Tips & Tricks for Dancing Outdoors

Summer is finally here, and with it comes dancing outside in the sunshine! With Salsa on Sparks Street every Thursday, Latin Sparks happening this Saturday, and Outdoor Salsa @ City Hall starting soon, here are some tips for making the most out of dancing outside!

Dance shoes or street shoes?
We don’t recommend wearing suede-soled dance shoes outdoors. The dust and grime of the street can damage the suede, and the surface of the dance floor most likely won’t give you the slip you’re used to. If you have leather or plastic-soled dance shoes (such as Jingas), those are great. If not, regular street shoes work too – but rubber soles and shoes that can fly off your feet are still to be avoided!

In any case, your best bet is to check out the floor you’ll be dancing on, and plan accordingly. Take a walk, try a few dance steps, and see which shoes might work best.

outdoor salsa

Adapt your dancing
Multiple spins are not your friends when you’re dancing outside. Rough concrete and cement are hard to turn on, and forcing a multiple spin can put a lot of impact on your knees and ankles. Leaders, be aware of the floor condition, and keep turns to a minimum. Instead, focus on patterns that require a minimum of pivoting on one’s feet, and emphasize body movement instead.

Street dancing also tends to be much more casual than studio dancing, so cut down on the technique-heavy moves, and just have some fun with the music! One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing dancers who fail to adapt to their surroundings, and do the same moves to every song, with every partner, and at every venue. This is your chance to tone down the flash and work on your musicality!

This is what comes up when you Google “dancing with luggage”. Looks like fun!

Be street-smart
Most outdoor venues don’t have a coat check or supervised storage areas, so keep baggage to a minimum. It’s no fun dancing with a bag over your shoulder, and also no fun worrying about the safety of your stuff.

The guys from Fiddler on the Roof know it – hydration is important!

Stay hydrated and summer-safe
Whether you’re dancing or hiking or running, hydration is important, especially if you’re outdoors on a hot summer day. Make sure to drink plenty of water, take breaks when you need to, and find shade (or a cooler area) if you start to feel light-headed or if you’re overheating. If you’re in the sun, don’t forget your sunscreen!

Do you have a tip or question about dancing outdoors? Talk to us – leave a comment below!

Azucar! News – Week of June 24

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog – our new Intro to Salsa session starts this week, and Ottawa has some great new salsa events happening this summer! Read on.

We’d like to thank everyone who came out to our student outing on Friday, and to our Open House on Saturday. We had a great time, and it was such a thrill to see you all out and dancing!

New Intro to Salsa session starts this week!
If you are taking your first steps into salsa, our new Intro to Salsa A class is for you. During this 7-week session, you will learn the salsa and merengue basic steps, partnering technique, as well as the fundamental moves that make up the basis of salsa. Intro to Salsa A classes will take place on:

  • Wednesdays, June 26 – August 7, 6:30pm to 7:30pm, with Ali and Darnell
  • Saturdays, June 29 – August 11, 11am to noon, with Ana and Jeff

If you have finished our Intro to Salsa A course, get ready to step into Intro to Salsa B, where we expand on the fundamentals learned in Intro to Salsa A, learn more complex beginner moves, and introduce styling! Intro to Salsa A classes will take place on:

  • Mondays, June 24 – August 5, 6:00pm to 7:00pm, with Ana and Jeff
  • Saturdays, June 29 – August 11, noon to 1pm, with Ana and Jeff

To register for any of our classes, email us at info@azucarottawa.com.

Time change for Wednesday classes
Starting this week, our Wednesday Salsa: Intermediate 1 class and our Wednesday Bachata class are starting 30 minutes later. The new class times will be as follows:

  • Salsa: Intermediate 1 – 7:30pm to 8:30pm
  • Bachata – 8:30pm to 9:30pm

Latin Sparks Block Party by The International on June 29
The International is shutting down Sparks street from Metcalfe to O’Connor to provide you with a Latin Block Party. Read all about it here.

