Highlights of Toronto's Salsa 2005

by Rose Knows, Toronto

911 - Unity Against Terrorism!


December 30, 2005

Dancing with the Stars 2006

If you enjoy watching ballroom dancing or just dancing in general, Dancing with the Stars starts a new season with 10 new couples on Thursday, January 5, at 8 pm for 2 hours on ABC.

The following night, they will also have a 30-minute Dancing with the Stars Results Show (premiering Friday, January 6 at 8/7c). The couple with the lowest combined score from the judges and the viewers will be eliminated from the competition.

As well as revealing the couple to be eliminated from the competition, the show will also feature performances from top musical acts, professional dance demonstrations and exciting behind-the-scenes footage of training and other aspects of the show.

And if we're lucky, So Think You Can Dance II should reappear on Fox in the Summer...

December 21, 2005

Happy Holidays
A New Digi-Era
Hot off the Press!

It just seems like yesterday that I started this website, had to learn anything and everything to do with the internet and what web design was all about...

Then a few years later, to save film and scanning time, I got into digital photography and then learned how to make videoclips for the web.

And now with technology changing so rapidly, it's hard not to go into an electronic store and NOT want to buy almost everything in sight as it just keeps getting cheaper to get more features in terms of megapixels, amount of memory, portability, and more. The gadget stores just lure you in to find an excuse for Santa to bring you that extra-special gift!

So what gifts is TOsalsa providing over the holidays... well, with the so-called savings in time... check out some of the new digi-clips I was able to put together "quickly" with my new camera... and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

It's amazing how many hours you can spend trying to figure out the settings...

Digi_Vid - Take 1 using Real Player

Digi Vid- Take 2 using Windows Media Player

And after viewing these clips, it would be great to get feedback on whether you have problems viewing it in Real Player or Windows Media Player.

Please remember also that if you find the resolution a little lower than you'd like, it's very difficult to find that "perfect setting" that won't become a 10mb clip; and at the same time, give you enough "air time" to really showcase a dance choreography.

As the Salsa World Turns...

Novembr 22, 2005

Just posted...

Get a kick-start to two new promotions for 2006 -- one Congress Pass each month (Jan, Feb and Mar) to anyone who's willing to pay their own travelling expenses to the Montreal Salsa Convetion; or a pair of tickets to Paco Pena Flamenco Dance Co at Massey Hall!

And congratulations to the following winners...

Ballet Flamenco
Basher Amer
Robin Pohl

Yamoto Drummers of Japan
Chu Trieu
Julia Bonk

November 21, 2005

Salsa in November...

I just got back from a mini-trip to Montreal to see Victor Manuelle live; and for two straight hours, he sang almost every song I have ever danced to... what more can a Salsera ask for... except to throw in some shopping at my favourite store in Montreal (Simon's) and stuffing our faces with yummy El Salvardorean food with Sonia and Moris from San Tropez!

And what songs did he serenade us with?

Apiadate De Mi
Llore Llore
Asi Es La Mujer
He Tratado
Dile A Ella
Hay Que Poner El Alma
Como Una Estrella
No Haces Falta Nada
Pensamiento Y Palabra
Que Habria Sido De Mi
Se Me Rompe El Alma
Tengo Ganas
No Eres La Mujer
La Vida Es Un Carnaval

If you click on these links, you can hear audioclips for most of these tracks...

Oro Salsero - 2000
Travesia - 2004

And back in TO, our Ticket Promotions are finished for now, but soon you can win tickets/pass to the Montreal Salsa Convention during the months of January, February and March; and Paco Pena Flamenco Dance Co.

October 30, 2005

Salsa in October
Did you forget to turn back your clocks one hour?

I almost did... and had to check the internet just to make sure that my computer wasn't out of whack... And found an interesting tidbit... starting in 2007, we'll get an extra month of sunlight starting in March, insteady of April! Click here if you want to read all about it...

October was a non-stop busy month of salsa that started with the Canada Salsa Congress and ends with a non-stop weekend of Halloween salsa parties if you so choose...

Pics are posted of the Halloween Part at Acrobat this past Friday and pics of different nights I've gone dancing this past October including Paul Chivers Bday Dance at Babaluu's last Tuesday, October 18th.

And it's your last chance to enter to win a pair of tickets to see Ballet Flamenco at Roy Thomson Hall!

October 18, 2005

Canada Salsa Congress Pics are Up!

Thurstday Night at Touch Lounge Ana & Joel from Boston
Thursday Friday
Hacha y Machete from Boston Pawel & Dora Toronto
Saturday Sunday

It's just over a week since the Canada Salsa Congress is over... and what makes this one special is that many dancers seemed to have their salsa groove back and remembered what it was like to just have fun dancing!

I recall last year some dancers were unhappy that many of the "professionals" were doing very little social dancing... but this year was quite the opposite. Not only were the pros on the floor, but anyone and everyone was pretty much dancing with someone NOT from their hometown; and no one really said "No", unless they needed a rest from a non-stop salsa set.

What also made this Congress memorable was that it seemed everyone was out to have a good time, show appreciation to the performers for all their hard work and have some fun watching various dancers ham it up.

It was so infectious that the nights I decided to go out dancing, Friday at Acrobat and this past Monday at Alleycatz, they were jam-packed full of dancers and everyone was dancing up a storm.

And if you didn't check out the shows each night, there wasn't one night that was necessarily better than another even though Saturday is always considered the best night for shows. Many dance troupes performed more than one routine and if you missed a particular night, you might have missed an awesome performance or a signature routine.

What makes it tough while taking photos or videos is that you really don't get to enjoy the live performance except behind a lens where you can lose the total visual effect.

And which routines were my favourites, well, you'll just have to check back...

October 10, 2005

The Aftermath of the Canada Salsa Congress...
Montreal was in the House!

Once again, hats off to Jennifer Aucoin for putting together a well-organized Congress for the 3rd year in a row... You know it was a great Congress when you close it down on the last day, have to kick the dancers out of the hotel, and you reminisce at 5 am at a Chinese restaurant. I can't remember the last time I saw everyone beaming and complaining of how sore their feet or muscles were from the whole experience.

