I’ve taken quite a few salsa lessons before. Over a year’s worth. But salsa in Cali, or salsa calena, is so different that I was the same as any other beginner. My hostel offered free dance classes, so that was my first attempt. I was in a room full of 50 people trying to follow two teachers, it was a nightmare. I decided to get a private lesson. When I talked to the receptionist he asked if it was an issue to have a male teacher, I said I’d rather dance with a woman, he nodded and then found the first guy he could to teach me.
Antonio was a cool guy, very relaxed and funny. Salsa calena is all in the feet and legs, and he answered one question I’d never understood about this style – how do you lead? In other salsa styles, you move your body and hands to indicate where you want your partner to go, but with salsa calena there’s too much fancy footwork to lead with the hands. Apparently, you pick one of the standard Cali moves, and your partner sees what you’re doing and follows along a couple of seconds after. It’s a lot harder, and both of you need to know the moves.
Yet, in the Cali clubs, almost no-one seems to dance this style. Unless they are experts -usually just the teachers, people go with the basics of a more standard salsa style. If you’re curious, you can watch some Calenos who know what they’re doing – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEuhOR_Arh8