New Special Workshops by Emilie Phaneuf starting the week of July 8th!
This summer, Emilie is bringing you a fresh season of Reggaeton, Dancehall Funk, Salsa Styling and Burlesque classes! Come push the limits of your creativity and challenge yourself with these fun and hot routines! Class dates and times are as follows:

  • Burlesque – Mondays, July 8 – August 26, 8-9pm
  • Ladies’ Salsa Styling – Tuesdays, July 9 – August 27, 6-7pm
  • Dancehall Funk – Tuesdays, July 9 – August 27, 7-8pm
  • Reggaeton – Tuesdays, July 9 – August 27, 8-9pm

To find out more about these classes, check out their descriptions here. To register, email us at info@azucarotawa.com.

OSCH banner
Outdoor Salsa at City Hall
We love summer, and we decided Ottawa needs more outdoor salsa events, so we’ve teamed up with Salsa Force and the City of Ottawa to bring salsa to City Hall! Starting on July 10, and continuing every Wednesday until the end of August, join us for a FREE night of outdoor dancing! Like the event’s Facebook page for all the details and opportunities to get involved!

Connect with us!
On Twitter: @AzucarOttawa
On Instagram: @AzucarOttawa
On Facebook: /AzucarOttawa

smakk logoAzúcar! gift cards available on SMAKK.com!
Give your loved ones the gift of dance – send them an Azúcar! gift card from SMAKK.com. Click, order, and have the card send directly to them, electronically or by mail!


This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.

Shines & styling

by Ana Gherasim

When you first start salsa classes, you learn the basic footwork it takes to dance with a partner – which is pretty awesome in itself, of course. However, as you progress, there comes a point where just doing pattern after pattern becomes a little repetitive – and for ladies, once you learn how to follow most moves, you wish there were more to dancing than going where you’re led. Luckily, that’s where shines come in!

Shines are freestyle sections of a dance where you let go of your partner and do your own thing for a few bars. They usually happen during instrumental solos or improvisational sections of the music, but can also happen any time the lead decides to take a break from turn patterns. Shines are a chance for creative self-expression, for playing with the music, and of course, for showing off to your partner.

So why are so many beginners, especially ladies, terrified of shines?
Maybe it’s because we spend so much class time worrying about technique and form that we forget how to let go of that and be ourselves. Maybe we’re so used to being told what to do that we forget how to dance without direction. Maybe we rely on our partner to set the beat and get lost when we’re left to fend for ourselves. And then there’s the ever-popular “I don’t know what to do”.

If you’ve ever been frustrated by being let go and made to shine, here’s my little secret: there are only 3 rules to shines: (1) try not to hurt anyone, (2) don’t abandon your partner, and (3) get back on beat when your partner takes you back. Everything else is optional.

There’s a common misconception that you HAVE to abide by salsa timing (1-2-3, 5-6-7) when doing shines. While being aware of the beat is important, nothing dictates you need to step on every beat – in fact, the more you play with the music rather than strictly with the counts, the better you will look.

A shine cheat-sheet?
Here are a few things you can try to amp up your styling:

–          Focus on body movement. If crazy footwork is not your cup of tea, fill your shine time with basic steps and side-steps, and throw in some body waves, shoulder rolls and shimmies, and you’re good to go.

–          Pick one move and play with it. You don’t need a huge repertoire of moves – pick one or two, and mix them up. Make your Suzy-Qs travel and turn or throw in some arm styling. Vary the tempo of your move or add different kinds of body movement, and each one will look different even if your footwork is the same.

–          Borrow moves from other dances. If you do any other type of dance, don’t be afraid to draw from that repertoire. I see dancers integrate dance elements form tango to hip hop to swing to dancehall, and it’s always a welcome breath of fresh air!

–          Listen to the music. Some songs are smooth and jazzy. Others are brass-heavy and have a big band feel. Others have pop and dance influences. Listen to the song you’re dancing to, and let it inspire you. You’ll be surprised by your body’s own creative powers!

–          Own it. Confidence and attitude are what makes a lot of simple moves stand out. If you shine reluctantly, because you have to, it will show. On the other hand, if you look like you’re having the time of your life, you’ll also look like a better dancer! I’m a big fan of “fake it ‘til you make it” in this area.

How do you “learn” styling?
Here’s another secret: basic styling elements are learned in class, but your style is individual, and you get to develop it over time. If you see dancers whose style you admire, go tell them, ask them for tips, or see if they give private classes. But whenever you’re being taught styling, strive not to imitate your teacher, but to adapt each move to yourself. Dance is all about self-expression, and you get to create your own vocabulary – so take advantage of it!