While I get a chance to reflect, one dancer just couldn't wait to write in and thank all the Montreal guys for their joie-de-vivre in their dancing and their attitude about social dancing at Congresses. And coincidentally, I had forgotten how much fun my Montreal friends were as I hadn't seen them since last year.

I also felt the same energy from Montreal, seen their progression over the years and felt that they have really found their own salsa niche. They were a joy to watch or dance with... way to go Montreal!

Regarding her comments about attitude... thanks Morena for writing in and giving all dancers a reminder of what dancing SHOULD ALWAYS be about...

The Montreal guys at the 2005 Toronto Salsa Congress

I thought I was done with salsa congresses since for having attended a few, here and abroad, I realised that they were an all-in-one stage for showing off, self-promotion, politics & the ever present rudeness of guys who just-do-not-want-to-dance-with-you-c'ause-you-ain't-part-of-anything-I-know, you-do-not-have-the-look, and can-that girl-dance?? -thing.

I was dragged in this congress by a bunch of my girlfriends; and I caved in & went with absolutely no desire but the one to just be a good sport & not again decline one of their constant invitations - but still thinking that I was going to experience the same c...ap again! Life if so ironic sometimes.

Just when I was ready to exit (after all, why pay so much money for classes, events, travels, salsa gear & so on, when you are going to be treated like %$# - that is if you are treated at all - by average dancers - forget the advanced/top notches, I have already realized that I - & many other girls like me - have been placed outside of their league a looooong time ago - but average dancers who think they are blessed dough!!)

Then came those guys from Montreal ----- What can I say? WHAT A DELIGHT! Those guys came here to party! (Either I am dreaming or are they always like that?) From my many experiences here, I was almost lead to believe that asking a guy that you think is an excellent dancer to dance was an offense.

On the contrary, you watched those Montreal guys dance with the best girls and when comes the time for you to ask them to dance, not only the dancing is just TOP NOTCH, EXCITING AND CLASSY (perfect leading & BEAT & all) but the respect, the eye-contacts, the smiles, the floor etiquette that they give to you is amazing; WHAT A PACKAGE!! Plus the appreciation they have shown FOR HAVING BEEN ASKED TO DANCE is legendary -- Hey! it is not even a crime to ask the top notches to dance as well, they are ready when you are -- WITH NO ATTITUDE WHATSOEVER & NO FLAT LIE ABOUT "I-AM-TIRED" & NEXT-THING-YOU-KNOW-THEY-ARE-OFF-DANCING-WITH-ANOTHER-GIRL).

At last, people who understand & display the TRUE meaning of S O C I A L dancing..... Call it "Joie de vivre"..... Thanks to all of them, the many I have danced with yesterday (Saturday) and have made my night such a blast!!!! You have printed a smile in my heart.

THANKS TO THE PRO: (the guy who was the milk-man (Edson?? by the way, I did not even dance with him!!!) in the group performance who, at the end of the night, just said Hi! when we made eye-contact, and asked if I and my friends have had a good time........ (Whooou! You can even chit chat with them without them thinking that you need something more than a dance??).

Well, now I am looking forward to my next salsa congress (I cannot beleive I am even thinking that :-)) and If I see him (or any of the other ones I did not have the chance to dance with yesterday).... Well, I will ask for a dance :-)) just a dance, nothing more...:-)) Morena

October 5, 2005

A Non-Stop Thanksgiving Weekend of Salsa...

Less than 24 hours to the Kick-Off Pre-Congress Party tailormade for those of you who love the opportunity to dance with out-of-town dancers, see some great social dancing and group performances; and/or for those die-hards who can also handle the stamina of taking dance classes from dance instructors from all over -- the selection has a little bit for everyone to experience.

Never been to a Congress before?

Check out some of the various pages of memories I've collected over the past 5 years...

Salsa Congress Survival Guide

Congress Reviews

Salsa Congress Photos

September 18, 2005

Congratulations to our Winners...

Umoja - Wed Sep 21, 2005
Tara Rhodes
Edna Kavuma
Lorraine Walters

Canada Salsa Congress
Ivy Oldford
Yuko Kakurai
Alicia Pearson

Please check your emails for details on how to pick up your tickets!

September 12, 2005

Salsa in September...

Once September hits, the clubs are a little more empty, but the good news is there's more room to dance...

If you enjoy the music of DJ Julio, he'll be playing every night this week from Tuesday to Friday.

This is the last week to enter for your chance to win a Canada Salsa Congress Pass or a pair of tickets to see Umoja at Elgin Theatre.

Also, for those of you who haven't seen "Mad Hot Ballroom", it's actually opened up to more theatres in Toronto and has been playing in Toronto for 17 weeks!

And if you love to dance, here's hoping you've been taking the time to watch "So You Think You Can Dance".

The format is great -- where a male and female are randomly chosen to partner dance with each other; and then they randomly choose a type of partner dance and have to learn choreography from a top professional, perform it in front of a live audience. It's interesting to see how the choreographer molds the piece to suit the stengths and weaknesses of each couple, and will give them difficult tricks to perform during their routine if they can handle it -- dips, lifts and/or flips are included in almost every performance.

The dance formats range from all types of dance you might see in a concert, video or movie, such as pop, disco, ballroom, lyrical jazz, hip hop and salsa. The last few weeks no one has chosen salsa, but it's interesting to see how versatile the dancers are, their chemistry together, if they have it, how technical they are and if they know ow to perform.

The judges comment on each performance after their routine and it's interesting to see how well they critique their technique and performance style; and how it compares to your own knowledge and expertise.

Then the worst two or three couples are picked and they have to do a solo dance by themselves so that the audience can do a phone poll for their favourites. The lowest scoring male and female of that segment are eliminated the following week and then the format starts again.

It's interesting to see how the dancers get eliminated as sometimes it's the luck of the draw if you've got a bad partner who cannot adapt to the technique of a particular style of dance.

Also, it's interesting to see that if you're not an all-round dancer, you will eventually be eliminated.

