Last weekend, the Cuban Salsa Congress held a once a year dance festival; taking us through a Cuban salsa experience at Mannings Bar in Sydney University, transforming into a space of elegance and movement. A festival for salsa.
Greetings at the front reception, tickets with excited smiles; not knowing what to expect, other than a culture screaming to be experienced. Up the staircase, I stepped into a cocktail of entertainment and competitive salsa. Teal Blue suits, red suits, step one, step 2, step 3, step 4, 1, 2, 3… and 4. The music and its accompanying dance steps were like a toss in a bowl of multicolored salad. Between, a step forward, a step back, a twirl. Salsa.
The two suited commentators, teasing the audience of the upcoming performances, introducing the live band of the night. The crowd grew louder, and I found the language added a unique sense of authenticity to the whole affair. The Spanish language sang in a swirl of tones – happy and loud – with the stage and its bright lights sending you off into a Cuban culture, across the world, into another realm. The salsa realm.
The four performances were all so different, with attendees from across Australia coming to perform their interpretation of diverse styles of salsa dancing. All ages, all genders – all were welcomed to the stage.
It was about the posture, about the firm look, the faith and dance; it was about the intricate play of steps of each partner, in sync. Could you trust them to follow your steps? Between, forward step, back step, twirl. Salsa. With shoulders broad, eyes firm, and music in the movements – could you become one with the beats of the music?
Observing the audience and dancers dancers on the main floor; I noticed the characteristic of each swerve, jolting the joints, a symphony of swings arms, hips, legs, in the least expected o directions, flying back and around. “Where are your wings,” I thought?
It was one of those environments where, even if you thought you’d stand out as a beginner, you won’t; as you become part of a greater whole, with everyone engrossed in their own flurry of moves and grooves. “Welcome to the family. Now, let’s dance.” was the tone from the get go. All ages, all genders, all were welcome. “Lets get the party started,” the air beckoned. The newcomers went for a quick salsa lesson, while the seasoned salseros hijacked some eye candy – or sometimes, both.
Sound exciting? I’ll tel you this much – it’s well worth a knock on the door to your sense of adventure! While this congress ended on a high, there’s plenty where that came from, courtesy of the Cuban Salsa crew of Sydney. Follow them here.
The party starts when the music starts – are you ready to jolt some joints?
– Hannah Li
Hannah Li is an ex-Erasmus student, having lived in Milano; with a strong sense of adventure, and a passion for arts, fashion, culture, and the like.