Got a styling tip or question? Leave a comment!

Azucar! News – Week of June 17

Welcome to your weekly Azucar! News – our student outing and Open House are coming up, the new Intro to Salsa session starts next week, and Ottawa has some great new salsa events happening this summer! Read on.

Student Outing at Rahim`s Latin Fridays
Every month or so, we try to have a student outing. We know going dancing for the first few times can be intimidating, so we`re getting together on Friday, June 21st, at 7pm for a drink at Sir John A pub, before heading to Rahim`s at 8pm. Jeff and Ana are teaching the workshop, and Rahim is offering free soft drinks to all Azucar! students. For all the details, join our Facebook event here.


Azucar! Summer Open House
Our next Open House will take place on Saturday, June 22. We will have a free beginner salsa and merengue class at 7pm, followed by social dancing until 11pm. Bring your friends! Join and share our Facebook event here.

New Intro to Salsa session starts next week!
If you are taking your first steps into salsa, our new Intro to Salsa A class is for you. During this 7-week session, you will learn the salsa and merengue basic steps, partnering technique, as well as the fundamental moves that make up the basis of salsa. Intro to Salsa A classes will take place on:

  • Wednesdays, June 26 – August 7, 6:30pm to 7:30pm, with Ali and Darnell
  • Saturdays, June 29 – August 11, 11am to noon, with Ana and Jeff

If you have finished our Intro to Salsa A course, get ready to step into Intro to Salsa B, where we expand on the fundamentals learned in Intro to Salsa A, learn more complex beginner moves, and introduce styling! Intro to Salsa A classes will take place on:

  • Mondays, June 24 – August 5, 6:00pm to 7:00pm, with Ana and Jeff
  • Saturdays, June 29 – August 11, noon to 1pm, with Ana and Jeff

To register for any of our classes, email us at info@azucarottawa.com.

Time change for Wednesday classes
Starting next week, our Wednesday Salsa: Intermediate 1 class and our Wednesday Bachata class are starting 30 minutes later. The new class times will be as follows:

  • Salsa: Intermediate 1 – 7:30pm to 8:30pm
  • Bachata – 8:30pm to 9:30pm

Latin Sparks Block Party by The International on June 29
The International is shutting down Sparks street from Metcalfe to O’Connor to provide you with a Latin Block Party. Read all about it here.

New Special Workshops by Emilie Phaneuf starting the week of July 8th!
This summer, Emilie is bringing you a fresh season of Reggaeton, Dancehall Funk, Salsa Styling and Burlesque classes! Come push the limits of your creativity and challenge yourself with these fun and hot routines! Class dates and times are as follows:

  • Burlesque – Mondays, July 8 – August 26, 8-9pm
  • Ladies’ Salsa Styling – Tuesdays, July 9 – August 27, 6-7pm
  • Dancehall Funk – Tuesdays, July 9 – August 27, 7-8pm
  • Reggaeton – Tuesdays, July 9 – August 27, 8-9pm

To find out more about these classes, check out their descriptions here. To register, email us at info@azucarotawa.com.

OSCH banner
Outdoor Salsa at City Hall
We love summer, and we decided Ottawa needs more outdoor salsa events, so we’ve teamed up with Salsa Force and the City of Ottawa to bring salsa to City Hall! Starting on July 10, and continuing every Wednesday until the end of August, join us for a FREE night of outdoor dancing! Like the event’s Facebook page for all the details and opportunities to get involved!

Connect with us!
On Twitter: @AzucarOttawa
On Instagram: @AzucarOttawa
On Facebook: /AzucarOttawa

smakk logoAzúcar! gift cards available on SMAKK.com!
Give your loved ones the gift of dance – send them an Azúcar! gift card from SMAKK.com. Click, order, and have the card send directly to them, electronically or by mail!


This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.

The Ultimate Guide to Dance Shoes

It’s been a while since our series on dance shoes, and we’ve had more questions lately about where to buy and how to care for dance shoes. So we’ve dug through our archives to bring you this ultimate guide to dance footwear! Here are our 10 best posts about shoes.

dance shoe shopping

For the love of Shoes – Girls’ guide to dance footwear
The ins and outs of ladies’ dance shoes – what they are, how to pick the right ones, and where to get them.

