May 1st, 2017, 03:38 PM

Livin La Vida Loca with Latin Dance Style

By Tara Jamali
Image Credit: The Culture Trip
Salsa dancing is about making statements through movement and fashion!

One two three (pause) five six seven. One two three (pause) five six seven.

So goes the rhythm of basic salsa steps. The beat is etched into my consciousness. Occasionally, I find myself breaking into the footwork, gradually adding some turns, throwing in some styles (arm movements), and shines (fancy footwork).

It all comes back to me – the not-so-distant past when I regularly attended classes at Baila Salsa Dance Company in Buffalo, New York. It was the perfect way to de-stress and unwind after a long day of studying. The more I immersed myself in the dance, the more it became part of my identity. As fashion is all about expressing identity, so is dance. And salsa dance boasts its own style.

   Calvin and Fanny from Baila Salsa Dance Co. Image Credit: albrightknox.org                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Salsa emanates passion, sensuality, and emancipation – the sense of liberation I experience while dancing is unparalleled. In the same vibe, salsa dancewear is sexy and fun.  

When I was introduced to salsa in the summer of 2012, I’d usually go dancing in my flats or short heels. As time went on, I realized that in order to keep up with the twists, turns, and elaborate footwork, I’d need special footwear. Invest in a good pair of salsa dance shoes if you’re serious about dancing!

   Image Credit: aliexpress.com                                                                                      

Ladies shoes for salsa dance always have heels. The higher the heel and strappier the shoe, the better. To provide maximum comfort to dancing feet, salsa shoes are flexible and lightweight. Sequins, glitter, and rhinestones also make an unforgettable impression!

Salsa costumes are known for their vibrant color, shimmer, and style. They often sport a variety of embroidery, sequins, and layers. These patterns are common in both male and female costumes, which are to be coordinated for a performance.

     Image Credit: sasuel.ro                                                           

Salsa costumes for men typically consist of full sleeved, loose shirts and pants. The shirts sometimes have sequins in the chest area, near the pockets, or around the cuffs.

 Image Credit: dhgate.com                                                                                          

A swinging skirt and tight-fitting top is typical salsa getup for women. Many salsa skirts are above the knee, but longer skirts will do just as well, given they are not too long! Slanting, layered skirts give a touch of flirtiness.

        Image Credit: aliexpress.com                                                    

Other patterns for women’s costumes include crimped halters, one-shoulder sleeve dresses, mesh skirts, ruffle dresses, and V-sloped dresses.

A recent trend in ballroom Latin fashion is the empire waist dress. This is a great choice for petite dancers as it visually elongates the body.

       Image Credit: aliexpress.com                                                                                                       

Latin dance dresses decorated with sequins sparkle great on the dance floor!

                        Image Credit:aliexpress.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

And of course, the classic black dress is a great choice for any dancer.

    Image Credit: aliexpress.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Once extensively used in standard dance gowns, feathers were left out for awhile before making a comeback. Latin costumes adorned with feathers add a classy touch!

             Image Credit: ebay.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Beyond its dazzling fashion and sensual moves, salsa dance is known to be therapeutic. "There have been days when I'm so stressed out from work, school, or family, and I would have to force myself to come to class," says Thaikisha Alvarez, a Latin dance instructor in New York City. "When I did, for that hour or two I would forget everything I was stressed about."

Dancing comes in handy for networking and meeting new people. What better icebreaker than just asking someone to dance and not even needing to know their name! 

It's almost impossible to listen to salsa music without eliciting a reaction. "Even if I'm just sitting down and listening to a song, all of a sudden my knee starts jerking, my foot starts tapping, and my head starts bobbing...there's no way I can sit entirely still!" says Thaikisha.

With French romance and Latin sensuality complementing each other so nicely, it is no surprise that the City of Light boasts a vibrant Latin dance scene! Here are a few venues for dance enthusiasts unafraid to channel their inner sultriness (or those just wanting to let off a little steam):

Barrio Latino

This elegant venue with its ornate staircases, posh dance floors and opulent atmosphere hosts salsa classes on Sundays and Mondays. 

Barrio Latino, 46 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75012 Paris

La Pachanga

The ultimate stomping ground for Latin dance lovers in Paris, La Pachanga is open every day of the week from 7 pm until 2 am. Entry price is reasonable, and comes with a drink and a lesson for all levels. 

La Pachanga, 8 Rue Vandamme, 75014 Paris

Banks of the Seine

Summer nights in Paris aren't the same without dancing on the waterfront, under the stars, well into the night. On Friday evenings, the public is invited to various locations by the Seine for open-air dancing. Venues include Rosa Bonheur sur Seine, La Plage de Gazart, and Quai Saint Bernard. There are even free classes starting at 7 pm, with styles ranging from salsa to kizomba to merengue to bachata. 

Many salsa communities are incredibly friendly, with a positive and confidence-building atmosphere. As you learn the dance, your newfound confidence and sense of accomplishment will inevitably energize other aspects of daily life.   

Salsa On!