Christian’s Dance Story: Miami Raised Me, But I Hated Dancing Salsa

Christian Tennant, with a white mountain in the background

All throughout my party years in college, I actively avoided Salsa music. I prided myself on doing any type of dance that was trending on Twitter, but when La Rebelión by Joe Arroyo was playing it was practically a six-minute break for me to go get another drink and strike up a conversation with a cute girl who also wasn’t inclined to dance Salsa.

I Lost the Girl at El Patio in Wynwood

Alas, a situation arose that was finally forced me to take the plunge. I was outside of El Patio in Wynwood and struck up a conversation with a particularly cute FIU undergrad. Once inside, they were blasting Salsa music and said cute undergrad invited me out to dance. At this point, words like “clave” and “tumbao” were nonexistent to me.

For five excruuuciaaating minutes I was stepping off beat and engaging in accidental arm bars instead of intricate turn patterns. The girl thanked me for the dance and immediately disappeared into the night (and later into the arms of a way more proficient Salsero).

And so, with this ego slightly bruised, I found Casa Salsa’s 10 days for $10 deal in Sunrise. Little did I know my life was really about to change.

My First Bachata Class

Since I have always been a fan of the dance, I started with Bachata at the studio. The steps are basic enough that Bachata was not intimidating, at least to me, so it was easy to jump in. Personally, it’s easier for me to connect to Bachata music and I loved the class because it introduced me to a whole new level of dancing Bachata that I never got from just attending pachangas in Miami.

My First Salsa Class

While Bachata was my first crush, ironically, Salsa is the dance I truly fell in love with. I remember how I marched to the basic “1-2-3…5-6-7” as if I was in the military. Salsa’s almost mathematical basics builds so perfectly to its explosive and stylish potential. After staying behind after class to watch a social and seeing all of the Salseros and Salseras effortlessly spinning and stepping along to the bold percussion and confident trumpets, I knew this was something I didn’t want to just be “good” at. It was something I wanted to master!

From Salsa Class to Salsa Shines

I came to class every day extremely enthusiastic about learning the next Salsa move. I think my instructor, Scott McDonald, noticed my enthusiasm because he told me told me I had to join the student shine team, where students do fancy footwork in group choreographies.

I was extremely reluctant. “I just want to social dance, I don’t care about performing,” was my response to him, but he knew exactly how to rope me in.

If you want to be a good social dancer, you have to perform; there’s only so much you can get out of a class, but if you train in Salsa your skills are going to skyrocket!

Scott McDonald, Salsa Instructor

Even then I was reluctant but my classmate, Valentina, convinced me to just do it. To this day I’m forever grateful I took the plunge. I thought I’d be just learning some footwork by joining the team, but I was unwittingly signing up for what was two parts music theory and musicality education and one part military bootcamp.

I have to say, though, that Scott was entirely correct. I believe I grew 10x in those short four months of Salsa than I could have possibly grown by just going to class.

Bachateando, Capital Congress, and the Miami Salsa Congress 2018

Bachateando was my first dance congress (check out our article on dance congresses here), where instructors, dancers, and DJs come from all over the world to share knowledge, lessons, and most importantly, dances. It was at these events that I saw what could be achieved through hard work and passion. Needless to say, after each of these events, I was more pumped than ever to continue my journey as a Salsero!

Where To Now? SalsaSpots is the Answer!

I originally thought of SalsaSpots to address a problem Andrew and I would face. We were always asking ourselves: “Where can we go dancing tonight?”

The SalsaSpots site is our answer to that, providing accurate, up-to-date information on where/when to go dancing.

I’ll let you in on a secret, though: Ultimately, we see that SalsaSpots can be a means to improve and grow the South Florida dance scene to put it on par with DC and New York!

With that in mind, we here at SalsaSpots will continue to be a

  • welcoming voice for non-dancers
  • your go-to spot for events
  • your instructors that encourage you to grow as a dancer
  • a media sponsor for events
  • one of the many glues of the community and more.

Leave me a comment below! I’d love to hear your suggestions for growing the scene in South Florida.

Christian Tennent

Read Andrew Jorquera’s and Dalia F’s dance stories.

4 thoughts on “Christian’s Dance Story: Miami Raised Me, But I Hated Dancing Salsa”

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