If I am to guess who will be in the final two -- for the men, I think Blake and Nick due to their technical training and the fact they seem to be able to pick up other dances and perform it almost as well. Although I also enjoy watching Jamile and Ryan as they are street dancers; and have shown some versatility, but they are not as consistent.

For the females, it's a tougher choice, as they have great style and need to be a good follower. I don't think I can narrow it down to two as these four girls impress me each week with their adaptability -- Ashle, Kamilah, Melissa and Melody. But after reflection of their overall performance each week, Ashle and Kamilah may be the strongest as they get very little criticism each week by the judges and are very consistent in their technique and performance.

Every week, there's new updated features on the Fox website, and they even have a page with all the songs the dancers used in their performances. So for those of you who have been emailing me about the salsa songs, click here!

August 18, 2005

So You Think You Can Dance?

OR maybe it should really be called... "So You Think You Have Ego..." two weeks ago.

If you love to dance, then hopefully you're taking the time each week to watch the new Fox reality dance show each Wednesday night at 8 pm. What I love about watching reality shows or documentaries is you really get a chance to see some of the trials and tribulations of what a dancer goes through under pressure, and what it takes to be a really great dancer. It's not just about your own abilities to teach yourself how to dance (if you brag you don't have formal training), but if you want to be the best; you need to learn or train in all styles of dancing. Or just have so much talent that you can pick up anything a choreographer throws at you -- whether it's hip hop, jazz or partner dancing.

And then there's dance ego... and there was plenty of it that night. The worst was Blake who actually had the nerve to say on national TV that he was a better instructor/dancer than one of his choreographers, plus the same choreographer was just "jealous". And then didn't think of the consequences that would come back to him, which in this case was the choreographers all viewing this segment of the tape and they were all obviously turned off by his attitude. If he didn't have the potential he did, he definitely would have been voted off. A perfect reminder for those with egos in the dance scene that it is a small world and don't expect that what you say about someone doesn't get back to them. Echoing the point I've always made about treating others the way you want to be treated, and you'll be amazed as I have been at what's coming atcha from around the corner...

Last night, the real competition started when the remaining 16 dancers. Each male dancer drew a female to partner with, who in turn picked a dance style (mambo, hip hop, lyrical or jive) and had to learn a new routine with a choreographer. This goes back to ego in dancing, where dancers of one dance style always think that's the only dance style or the best way to dance.

What I love about watching this show, is that if you're truly a talented dancer; with some training and practice, you could dance almost any dance style and make it look good.

What was also interesting to watch were some of the following lessons I've learned from dancing with partners, Salsa Team Canada and watching all types of dance performances; and having the choreographers echo alot of what I've learned over the years:

1. Whether someone trained in the style of hip hop or jazz could switch to a partner dance and make it look easy; and vice versa.

2. Do they have showmanship? If you watch the couples, what makes a great show is bringing the audience into your performance. If you noticed, some couples were so intent on getting the moves right, they forgot to look at the audience. It also showed us that they still hadn't had enough practice and/or weren't as comfortable with the routine.

3. Whether the couple had any chemistry together to pull off the routine. It was interesting to see who could dance well together and connect -- some couples pulled it off as if they were training together regularly, some were both technically strong, some couples had connection and some did not; or had no chemistry together so their routine just looked boring.

4. How much technique each dancer has and/or the ability to communicate their love of the dance live while performing. Hands down last night, Blake's level of technical difficulty, the emotion he showed in his lyrical dance and how beautifully he executed the pirouettes blew me away.

5. How dance instructors or dancers should not always assume that if you're a great dance instructor, you'll also be a great dancer or performer -- that's not always the case; and this show has proven this point over the past 4 weeks.

6. How you can never stop training or learning from all styles of dance. There's nothing wrong with loving only one style or type of dance, but if you truly want to be an all-round dancer -- it takes alot of dedication, practice and humility.

There are some other pointers that some of the choreographers have made over the past few weeks, but I can't think of them right now. August has been a non-stop busy month; so I've been out and about, but unfortunately have not had alot of time to do alot of writing.

But if you've missed out on the shows, you can still find dance clips each week on the Fox website, along with dancer bios, photo gallery and so on...

And for those of you who still haven't seen "Mad Hot Ballroom", it's now playing at Canada Square at Yonge & Eglinton.

And if you're thinking of seeing "Rize", you can wait for it to go to the video stores; although the dance scenes were great, this documentary just didn't make me empathize with the dancers as much as "Mad Hot Ballroom". It was also interesting to hear why the street dancers got into krumping and clowning, but not enough thought was put into the composition of the movie to keep your interest throughout.

If you're a fan of "Dancing with the Stars", ABC has just announced a special "dance-off between Hurley and Monaco" airing September 20th. Click here for more info...

Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks, including a new promotion where we'll be giving away 3 pairs of tickets to Umoja for the end of September at the Elgin Theatre. This is the second year it will be coming back to Toronto, but with some new dance or musical numbers.

July 23, 2005

Your chance to win one of 3 Canada Salsa Congress Passes -- click here!

You don't have to live in TO if you're willing to pay your own travel expenses...
July 13, 2005

Dance Media Gone Wild...

Here's your chance to watch a 2 hour sneak-peak of the new "So You Think You Can Dance" Reality TV Show next Wednesday, July 20th, on CFTO Cable 8 Toronto from 8-10 pm.

As I did some surfing, I found an article that talks about the type of dancing they will be showing which includes salsa, jive, hip-hop and krumping. Alex de Silva of LA will be a featured salsa choreographer.

And here are some clips I found on the net:

Video Preview 1
Other Clips, incl. Salsa

Sugar-baby and Rose Knows by Renee And thanks to a tip from a fellow dancer, Sugar-Baby, last week, I just had to check out the documentary, Mad Hot Ballroom at Cumberland this past Tuesday. If you love summer movies and especially love to watch dance movies -- this tops all the dance movies I've seen and makes them pale in comparison, such as "Dance With Me", Havana Nights, etc.

