Thursday, 31 January 2013


A couple of years ago, our salsa teachers used to split men and women at the start of class to warm up with shines. While us ladies learnt to be elegant and to spin fast, I couldn't help but notice that the men were learning to simultaneously bounce and glide across the floor. While I was learning to look pretty, they were learning to look cool.

I soon found out that they were doing was learning Pachanga.

The most I could manage in imitation was a comedy jerky movement which I quickly abandoned.  It turned out that Pachanga was impossible.  A class with Adolfo Indacochea at the GBSex pre-party and another with Melissa Rosado at Mambo City a few months later did nothing to convince me otherwise.  (Though I'm blatantly name dropping now, at the time I had no idea that I was attempting to learn from some of the pachanga greats!)

In spite of my promises to myself, fresh from a congress, camera fully loaded with clips from classes I’d taken, I never did study the videos from those classes in great detail, and so I never managed to crack that elusive pachanga.

At the Berlin salsa congress it all changed.  When I spotted three consecutive hours of pachanga workshops on the programme with greats such as Mouaze, Marco Ferrigno and Juan Matos I knew where I’d be spending my last tired afternoon of the congress – and by the end of the classes… I still couldn’t do it! 

My fears were confirmed when I tried to fit a bit of pachanga into a Juan Matos shine at my local salsa venue. 

“What are you doing?  Pretending to ski?”
“No.” I sulked and went back to doing something else.

I don’t remember consciously practising – and I never set aside and particular time to do so, but it was definitely in my head. And I definitely ‘pretended to ski’ around the house quite a lot when I got the chance.

Then one night, people suddenly wanted me to tell them how to do the basic pachanga step and I got accused of practising! 

That’s when I knew I could do it.

I can confirm that it's definitely not as simple as starting on your left foot and jumping to your right:

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