La Vida Salsa

Ever wanted to dance like Ricky Martin? Sonja Sanderson from La Vida Salsa tells us how.
Some years back a Melbourne salsa teacher was running dance classes in Geelong, but in 2005 she moved interstate. The local salsa community didn’t want to stop dancing, and no-one else was teaching, so a dedicated group of local people formed a Not-for-Profit committee of volunteers. They sourced a venue and secured a Cuban teacher to come to Geelong every Monday night to teach salsa. Today we have around 100 members.

Club La Vida Salsa means ‘the salsa life’ club. The dance style we teach is called Cuban Salsa, or “Street Latin”, which is very different to the formal, rigid salsa dancing you see in Dancesport competition. “Street Latin” is literally, the street dance, originating from urban Cuban neighbourhoods, where locals regularly dance in the streets.

Driven by the rhythms and roots of Afro-Cuban music and dance culture, Cuban salsa is an informal dance style, which is very grounded and fluid. Our playlist is made up of traditional Cuban salsa/folk songs and contemporary Latin artists, who typically often mesh other Afro-Latino music influences.

As a club, we also run regular social events which are open to the wider community to attend, including monthly social dances at the Belmont Hotel, on the last Friday night of the month. A couple of times a year we also hire a Cuban band to come and play a live gig in Geelong. We get 100-200 people coming along to experience the amazing full sound of a Cuban band.

To celebrate our ten-year anniversary, we hosted a live music event at the Deakin Waterfront Cafe with a Cuban band performing live, a professional Latin music DJ. We had over 200 people attend, including salsa teachers and dancers from Melbourne, local dancers and non-dancers who all wanted to experience an exciting cultural event. We had incredibly positive feedback from locals and those who traveled a long way to attend.

It was very gratifying to host such a well-received event. Our motivation is purely to share the ‘salsa love’ and provide the opportunity for people to come together have fun – both in classes and at social events. The success of this milestone event encouraged us to host more live events.

Salsa dancing has so many benefits, it’s a great cardio and all-over body workout, it’s brilliant for stress release and free expression and it’s a wonderful social outlet. It’s also a great way to expand your circle of friends because the salsa community is a friendly and welcoming group. Partners are not essential, because we dance in a progressive circle and change partners to dance with everyone during the lesson.

Most importantly, salsa dancing is fantastic fun! The last thing to add is, we need more men! So guys, no more excuses come and give it a try, but be warned – salsa dancing is addictive!


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