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https://medium.com/@eric.bott/salsa-a-cultural-lens-between-black-and-white-5d150e5f2be8

Ocho Salsa

Fun, Live Online, Spiritual Salsa Training, for Self Reinforcement and Wellness, for the Duration of COVID-19 and Beyond.

Intro / Background

If you’ve read some of my darker accounts in Medium, you would be forgiven for thinking I must be a little “Down”.

But exactly the opposite is true.

Of course I’ve had occasions of feeling a little sore as the result of the challenging occasions sometimes described, but the important thing is how to bounce back mentally, quick, and to be positive for the vast majority of the time, also reflected in my stories in Medium.

The Cuban people, amongst others, deserve massive appreciation for the incredible way they do this, in the every day problems of surviving with very little material wealth, happy.

They are very rich with something far more valuable than any amount of money, something that makes them incredibly robust, both mentally and physically, ready to take on any challenge.

I feel massively privileged that they gave a little of it to me.

In truth, I sought it out, during my time in Cuba, realising long before the first visit that this was something very special, something worth chasing, and they shared it with me, willingly.

Now it is my turn to pass a little of that intangible wealth on to you, in the spirit of the Cuban people, just as they will no doubt also do, wherever they can, under the circumstances.

Now that we are all of us facing the immediate physical threat of Corona Virus, COVID-19, and its probable long-term economic after effects.

In order to deal with that crisis effectively as a population, worldwide, we need to have the right mindset, both during, and after the propagation of the disease.

A sharing mindset.

I am not saying this is the only way to get the required mindset, it is just the way that I have personally enjoyed the most.

Because honestly, it’s fun.

And we need as much fun as we can get right now.

Don’t be put off if you are only a fan of other kinds of music, or not a music fan at all, and think you might not like salsa, or even if you think you might have two left feet.

I was once a punk rocker who thought dancing was all about jumping up in the air with blue spiky hair and Doc Marten boots, preferably completely out of time, and coming down on top of other people. I would never have dreamed that one day I would eventually gravitate towards something like salsa.

As I will demonstrate, the same techniques apply to dancing solo to pretty much any kind of music, like a native. And once we’ve learned how to dance to it, flowing naturally, we hear everything differently. All music sounds different, richer. All sounds gain rhythm, and meaning. Each of our bodies becomes an instrument. Each has all of its own visual frequencies to contribute.

Dancing naturally to music becomes almost like playing it ourselves. We are actually participating in it, expressing it, as well as ourselves.

It is hugely satisfying.

And it makes us stronger, both physically and mentally, as ten minutes practice can throw off even the deepest depression, or otherwise disappointing experience.

For better or worse, I have no partner with me in quarantine, so my training focuses on dancing solo. Knowing how to do this well, always helps massively towards partner dancing in any case, giving us much better confidence and insight how to engage with others “On the move”, which follows later.

This is equally applicable to all sexes, and all ages. I am 57 years old this year, and still improving myself, so don’t be intimidated if you are older.

And don’t go thinking it will be boring, uncool, or lacking energy if you are younger. I promise you also a fun challenge. You’ll impress all of your mates and everyone else in a disco with the tricks you learn here.

In general, solo footwork, or “Shine” footwork is the same for both the lead and follower partner roles, it is only in partner dancing that the basic steps differ, as I will also demonstrate. Also, everyone has their own style, hence the term “Freestyle”. I don’t intend to teach how to do everything in my own style, only enough to help you develop your own style, built on some basic tricks that I will show to you.

As in anything, it seems the more we learn, the more we realise what we don’t know, and salsa is no exception. So I don’t profess to know everything. Just enough to get something close to a native dancer growing up in a Latin or Afro-Carribean Culture, in some ways impressing even they, as I know from experience.

In all cases, for the future when we will all be out and about again, the ability to dance solo with an invisible underlying formal salsa structure will make you a disco and dance-floor demon (A good one, of course), no matter what your age or gender, to any kind of music.

