Cali stays scorching hot long after the sun’s gone down. Recognized as the world's capital of salsa dancing, the city residents are energetic, flirtatious, and able to knock out a few teeth with their rhythmically swaying hips. Drop your inhibitions and hop out of that chair. Here's how to start making smooth-steppin' love to the Colombian dance floor.
The First Step
The foot-tapping, booty-shaking infectious beats of salsa come from the cultural combination of swing and soul, with a little added Latin American spice. Credit may go to Cuba for the creation of the dance but Cali took the dance home, mastered it, and brought it back out with pizzazz. While local variations exist, the essence of salsa is all about a few sexy back-and-forth steps. The dance moves super fast with an “on 1” routine that moves your foot on the first beat of the music with diagonal strides as opposed to the usual up and down. You'll have to tap into your hips and use your core to move them. Nobody cares if you're a little floppy in the middle or have trouble catching onto the rhythm; you get mad respect for just trying.
Hit the Dance Floor
If you need someone to hold your hand for awhile, hire a professional. Drop twenty bucks for an hour session of salsa school at Rucafe, Son De Luz or the world-renowned Swing Latino. You can even salsa where you sleep at Jovita’s Hostel and School of Salsa, where instructors give free lessons every morning. Once you're comfortable enough to leave the classroom, try out your new moves at two of the hottest spots in town, Tin Tin Deo and Zaperoco. A few glasses of local aguardiente should wipe out any last minute jitters. If you’re not brave enough to best the clubs by yourself, hook up with some hostel mates and book a salsa tour with SeeColombia or one of the city’s salsa schools. As you bounce from place to place, you’ll slip into the rhythm more and more. Before you know, it you’ll be sweating through your shirt and dancing ‘til the sun rises.
Learn From The Pros
“We don’t walk, we salsa” is an accurate representation of how salsa fits into the Cali lifestyle. Check out some city-hosted salsa parties and parades throughout the year so you can see how the local pros showdown on the dance floor. The biggest stage is Salsa Y Verano, a summer celebration that fills the streets with food, games, live music and open dance contests. The weather stays hot during the annual week-long Cali Fair in December, which will jazz away any of your Northern winter blues.
The salsa scene up in Cali has caught such a sizzle that the city has been chosen to host the 2013 World Games this July, where for the first time ever, salsa is gonna be one of the main events. Help the humpiest hips in the world practice for the big games by offering up your amateur, dance partner services.