about swinging your hand up, then somehow going from there to grabbing opposite hands and doing a spinny thing. All looked very impressive when the instructor did it, but I had trouble working out how to do it myself.

No video this time, as I was having enough difficulty getting any kind of handle on what we'd just done. Couldn't really do it solo either: next time, if I finally work out what I'm supposed to be doing with all those dance steps, I'll see if I can set up the mobile to record both my gf and I. If not, meh: I'll just have to do without video.

We headed off to the Varsity again afterwards, but once again, nobody else showed up. That could be because the class ends really late, though we were in the pub until about half ten (it has WiFi, and we both needed to get some emailing stuff done). We didn't wait until the very end of the freestyle, so next time – if I want to get some Varsity socialising in – will have to do so to see if people fancy a drink afterwards.

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