Azucar! News – Week of July 29

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog! Read on.

Our regular summer session is 2 weeks from its end, but Emilie Phaneuf’s classes are continuing to the end of August! And to make sure you don’t miss a beat when we come back in September, we will be holding a brand new class and a few one-time workshops during our time “off”, so make sure you watch our Facebook page for all the details! And, as always, we’ll have a full update for you on here next Monday as well.

In the meantime, we hope to see you at City Hall every Wednesday!!

OSCH bannerSalsa at City Hall continues!
Last week, we were finally able to party it up outdoors on the Rink of Dreams, and it was one great party! This week, the weather seems to be in our favour once again, so it’s time for another outdoor bash! Churun Meru, a Venezuelan folkloric dance group is going to teach a salsa workshop, DJs Humberto and Patrick are providing the music, and there will be yummy snacks from Royi Fruta Bar and Mr. Churritos! Bonus: Churun Meru will be performing traditional Venezuelan dances, and singer Alvaro Arenas will provide some live SALSA music!! Like the event’s Facebook page for all the details!

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.

Artist Profile – Larry Harlow

by Jeff Huang

One of the things I really love about salsa is its ability to bring people together – because no matter your race, your social or cultural background, once you are bitten by the salsa bug, those things no longer matter. In my own dancing journey I’ve had the pleasure of befriending many people that, without salsa as a medium, I would never have had the opportunity to; for that, I consider it a great equalizer in our society.

The featured artist today is a well-known salsa bandleader and a wonderful musician back in the golden age of salsa (1960s-1970s), but unlike most salsa artists, he is an American of Jewish descent. Larry Harlow is a perfect example that as long as the music plays in you, it does not matter where you start.

La Catera

Larry is the son of a musical family – his mother was an opera singer in New York, and his father a bandleader. Larry showed great talent in instruments at an early age, and his exposure to New York’s Latin quarters and its music led him to Cuba where he studied Afro-Cuban music extensively. The Cuban Revolution forced him back to the United States, where his talents led his Orquesta Harlow to become the second orchestra signed onto the Fania label in New York, the largest Latin record company of the era.

El Paso de Encarnacion

During his time with Fania, Larry produced over 106 albums for various artists, as well as 50 albums of his own. Larry became a pillar of the salsa music scene, credited for many important milestones in the evolution of Latin music in North America – including Celia Cruz’s comeback from an early retirement, becoming the first piano player for the legendary Fania All-Stars, and the creation of the Latin Grammy Award. His contribution to Latin music has resulted in a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. Currently, Larry continues to lead and perform his music in New York, a true living legend.

Guasasa

Azucar! News – Week of July 22

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog! Read on.

Our summer session is in full swing, and we`re thrilled by how many of you are including our classes in your summer plans! We are starting to plan our Fall 2013 courses, so if there is anything you’ve been itching to see at Azúcar!, now is the time to ask – leave us a comment or shoot us an email at info@azucarottawa.com!

OSCH bannerSalsa at City Hall continues this week!
Our second event was another great success, despite the weather forcing us indoors once again. This week, the weather forecast is looking perfect – no rain,moderately sunny and not too hot – so we will finally be able to party it up outdoors on the Rink of Dreams! MJ Decosse is going to teach a basic Zouk workshop, DJs Jeff and Chris Feist are providing the music, and there will be yummy snacks from Royi Fruta Bar and Mr. Churritos!  Like the event’s Facebook page for all the details!

FB_Banner_Street
Second edition of Latin Sparks takes place on July 27!
The International is back and is partnering once again with Sparks Street Mall to provide Ottawa with the second edition of Latin Sparks, a unique outdoor Latin block party. Last month, over 1500 people of all ages and backgrounds attended the first event, and they hope to surpass that amount this time around! Join their Facebook event page for ticket-buying info and other details.

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.

Social Dancing Etiquette 101

We often tout the importance of social dancing as a great way to practice and improve your own dance skills. And on one level, it is. Dancing with different partners, of different skill levels and styles, makes you a better leader/follower, and helps hone your technique.

Product idea: salsa practice dummy. Who’s on it?

However, social dancing is also just that – social. It goes beyond merely practicing your moves, and is, in great part, about the connection between you and your dance partner. Often times, when we’re eager to learn or practice some new steps, we become very focused on ourselves and forget to dance with each partner.  While that’s fine for a practice session, social dancing is a different matter, and at socials, partner connection always comes first. Below are a few tips to avoid using your social dance partners as a practice dummy.

Tips for being a good social dance partner:

  1. Asking for a dance
    When asking someone to dance, or accepting an invitation, treat the other person as you would anyone you enter a conversation with. Make eye contact, smile, ask politely. Stretching a hand out while barely looking at the person you’re asking to dance is rude, as is accepting an invitation without making eye contact, and being dragged to the dance floor while you’re still trying to finish the conversation you were having with your friends.
  2. Starting the dance
    To this day, far too many people go onto the dance floor and straight into complicated turn patterns. The start of every song sets the mood for the next 5ish minutes, so make sure you start by letting your partner get used to you, and by feeling out the song. If there’s a slow intro, take the time to do a few simple steps in place, make small talk, and wait for the song to start in earnest. Your partner will feel much more appreciated than if you do 15 turns before the salsa beat even starts.
  3. Keeping the connection
    Throughout the dance, don’t forget that you’re still dancing with a person rather than a salsa dummy. That connection you made at the beginning of the song can easily disappear whenever you default back to going through patterns while looking like you’re doing math in your head. Stay connected to your partner – make eye contact often, smile, adapt your moves and styling to him/her, and make sure he/she is having fun!

