When the nights get hot, salsa makes them even hotter

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When the nights get hot, salsa makes them even hotter

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A man nicknamed “Hoons” showing off his salsa dance technique to upbeat Latin music with his partner in Club Bonita, near Hongik University in western Seoul.

In this scorching summer, there are young people in their 20s and 30s who like it even hotter, enjoying their summer nights by dancing salsa. Salsa dancing caught on about 15 years ago in Korea and has been growing ever since, especially among young people, thanks to its exhilarating fun but low expense. Dancing to salsa’s upbeat rhythms with a charming partner blows away not only the summer heat but also the stress of work.

Salsa dancing, like the music, originated in Cuba and its surrounding islands, combining Cuban rhythms with elements of jazz, rock and soul. The word “salsa” just means “sauce” in Spanish, but the music is incredibly flavorful and passionate.

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Members of a salsa dance school dancing to Latin music at Club Naomi in Gangnam, southern Seoul.

With its speedy tempo, salsa dancing has a lot of positive effects on the body and spirit. First of all, as a cardio exercise, it is a great way to burn calories - excellent for dieters and people looking to be more active, but who find gyms deathly dull. For office workers who spend most of their time sitting, salsa dancing can improve their posture, teaching them to keep their backs straight and heads up.

But more than just exercise, salsa is a great way to meet new people from all walks of life. Dancing breaks down barriers and helps you make friends, which is, no doubt, one of the main reasons it attracts so many young people (and many not-so-young people, too).

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Left: A deejay known as “Street,” spinning music in a salsa bar. Right: The Lady Styling team from the Jane Salsa Academy performing at the One Summer Night Party at Club Naomi.

Today, the number of places that offer salsa dancing and classes has multiplied greatly. There are salsa schools, clubs and even government-run culture centers that offer classes. But among those options, the private clubs are the most popular places for salsa enthusiasts. Once newcomers join a society, they can get lessons and learn the basics in just a week or two - although getting good might take a while longer. But practicing and meeting people while improving is half the fun.

In Club Naomi in Gangnam, southern Seoul, a crowd of young adults were dancing the night away to Latin music on a recent Saturday when this photographer visited. While over at Club Bonita, near Hongik University in western Seoul, it was jam-packed with more than 100 people at 9 p.m. on a recent Wednesday.

But these days, there are dozens of clubs to choose from all over Korea, including Turn, near Gangnam Station, which specializes in dancing for advanced salsa fans. There are also clubs in Busan, Gwangju, Jeonju and more. Whenever you choose to go, those dancing fill the atmosphere with fervor and inspiration.

Hwang In-chul, the manger of salsa society Into Latin World talked about what salsa means to him. “After learning salsa dancing, I noticed I was happier at work,” Hwang said. “Previously, I didn’t have any outlet to channel my stress but now I can release stress by dancing salsa. It helps me a lot with keeping healthy mentally.”


By Park Sang-moon[moonpark@joongang.co.kr]

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