If you enjoy a totally entertaining, funny, feel-good, make you want to go back to childhood and dance -- you can't miss it. Everyone in the audience laughed throughout the whole movie, totally entertained by what these children are going through in learning how to dance and how to compete in competition.

Everything you ever felt, seen or thought about dancing is exemplified by these kids and you may even be inspired to either learn to dance ballroom or go to your nearest school to start such a program.

And none of what you see is a cliche but truly what we all experience when learning to dance. You'll see or hear everything we've ever talked about on this site -- what it's like to practice for a competition, the ups and downs from competing, how good is the leader or the follower, eye contact, you can even figure out who's got rhythm or not, imagine what they'll be like dancing when they grow up; and the list goes on and on.

Movie Trivia Articles

Movie Ratings in TO: 9.6/10
Rose Knows Rating: 10+/10

How did Mad Hot Ballroom survive the copyright cartel?

Anyone ready for Krumping?

Just released in select theatres in the US, here's a new documentary about another emerging dance streetform that started in LA which was used in the choreography of the video "Dirrty" with Christina Aguilera. It's directed by David LaChappelle, a noted fashion photographer and music-video auteur. Check out the music and the clips -- it's totally "street".

The Official Website
The Review
The Official Trailer

On the Official Website, if you haven't seen enough dancing, have some fun in the Battlezone where you can watch clips of the Clowns vs the Krumpers.

Unfortunately, I still haven't found any info to see if it's coming up to Canada as of yet.

And for those of you who love Reggaeton, you might want to check out this lengthy RNS Promotional Videoclip of "Fuego/Baila Reggaeton".

July 11, 2005

Salsa Summer Weekend
Gone Wild...

Okay, it's Summer and you'd think everyone would love to be out dancing, but I guess when you're at work you always find time to write... more updates in Dear TOsalsa and "kickbacks" in the Discussion Forum!

And after attending the Outdoor Art Exhibition at Toronto City Hall, my creative instincts got totally inspired by the artists and photographers who were displaying their work.

The artists who inspired me were:

1. Painters whose talent with oils also struck my creative fancy and made me wish I had more time to explore this medium.

2. But what hit home the most, and where I can quickly experiment with is digital photography.

The photographers who travelled the world and while walking various parts of the city or countryside would take these awesome shots in colour or black and white that totally took my breath away; and made me wish I was there with them witnessing that exact same moment. If I had to buy every photo that I saw, I probably would be broke.

Because it was the first night of the show, it gave me an opportunity to talk to the photographers personally about their medium and it was interesting to note that they still preferred film over digital and actually developed their own photos.

Over the weekend, I was still enthralled and inspired by the artists and brought my digi-camera to Babaluu on Sunday. On a sudden whim watching some of my dance friends going out for a smoke, I experimented by taking a smoker's theme mixed in with a little "attitude". And who is my favourite "study" in this photo op, but Isa a.k.a. the Rose Knows Protogee gone wild...

July 10, 2005

R & R Gone Wild...

And what do working girls do after a long stressful day... they get dressed up, hit the salsa clubs and they party!

And coincidentally, that's how Renee and I got hooked up. We had so much fun with all our salsa friends last week that the party flowed for a few more days prior to a salsa siesta...

A few years ago I wrote about "How to Get your Salsa Groove Back", but none of that seemed to be working as there wasn't enough salsa energy to draw from.

Also, it didn't help that I had salsa burnout from the past 5 years of non-stop salsa activity.

But all it took was taking the last straw of stress from work and the determination that I would balance it with a good dose of salsa! And all it took was a few friends ready to party and a few out-of-towners to make this one of the most memorable summer weeknights of salsa...

So how do salsa girls kick it up another notch? Well, these days it's more the norm to dress down than dress up; but to add a little spice to the nights, Renee and I seemed to challenge each other to see who could be more outrageously dressed or the dressiest for the night... Needless to say, it added some drama to our evenings just to see other dancers' reactions; and made for some memorable pics!

The past Tuesday was the ultimate salsa night R&R needed. For me, it started with having my usual monthly massage after work, picking up Renee and heading over to Babaluu's for dinner.

As always, when I am looking for a parking space, there are many nights that someone is just pulling out, and this was one of those nights. The parking space just barely had one inch on either side; and Renee was sure I would not be able to fit the car in. I assured her it wouldn't be the first time I parallel-parked into a tight spot; in fact, I usually park perfectly in those situations. But to be safe, Renee checked to ensure I wasn't going to do any major damage. And voila, in less than 3 car moves, the car was in; but in the meantime, a guy already walked past and offered to help park (with Renee stating I could handle it); and when I turned off the engine, a lady commented to Renee that I must have learned to park while in Europe (which had us both laughing). I could already sense we were about to have an awesome night to remember.

What's great about Babaluu's on Tuesday is that they have $5 drinks and $5 Tapas; and we took full advantage of that special; then proceeded to have a fun night with all our friends dancing or posing for pictures compliments of Renee.

PS R&R had so much fun that we went back again on Wednesday!

And since I was lounging around at home, I finally had a chance to update 3 months worth of emails for Dear TOsalsa, the Discussion Forum and 10 more Top 10 Salsa Song Lists from around the World -- Colombia, Germany, USA, Argentina, Amsterdam, Australia, Spain and Thailand! Go figure...

July 8, 2005

Hot Weekend in TO!

As always in Toronto, there's alot of events happening each weekend around the City, check out this link to all the different outdoor activities.

One of my favourite events is the Toronto Street Festival this weekend and there seems to be some dance events, but I wasn't able to find any salsa-related activities this year. But I did find out about another outdoor Festival on St. Clair called Toronto Fiesta which will have salsa music outdoors.

And for those who love food as much as salsa, Summerlicious kicks off today until July 24th.

July 3, 2005

Happy Canada's Day Part 2
Salsa Girls Gone Wild?

So much to talk about and so little time to update...

It's amazing to see how much time it takes just to post a few galleries and compose some emails while trying to catch up with your salsa friends that you haven't talked to in months or years!

And the party continued straight through the weekend...

