Monday, June 09, 2008

Blogging Helps

Visitors to this blog will have noticed, apart from a change to layout, the recent addition of the "labels" navigation feature.

I do apologise for the occassional randomness of the label categories - the ideas concerning Latin Culture actively defy my attempts to put them into neat cubbyholes. Indeed, they seem to squirm with indignation. Perhaps more than a useful aid to navigation, it provides you the reader with a disturbing insight into how I think.

The same condition is beginning to manifest itself in the Salsa Quotes section of the website, which I originally wanted to keep random; thinking that the constant flitting-about of subject matter would keep me from falling into a set pattern of thinking. It does work, but it makes finding quotes along the same thread difficult to find. And I shudder to think what the casual websufer would experience.

I'm at the cusp of deciding whether to put some broad categories in place; now's the time before it gets too big and this would be a sort of Labels v2.0. I'm sure a lot heretofore unrealised connections will be made, given the extent and content of the page. Maybe I could introduce the labels a little at a time... and still keep the quotes within each category random: short range disorder, long range order.

Just talked myself into going it. Thanks blog.


Monday, June 02, 2008

30th May 2008 Steel City Salsa Social@Millenium Hall, Ecclesall Road, Sheffield

Millenium Hall is a terrific venue located close to the Hunter's Bar end of Sheffield's trendy Ecclesall Road. It's commonly confused with the Polish Club which also features an events hall, to which it adjoins. With a capacity of easily more than a hundred dancers plus peripheral seating, it has a lovely wooden (albeit unsprung) floor, a bar, a low small stage, a high ceiling and decent ventilation. The latter points lend it particular strength as a dance venue, which Bill Newby of Steel City Salsa / Sheffield Tango Argentino has been doing for several years. And once every couple of months or so, he puts on a social which is well supported. His formula is also to introduce something different, like a sevillanas display, and/or guest teachers.

This time, a Kizomba lesson plus demo by Sheffield Angolan resident Antonio and guest DJ Helena of Fuego Latino shared the billing. I'd heard about kizomba, seen it on YouTube, but had never encountered it in the flesh, so last Friday seemed as good a time as any to do so.

It was a bit of a mad dash to get in from work and get there in time for the eight o'clock lesson, and I realised that despite remonstrations on the leaflet to be prompt it was to no avail. I spent the time catching up with some friends. Antonio is a slight, personable character in the local scene and this was his maiden outing as a teacher, having finally succumbed to pester power by friends. With teaching support provided by Bill and two very capable demonstrators, Antonio made it through the session. Considering it was his first time, and his lack of instructor training, I would say without a hint of condescension that he acquitted himself well. The content comprised a line-dance routine as a warm-up which he was to use again later in the night, and a couple of simple pieces of vocabulary.

Wearing my dance instructor's hat, it was most useful for me to observe his quality of movement and which parts of his body held which bits of time. It was also very interesting as a dance system, changes being led by the lead's left leg and a concommitant rhythmic cue by the body in very close hold, and different rhythms for even the basic bits of movement vocabulary. The proof of the pudding is that at the end of the session, I found myself wanting to know more about the dance - the ultimate objective of any introductory lesson.

And then the social dancing started.

I always enjoy Bill's parties. His music policy always has a fit of reggae plus RnB at past-midnight, followed by more salsa, then a smattering of tango at the end. Africando is a constant companion. Impatient salseros tend to leave when the reggae comes on, but if you take the time to enjoy the sounds of Bob Marley, you'll find yourself back in Cuban rhythms before you know it. The formula works well for the night but I suspect that if it were any more frequent, it would assume the guise of the routine.

But I find myself going there as often as I can, not because of the music, but because the atmosphere is welcoming, and the people are friendly... a good number of whom have become friends. Sadly, Sheffield seems to suffer a dearth of mid-sized salsa dance events like that of SalsaWorks in Wetherby, and Dance-Cubana's party in Nottingham. But whenever this is on, it's not unusual to see dancers from the nearby cities turn up.

Bill's social truly lives up to its name.

Loo Yen