Want to get a feel of salsa dancing or practice your bachata dance moves? Latin dance socials are becoming quite a regular event at party hubs around Goa reports NT BUZZ
CHRISTINE MACHADO| NT BUZZ
It’s been pouring all day. It’s the kind of day which you would rather spend cooped up in your home rather than venturing out. Yet as night settles in, a steady crowd begins to trickle into the venue where lively Latin music beckons. There’s an easy camaraderie between many of the people present, as they pair up and head to the dance floor. Some of them take dance classes together or have become pals after meeting at previous editions of the dance socials, either at the same venue or at such Latin nights in different parts of Goa.
“That’s the beauty of this dance style,” says dancer Abhishek Soman, on the good turn-out despite heavy showers. “In fact we have more crowd coming in during the monsoons as there is little else happening, being off season,” he reveals. Abhishek, who runs Salsa Goa has been organising these dance socials for the last couple of years and at the moment these are held once a week either at the pubs Soro or Showbar. “It’s highly addictive for people once they get into it,” he acknowledges, “At the same time we are helping to build the dance community in Goa as otherwise the level of dancing wouldn’t come up.”
It’s all about connecting
Snaden D’Souza of Snaden Shawn Dance Academy agrees. “There are a lot of venues around for hip hop or reggae music etc. But until a few years ago there was no place where people who learnt salsa or bachata could actually dance,” he states. “When students come for dance classes, it’s more about picking up the technicality. But through dance socials you can take this forward and also socialise with others.”
At the same time, this also helps to build up the confidence of dance students, says Darryl D’Souza of Dance-o-philia. “Couple dancing looks difficult but it is very easy to pick it up. We have had couples coming to us saying that they have two left feet. But is more of a lack of confidence rather than not being able to dance. Once they get the confidence, they sometimes are much better than others who may have been dancing for a while,” he says.
A free workshop!
And if you’re a complete newbie, knowing close to nobody at the venue or have never tried out Latin dance before, there’s no need to worry. The dance group organising the evening usually has a free one hour workshop which will not just show you how to move, but also ensure that you are having the time of your life.
“There are always people at the venue who maybe complete non-dancers or are seeing this dance for the first time. With this workshop, people don’t get bored or feel out of place. At the same time it also builds up the night as there are more people on the dance floor,” says Darryl, who began organising dance socials about three years back and currently organises these at Embers, Tonca. “If people like what they learn at the workshop, there is a good chance that a few of them may also decide to join our regular dance classes,” he adds. But considering this workshop is free, why join a paid class after? “In this workshop we don’t go into the technicalities but instead keep it fun. So if you really want to learn the fundamentals then you have to come for a class,” he says.
Some venues are still
Such events are also beneficial to the venues as it helps them draw in the crowd, says Snaden, who has been organising social dance nights for around a year in various venues. “When I began I opted for a weekday when the crowd was limited anyway. In a couple of months the venue became known for these socials and the crowd began picking up,” he says.
But there are still instances when venues are reluctant to host such events. “Latin dancing is still limited to a smaller community made up of the dance instructors, students and those who are interested in this dance form. And all of these many not always make it for a social dancing night,” admits Darryl. Thus, they instead opt for holding these dance nights on a week day. “Initially we used to hold these events every week but when the dance floor isn’t full, you don’t feel the vibe. Now we have it once a month. In this way we also leave people craving for these Latin dance nights,” he says.
“Some places are a bit reluctant because they feel that the crowd will not enjoy Latin as much as the regular commercial music,” agrees Erica Fernandes, who together with Presley Fernandes conducts dance socials about twice a month at Mojos, Panaji. But that’s okay, she states. “It takes time for a trend to start, it doesn’t happen in a day,” she says.
“We need to target a younger crowd”
And the trend is definitely picking up. “In the beginning, we used to have around 80 per cent ladies as compared to men but now there are a lot more guys, sometimes more than the ladies, which is good,” says Darryl.
But Erica laments that the trend is yet to garner attention among those in their teens. “Most of those who attend these nights are those who have been dancing for a while and usually above the age of 20. We need to target a younger crowd especially at around 16-17 years. Once they get into it, our community will definitely get much bigger,” she says.
And there is no question of competition among the different dance groups who hold socials, reiterates Snaden. Indeed, dance instructors and students from different dance groups all over Goa can be spotted mingling at these events. “These dance nights are all about learning and connecting. The more socials we have, the more awareness there will be and the community will grow,” he says, while Erica urges people to give it a try. “Dancing can change you as a person, it connects souls even if for just one dance and it can completely change your mood, leaving you feeling so much better at the end of it,” she says.