Heads Up Festival prides itself on bringing great performances to audiences, it also believes that festivals should offer opportunities for people to participate. So it is that we join Michelle Dee at her very first Salsa class with Humba Rumba. 

With my comfort zone beating a retreat along with, I might add, my Heads Up colleagues, I find myself in a line of dancers in Kardomah 94. The stage has gone, the chairs have gone, all that remains is a big expanse of floor. I join the second line so I can watch those in front of me like a hawk.

So the basic step starts by stepping backward, that is enough to throw you off kilter, then the two is just a lift on the left and the three is the left again forward I think (hops about on the carpet for a bit) The sideways step is a bit easier but results in me trying to lift both my feet up at the same time. The open turn is okay, you move just one leg out and flap your arm out like you are resisting arrest.

The back step…. no that’s enough, it’s only my first time. My hopes of hanging about in the back row are soon dashed when it becomes apparent that the teachers – very generous, forgiving possessing the patience of a saint – will be dancing with each one of us in turn.  Despite watching and trying to get my feet to repeat what everyone else seems to be able to do after a few walk throughs, I spend most of my time feeling a bit like a fish out of water.  After the more teacherly bit, we are encouraged to try out what we have learned with one of the dancers, a bit further on than us. Rather than being a wallflower I had a go and ended up dancing with five, different very forgiving partners.

Things I learned at Salsa Class:

Watching that scene from Dirty Dancing repeatedly before class starts doesn’t really help.

It is best to take smaller steps, small steps allow you to move quicker.

1, 2, 3.. 5, 6, 7.. there is no place for the 4 or the 8 in salsa dancing

It is entirely possible that your legs and feet will conspire against you and stage a revolt

Humba Rumba group are very generous and welcoming to absolute beginners

The Latin, Caribbean and Cuban rhythms are bouncy and kinda cool

When you lift your head up and stop staring at your feet – or your partners feet – it starts to become fun.

Spins are really good fun, the best thing ever

I liked learning the Bachata it has surprising hand work and a really neat spin 

I’d like to try dancing in heels, would be better for my footwork and I think I might quite fancy some of those tapered trews too

Humba Rumba meet at Kardomah 94 and at Newland Avenue Community Church on Mondays & Wednesdays you can find out more by checking out http://www.humbarumbasalsa.com/

Thanks to teachers Andy and Paul and to Steve (who I met at Rush 2017) and Diana (that mambo step was really fast and fun!)

Good luck everyone ‘buena sue rte a todos!’ At the NYC (New Yorkshire Central) Salsa Social this Saturday in Selby.