Monday, 16 May 2022

Last Monday night was brilliant!


Last Monday night was brilliant!

 I thought I'd do a write up of last Monday's Mambalsa at Kings Cross.

This is now a Free weekly event so check it out! mambalsa.com

After a short intro to salsa we switched to Mambalsa. It offered a level playing field as the small but beautifully formed group spanned beginners to advanced in salsa levels. This made it virtually impossible to run an effective salsa class but we did a few warm up exercises and explored the clave rhythm.


My theme for the evening was Mambalsa grids.
A grid is where combos of footwork patterns (fwp)are danced in a line or multiple lines that form a grid of dancers. It's like a stroll in line dancing or a shuffle in R’nB.

Unlike shines in salsa, in Mambalsa the footwork sequence (fws) is always maintained

As I worked on the fws with our talented beginner, I invited the others to create a grid combo, and they did. (I won't name anyone as I don't have permission)

First up was the 'Side 'n Hook' a vampy little combo that, after the tap phrase, used the step phrase to first travel sideways twice and then to hook 180deg on S1. Later head flicks in the direction of the side steps and forward waves in contra movement to the tap-steps was added.

What I like about the 180deg hook is that it changes the orientation of the group. Those of us at the back were now at the front which dialled up the pier pressure.

I played the hissyfit card a number of times! A hissyfit is a faux angry moment when things have gone wrong. It’s encouraged as it releases tension and resets the mind. It’s also fun and unpretentious which de-shames errors.

Next was a casual swing of a move called, I think, the ‘Swing n Sway’. It certainly lent it self to swing as it really connected with Mambalsa's funk n grove. It reminded me of clips I've seen of shiny suited backing singers from Motown tracks, clicking fingers and finding the swing.

This combo had a casualness that created space for individual interpretation.

Finally was ‘Bob’ that for some unknown reason I kept calling zig zag. It was similar to the Side n hook but had the grounded stance of a boxer. Each travelling steps dug into the floor but remained minimised. The step phrase used three side steps to zigzag forwards or backwards.

The grounded stance was solid and powerful. It could be used as an expression of anger which so many dances have but few acknowledge.

For good measure I offered the ‘Three ‘n spin’ which is an easy spin on S1.

After we learnt the four footwork patterns, we put them together in a grid. For me it was a challenge to remember them but we got there.

To me it felt as if the leadership of the group shifted to the person who’d created the combo that we were currently dancing. This effect combined with the orientation of the grid and the shift from peer pressure to group success, made the experience very satisfying and joyful.

Reflections:

The group dynamic was as level as it could be, meaning that the traditional hierarchy of teacher at the top and beginner at the bottom was flattened to become a workshop experience.

I can hear my friend Sam saying ‘Alastair, you think too much!’ but these small groups offer clues as to how the Mambalsa class experience can reflect the ethos of confidence, empathy and respect. Peer to peer learning offers all three as well as practising personal expression, confidence through leadership, support of the group and creativity. All `healthy stuff that makes a pleasant environment to be in.

It was great to be a student learning from the others. For me it was my first opportunity to experience this in Mambalsa. I noted some old insecurities coming out e.g. the fear of falling behind the group. As I type I’m having flashbacks to A level maths classes where I’d struggle to scribble down a mathematical proof before the roller blackboard scrolled the text up and over into oblivion. (btw that’s what blackboards were called back then, even the green ones!)

There’s something about joy that I’m uncomfortable with. I feel it’s a bit happy-clappy to mention it. It’s just an emotion that we all experience and like experiencing any strong emotion, there’s often an after effect that ripples out.

Resolve:
By the end of the class it was clear that my passion for Mambalsa has not dimmed since 2014 and I want to teach dance. As a project it's new and exciting with amazing potential. I love salsa which has been apart of my life since 1992 (O.M.G. that's thirty years!!!) but Mambalsa is a chance for me to continue to grow and develop as a teacher. I feel I've come to a point where it's time to trust the universe and share Mambalsa with as many people as possible, and that means stepping up and shouting about it. It's time to set up shop and let the world in.

