Grevel Lindop

Poet, biographer, critic, essayist and writer on just about everything

¡FELIZ NUEVO AÑO!

Wishing all my friends a very happy New Year and all the best for 2016! Especially all my salsa friends in Manchester and the UK and also across the world – special greetings to Geldys Morales in Cuba, Gustavo Salsa Power in Caracas, and Francisco Buckley ‘Bush’ in Panama.

To start the new year with something beautiful, here’s ‘Amanece el Nuevo Año’ (‘The New Year Dawns’), a favourite track of mine by the great Cuban singer-songwriter Polo Montañez. Lovely Cuban country music – you can dance salsa to this but also lots of other things!

 
I haven’t written a lot about salsa on this blog for the past few months, so my resolution for 2016 is that I’m going to review as many salsa events and classes in the Manchester area as I can. Nothing harsh or over-critical, but just telling people what they can expect, what experience is on offer at each.

I’m looking forward to having a lot of fun!

And meanwhile,if you want some sunshine to cheer up the post-holiday period, why not go on a sunny virtual salsa adventure around Latin America, with my book Travels on the Dance Floor, which is now available 30% off (usual bookshop price £7.95) if you go to

http://www.carltonbooks.co.uk/books/products/travels-on-the-dance-floor-one-mans-journey-to-the-heart-of-salsa-1 and quote discount code DANCE at the checkout!

Have a great 2016.

 

 

Kerry Ribchester at Salsa Republic

Lorraine, Kerry and Noel - Hail to the Trinity of Cuban Dance Teachers!!!

Lorraine, Kerry and Noel - Hail to the Trinity of Cuban Dance Teachers!!!

Another great night last night at Les and Lorraine’s SALSA REPUBLIC in Chorlton, Manchester. Particular highlight this time was a workshop by Kerry Ribchester. Kerry is Director of Key2Cuba, an award-winning producer and director of Cuban music videos, and one of the country’s leading dance teachers and choreographers.

She’s an old friend of many of us in Manchester, and it was really exciting to have her here in her home city, giving us an intensive workshop in Rumba, Son and Salsa – and how to blend the three together. And she was joined, unscheduled, by Noel Hernandez, another leading teacher who just happened to be there and, as an old friend of Kerry, joined in. It was challenging but great fun and an excellent, confidence-building workout.

Amanda and I went to Cuba with Key2Cuba in 2008, shortly after I published Travels on the Dance Floor, and it’s certainly the most authentic and intimately Cuban holiday it’s possible to have with any tour provider. Most of my own travel has been solo and independent, but if you prefer to go with a group, and to have intensive salsa and Cuban dance classes laid on, plus transport to the best clubs and many other good things, key2Cuba is the way to go. It leaves other operators way behind.

Salsa Republic (run by Les Murray and Lorraine H. Mason) are this year offering not only their excellent monthly salsa party but are inviting a leading dance teacher each time, so you get the workshop as well as the party. The value is astonishing – last night we paid £10 for the whole evening. That basically means a Kerry Ribchester workshop for £3 (as usual, the party alone was £7). So look out for the next Salsa Republic – don’t know yet who the teacher will be but it will be good.

Meanwhile – don’t forget LOS VAN VAN, Leeds, 2 March! See you there!

Mojito Magic at Tower Ballroom

Salsa band ‘Mojito’. Blackpool Tower Ballroom December 2010 from Simon Lowe on Vimeo.

Mojito warming up for the show

Local salsa band Mojito gave us another wonderful night at the Tower Ballroom Blackpool on Saturday. Almost everyone from Manchester salsa was there – big contingents from Les and Lorraine’s ManCuban and from Sola Salsa’s Spreadeagle Tuesday Rueda clan as well as lots of old friends from Opus, La Tasca and elsewhere.

Amanda with Rohan Brown - Why do they find this guy so irresistible? (Note to self: Wear black tie next time...)

Mojito were well on form with their typical chunky, authentic Cuban sound, excellent percussion from Christian Weaver and Rich Silwa and fine brass, keyboards and the rest from other great musicians I sadly don’t know by name.

And there were two vocalists – Damien and a friend who again, regrettably, I don’t yet know personally but hope to get introduced to. The vocals were as crisp and inventive as ever, with lots of neat little dance setps and Damien’s sense of comedy and verbal invention well on display. It’s wonderful to see these guys enjoying themselves so much on stage and it’s very infectious too.

