Salsa in Surulere By Sanne Steemers

Salsa in Surulere By Sanne Steemers

The new Lounge 38 is an upmarket venue with island aspirations, but strongly rooted in Surulere with a track record in their previous venue along Adeniran Ogunsanya Street. Entrance is free, drinks are certainly not. The bouncer – as well as other staff – is friendly and very attentive, and service stands out. Even with recent lack of electricity in the last weeks, drinks are properly cooled.

The screen shows an English league football match, but nobody is watching: all eyes are on the dancefloor. There is a Latino vibe in Surulere this Thursday. Salsa music is largely based on Cuban son, with influences from all around Latin America. The melody and ‘clave’ rhythm flows. Salsa instructor Paul closely holds on to his microphone, and he continues to motivate his crowd even while he is on the dancefloor himself. Leading a lady into turns does not distract Paul from speaking to his audience.

The name salsa means sauce in Spanish, and it implies a mixture. The name salsa was first used in New York in the 1970s. It is an urban style preserving Cuba’s legendary music, but mixing it with other influences. Very appropriate for the melting pot that is Lagos: energy, rhythm, creativity and most of all fun.

The evening truly was a blend of many good things.

A diverse audience of local Surulere friends, colleagues from a nearby business, dancers from all over Lagos. Men and women. Many young people and some older gentlemen. Advanced salsa dancers and absolute beginners. The crowd is tolerant: mistakes are normal and perfectly well accepted. When Paul invites all beginners to the dancefloor, several experienced dancers are more than happy to teach the basics.

Dutch journalist and Surulere resident Femke is on the dancefloor almost continuously. “I’ve known most of these dancers for four years now. I discovered the weekly salsa night when I first moved here.”

Every Thursday evening, Lounge Thirty8 (now in their new venue on Bode Thomas Street) transforms into a salsa dancing hotspot. The Surulere Now! team checked out the event, and will certainly return.

The salsa music is alternated with Angolan kizomba, Brazilian zouk and Dominican merengue. Several American pop songs have salsa remixes. Tekno’s all-Nigerian song Pana also works well for salsa dance. A number of line dances attract almost everyone to the dancefloor. People are mixing styles, and at some point different couples were dancing salsa, kizomba, merengue and shoki, all at the same time.

Tayo also stays in the area, and has been a regular at these salsa nights. He always enjoys it. He does however see some potential to improve the crowd’s skills: “Some dancers tend to dance out of the song’s rhythm, but we should make it look choreographed and build up a chemistry between two dance partners. Salsa just like hip hop has to do with how you move and control your body.”

From about 10pm, the salsa crowd starts making their way home to get ready for work the next day. The evening gradually progresses to a club night, and from the look of it does not end early. Until next time!

Salsa with Paul, every Thursday 6-11pm, Lounge Thirty8 on 67 Bode Thomas Street.

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1 Comment

  1. May 16, 12:24 #1 Tina

    Mark,Another great post. It’s quite a challenge to be the teacher and always tempting to jump in to be the hero. I can be even harder to not take control while teaching the PDCA process.Best re,dsargChris

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