How it started

Together with Vivian, we started 14 years ago with teaching at Aegee. 12 years at the cultural center, fired, and now volunteers at SoSalsa. While going to salsa parties we made friends and we felt that we needed to create our own salsa clan in Delft, in order not having to travel so much to other cities, and when travelling, to go more together with friends. Well, you see what happened, when we found some friends that liked to put our invitation into action.

The founding fathers of SoSalsa are Vicki, Melissa, Kees-Jan, Maurice, Rabih and Tal.

The name SoSalsa was invented by Tal, and he used to be an active blogger. Here I’d like to share one of them: “ It always starts with a mail. That’s how we decide to meet up. Someone spots a Salsa party somewhere and sends everyone a message. It’s usually KeesJan, but not this time. Which is weird because 15.725 mails later, he became the spiritual leader of our club. Not a week passes without my inbox screaming for attention. Salsa party in Leiden, workshop in The Hague, new website (www.SalsaStudents.nl), hell, even business cards ! On Melissa’s initiative, we all went to the Salsa Under The Bridge party. The Erasmus bridge, that is. Enter the club, and there’s no ‘typical’ salsero to be found.

You got the African dancers who seem to feel the rhythm at their very own pace. Slowly, but never missing a beat, they just take. Their. Time. The ladies know they’re in for some sensual moving. And I don’t mean to generalize here, but ask around and people will tell you. Asians have a very different approach to Salsa. Did you ever know Bruce Lee was constantly told by the directors to slow down because the camera couldn’t get his moves on film? There is a thin line between martial arts and Salsa; if crossed you can expect a pretty irritated dance partner. Some think of dancing as a combo of moves which not only need to be performed as fast as possible, but preferably without smiling; at all. That could distract from the higher purpose of showing off, you see…

And then you got our Latin friends. High heels for the ladies, slim shirts for the Chico’s. No need for details here, we’ve all seen the drum beats command their every limb in what can only be described as Salsa-machines on auto-pilot. The problem with Salsa is you can’t learn by watching from aside. This is something our Dutch natives have understood a long time ago. Don’t think Salsa has remained terra incognita in Holland. Behind sound-proof walls and innocuous doors, they have been catching on to the mating ritual as
fast as they were discreet. Who has seen Salsa coming? From Cuba to New York to the TU Delft’s cultural centre, its presence can not be denied. Not to mention the influence it has had on some of your fellow students.

We come together at nights on the platforms of Delft Central Station. There’s definitely an underground vibe to it all. The first rule of Salsa Club is, if this is your first night out, you have to dance. By day, you might see us walking the streets like your average Joe. We pass our tests, pay our bills and struggle with alarms not going off (commonly referred to as oversleeping). But then night comes. People amble in; whispers of mounting anticipation can be heard. Sporadic signs of recognition are sent across the room while the live band pull out their instruments. And the music commences. A cacophony for the senses, the rhythm creeping into your body, and suddenly you’re dancing. Communicating. Every push and pull and twist and turn and shake and flirt, is an unspoken conversation between two bodies. From the sidelines you would see a dancefloor full of people who for the length of a catchy song, are completely care-free. And since there is always another song coming, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. But then again, you shouldn’t be standing on the sideline. “

Old technology, email and websites are now replaced by Facebook and Whatsapp. However, the key ingredients stay the same, salsa did not change, nor the rules of dancing. This is what I’ve learned in all those years:

1) Become active and share, share your time to invest in others.

2) Become active and notice how your enthusiasm, ideas and plans are struck by critisism and negativity, survive this, and your’re hooked forever

3) Go to a party where you don’t know anyone and ask people to dance.

4) Asking someone to dance is frightening, and can lead to rejection. This is the same for anyone, and only by trying you learn to dance, and you learn to enjoy each party you visit.

5) Most important ingredient of Salsa for me is social interaction, not technique, the amount of steps etc. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone, try your moves and experience what happens next.

Dance and get addicted 🙂

Jan de Sonneville