Posts tagged ‘salsa dance’

Improvisation; Travelling, Cooking, Dancing..

Improvisation is a wonderful word.  In Dictionary.com, its defined as 1) to compose and perform or deliver without previous preparation; extemporize.  2) to compose, play, recite, or sing (verse, music, etc.) on the spur of the moment. 3) to make, provide, or arrange from whatever materials are readily available.

One needs to be flexible, quick thinking, and adaptable in order to achieve that.  These are the qualities I love as they also show strength; to deal with all situations, to react accordingly to circumstances and to go with how the wind and water flows.  Life is not that hard when you apply it to all aspects as there are always options.  Be spontaneous and life will always be exciting because you’ll never know what’s going to happen next. 

When it comes to travelling, I generally have a rough plan in terms of direction, transportation and accommodation.  As a lone female traveller, I am responsible for my own safety.  However, I’m always open to detours and road blocks which makes up the thrills of travelling because you dont know where it’ll lead you. 

When I was in Beijing China alone in 2008, I met 2 hostelmates; an Englishman who arrived just a day before and a Dutchman who had been travelling for years.  I wanted to travel to somewhere for 3 days and thought that it would be nice to have company.  Hence I mentioned it to the Dutchman and we spoked about travelling to Harbin to experience the harsh winter and to see the famous ice sculptures.  In our heads, it was a great idea but we were uncertain about travelling together since we only met a day ago.  Eventually, we asked the Englishman to join us and he agreed the next day.  All of us postponed our original travel plans and it all turned out to be a fantastic experience.  

Our only plan was to get to Harbin to see the sights and ice sculptures but in the end we went even travelled further to ski for 2 days!  That was my first ski experience! 

It was so amazing that we got along very well (we are all born in the year of the horse coincidentally!) and we were sad when we returned to Beijing and spoke about meeting at some point in our travels down south.  We stayed in touch and to date, the Englishman now lives and works in Beijing and the Dutchman is a proud father in Holland. 

 

Cooking on the road has its challenges; lack of necessary crockery, kitchen necessities (stove and oven) and appliances.  My ultimate goal is to try to eat healthily (minus too much cheese, oil, sugar and salt)  and to cut cost, hence I had to find ways to improvise with the limited resources.  Couscous (just add hot water) with broccoli and carrots (steamed) tastes great with Japanese rice seasoning, cooking soft and hard boiled eggs using the coffee maker, etc.  I also had plan how to make use of the only 2 plastic containers to prepare and eventually to serve the food in.  That can be quite tricky but I had a lot fun working around it.

I didnt really receive much formal training in Salsa dancing.  My best friend taught me the basic 1-2-3, 5-6-7-8 and that was it.  The rest, I owe it to all the guys I’ve danced with and a lot through observing others.  With my ‘unorthodox’ training, I did have to improvise along the way whenever I missed the hand or step or auto-piloted some moves (a big NO NO for ladies because we are supposed to follow).  I appreciated when guys improvised their moves to go with what I was doing at that time, get me back into place with them and continue the lead.  This shows their versatility and graciousness.  Occasionally, they too discover some new moves along the way.  Ultimately, social dancing is a form of relaxation and enjoyment so there’s no need to get all too technical and strict about it!

In short, IMPROVISATION is great and if you train yourself to do that, life will have less obstacles because you will always find a way out or around and thus make it a lot more fun and enjoyable!

February 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm Leave a comment

Salsa in Cincinnati Ohio

Just before I arrived into Cincinnati Ohio, I launched into the once again tedious task of searching for a venue with salsa dancing somewhere near downtown.  After searching for 15 minutes, salsapower.com is the only one that gave me some kind of information but I’m wary that it may be outdated.

There’s Monday Salsa at Mad Frog which is a little too far away for me to travel alone from downtown and there’s Havana Martini Club in downtown which I later found out that they’ve turned into a not too exciting looking Penguin Piano Club of sorts. 

A week went and a bartender at the theatre mentioned he saw some salsa dancing long time ago at a Mexican restaurant just down the road.  Hopeful, I surfed the web again to investigate further and chanced upon midwestlatino.com.  I think their updates were more reliable because there were information about a Salsathon event  on Saturday which I can’t attend because I’m working!!! 😦 

The website is packed with information and personally, I think it’s too cramped up!  It’s similar to loads of salsa websites online where everything is cluttered together.  I think they need to space the information out a little, organise by colour, change of fonts and spacing of everything, basically better organisation so that it’ll be little more soothing to the eye. 

Nevertheless, I did find out that aside from Mad Frogs on Mondays, there’s Bartini on Wednesday!  I can’t believe that I missed last Wednesday because Bartini is right beside the theatre where I’m working!  OMG.  What a waste!

Bartini is a nice looking venue.  Surprisingly, the bar area is relatively quiet as the salsa tunes were very well contained in the dance floor section.  It’s a nice size dance floor with 2 bars and a lot of sitting area.  I think the dance floor could use a bit more light.  Not that I want loads of swirling multi-coloured LEDs and moving lights waving crazily above us, just a bit of dull orange light will be good so that we can see our partner’s face. 

