Passionata Dance
About Us
Contact Us
Yo Cotton Photography

The Passionata Blog

February 22th, 2012

The diversity in salsa dancing scenes in NSW

By Derek Vuong on 22/02/2012

An Introduction to the scenes

I have been studying social dynamics for a number of years now and have come to the basic conclusion that people have a predicatable common human nature and because of this they collectively form a common culture in their groups. The attitudes may differ from place to place slightly but the cultural developments fork off in different environments to create diversity in styles and behaviours. It is only when you observe each of the environments, then you can spot the simularity and differences. From what I have seen in the salsa dance scene in sydney, I have identified some broad groupings of people that can be culturally described and classified by venue.

LA Style Scene/ Performance Oriented
The LA style of salsa is considered linear and keeping the slot for diplomacy, the clubs in this scene like progressive jazzy salsa music, sharp beats of NY Style, extended routine memory for choreography, show moves, shines and styling. Stylised moves with alot of outwardly focused energy made to attract attention and the spotlight, it focuses more on the competitive side. This may sometimes disenchant some passionate performers otherwise motivate them to climb the social stratum. This scene may be coupled with its politics of cliqueyness and exclusion of recognition until you have proven yourself worthy. It may sometimes feel like a creation a exclusive family group which requires all subscribers to fit within a certain combination of profile of atractivness and suckyness. Dancers are usually partnered up.
The focus may be on turn patterns, the latest techniques or masterclasses being taught by visiting teachers from foreign countries, how well you can project or act cohesively in a performance and glittery costumes spending time and money glueing diamontes on to a new outfit collectively decided upon. The performance groups may attract the most insecure people with a chip on their shoulder to prove their value in the public arena or may attract the most loud and competitive people, either way the mixture is a cocktail of explosive energy. This tension may lead to bitchness, infighing fallouts and political fractionings. Essentially, the mixture of promoters and performers mutually trying to benefit of each other lead to a environment which can harness some of the best and worst talents as it raises the level of quality at the price of inflated egotism. The goals of this particular scene is to earn stage credibility, aestetics, dry craft techniques and recognition. Usually organised in classier booked venues with showcase ability. (eg. Pumphouse, Martini Bar)

LA Style/ Social Dance Oriented
This LA Scene is pushed to it's limits in terms of pure social. Since the DJ's are usually established and prefer older styles, the music does not update as often as it would upset old fashioned patrons if the music wasnt introduced gradually over time. The Dancers in this scene focus on leading and following to improvisation with any particular partner. This scene's socially oriented style usually develops to lead refinement and following refinement. In social dancing, you may find yourself dancing with any random partner therefore It requires far more experience to pull off than following a routine. The values in this scene are improvisation, Breaking and interpreting musicality. Social dancers aim to develop street credibility which is where they are able to pull a crowd around them to observe without the context of planned stage performing. the goals of this for are for perfection of lead, mutual enjoyment and connection with the partner and optional connection to observers. It is common for a guy to get rejected when he asks for a dance, over time with development of ability the rejections get less in frequency and easier to handle. Females often have the experience of being approached by men whom they must decide to accept the offer or not. Compatibility between dancers vary, however LA is a well established standard for structure in interfacing with compatible styles. Usually held in a metro based watering hole and niteclubs.(eg. Establishment, Cruise Bar, Pumphouse, Docks, Martini Bar)

Cuban Style Club
In a cuban style club it is common to see people dance with less intricate turns and patterns. The movements are more earthy and rounded. Cuban dancers usually have alot more freedom to change posture during the dance. The clubs are more freeform and easygoing. Sometimes cuban dance schools will do a group dance "rueda", A cuban dance whereby couples dance in a circle, perform the moves designated by a caller and exchange partners during the progression of the circle. Cuban dancers take things less seriously. however there is some cliqueyness with pure cuban dancers not wanting to dance with a LA style dancer at all as they are not comfortable with turns. the music is more repetitive and the dancers focus on adapting to whom they are dancing with. Cuban dancers have their own style and like to believe they want to get closer to the authentic style of feeling, belonging and cuban hat wearing. usually held in bars or niteclub restaurants. (eg. Vivaz, Docks, Spanish Club)

Contemporary South American Scene
This usually emphasises younger styles of dance, Salsa, Merengue, Raeggeton. Usually patrons of this dance scene go out to get drunk/tipsy, pick up, chat up and hang out with their friends. Emphasis is not really on dancing, mostly it is on socialising and chillaxing. They will sometimes play modern popular music in the charts but remixed with a latino feel. These clubs cater for more younger generations of latinos and reflect more a RnB Hip Hop respect culture. ( eg. La Cita, El Barrio)

Traditional Scene/Cumbia
There are some places where the older generations of south americans dance alot less extravangantly, With only the basics taught and passed down their families. It is common to hear music from the 70's as older south americans reminisce their younger days and dance merengue and cumbia. It is common to just see old people just embrace and move from foot to foot. The goals of the patrons in this scene is to get out and have a night out and some exercise and light entertainment. Usually held in large retired services or leagues clubs. (eg. Petersham RSL, Ashfield Leagues, Mounties, Marconi Club)

Traditional/Saloon Scene
South americans who live abroad, miss their country, therefore in the local communities they hire a community hall and run their local pride nights and charity fundraiser events emphasising their cultural aspects they wish to remember from the old country. They sometimes organise performance nights involving kids and groups of adults doing traditional folkloric dances from their countries of origin. This may involve singing romantic/political songs in karaoke, dancing cumbia, reciting poetry, drinking and eating traditional foods. This scene is so raw, you will never get the performance Oriented LA scene coming here. Very dingy and not well advertised or promoted. These are tucked away in cheesy community churches/restuarants and only heard about via word of mouth. Sometimes, they will organise a larger event for their independence days in carpark lots with their local live bands. Some of these places attract the local drunk and fights occur very often over small things but after a 10 minutes of jumping each other, everything is sorted. (eg. Various Secret locations???)

The Class Social
This is usually the social dance that runs after the salsa class run by the schools. These socials allow students to develop their skills and solidify their learning. Each teacher and class offers something different. Groups become more cohesive. (eg. Parramatta One world, Collectors, Bexley)

In conclusion, I believe everyone should try going to every type of venue and see the diversity it has to offer. Never limit yourself by being picky of venues, as you limit yor opportunity to meet nice people within all environments. My advice is to never be picky, just be discerning.

Derek, Passionata Dance


Contact Details: Carmen - 0405 336 307    Derek - 0412 550 855
Sydney Salsa Scene
Yo Cotton Photography

For all enquiries and bookings, Email Us:
Contact Details: Carmen - 0405 336 307    Derek - 0412 550 855

To advertise with us please email
(C) Website Design by Xerosoft Interactive 2011