For the time being Mondays in Kings Cross will be Free and focussed on Mambalsa.

Details at mambalsa.com




 

Mambalsa for FREE every Monday in Kings Cross!

Starting mid May '22
On Mondays in Kings Cross I’m running classes in Salsa and Mambalsa and I’d like to invite you to come to this fun, friendly and supportive space where you can try and improve both your salsa and Mambalsa dance.

Mambalsa:
You may not have heard of Mambalsa but it’s a new stylish partner dance similar to salsa but designed to work with any music from anywhere at any speed! It’s easy to learn and in no time you’ll be creating the nuance and complexity to express your personal style.

Salsa:
The salsa classes are presented using the Salsa Rapido method which is fast and fun.
The style is integrated spanning linear (CBL), static (Colombian) and rotational (Cuban Casino / Rueda)

As I mentioned the cost of the classes is FREE, although contributions are welcome at the end of the class if you wish. There'll be no arm twisting unless it’s done gently and is part of a move :) At the moment it’s more important to me to grow and establish the classes so please spread the word.

If you’re interested please take a moment to join the contact list to let me know you're coming at Join the contact list

Times:
6:00 to 6:45 Introduction to salsa (Absolute beginners most welcome)
7:00 - 9:00 Improver Salsa and Mambalsa (‘Blend’ format) about Blend Format

Location:
Upstairs at the The Star of Kings, 126 York Way, London N1 0AX The Star of Kings location

I hope to see you there,
Alastair - The Streetbeat Salsa Co.

More info at salsakingscross.co.uk  and of course mambalsa.com

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

 

This is a line:

_____________________________________

Let's draw in under covid! 

And then move on and up and away :)



Monday, 23 September 2019

Muswell Hill joins Hornsey for Daytime Dance

Hello and yes! There is news and it that we now have two venues.
Hornsey N8 on Wednesdays 11am to 12.30pm at The Three Compasses, 62 High St, Hornsey, N8 7NX [Map Link]

and now.....
Muswell Hill N10 on Mondays 3pm -4pm (from Sept 30th) at Stella's Room cafe opposite the cinema, 46 Fortis Green Rd, London N10 3HN [Map Link]

Stella's Room is a special place for me personally. Apart from that it serves great coffee :-) it's been my go to place when I've felt a little lonely or isolated for around twenty years! After I left my job as a garden centre manager with a team of around forty, I became a self employed salsa teacher. Evening classes are great fun but during the day I have to admit I felt isolated. The silence was deafening at home, so I would go off to St James cafe (now Stella's Room) and have a coffee or two just to enjoy the background noise of other humans. Back then it was mainly young mums but now cafes are full of every size, shape, gender and occupation. I wonder if that means there are more isolated people like I was out there?

I hope the daytime people of Muswell Hill will come and try a Mambalsa class. They're so much fun. 
Here's a tip: suggest a song to dance to? I doesn't have to be a personal favorite but just something you know that's a good track to dance to. text or send a link to me on 07939012231 
Thanks Alastair.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Mambalsa Summer 2019 Newsletter





Mambalsa Summer 2019 Newsletter


NEWS FLASH: 
Tomorrow 24th July, is the last Daytime Dance at the Three Compasses before September so come if you can.

Daytime Dance N8 restarts on Wed. Sept 4th 11am




Hello everyone,
It’s been a great start to the year for Mambalsa :

Daytime Dance Success:



The Daytime Dance project has been a success. A massive thank you to everyone who’s taken part and supported Mambalsa.


Launching a class in June is the worst time of year as numbers inevitably drop off during the summer, so any group that’s kept going is doing well and we have done well. Two special thanks to Richard and team at the Three Compasses, and to Kimberley who’s personal and group’s support helped me get things going.


As a proof of concept Daytime Dance has succeeded well enough to start to look for several more venues for the Autumn. Hopefully: Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Highgate and Bounds Green. The advantage of nearby venues is that marketing overlaps and becomes more efficient. It also offers more choice in participation.