Friday (Canada Day Holiday) was probably the only day that salsa did not take over, but was a great day to just chill with non-salsa friends.

It was the formula I needed before going to see Omara Portuondo with the Buena Vista Social Club on Saturday. I met up with Roy of Salsaholics.com in LA and we had a fun-filled evening playing tourists around downtown TO. What made the evening so special for both of us was being able to share our love of the music. Roy Thomson Hall is one of the best venues to listen to a legend of a singer, with a talented group of artists in a wonderfully acoustic setting. Most of her repertoire were variations of the cha cha beat or latin ballads; but I still can't get out of my mind was the Mambo Descarga (fast salsa) they played near the end of the two hour concert that showed us what live mambo music could truly sound like in the proper setting with a full orchestra.

The whole concert was beautifully orchestrated mixing full band music sets with simply Omara with a solo musician -- pure magic for the senses. You got to experience first-hand the magic of her personality without understanding any Spanish -- just by the way she moved and used her facial expressions while singing or talking; and the fact she still has the magic at her tender age of 75!

The musicians who totally caught my imagination this year was the tres guitar player who was able to play the guitar with it over the back of his neck -- he couldn't see the keys; and later he had a dance with Omara showing us what it must have been like when they must have been in their prime; with their intricate, but subtle cuban footwork.

And later they also featured a violinist who just jammed during a mambo set that had the crowd cheering because it was just so in tune with the mambo beat but taking it to a new level.

Both Roy and I left the concert totally enthralled -- and took a long walk through downtown just to let ourselves totally absorb what we had experienced. Going to a club to dance just would not do the concert justice. Listening to the slow melodic cha chas, you could just imagine sitting on the beaches of Brazil soaking up the talent of these musicians -- you felt you were almost there...

And then to finish off the weekend, how about a Salsa Bday Party... This year, I've been so busy or tired, that I've missed most of the parties, but how could I not end the weekend dancing or partying up a storm in a different salsa venue and with almost no humidity.

And since I had been partying it up since Tuesday, we took it up another notch and inspired many of the girls to show a little attitude with Renee as the photographer and myself as the instigator-producer-co-conspirator of some of the "Girls Gone Wild" pics at Teddy of United Salseros bday...

And the next set of pics I can't wait to get my hands on is DJ Julio Cezar's photos of Thursday night and more photos by Roy of Salsaholics.com!

Stay tuned...

July 1, 2005

Happy Canada's Day
How to Get into the Summer Salsa Groove...

Well, it started over a week ago, when I had an afternoon off at work and got to hang out in the sun -- with free food and drinks at the Docks! And once again, the weather was perfect with not a touch of humidity; and I outdid myself by having some fun by getting 5 temporary tattoos to kick off the summer season!

The only problem was, after a great day in the sun, I just was not inspired to go dancing last weekend when Jayson Molina was in town -- especially with the major heatwave that hit... and after a few sweaty incidents in the clubs -- I just wasn't in the mood for more punishment.

But after a few stressful weeks at work, this week I was determined to try and de-stress myself like the old days by dancing. So I zoomed down to Babaluu's and ended up closing the place 3 nights in a row -- from Tuesday to Thursday this week! Therefore, always go with the attitude you are going to dance no matter what...

What really helped was having some out-of-town surprises, such as my old salsa congress buddy Oren who now lives in Australia who closed Bab's with me each night -- just like the old days; and running into other familiar faces I hadn't seen in months or years, so Tuesday at Babaluu's was more than just a great night of great music, but a mix of dance and catching up with old friends.

So after such a fun night at Bab's and a late night at work, I decided to zoom down to Bab's and check out how Wednesday was holding up... and it turned out to be another fun night with just enough dancers to keep me dancing 'til almost 2 am and alot more dance room than most nights. DJ Carlitos actually played alot of salsa that night, along with some bachata and merengue.

And then Thursday, Roy of Salsaholics.com was coming into town from LA for the weekend; and dying to check out the Toronto Salsa Scene.

Well, I can never resist hanging out with dancers from around the World, especially fellow webmasters that you rub shoulders with at various Congresses or via the net...

So to keep the mix interesting, you call up a few salsa regulars, but did hook up with DJ Julio for dinner at Babaluu's as it was his night off. Needless to say we all had a great time, hanging and chilling. As expected, not too many regulars were in the club, but alot of non-salsa dancers who were in the mood to party that night... And started dancing almost as soon as the salsa started before the floor got packed.

Then later in the night much to my surprise, there were a few more out-of-town salsa dancers who I had the pleasure of dancing with to mix it up alittle, one from LA and one from New York. They were both in town visiting and dying to dance...

So it's hilarious to hear their stories -- imagine coming to a strange city, but some actually found TOsalsa and figured out which club to go dancing on a weeknight. Then you actually start casing the floor to see who can dance OR as some brave dancers will do, they recognize me and introduce themselves to me, and usually we end up having a dance... And then of course, if there's not many dancers in the club, you have more than one... And since I usually know their dance-starved, I'll start introducing them to other dancers.

And I've heard stories of the girls who will try to size up the guy asking them nicely for a dance only to be refused because they don't look like they can or actually have the nerve to ask the guy if he knows how to dance. May I make a suggestion? The old saying you can't always judge a book by it's cover; and yes, I've been burned too in the past, but you can miss out on having some amazingly fun dances with a complete stranger.

And that's what was a pleasant surprise for me that night. As most people know, Bab's on a long weekend is full of social on-1 dancers or non-dancers in a packed, but happening club. Here's a perfect example... A Dominican came up to me, asking me for a dance, I already labelled him as possibly from the islands and probably danced either cuban or colombian-style. And he asked me nicely for a dance, so it would have been rude to refuse as I was at that moment really not in the mood for a dance on a very crowded floor. Much to my surprise, he started by doing a very clear New York Mambo on 2 basics; and I went into a moment of dance shock, and had to ask where he was from. And I got the answer I was expecting -- he said New York.