    Sidenote: scoping out your next dance partner while dancing with someone makes you a bit of an ass. Your partner will notice, and odds are he/she will feel slighted. So don’t do it. If there’s someone or something in the room you need to keep an eye on, let your partner know and apologize for not giving him/her your full attention.

  4. Ending the dance
    When the song ends, the “nod and walk away” is a common and none-too-personal move. Instead, thank your partner for the dance, and walk off the floor together. Guys: a gentleman will walk his partner back to her seat, every time. If either of you get asked for a dance before you have a chance to get off the floor, make sure you acknowledge your last partner and thank them.

We want to hear from you – what do you look for / appreciate in a social dance partner? What have some great social dancers done that made you want to dance with them again? Leave a comment and let us know!

Azucar! News – Week of July 15

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog – this week we have a new Beginner Bachata class, and Salsa @ City Hall continues after a first successful event! Read on.

beginner bachata
Beginner Bachata class starts TODAY at 7pm!
Our 4-week Beginner Bachata class will teach you the basic bachata rhythm and steps, as well as bachata turns, promenades and basic styling. Come join Ana and Jeff tonight at 7pm and discover this fun dance! Thic class is payable by Azucar! class cards, or at the drop-in rate of $17/class.

OSCH bannerSalsa at City Hall continues this week!
Last Wednesday, the first event brought over 300 people to City Hall, despite the rain and the event taking place indoors. This week, we’re hoping for better weather, so we can party it up outdoors on the Rink of Dreams! Ana and Jeff are teaching a basic salsa partnering class, DJs Jeff and Chris Feist are providing the music, and there will be yummy snacks from Royi Fruta Bar and Mr. Churritos!  Like the event’s Facebook page for all the details!

FB_Banner_Street
Second edition of Latin Sparks takes place on July 27!
The International is back and is partnering once again with Sparks Street Mall to provide Ottawa with the second edition of Latin Sparks, a unique outdoor Latin block party. Last month, over 1500 people of all ages and backgrounds attended the first event, and they hope to surpass that amount this time around! Join their Facebook event page for ticket-buying info and other details.

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.

You’ve Had a Bad Dance Day

Whether it comes to life, hair or dancing, we all have good days and bad days. On the good days, you feel on top of the world and can do no wrong. On the bad days, you’re all “damn, I used to own this, what happened?”

I’m here to tell you that the bad days do happen, and they do suck, but ultimately, it’s all going to be ok.

Why do we have bad dance days?
Dancing involves a complex concoction of physical and emotional factors, so any number of things can lead to a sucky dance day: being tired or stressed (or more stressed than usual) can make you lose a bit of coordination, so you might end up feeling sluggish and movements might not flow as easily. Maybe the music is failing to inspire you or you can’t connect with your partner, so even if physically you’re doing fine, the emotional bits that make dancing fun and take you to that next level just aren’t there today. Maybe you’re preoccupied and can’t focus, or maybe there’s an annoying din coming from the speakers that doesn’t seem to bother anyone else but it drives you crazy (ok, that one could just be in my head).

Whatever the reason, bad days happen, and when they do, there’s often little we can do to prevent them or to make them un-happen. But we can learn to work through them, and here’s how!

What to do about a bad dance day
I’m not sure bad days can be completely turned around (I have yet to have a bad-day-turned-awesome-by-singing-a-sad-song), but there are ways to prevent it from turning into a bad week. Here are my tips:

  1. Acknowledge bad dance days when they happen
    Know that you haven’t lost your ability to dance, you haven’t regressed, and you haven’t suddenly grown a second left foot. Bonus points if you can pinpoint where it’s coming from – “I had an awkward encounter with a former friend and now I can’t seem to do anything right”, or “this song makes me want to hurt the DJs”, or “my foot hurts” or whatever is impairing your dance ability that day.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up
    Dwelling on “man, I suck today” won’t help. If the trouble is something you can help, pinpoint one thing you could do differently to have a better day tomorrow, whether it’s getting an extra hour of sleep or wearing more comfortable shoes or taking a yoga class to loosen up your hip flexors. Then do something about it
  3. Stay closer to your comfort zone
    We don’t usually advocate staying in your comfort zone; however, a bad dance day when you’re already not feeling confident in your dancing is not the time to take on a new dance challenge. Get your practice in, but don’t add new moves. If you’re out dancing, stick to partners you’re comfortable with. That said, a bad day is not an excuse to not try. Always do your best, just know your limits and know that it will get better tomorrow!

Have you had a bad dance day (lately or ever)? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments!

Azucar! News – Week of July 8

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog – this week marks the start of Emilie’s new courses, as well as the first Salsa @ City Hall event! Read on.

emilie summer workshops
New Special Workshops by Emilie Phaneuf start this week!
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 starts this Wednesday!
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!

beginner bachata
Beginner Bachata class starts next Monday!
Our 4-week Beginner Bachata class will teach you the basic bachata rhythm and steps, as well as bachata turns, promenades and basic styling. Come join Ana and Jeff and discover this fun dance!

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.