Grevel Lindop

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

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!

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!

¡Que Viva Salsa Republic!

Les mixes the sounds with a little help from Che

Mancuban’s Republic of Salsa provided another amazing night out in Chorlton on Saturday. As this alternate-monthly club night gets better known, more and more people from the friendly Manchester salsa scene are arriving and it’s becoming a huge gathering of friends that gives a warm welcome to newcomers and old amigos/amigas alike.

Typical last night was the fact that there were Cuban-style salsa teachers from all over the country, and along with them a number of people who’d never danced salsa before. That’s how good, and how eclectic, it is.

Stars together: Mohito's Damian, Mancuban's Lorraine

There was the usual fine DJing from Les, Lorraine and Andy (no congas this time, but a notably Afro tinge to the music as the night got later) and Lorraine kicked off the evening with a great warm-up session followed by an enormous rueda that stayed interesting but was straightforward enough for even the beginners to handle it.

Noel takes a break from giving Inverness some Cuban heat

Teachers I spotted included Noel (from Cuba, but currently teaching in Bury and Ramsbottom – check out www.almacubana.co.uk ), Paris, Pauline, Mike and Jordan from SolarSalsa, as well as Damian (courtesy of Northwich Salsa and bands Mohito and Cafe Con Leche).

Good to see that the movies projected on the back wall have returned (in fact there were two, one behind the DJ deck and another oppsite the bar) though the current projection method isn’t quite doing them justice: to be worthwhile they need to be bigger, and flat (not coming up at an angle so the end product is trapezoid in shape). A few details to be ironed out there, maybe.

But yet again music and atmosphere were second to none. If you’re committed to Cuban, want a workout to the best music going with the friendliest people around, or simply looking for a great night out, this is the one to catch. Next opportunity will be 5 June.