Grevel Lindop

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

Starting the Weekend with Bachata Fridays

Cuba Cafe, in Port Street (off Newton Street, Northern Quarter) – and of course Mo, our legendary host

Michal’s bachata class in full swing

Recently I’ve added a new element to my week’s dancing, by going to Michal’s Friday night bachata classes at Cuba Cafe in the Northern Quarter. (8.15 beginners, improvers 9.30 approx.)

I’d tried to learn bachata several times, at classes and workshops, but either the teachers didn’t go at the right pace, or the instructions weren’t clear, or the numbers were out of balance… So I didn’t really persist and never got beyond the simplest rudiments.

But I took some friends to Cuba Cafe for drinks a couple of months ago, and watching Michal’s class I was very impressed by the sheer good time everyone seemed to be having. A week or two later I went along, and found the class exactly right – for me, anyway.

Michal is a cheerful, amusing teacher, who has the knack of expalining things extremely clearly and beginning from a very basic level, yet effortlesly getting people dancing at quite a decent level by the end of the evening. Everyone has fun in the process, and the classes are also very good value – cheaper than many salsa classes in fact. To sum up, this is simply the best bachata class I’ve seen.

I’m now a regular, and while I won’t say I’m dancing brilliant bachata, at least I have a few basic moves, I feel I’m finally getting somewhere, and I’m loving Friday evenings. As a bonus, DJ Les (Mancuban, Salsa Republic) is having monthly party nights – The AfterParty – following on from the class, playing salsa, bachata, merengue, reggaeton from 12 midnight to 3 a.m. And if you’ve been to Michal’s bachata class first, you don’t even have to pay. Otherwise the AfterParty s a mere £3. For AfterParty dates you’ll need to check out Mancuban or Cuba Cafe websites or on Facebook.

As a PS, I hear Michal’s beautiful wife Anna has recently given birth to their daughter, so many congratulations to the whole family. And Michal tells me the classes are going ahead as usual. If you’re around Manchester on a Friday, give them a try.

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!