The Story of Your First Class

Posted by Jake on 12th September 2014

I’m sure for some of you, it may be a long time since you took your first salsa class – and for others, it will be still fresh in the memory; but whatever your story – I was hoping you could share it here!

It’s easy to forget how nerve wracking it can be to take your first dance class; so I’d like you to cast your mind back, and share how it went down for you…

By Jake

Nearly a decade ago, I resolved to run a salsa night the way I thought it should be run and the idea for StreetSalsa was born.  The rest as they say is history..

I've made some of the best friends you could wish for through dancing, and want to share what a life-changing experience dance can be.

By Melanie on 13th September 2014 at 15:12

Before starting salsa I had danced everyday. A week before my first salsa class I was told I wouldn't be able to dance for a while, going from dancing daily to no dancing at all... I hated the thought. 

One night I remembered I had a friend who taught some sort of dance class every week and so I contacted him and he gave me more info, I tried my first salsa class the week after.

I was so nervous, I had no idea where I was going, what to wear or what the people were going to be like. I was so nervous I even concidered not going at all, but I did.

When I arrived it took me a while to force myself to go in, I struggled going into crowded places,  especially when I was late. As soon as I went in I just felt right at ease, people greeted me and they were extremely friendly and made me feel welcome.

When I finally joined in with the rest of the class I felt that I looked silly as I just couldn't get the steps right, one of the teachers came over and tried to reassure me that i'd get it eventually and that I should just take my time and enjoy it, he even joked about how long it had taken himself to get the steps right when he first started.

It took me the whole night just to try and figure out the mambo and side step and to get it in time with the music too. When the social finally came around I clearly couldn't dance salsa so I just went with the music and free styled, I had so much fun and met some incredible people. 

The teachers were great, the music was awesome and the atmosphere was incredible! I found somewhere I fit in. Every week I pushed myself to become better, and I did. The difference I saw in myself in just a few short weeks was amazing. Not just with my dancing but with my confidence. 

Salsa dancing has brought meaning back into my life, it has given me something to be excited about and from my first class I've never looked back since! 

I love all the friends I have made at streetsalsa, trying salsa was one of the best decisions I have ever made! 

By Donna'ton' on 13th September 2014 at 17:18

I started salsa back in 2009 with a friend in wakefield, i loved feelin so cpmfortable in a group of people who had an interest in the same thing as me.....however....i wanted to share my first leeds salsa class experience.........i had been messaging jake askin about the classes after lookin online thi was in january 2013....i wanted a friend to come along with me, as i missed dancing and after going through a traumatic event in my life, i needed to dance again as an escape.......jake made me feel so at ease within the messages, that i turned up alone in leeds (45min drive) and walked into distrikt, and met my future family.  Carla was there, it was her first night too, and we instantly clicked, that bond never went.........jake made me feel so comfortable, he was complimentary, friendly, and passionate about salsa.....just what i needed....i immediately felt at ease and back to my old self........and as they say, the rest is history...x

By Carla (Carlita) on 13th September 2014 at 17:26

I tried three times to walk down the stairs to my first salsa class! I just couldn't build up the confidence to go in there! Finally on my third attempt I turned up and forced myself down the stairs, I was really early (I kno I know salsa no no) and I sat at the bar feeling very sick and very nervous! Lol ... Then I met Donna and we just kinda bonded over first night nerves! The class was amazing, teaching awesome and social fab (even though I think I danced social 3 times in as many weeks) the rest is history! I met me Leeds family! :-) x

By Jake on 13th September 2014 at 17:36

OK, so here's mine!  I started three different times, and drifted away twice before it really stuck.  I first started at uni, and you actually went with a partner to that class.

Although I was still nervous it wasn't so bad because my partner gave me loads of encouragement.  She'd danced lots before.  After a few years off, the second time I went with a load of friends and we kind of put a brave face on it and just marched in.