The crowd was heaving, the sprung floor was bouncing

I hadn’t been to the Tower Ballroom before and it really is stunning: the vast height of the ceiling reminds you of a cathedral and the whole place is overrun with lavish flowing gold ornament and these incredible ceiling paintings – ladies with Chinese partasols flying through the air, people in carnival masks and holding lutes floating serenely among the clouds – it reminded me of the opium dreams of my favourite writer, good old Thomas De Quincey.

A wonderful setting. With the music powering away – long, inventive, exciting songs with plenty of improvisation and plenty of that sexy rumba feeling to them – it was a marvellous evening and I was sad to leave.

Check out Mojito on Facebook for news of their Christmas party, and don’t forget they’re also playing at Hollingworth Lake on 27 December just to blast away any post-Christmas sleepiness and head us for the New Year in dynamic style! ¡Feliz Navidad, amigos!

Hot Salsa & Cool Air @ Republic

Republic of Salsa delivered another great Cuban salsa party last night at Chorlton Irish Club. And anyone scared off by memories of the slippery, sweaty hell we all went through last time needn’t have worried: this time the air conditioning was perfect. Cool, in every sense.

Dark Magician: somewhere in his magic cave, Les mixes the music...

Les and Andy kept the floor hot with a great fuelling of salsa tracks, the new lights (think laser-red with interlacing patterns of intense green) were fabulous, and both movie-screens were flickering away to create atmosphere – Oliver Stone’s Castro documentary on one wall and Buena Vista Social Club on the other. Plus an interesting (?Cuban?) pop video I couldn’t identify. Where did you get that one, guys? The only factor missing was Lorraine, still on her camping holiday in Wales. Mil besitos, Lorraine, and hope you’ve got some sunshine! We missed you.

Les gets the whole room dancing Bachata

Les gets everyone dancing bachata

Les kicked off the evening with a great Bachata class, teaching a simple, classic routine that anyone could master but also felt like dancing real bachata. A huge confidence-boost for bachata-dabblers like me.

Radiant: Solar Salsa's Mike and Pauline
Radiant: Solar Salsa’s Mike and Pauline

As always, the crowd was wonderfully mixed. Teachers I spotted on the dancefloor included Pauline and Mike from Solar Salsa, Andre from Baby Salsa, and Mo from Cuba Cafe. There were crowds of friends from Opus, Spreadeagle, Cuba Cafe, La Tasca, and Copas – plus a lot of people I hadn’t seen for months and was really glad to have a dance with again. There were two or three great rueda sessions, and given the decibel level, the Solar Salsa teachers’ skill with hand signals really came into its own. I’m probably going deaf (too many years of loud music) but as long as Pauline’s that good at semaphore it won’t matter too much!

Before finishing I have to apologise to La Casa de la Salsa: I had wanted to go to the Ball on Friday but couldn’t make it for reasons beyond my control. I’m sure it was fabulous. Next time I’ll get there.

Oh, and a final PS: Anyone wants to take pics off this blog, from this post or any other, go ahead and copy them (click your right mouse button to ‘copy’ then ditto to ‘paste’). it’s fine to use on FB if you want. Just please give a credit to www.grevel.co.uk – thanks!

Opus Girls Promise a Salsa Valentine!

Valentine Girls: Katherine Rosati, Vicky Gouldbourn, Jack Mellor (photo by Lydia Oslejova)

Valentine Girls: Katherine Rosati, Vicky Gouldbourn, Jack Mellor (photos by Lydia Oslejova)

Opus in the Printworks, Manchester was as good as ever on Sunday 7 Feb, with excellent DJing from Alex and a sparkling surprise in the shape of a troupe of gorgeous ladies giving out chocolates and inviting everyone to write valentines – all just to let us know about the upcoming Valentine Salsa Ball on 12 Feb at the Britannia Hotel, Stockport, organised by La Casa de la Salsa. Full details (plus more amazing and beautiful photos) are at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=157097846260 and it should be a fantastic evening.

STOP PRESS:

Tight Squeeze at Opus...
Tight Squeeze at Opus…

The next SALSA REPUBLIC at Chorlton Irish Club will now be on 27 FEB (not 20 Feb as previously announced)!!!

My Valentine (caught by the pararazzi AGAIN!!!)

My Valentine (caught by the paparazzi AGAIN!!!)