Interestingly, I did see quite a few good-looking men (6 foot 1, muscular with dark looks) who can dance.  It seems like a rare sight for some reason.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to ask them to dance and they didn’t too.  I wonder why because I can see that they were interested to dance with me (btw, did i say i’ve been dancing for 7 years?  So I think I’m quite an average good dancer.).  I guess my hesitation had to do with not wanting to look like I’m trying to hit off with them.  It’s weird that I was conscious because its normal that I ask men to dance and I do it all the time!!

 We are heading to Chicago next week… the search continues…

 

January 29, 2011 at 8:49 pm Leave a comment

What we need in the Salsa World

 

I plan to go salsa dancing at least once in each of the city we visit.  Salsa dancing has just sprouted in many Asian countries over the last 5 years and with USA’s close proximity to the Latin/Spanish community, I wonder how much of it has infiltrated the country.  I do not expect to find a club full of good salsa dancers in every city.  I just want to go have a good time dancing with the locals and perhaps make a friend or two!

I rely on the internet to find out if there’s any salsa groups, socials or clubs in each city.  It is a challenge because a lot of time is wasted having to toggle back and forth from map to websites, to find out how far it is from where I am and to verify if the information is current and accurate by comparing with other websites like urbanspoon and yelp, etc. and eventually calling the club direct.  Often I find most of the websites not very user friendly and too cluttered with lengthy descriptions and loads of poorly taken pictures which makes the whole research process a little confusing after a while. 

One website often pops up and it seems to have a pretty good coverage on a lot of cities but of course, we always need to find out if the club is still in business or that they’ve not changed the schedule.  http://www.salsapower.com

I’ve formulated a Salsa wish list for the world and hope that there’ll be improvements in time to come. 

  1. Websites to be clear and organized, clutter-free with a handful of good pictures.
  2. Regularly updated information on salsa nights and venues so that travelers like us will not travel a good 20mins to find the place not in operation. 
  3. Start a WORLDWIDE SALSA LOCATOR WEBSITE !  It will bring all salsa dancers in the world together! 
  4. An APP for current salsa club search anywhere in the world. It needs to be constantly updated hence probably require participation from salsa pioneers in each city to update regularly and objectively. Includes maps, addresses and contacts, how to go, mode of transport, etc.

Ok now, the word is out… there’s a need for more sophisticatication in the Salsa World!  

January 10, 2011 at 8:08 am Leave a comment

Dance is a form of communication and self expression; Salsa is the language

I started salsa dancing years ago in Singapore.  It was quite a new thing then and to date, the salsa scene in Singapore has grown.  I see new faces whenever I return for a dance in Union Square  in Singapore after my travels.  Yes that’s the place to go and its the longest standing salsa club in Singapore!  (http://www.unionsquare.com.sg)

Salsa is a great social activity because you’ll get to meet people in different fields; from lawyers, doctors and accountants to housewives to singers, dancers and actors.  Another good thing about it is, you don’t need to go with a bunch of people as like going to a dance club.  It’s usually safe and quite common for girls to go to a salsa club alone and not be bothered by unwanted attention.  Well I’m speaking from experience as I do that all the time.  So far, I’ve danced in London, Barcelona, Shanghai, Beijing, Sydney, Malaysia, etc. and many cities in the US like Portland OR, San Diego CA, Pittsburgh PA, Louisville KY, Raleigh NC and many more… Yes I go to the clubs on my own. 

Salsa is a fantastic form of exercise for all ages.  It’s a total cardio workout with loads of fun!  It also helps to develop your coordination and rhythm, increase your self-esteem and confidence as well as work on your posture grace and flow.  For those who likes to perform for others but don’t have the chance to do it on stage or has stage fright, the salsa dance floor is a great place to show off your moves!

January 9, 2011 at 7:21 am Leave a comment

The American Tour

I’m currently in the middle of a 9 months working contract in the US that requires a lot of travelling.  I’ve been checking in and out of hotels in a different city each week since 5 Sept 2010.  This will come up to 32 cities and hotels excluding the ones I visited during our week off from work.  This is my first  time  travelling in the USA and I’m really fortunate to be visiting so many cities at one go!  Below is the map indicating the states that I would have visited by the end of the tour.

The hotels booked by the company are usually situated in downtown near to the work place.  Some downtowns are great with loads of food selection at different times of the day but some are as quiet as a park at night.  Hence, finding restaurants and eateries with good affordable food and variety (other than the hotel) and places for me to go salsa in those cities can be a challenge. 

My plan for this tour other than to do well at work (of course!  that’s important! 🙂 ! ) is:

  1. See at least 1 interesting spot or attraction in each city.
  2. Try out the local dishes that are unique to each place or state.
  3. Go salsa dancing at least once in each city.

Since I’ve started this tour 4 months ago, I will backtrack and write about some of the interesting incidents and experiences I’ve had in the last few cities.  It will be based on my personal judgement and understanding at that point in time.  Comments and exchanges of ideas are always welcomed and who knows, you may become a part of my American experience!

January 7, 2011 at 8:29 pm Leave a comment


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