Salsa

Actually today I wanted to write another part for my Niyama-Yoga thing. But today I don’t feel like yoga.
I feel like dancing. I feel like dancing salsa the entire night.
I love salsa. When I first tried it in Cuba at the beginning of the year, I knew it would be fun but I didn’t know how much I would love it.
It is a dance for everyone and a dance that everyone is dancing. I have such great memories when it comes to salsa that I don’t even know where to begin.
The first night in Cuba I already came in touch with salsa. I saw all these people dancing a little. Alone or with a partner and when we walked by one of the bigger bars in town I saw a huge crowd inside and in front of the bar clapping their hands and dancing to the salsa rhythms the band played.

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When you’re in Cuba it’s almost impossible to not dance salsa at least once.
It is everywhere. No matter if it’s in the middle of the night, early mornings, on the countryside or on Obispo (one of the main streets in Havana).
And if you’re not dancing then at least you hear the music or people singing and making music.
Salsa is a beautiful dance. It is passionate and yet playful.
It’s an Ode to life.
A way to impress all feelings and forget the sorrows.
Salsa was actually one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Cuba. And I wasn’t disappointed.

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I will never forget the one night we strolled around the streets of Havana, looking for a good place to hang out and make music, when we walked across a small bar.
In Cuba Locals aren’t very welcome in touristic bars. The owners rather have tourists that spend way more money and pay much more on a drink than Locals would ever do. So in a lot of cases they are not allowed to enter the bars (at least in the night time). Actually one of the reasons why I didn’t hang out in bars that much…
Anyway, this is still not a problem. As weather in Cuba is great they leave all the doors and windows open and so the music from the bands can be heard even in a couple of other streets.
So what do the locals do?
They get their own drinks (usually “Planchidos”, also called “El material”) and then the just dance on the street. Usually it starts with a small group and then more and more people join, so that at one point there is more going on outside than inside. And the guests inside the bars enjoy the show of course.
So it was one of these places where the band was great and lots of people were dancing outside the bar, when I saw a couple dancing Salsa like I have never seen it before. They were not the only ones dancing, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off of them.
It was one of my first nights in Cuba and you could say that I was sliightly impressed. It was like one partner knew exactly what the other partner would do in the next second.
After a couple of dances, they both were sweating and taking a break. So I took the chance and started talking to the woman. Turned out that she was a 57 old primary school teacher from Dresden. I was so surprise! I mean of course she didn’t look very Cuban (super tall and blonde) but still she danced like one and her Spanish was pretty decent too.
Also she never met the guy she just danced with. They were both simply amazing dancers.

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Another time, pretty much at the end of my stay I met Günther. He did something with IT in Germany and was on a cruise that also passed Cuba. I would have never expected him to be a good dancer, but he really got all the moves!
And that’s when I was finally convinced that literally everyone could learn salsa.
All you need is to be a little bit brave at the beginning and then just roll with it. It just comes.
It is impossible to be in a bad mood when people randomly start dancing with you just because you see each other again or you danced a couple of nights ago or because you sang Bob Marley together the other day.
It is impossible to not love salsa, once you really got into it.

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Even in New York Salsa is becoming a big thing (or even bigger than it already is) and I got to dance salsa in a bar in the middle of Brooklyn where a Cuban band was performing. Let me just say it, how Americans would: AWSOME!

But one of my favorite Salsa-memories happened when I was walking back from dinner to meet friends. Havana has a lot of ruins and old rotten houses and quite a lot of them are so broken that they even start to lose all their charm (at least on first sight). But what makes Cuba Cuba are the people. So we were walking back to the center of town when I saw some locals dancing in the backyard.
Old people, young people, children and obviously no tourists.
Everyone was dancing and having a good time. The music came from somewhere and as it wasn’t very loud, there were some people sitting there and “supporting” the music by  making music themselves or singing, so everyone could hear it.
I love cities that surprise me. And Havana did it all over again. And this was definitely one of my favorite surprises.
It is pretty hard to put the magic and beauty of this moment in words.
It was like we just had discovered one of the many secrets of Havana.
Seeing these people being completely in the moment and feeling the music, not seeing the ruins and the poverty around them, but just being full of joy…There was no show for tourists or anything. It was just very true.
This was very special. I am very grateful I could witness this moment.

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I miss the sun a lot these days. And also the Cuban temper when it comes to dancing and music. So I turn on my salsa playlist and dance around the entire apartment.
I hope to get to dance again very soon, but until then I just remember the Cuban nights and the people that were dancing everyday.

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