Ana’s Dance Shoe Tips: Dance Shoe Straps
A more in-depth look at dance shoe straps and how they affect the fit and stability of your shoes.

Buy shoes like a man – Guys’ guide to dance footwear
A dance shoe guide for the guys. Not that men need instructions to buy shoes (or for anything), of course!

If the Shoe fits – A checklist
A checklist to take with you when you hit the shops.

In your Shoe bag – Dance shoe accessories
What else to check out while you’re at a dance store.

Shoe shopping – Where to get dance shoes in Ottawa
A quick review of the 3 main places to buy dance shoes in Ottawa

caring for shoes

Stretching too-tight dance shoes
Stretch your shoes to fit you, without damaging your new shoes!

Quick Tip about dance shoe buckles
Make your life easier with a buckle-and-clip style of buckle.

How to use a suede brush
Keep your suede soles in great shape by brushing them regularly.

Caring for aging dance shoes
Because we love our shoes even when they’re old and worn, here’s how to keep them from getting icky.

Do you have a dance shoe question? Leave it below and we’ll write a post about it!

Azucar! News – Week of June 10

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog, and this week we have lots of great upcoming events to share! Read on.

Ottawa`s first Bachata Bootcamp is taking place this Saturday
Bachata lovers rejoice! There will be 4 bachata workshops at Club Caliente, followed by a bachata-heavy Salsaria, complete with bachata and zouk shows! Join the fun here.

Student Outing at Rahim`s Latin Fridays
Every month or so, we try to have a student outing. We know going dancing for the first few times can be intimidating, so we`re getting together on Friday, June 21st, at 7pm for a drink at Sir John A pub, before heading to Rahim`s at 8pm. Jeff and Ana are teaching the workshop, and Rahim is offering free soft drinks to all Azucar! students. For all the details, join our Facebook event here.

 


Azucar! Summer Open House
Our next Open House will take place on Saturday, June 22. We will have a free beginner salsa and merengue class at 7pm, followed by social dancing until 11pm. Bring your friends! Join and share our Facebook event here.

Latin Sparks Block Party by The International on June 29
The International is shutting down Sparks street from Metcalfe to O’Connor to provide you with a Latin Block Party. Read all about it here.

OSCH banner
Outdoor Salsa at City Hall
We love summer, and we decided Ottawa needs more outdoor salsa events, so we’ve teamed up with Salsa Force and the City of Ottawa to bring salsa to City Hall! Starting on July 10, and continuing every Wednesday until the end of August, join us for a FREE night of outdoor dancing! Like the event’s Facebook page for all the details and opportunities to get involved!

Connect with us!
On Twitter: @AzucarOttawa
On Instagram: @AzucarOttawa
On Facebook: /AzucarOttawa

smakk logoAzúcar! gift cards available on SMAKK.com!
Give your loved ones the gift of dance – send them an Azúcar! gift card from SMAKK.com. Click, order, and have the card send directly to them, electronically or by mail!


This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.

Azúcar! News – Week of June 3

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog, and this week we have lots of great upcoming events to share! Read on.

salsapalooza
SalsaPalooza is this Saturday!
The Annual Charity Dance Event benefitting the Ottawa Food Bank is taking place this Saturday! This event showcases local dancers and dance troupes of all types and styles. Come out for great night of shows and social dancing! Tickets are available in the Azucar! studio, for $12 ($17 at the door). More info here.


Azucar! Summer Open House
Our next Open House will take place on Saturday, June 22. We will have a free beginner salsa and merengue class at 7pm, followed by social dancing until 11pm. Bring your friends! Join and share our Facebook event here.

OSCH banner
Outdoor Salsa at City Hall
We love summer, and we decided Ottawa needs more outdoor salsa events, so we’ve teamed up with Salsa Force and the City of Ottawa to bring salsa to City Hall! Starting on July 10, and continuing every Wednesday until the end of August, join us for a FREE night of outdoor dancing! Like the event’s Facebook page for all the details and opportunities to get involved!

Connect with us!
On Twitter: @AzucarOttawa
On Instagram: @AzucarOttawa
On Facebook: /AzucarOttawa

smakk logoAzúcar! gift cards available on SMAKK.com!
Give your loved ones the gift of dance – send them an Azúcar! gift card from SMAKK.com. Click, order, and have the card send directly to them, electronically or by mail!


This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.