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Amanda and CarlGet fit, look great and dance the night away

Sounds good huh? Not only do you get super-fit and get a super-toned body - you can also have a whole load of fun and what’s more it’s very social. Sounds way more appealing than sweating it out in a gym somewhere, doesn't it?

So, if you’re bored, fed up, sick of the telly and of listening to your iPod all on your lonesome read what Amanda had to say to the team here at Pulse and find out all about the craze that’s taking the world by storm.

It’s so addictive - but it’s a good addiction
Truthfully, can anyone Salsa?
Yes. Absolutely! From kids to seventy year olds. You just need a good syllabus that breaks it down. The guys may struggle a bit at first and generally it takes them a little longer to get the hang of it because they have to multi-task. They also get way more embarrassed but once they’re over that they’re away … and they tend to be really good at the Merengue.
What’s the Merengue?
It’s fun and probably easier to dance for the guys because there’s a lot of twisting and turning your partner. With Salsa there are two styles - cross-body, which has been overseas for a while now but only just arrived here in New Zealand - and Cuban. Then comes the Cha-cha and the Samba.
What’s the best way to start?
We run free sessions every Wednesday evening that people are welcome to come along to - as many times as they like. It’s very informal and a lot of fun. The more classes you take the more relaxed you’ll be and the easier it becomes. You don’t need a partner. That’s one of the great things about Salsa - once you know the steps you can dance with anyone.

“You can go into a Salsa session in a real crap mood but then you dance and the music’s so awesome, you just forget about all your problems. It’s impossible not to feel good!”

Amanda High, Qualified Teacher, Salsa Fusion

Do you need any special gear?
No. Just wear whatever feels comfortable. Just one tip though - no heels! You’ll be in agony if you dance in them. Later on, if you take courses and are out dancing, it’s best to buy a pair of dancing shoes.
When & why did you start dancing Salsa?
In London. I’d gone overseas with my boyfriend at the time but we’d split up and I’d decided to stay on but I was sooooo miserable. I was walking down the Kilburn Road one evening feeling absolute crap when I heard this great music - it just gets right inside you. I looked in this pub window and there were all these people inside dancing, so I went in and watched … and that was the beginning of it all. I was hooked! I started off with three classes a week plus the social nights out and I was the one up there right at the front of the class, right beside the teacher because I wanted to learn everything. I wanted to be able to do what she did.
There’d be a couple of hundred people and you’d be asked to dance all night
It’s a great way to meet people?
Absolutely. It’s incredibly social and it doesn’t matter if you’re on your own at all because you soon get talking to people simply because you’re all there for one thing - to dance and to have fun. It’s a brilliant way to meet new friends. There’s never any trouble because you’re simply too busy dancing to drink too much. We may have a couple of drinks over the whole night because as soon as you finish one dance, another guy is pulling you up onto the floor! Over in London it was nothing for a couple of hundred people to be at any one session and we’d dance from 8.30 till 2 a.m.. Towards the end of our Beginner’s Course, here at Salsa Fusion, we arrange a dinner out together and start off with some slow salsa - for your very first public outing. Then others turn up who’ve had a bit more experience and we really get into it. We also have parties at the studio - all of these are on our website.
Amanda and CarlWhen did you set up Salsa Fusion?
March 2004. The Studio’s looking fantastic now with the mirrors, stage and a newly varnished floor. We’ve also just bought a projector and a screen for showing the latest dvds. We have a lot of different courses for all stages and we’re also hoping to do summer classes for teens - it all depends on demand.
And you’re a qualified teacher?
Yes. I did this overseas. It’s practically impossible to get the qualification here in New Zealand. Carl, my partner, is in training now and we send videos over to my teachers in the UK as it’s the only way to get graded.
Any embarrassing moments?
Oh, heaps! In all the time Carl and I have been dancing together he’s never missed a dip but we were doing an intro dance down at the Town Hall for the Uni Opening and I very nearly fell - but just about didn’t! I managed to recover but there was this collective gasp from about 5,000 people … and then later on in the night, the two of us were on the floor all set to do our full routine and we waited … and waited … and waited. So did the audience. The DJ had forgotten our music so in the end we had to simply walk off. Oh, and then there was the time my right butt cheek was hanging out for all to see but Carl came to the rescue there …
What about physical accidents?
No. The worst thing is getting your feet trodden on now and then.
Most memorable moment?
The very first time I watched my teachers dancing in London. I simply couldn’t believe that it wasn’t choreographed and couldn’t figure out how she knew where to go, what to do, how to follow. It was just fantastic.
You have to teach yourself to feel the music
Your advice to those just starting?
Practise. Practise. Practise.
And the best thing about Salsa dancing is …
That’s way too hard! There’s simply too many. I guess one of the very best is that it makes you feel so good. You can go into a session in a real crap mood but the music’s so awesome and you dance and dance. You just forget all your problems. I guess the other thing is that it’s a brilliant way to meet friends … and maybe a bit of romance too …