And then of course (grinning), I couldn't resist and had to ask how he was enjoying Bab's as I was pretty sure there were no on2 dancers that night (and I was pretty sure he didn't dance on1). I felt for him when he said he had been casing the floor all night to try and find one. When he spotted me, I was actualy dancing on 1 with the LA dancer; but he thought to himself by the way I danced that I just might know on2. And even though he didn't state how he knew, I had my own revelation on how you can possibly tell; and it was probably from a dancer's body movements. Once you learn on2, your body movements have a different behaviour or flavour, than just dancing on1. On1 tends to have a different type of styling than the movements you would learn on2; or to put it another way, how about on1 has more of a latin ballroom staccato flair versus the more fluid body motions on2 in direct proportion to how the music flows through you.

And how you end up with a major salsa fix is by dancing almost non-stop during the last salsa set of the night to the point you're limping back to the car. And it was nice to see that the out-of-towners also got their salsa fix that night... And how do I know? Well, how about some thank you emails that night or the next day...

June 28, 2005

Congratulations to our two lucky winners of the Buena Vista Social Club concert:

Helen Mayer
Cristina Simionovici

June 27, 2005

Salsa Jungle Fever
How to Survive a Crowded Hot Summer Dance Floor...

What is salsa jungle fever... well, in this case, it's nothing to do with the type of hunting that might normally go on in the clubs... but let me tell you what can happen in a hot, sweaty club..

A month ago, as I headed down to Babaluu's on a Tuesday, I'm in anticipation of another great night of dancing and some great non-stop salsa music...

And as you walk in, the place is packed and you case the floor to see how many of your friends have shown up and to say "hi".

As I walk to the back of the club, I brush past some dancers at the edge of the dance floor and unluckily get a long, large scrape of a sharp heel down the back of my calf almost to my ankle... And as always, they are not experienced or considerate dancers who usually would notice if they bumped or scratched someone, but obviously beginners, intermediate or selfish dancers who are so busy still concentrating on their steps that they don't even bat an eyelash or say sorry.

Some of you may say, how can a dancer know the difference? Well, you take a crowded room full of experienced dancers and compare it to a room full of inexperienced dancers; and let me tell you how many times you were bumped into or stepped on. I can guarantee you it will be less than 10% or not at all because they usually are considerate about their floor space or stop their partner before they bump or step on another dancer.

But that was not the end of a summer night's evening of dance...

Imagine the inexplicable feeling of dancing with a partner who's clothes are soaked to their skin; and actually do moves that make your hands brush against their sweaty clothes!

Or how about a sweaty two-kiss hello we all love to do but to have their sweaty cheeks bathe your own in sweat!

Dancers, please remember some basic summer etiquette rules as alot of the salsa venues seem to lack proper air conditioning:

1. Bring a change of clothes if you know you regularly sweat on the dance floor.

2. Don't actually kiss when you're sweaty... and let the dancer know that's why you're not really giving the proper hello or goodbye.

3. If a dancer insists on dancing with you, you can warn them that your clothes are soaked right through; therefore they have the chance to refuse.

And always, always watch out for your partner to ensure they don't bump or step on someone else on the dance floor. And if you do, please remember to apologize.

If you didn't even notice, guaranteed, you need to pay more attention to your dance space and not just on your partner and your moves.

PS Remember that scratch? Well, it lasted a week and turned into a long, sore black and blue bruise!

June 15, 2005

Your Chance to Win a Pair of Tickets to see Omara Portuondo at Roy Thomson Hall on Saturday, July 2nd, click here!

You've got Spam!

For those of you who are not as virus-savvy, we started to receive spam mail with a zipped attachmet that says...

From: info@tosalsa.com

Subject: Your Password has been successfully updated

Dear user events,

You have successfully updated the password of your Tosalsa account.

If you did not authorize this change or if you need assistance with your account, please contact Tosalsa customer service at: info@tosalsa.com

Thank you for using Tosalsa!
The Tosalsa Support Team

+++ Attachment: No Virus (Clean)
+++ Tosalsa Antivirus - www.tosalsa.com

If any readers receive this type of email with an attachment, it is not from TOsalsa and please do not open it as it is probably a virus email.

May 30, 2005

Surfing the World of Dance...

For those of you who love to dance whether it's salsa or ballroom, I did some surfing over the past few days and was amazed at how much new material was out there that I hadn't seen before...

For those days you don't have time or the urge to travel to other salsa cities or congresses, I find the internet the next-best-thing and you get to read about who's hot right now in the salsa scene in various cities, or see some great social dancing via the web.

10th Mayan Club Competition in LA has just finished and it's a great snapshot of what LA has to offer... if you enjoy watching tricks and acrobatics.

imambo.tv website was redesigned and has alot of great new dance clips from different events.

Also, there seems to be a growing movement towards a dance scene or a dance movie coming out on a regular basis.

At Cumberland Theatre this week, you might get some inspiration from watching these kids dance ballroom in "Mad Hot Ballroom" or pick up a few pointers if you're planning to teach kids to dance.

Later this year, there's another ballroom movie coming out called "Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School".

In the trailers for these two movies, Merengue was featured...

Shooting in Toronto right now is "Take the Lead" with Antonio Banderas. This movie was inspired by a true story of an internationally acclaimed ballroom dancer Pierre Dulane;. Antonio is an ex-professional dancer who volunteers to teach dance in the New York City public school system. When his ballroom methods clash with his students' hip hop instincts, he teams up with them to create a new style of dance.

And starting on June 1st on ABC at 9 pm, there's a new Reality TV series called "Dancing with the Stars". It pairs a celebrity with a professional ballroom dance partner, where they learn to train and compete in a dance competition.

And starting on Wed July 20th at 8pm, Fox will air a 2-hour premiere "So You Think You Can Dance" . A 12 week competition of America's best undiscovered dancing talent by the producers of "American Idol" and American Bandstand".

May 25, 2005

SalsaPic Mania...

May the force be with you as you surf through over 1,000? pics posted this past week...

Super Mario at Acrobat

Mambo Tribe Social Pajama Party

May 21, 2005

A Nice Long Salsa Weekend...

