Eastbourne Salsa

Salsa was the first dance that I learned.  I went from one lesson a week to three or four.  I really liked the people who taught the lessons and I made some nice friends.  I love the happy music and being able to move most of my body.  I don’t love being spun around too much.  I get dizzy, even when I spot.   So when I had a chance to learn Argentine Tango, Salsa dancing went by the wayside.  Except for the odd Salsa break at a Milonga, I pretty much stopped dancing Salsa and definitely stopped having Salsa lessons.  In the last year though, I had been to a few Salsa classes.  I had been getting tired of  driving half an hour or more to get to the the Milongas during the week as I was pretty shattered from standing on my feet all day at work.  I thought I would try dancing Salsa regularly again as I could do it closer to home.  You can imagine the look of utter surprise when my former Salsa teacher saw me for the first time in over four years.  A lot has happened in those four years, but the reassuring thing was that there were still a lot of the same people dancing with him when I first started.  It was good to see a few familiar faces.

Now that I have moved, I am going back to my Salsa roots.  There is no Argentine Tango in Eastbourne.  I am in a needs must situation.  I need to dance.  I must try what is on offer before I head further afield.

On Tuesday evenings, The Fishermen’s Club is the current venue for Eastbourne Salsa.  I decided to try it and meet some of the locals.  As I am new in town, I really couldn’t think of a better way to meet new people than to go out dancing.

Driving to The Fishermen’s Club took 10 minutes.  There was no traffic.  Parking was no problem.  There is a car park, but I parked on a side street opposite.  When I got there, I was greeted with a warm welcome by the man who turned out to be one of the instructors (I’m embarrassed to say that I forgot his name, sorry!)  He asked me if I had danced Salsa before and I replied that I had but had not taken a class for a very long time.  He suggested the Improvers class and then if I wanted to, I could take the Intermediate class afterwards.  That was £7 for the classes and dancing afterwards.

As I walked into the venue, there were many people sitting in the bar area on the left hand side of the room.  Not all of them were there for the dancing as the club has a reasonably priced bar!  To the right, they separated the dance area and there was seating around the dance floor and a little stage where the music was set up.  There were Christmas decorations hanging from the ceiling.  I took a quick look around the room and found a seat near the door where there were a few ladies sitting.  I sat down, and while putting on my shoes, I struck up a conversation with the lady next to me.  I explained that I was new in town and asked her about the classes.  That was all it took to get her talking.  She was really nice and welcoming.

At first, I didn’t think there would be enough men in the class, but they eventually dragged themselves away from the bar and we had a few latecomers.  I was pleased to note that the format of the class was very similar to what I had experienced before and the teacher made sure that every lady had a chance to work on some part of the routine with him.  The ladies worked their way around the men as there were a few more of us than them.  There were people of every age group and most seemed to be very friendly.  The teacher was clear in his communication and demonstration.  The routine was not too complicated and I felt relaxed doing the class, which I really enjoyed.

There was a break between classes and they offered a 10 minute meringue lesson for those who were interested.  I chose to have a chat with the lady I met when I arrived and we got to know a bit more about each other before the next class started.

The Intermediate class went along the same vein as the previous class, but with more complicated moves.  I had no problem with it and enjoyed it too.  At the end of the class, the teacher took time to ask me how it went and if I was enjoying myself.  It went well, and I did!

After the class it was time for freestyle until 11pm (that’s when the bar closes).  I was very happy to sit out for awhile and watch the dancers and chat with the women sitting next to me.  I always think it is good to make friends with the women.  They know who the good dancers are, and they are the only people that you are going to have a really good conversation with.  After all, there are more of us than men, so in between dances it is nice to make some connection even if it isn’t on the dance floor.

I chatted with another woman who happened to ask me during the lesson where I had gotten my dress from.  It just goes to show what the priorities can be sometimes!  She was lovely too and we spoke on and off throughout the evening.  She pointed out the better dancers and asked me about some of the men I had danced with.  It seems that no matter what dance form I do, the conversations with the women are similar.  We all share the same fears when starting out and end up with the same passion.  We also think the same things about the men!

I could see that I wasn’t going to get asked to dance as I was the new girl and the men were being cautious, so I gave the eye (cabeceo) to one of the men that had been in my classes.  He danced simply but musically and I really enjoyed my first Salsa dance in Eastbourne.  Now that people had seen me dance, I had a few more offers.  I may have had to make the first move, but I’m ok with it.  When I go to the lesson next week, there will be more dances, and the same the week after.  Most of the people here know each other as they have been coming to Eastbourne Salsa for a long time.  People everywhere prefer to dance with who they know before dancing with a stranger.  Thankfully, in Salsa, it is ok for the women and men to ask each other to dance and most people won’t say no.  After all, it is only one dance and it encourages a friendly dance community.  I had a really good time and stayed until 11pm.

People in London ask me why I want to live in Eastbourne.  Well, picture this:  On the way home from Salsa class I drive along the seafront.  There are only a couple of cars on the road.  To the left of me I can see the waves crashing into shore (it’s a bit windy).  The Promenade is lit up with white lights.  I have to stop the car to allow a fox, who is taking his sweet old time, to cross the road.  Oh, and I had a really great time out dancing and might have made some new friends.  That’s one reason why.

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