The Program

I have three goals:

  • To give you a little of the required mindset.
  • To show you how to grow that mindset, together with your personal fitness.
  • To help you maintain the resulting combined mental and physical fitness.

If you already have something like the required mindset, this could still be useful to you, to compare with what you already know, and to learn Salsa, if you don’t know that also already, from the source.

I am not a spiritual source, not by any means. My aim is simply to show a little of how it works to you.

Then it is all up to you whether you would like to chase it, and let it catch you, like I did.

After it catches you, you will learn how to dance like a Cuban Native; no small feat, as any semi-accomplished Western salsa dancer will confirm.

I will be showing you some very powerful things, not normally talked about by those in the usual business of teaching salsa for a living.

You’ll also be happy.

Possibly more happy than you’ve ever been, no matter your background.

At the very least you will be able to laugh at me, and I will laugh with you.

The program will begin at 8pm GMT Wednesday 25th March 2020 here:

I will be doing this as a share of love, not as a business.

There is no formal program schedule, other than a start time.

The program is named Ocho, Spanish for “Eight”, the golden number of salsa and most other music, and the only number we need to remember in the training. I will deliberately avoid the laborious and limiting practice of learning to dance by counting out the steps, and thinking where our feet should be.

The methods I use are much more fun and intuitive, requiring only practice and an understanding of the spiritual salsa mindset, though if you are a real beginner, you might find like I did, at first your body will try to fight your mind, as it will not be used to moving in this way, but that changes with a little practice, quick.

This is the same way afro-caribbean children learn, growing up in the Cuban culture.

I will schedule things as we go along, interactively, hopefully with folks’ participation.

I will be acting as a kind of dancing DJ, talking about the little I know about the music, the dance, the culture, the language, and responding to requests, as well as giving instruction, so I hope for a kind of conversational disco atmosphere, without the lights.

I will stay online as long as necessary, to get folk up and jiving in the shortest possible time.

By this, you will be gaining something of the many years of work that it has taken me so far, even including occasional tears of frustration to gain, with hopefully only a tiny fraction of the pain.

And that will make me very happy.

If by some fluke there was to occur an income from it, of course it would be appreciated, under the circumstances. I pledge to donate at least 50% of anything received, directly to people in Cuba.

But I expect to gain nothing other than the simple satisfaction of enriching and empowering others, whilst making us all a little happier, in this universal time of need.

I ask only one thing of participants; we stay well clear of even mentioning the subject of the Corona Virus / COVID-19. This channel will be a fun, virus free environment.

Instead of a “Swear-jar”, we will have a “C-Jar”, where all mentioners of any of the above C-Words, however accidental, will be invited to voluntarily contribute a “Fine” for each transgression, in the currency of the platform, if they have any.

Also, don’t forget to call me out on it if I slip up there myself.

Reasonable, in context swear words will be permitted as usual.

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Update 26/03/2020:

Anyone who came along yesterday would have seen technical issues were preventing me getting on with the tuition. I was online, but the sound, based on a bluetooth headset, working with Mixxx, OBS, and Windows 10, was not working.

The reason I opted to use the now inferior camera in my laptop compared with mobile phone is that Android has a deliberately implemented barrier between apps capable of livestreaming, and the internal sound system. In other words, it is not possible to stream the sound system from an Android mobile.

The only explanation I can find for such a deliberate limitation in Android, is that it is driven by DMCA. Really? That instrument that prevents ordinary folk from streaming the music of original geniuses, to the world, just so that a few elites can line their pockets from it? So we can conclude that Android is no longer really open source.

Hence possibly also the reason we see no Android variant for the excellent open source DJ app, Mixxx.

A sound system allowing full wireless mobility for a dancing DJ is absolutely needed. No fear, I will be back on today, even if all that can be seen is me working on the problem. It is a technical problem, which is my bag. I won’t give up on it. Furthermore, experiencing these problems first hand, and seeing now related unanswered queries in technical forums, I am sure I can’t be the only one who has had that issue, probably many others have experienced the same and perhaps given up.

So when I get a solution, I will publish the details to help others who might need a similar setup.

Solarpunk

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