Well, for those of you who missed out on a hot, steamy salsa night at Acrobat... everyone was in dance mode, including me... while I videotaped the Mambo Tribe Dance Troupes, Ziv was snapping away with his new digi-camera...

Many of the instructors came out to dance and mingle; but you have another chance tonight at the Pajama Party Social. Stay tuned...

And finally, the pics are up from the Israel Salsa Congress...

May 18, 2005, Part 2

Super Mario Shout-out...
How MUCH did she get paid to write this?

Well, while I was checking my emails tonight... I received an email from an ex-dancer of TO who is now living in London, England. Thanks Shalin for taking the time to write and give us a peek on the London Salsa Scene...

TOsalsa Trivia Tidbit... Super Mario was one of the first out-of-town dancers who I met back in April 2000 at the Toronto Salsaweb Convention. He became instant friends with all of us back then and had his first teaching gig as a last minute replacement in TO!

But for those of you who love "testimonials" from other dancers, here's what Shalin sent in...

"Super Mario is Coming to TO-wn --
Hi Rose Given Super Mario is coming to Toronto, I thought I should key in a few lines to provide a brief introduction of the salsa scene in London (UK), Super Mario’s nights and teaching reputation here. But before that, I should point out that I moved to London from TO last month and was a regular at TO clubs for the past couple of years - miss Tuesdays at Baba's!

The Salsa scene in London is, quite simply, huge. London has over 50 salsa clubs and London hosts two congresses each year. Styles are varied with most dancing in the clubs being On 1, with some advanced folks dancing On 2. Super Mario and Susana Montero (who by the way gave a dynamite Bachata performance at the London Congress a few weeks back) have two club nights (for those planning on visiting - Mondays and Thursdays and fairly central, near subway station). The lessons typically start with turn patterns and shines being taught towards the last quarter / fifth of the lesson. The turn patterns are leadable and clearly broken down.

One neat aspect about the lessons is that elements of styling (for ladies from Susana), technique and social dancing tips are all part of the lesson. To me, this felt like better instruction as opposed to isolating elements and teaching each separately. I wish other instructors try this approach.

The other thing is that they manage to convey a huge amount of information / learning that is conveyed within an hour of instruction (you better pay attention to what is being said!). Mario also DJ’s to boot – and spins tunes with clear rhythm, designed to make you dance! Salsa dancers in London appreciate the instruction and there is a loyal following to their nights. And no, Super Mario asked not paid/asked me to post this! This is Toronto’s opportunity to learn from one of the best, enjoy! Shalin"


May 18, 2005

Photo Mania...

Yes, while it may have seemed quiet on the TOsalsa front; but behind the scenes, you just never know what salsa pleasures might be awaiting you...

While I have been doing a little bit of salsa hibernation, Ziv and Julio sneaked one by me and bought new digi-cameras that any salsa photo diva would drool over... If you haven't been to Babaluu's on a Tuesday, then you're missing out on one of the now hottest nights of the week due to the amazing collection of salsa classics that any salsaholic could ask to dance or listen to... one hot non-stop salsa night that can almost match the level of music you might find at a salsa congress -- DJ Julio has been doing his homework.

And while I patiently wait for some really cool social pics from Julio, Ziv has been snapping away with his new digi-toy. Check out last Sunday's sold out Mambo Tribe Mambo Showdown. You may wonder why I chose to do a close-up of one dancer... This pic is as close to showing the true spirit of what dance can do to your soul; and I couldn't keep my eyes off Trionne's face.

And very soon, we'll be posting over 1,000 pics from the Israel Salsa Congress. Ziv visited Israel a month ago and must have had a very choice spot to get that very "ripped" pic of Frankie Martinez, and we have more on its way...

And where will the dancers be hanging out this weekend? Well, Super Mario is coming back to TO starting on Friday night at Acrobat, then Mambo Tribe is having a very special Pajama Party Social which is already 50% sold out this Saturday -- get those digi-cameras ready...

April 28, 2005

Congratulations to Sonia and Moris in Montreal!

Although I unfortunately could not make it, congrats goes out to Sonia and Moris on a very successful congress in Montreal, where they had around 2,000 at their very first Congress!

I've heard snippets from various dancers that because it was so busy, there wasn't much room to dance at some of the venues and there were some logistics that need to be improved for next year... but that's always par for the course...

It will be interesting to see if anyone writes in about their thoughts about the Congress.

April 15, 2005

Sonia and Moris from Montreal are in Town!

Here's your chance to talk or dance with them in person one week prior to the Montreal Salsa Convention... how's that for salsa dedication... they will be at Lula Lounge and Acrobat tonight...

If you want to check out one of the hottest "married couples" in Canada... check out some of these these pics from the past!

April 3, 2005

Congratulations to our Montreal Salsa Congress Winners!

Carlos Izaguirre - Ottawa
Chu Trieu - Toronto
Annette Trocki - Mississauga

And more responses in Dear TOsalsa and the Discussion Forum!

March 28, 2005

Salsa that makes you go Hmmm... OR
I'm Back...

Well sort of... it has been awhile since I've updated some of our Readers' most favourite sections; and no, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, but for awhile, it felt like it...

You're going to have tons of reading to choose from (over two months worth!). Starting with...

Dear TOsalsa... you'll find the usual questions about music and where to take lessons; but then emails from various Readers that make you go hmmm... such as:

A dance school that wants to charge a Reader $5000 to learn how to be an Instructor in two weeks and then expects them to teach for them for a year; and not even giving them any information on what they would get paid...

A 54-year-old Cuban who talks about how to learn Cuban Dancing...

A Latino who wrote in about taking off negative Latin music comments or he'll "blacklist" our site...

Then there's a response to Mechy's negativity about non-Cuban salsa dancers... but I have no idea which discussion forum this came from... (which is why I've been "patiently" waiting for someone to finish our message board... sigh...)

Discussion Forum Backlog of Emails since January, 2005!

10 new Top 10 Salsa Songs lists from all over the World, such as Tokyo, Turkey, Croatia, Sweden, Poland and France.