“One Small Step”

From a teaching point of view I’ve learnt so much about teaching Mambalsa over the past six weeks. 
Did you know that Daytime Dance N8 was the world’s first ever weekly Mambalsa Class?


There’s a lot of new ideas being rolled in: The general class structure and pace; Getting everyone to lead and follow; The ‘dance off’ cool down; Referencing the emotional experience as we learn; Peer to peer instruction (getting those with little experience to show newbies the basics); Adapting to the group rather than forcing all the pegs into my preconceived hole, Finding the words to get the concepts across.


It’s been a steep learning curve and I thank everyone once again. In the words of Miranda Heart’s sidekick character “Bear with!”


I welcome any feedback and ideas, just email me at info at
info@mambalsa.com 



Tesco Fun Last Thursday’s:


As part of Tesco’s Dance Beats charity project I was invited to Tesco Colney Hatch Lane to get the dancing going. It was a heap of fun with staff forming the core and shoppers hopping aboard to ‘have a wiggle’. We were certainly an unexpected item and it took me back to 2015 when I took Mambalsa to the Edinburgh Fringe and danced with the public in the Royal Mile.






Future:

Apart from expending Daytime Dance this Autumn, I aim to start a Central London evening class. I’m already tagging a taster on to my Saturday Salsa Rapido 1-Day Intensive Salsa Course and with a little marketing it should succeed. I’ll also run Sunday workshops that should feed into the classes.

Along the way I’ll build a new Mambalsa.com web site.
In a couple of weeks I’ll start filming the new Mambalsa Clips for Youtube, based on the Salsa Rapido clips I filmed last year.
My aim is to get the website, videos/materials and proof of concepts ready to licence Mambalsa to a network of teachers in 2020.

Combined with my existing salsa teaching, corporate entertainment, psychotherapy training, voluntary counselling, architectural CPD presentations plus Stand up gigs and DIY projects I feel as if time is going to fly. Welcome to the gig economy :-)



Events:

This Sunday 28th July we've the Thames Salsa Cruise so visit www.streetbest.co.uk/tsc
Sunday 4th Aug Salsa Clasica at The Three Compasses N8
Oooodles of salsa courses at www.streetbeat.co.uk



See you soon
Alastair

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Daytime Dance Launch

Daytime Dance Launch
Well it's up and running - Daytime dance is go!

We had a fun 90min class at the Three Compasses in Hornsey High Street with ten participants.
Many thanks to Kimberly and friends from her class in Hornsey Vale who came and supported.

The room was great and I think the pace was about right. The more experienced dancers could go faster but the less experienced were supported.
It was a friendly group and everyone connected with each other.

My concern now is building the group to a sustainable level.
It was very nice to have a coffee and a chat after. And so different from an evening class.
I loved getting everyone to lead and follow from the outset. No one seemed to mind we all just got on with it. Some great music used.

https://youtu.be/zXYb1OMhwBA

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Fun at the University of the Arts

It was a fun session presenting Mambalsa in ninety minutes to dance students at the University of the Arts in Holborn.
I enjoyed connecting to a group of young, talented and brilliant dancers eager to learn and try something new.
I condensed a heap of Mambalsa and dance psychology into one session, introducing Flow, Proximetrics, empathy and respect.

I used the 'use a track from your phone' exercise to communicate the Mambalsa to any music USP.
It also starts a dialaouge about Mambalsa's connection to the music.

After the basics in grid and partner work, we split into groups to create new grid patterns and combos. Much hilarity ensured but I'm happy to convey the 'learn it, do it, show it and grow it' part of the Mambalsa ethos.

What did I learn?
I still hate mirrored studios! I'm fat and that's why I'm at the back of the pic :-) 
Ninety mins is a good length of session.
Getting people to create is fun and engaging and respectful and confidence building.
Mambalsa works for this generation.

Many thanks to Samia for organising everything :-)