Learning Salsa in Germany

Learning Salsa in Germany?

by Neal

It sounds a bit odd, but I started salsa in the unlikely location of Heidelberg, Germany.

While, traveling there for a study abroad program for university, the summer program included a bit of salsa.
The teacher, Voytek, hailed from Poland.

On the first day of class there were Georgio, the Italian student that every girl I met there seemed to know, an associate of Georgio, myself, and about thirty girls.

I wished I had a camera.

With those odds, it did not matter that I had never danced salsa before.

On one of the days a number of the men dancers decided to play soccer instead of practicing, which didn’t quite fly with Voytek.

I played a bit of soccer myself, but during non-salsa time since I was having fun getting better at it.

The practice schedule started at twice a week and increased quickly until the week before the end of the program we practiced every day.

For the first week we drilled the basic steps and then we worked into combos.
Voytek wanted to put on a good performance for the Abschlüssfest (closing party) so he spent a lot of time creating the choreography and splicing music together.

Since the beginning of the program I had also been looking for a saxophone. I decided to approach Voytek, since he lived Heidelberg and spoke German better than I did. Once he heard that I played, he got this idea in his head of using it for the Salsa performance. He called something like twenty places and finally found one that would let me rent a saxophone for a short period of time without being a German citizen. It wasn’t the best instrument and some of the lower notes didn’t work so well, but we decided on me playing ‘Tequila’ before running backstage to regroup

We kept up our practice of the choreography that Voytek put together which included an improv section towards the end. At first I danced with a girl from Croatia, but she
didn’t make all the practices so for the performance I was with a girl from Kazakhstan. (This was during the pre-Borat era).

The night of the Abschlüssfest was my first salsa performance ever. It wasn’t perfect, but the show was a lot of fun and I think we danced pretty well.

Then I went on stage after the salsa and played some jazz

Dancing salsa was not exactly on my planned activities for my time in Germany, but it ended up being a great experience. It was a great way to meet people throughout the program and after I returned to the states became a skill that I have worked on and improved. The dancing environment is very friendly and a fun way to socialize and get a little exercise.

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