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Learning to Dance Salsa in Colombia

Learning to Dance Salsa in Colombia


Time to hit the South American dance floor. I am learning to dance salsa in Colombia. It’s a new challenge!! Dancing is an activity that truly transcends language and culture.

When you dance salsa in Colombia it is a beautiful blend of Latin passion and energy. Two people meet on the dance floor who are completely wrapped up in the music and rhythm, for a short period of time it doesn’t matter what language they speak or what beliefs they follow only that they can find the right connection for about 4 or 5 minutes.

dance salsa in Colombia
Salsa Latino in Pereira, Colombia

Dance Salsa in Colombia

I began my first lesson here in Colombia the same way I approach life; with enthusiasm and an open mind. I was rewarded with a challenge and a whole new perspective on a topic I had previously grown accustomed to. Except, it was really really fast!

Caleño style salsa is a different approach to the same idea I learned back in the USA. Some elements are similar but many of the moves are faster, more intense and require a lot of precision. There is also much more rotational hip movement involved.

Another thing to note is that the instructors are very intent on drilling the basic steps and footwork before attempting to add in too much spin and partner work.  Its not easy to learn either, each step requires a lot of control, rhythm and speed.

My experience was equal parts love and frustration. When you finally catch the rhythm, it’s great. But tiring. Call me lazy, but Colombian salsa isn’t for the weak hearted. You must jump up with enthusiasm and be ready to try really really hard, and then sleep.

In the USA our dance styles are a bit more flow, and different. I guess the issue here isn’t the dance at all. Time to open my mind a bit and flow with it.

Cultural Differences

Another topic to note is my Thursday night class where we branch out and learn or practice samba, raeggaeton, cumbia, salsa, cha cha, rumba and bachata. The funniest part of my Thursday night was dancing to the witch doctor song. Not only did it look and feel ridiculous but I felt like I was in some weird reality where next Barney was going to walk in and start singing the “I love you, you love me song.”

Not everything in Latin America is Enrique Inglesias and Romeo, sometimes its American music that, while overplayed and old to us, might actually be very stimulating and interesting to them. It was so bizarre. If a John Travolta look-alike walks in and starts doing Fever, I wouldn’t even bat an eye! Maybe for the next class we will have to dance Gangnam Style.

The most interesting part was learning the Paso Doble. The dance is a tradition in this region, the steps are graceful and fluid.  It is easy to learn like Bachata once you understand the basic pattern. I found I had a natural affinity for it. Not really sure where I would actually use this style. I have heard a time or two about these places called “viejotecas” where the older music is played and traditional dances are stepped.


Regardless of how fast, crazy, intricate or strange, I am absolutely exhilarated to be back at work learning how to dance. Learning to dance salsa Colombia is so interesting and different. I see strange, exciting, weird and sometimes wretchedly sad things on a daily basis. Stay with me peeps, there is more to come. Maybe I will stay on top of that crazy rhythm better next class.

About the author

English Teacher, Freelancer, Chocolate Entrepreneur and Traveler!!

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