And two new photo galleries -- pics by Ziv at the Mambo Tribe Salsa Social Anniversary Party and the Grand Opening of Salsa Wednesdays at Lucid. This originally was hyped to be the new club that would rival what Berlin used to be with live bands every week, until they lost their CEO.

As the Salsa World turns in TO...

February 28, 2005

March Mania...

March starts off with a bang as we have Adalberto Alvarez with a 16 piece Cuban band coming to Toronto this weekend, then you can end the weekend with Mambo Tribe's one year anniversary special with some great dance shows.

Salsa Stories

February 3, 2005

Valentine's Day and
Chinese New Year
is just around the corner...

What a way to kick off a cold February...

On February 9, 2005, it will be the Year of the Rooster...

and then on February 14th, we all get to celebrate Valentine's Day... and for fun, click on the list of Valentine's Day and Anti-Valentine's Day Songs I created with Freddy a few years ago...

January 23, 2005

Congratulations goes out to Tammy and Miguel for a new baby girl, named Veronica Belle weighing in at 6 lbs 5 oz on Friday, January 21st at 8:25 pm.

January 16, 2005

A New Year Resolution?

In my busy schedule, it's been difficult to find time to juggle everything I've been hoping to work on... especially since I bought a few new electronic toys to add to my computer collection. But over the holidays I did have a chance to write up a new salsa resolution story. It's not about the Top 10 New Salsa Resolutions (although I already have an idea for that), but inspired by things that have been happening here in Toronto over the past few years that I and other dancers are tired of -- dancers that are either negative or damaging to our salsa scene... click here and take some time to reflect as I did over the holidays...

And as always, more

Dear TOsalsa -- some great or shall I say entertaining feedback from various dancers

Lots more great responses in our Discussion Forum

And two more favourite song lists, even one from Australia!

And if you want to donate $$$ to Tsunami, just click on this link to the Red Cross site - Canada - US

January 9, 2005

January Blues?

If anyone should be having them, maybe it's me since this time last year, I had 3-1/2 weeks of gorgeous summer weather back in Brazil, and wish I could have afforded the time to go back for more shopping and tanning on the beaches!

But in the meantime, I just have to settle for our great dancing in TO any night of the week, and all the great dancers who write in and keep us all entertained from all parts of the World...

I finally had a chance to update the Dear TOsalsa section which is loaded with new tidbits and drama...

A pile of new responses in the Discussion Forum...

And two more Top 10 Salsa Song Lists -- one from Romania and another from London, England...

And for those of you who have forgotten, don't forget to sign up for our various Promotions as we will soon be picking some winners very soon...

Paco Pena
Peru Negro
Montreal Salsa Convention

And soon, I'll also be posting a new promotion for a Lula Lounge Concert to see Adalberto Alvarez with a 16-piece band from Cuba! He sings one of my favourite salsa songs -- Somos Latinos, a song I can never get sick of listening, singing or dancing to.

January 3, 2005

A New Beginning...

This past year has been as non-stop busy as any other year... not necessarily full of salsa but of lessons learned or forgotten...

Condolences go out to so many people I know who over Xmas holidays lost loved ones recently and to all the families of the Tsunami Asia Tragedy.

It's hard to believe that with such advanced technology these days that it was possible to let so many die, but there are still so many moments in life we take for granted or still need to learn from...

Here are some links that explain what caused the Tsunami Asia:

- Maps of the World
- 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake
- BBC Animation

And how you can help... either support a dance event that is contributing funds to the Tsunami Asia Fund or click on this link for all the charities involved...

And for those of you who don't get enough of Top 10 Salsa Song Lists, I have three new submissions from London, Ontario, Miami and Seattle!

And this past Thursday December 30 at Maná Bar,
Bong Gonzales and DJ Billy Bryans presented " El RUMBON CUBANO - Afro-Cuban Dance with bata drummers Marcus Chonsky, rick lazar and Mike Marcuzzi.

We have two different photo interpretations from Ziv and myself and the Babaluu Xmas Party pics from Giovanni of Los Salsomanos!

To give you some biofeedback -- the four dancers, all born and trained in Cuba, and now living in Toronto, will perform a variety of dances that are the roots and foundation of modern salsa. It was 40 minutes worth of cuban roots featuring:

Sarita Leyva
Sara Leyva began her dance career at the age of seven in Holguin, Cuba. She later moved to Havana
where she completed her formal studies and examinations in classical ballet, modern dance, and folkloric dance and choreography at the Cuban National School of Arts (ENA). She subsequently worked as an instructor at a variety of performing arts schools and cultural institutions, all the while maintaining an active dance career, both in Cuba and internationally.

Consuello Herrara
Raised in central Havana, Consuello Herrara has an extensive background in folkloric and popular
Cuban dance. She was a member of the well know group Liberasion 75 and is a member of Cuba's Ballet Folklorico Raices Profunda. In Toronto Consuello Herrara has performed and choreographed with Toronto's Ballet Creole and also teaches Cuban dance at York University.

Irina Rosales Bravo
Ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, Afro-Cuban, Danzon, Rumba, Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, Son, Salsa are the varieties of dance that Irina Bravo is trained in. She received her professional training at The
Escuela Nacional de Artse in Havana Cuba - she appeared in the co-Danza Dance Company and after
moving to Toronto she performed with Ballet Creole. She has competed in many dance competitions
with partner Bong Gonzales as well as performing in The Rumbon Dance Company and Sangre Caliente

Juan Carlos Bulnes
Made his debut as a dancer on the legendary Cuban Televison show 'Para Bailar' organised by Rosendo
and Caruca and with the famous cuban dancer Aristedes Santos. Danced with both the Conjunto Folklorico and Los Guaracheros de Regla until 1990 when he formed his own group called Bulneson. He subsequently toured as a dancer with Sierra Maestra and came to Canada in 1995 with band and dance troup called Energia Latina. He has performed on many occasions at Harbourfront and other festivals as part of his dance company Okokan.

Remember, you can email or let us know in person, any updates, feedback or suggestions on what you would like to read.