But the third time was the interesting one, I'd spent every waking hour of two years building a business that failed and pretty much my whole social life had dwindled to nothing.  Having done salsa before I knew it would be a good way to get myself out doing stuff again, but I couldn't pursuade any of my friends to get over the whole 'dance class' thing.

At that point my confidence was at a real low, I was pretty burnt out and broke so it took loads of courage to go again - even though I'd been through that nerve wracking first class experience twice before!  But I'm glad I did, haven't looked back since and the rest as they say is history :)

Like you Carla, I think it took me three times of asking to actually get through the door!

By Jason DJ Jazzy Jay on 13th September 2014 at 17:54

Great stories and everyone's experience is unique to them. i started dancing ceroc middle of last year and got a buzz for dancing. I went on a night out with my ex who had salsa friends on a salsa night to azuca and I felt totally out of place. I couldn't dance a step of salsa and quite frankly didn't want to. I was left on my own sat in the corner of the room for an hour and a half while my ex danced all night. I finally left on my own not wanting to ever hear te word salsa again. I hated that night and hated salsa. When me and my ex broke up some months later i was left in a bit of a dark place. I wanted something to do, new friends and a purpose. I saw a post from a friend on Facebook I had known from some years ago about salsa. Low and behold it was Jake. He encouraged me to come down despite my reservations about salsa. My first outing was at Distrikt. I had the biggest warmest welcome and was made to feel part of the community immediately. Try as I did all night I could not even get the mambo. But  because of my experience with my ex of being left in the corner of the room not being able to dance I was determined to beat this demon And conquer this. I then went the very next night and then the next to the point I was dancing 6 nights a week. I realised I had actually become addicted to salsa. I became a decent dancer in such a short space of time and gave me bags more confidence. I wanted more. I made so many genuine great friends and felt part of the amazing street salsa community. And even better I met my amazing gorgeous girlfriend here too At the same events. I love salsa now and have not looked back since so I would urge any new beginner whatever your fear is, is to just do it anyway. Everyone starts at the beginning not knowing the first step. But to get to travel  the road of a thousand miles you have to take the first step. You will be helped and welcomed in to our amazing salsa family.

By James on 13th September 2014 at 18:58

My first class was in Distrikt. I had gone to get some tapas with the food society and there was a salsa class going on while I was eating. I saw one of my friends from my course dancing and had a little laugh, I didn't know he did salsa. After the meal I went over to chat to him and give him a bit of stick. He asked me if I ever tried it and I said no. Then he persuaded me to ask a girl to dance and try it. I'd seen him dancing all night and I thought it couldn't be that hard, so I tried it. I was absolutely dreadful. I'd never danced before and most sports I was generally good at so it frustrated me. So I went back the next week to get better. I liked the challange and I liked the dance. And I've been salsa dancing ever since. 

By Sophie on 14th September 2014 at 12:30

Wow! I love these stories all so different.

Some of you will know that I tried salsa as a forfeit during a drinking game organised by our hotel entertainments team in Cancun. It was embarrassing but I loved it. So I googled salsa dancing in Leeds and just happened to pick the one at Distrikt.

I originally turned up with a big group of my best mate, brother and his girlfriend at the time. I wasn't nervous because we were altogether. I met Richard and Ankit that night. They started around the same time as me.

I was absolutely buzzing, we all were and enjoyed the next few weeks in a friendly environment. However, the other guys dropped off, so the biggest thing for me was actually turning up to the class alone, but I bit the bullet and got stuck in.

I made friends properly from that point, getting to know my partnera and then the other follows. It's nice to be with friends, but salsa is so friendly that you don't need a friend because you're surrounded by them!!

By Sophie on 14th September 2014 at 12:33

I forgot to mention about the actual class. I fell over my feet a lot from the very beginning but the moves were broken down in a clear and simple way. I remember that it was extremely fun and on my first night I even tackled the second class. There was a lot of encouragement for us to do that so any nerves I had quickly disappeared 

By Nicky on 14th September 2014 at 20:42

wow... I have to dig back in my memory for this one... I'm officially an old timer!! Lol

i was living in Chichester at the time and my house mate had just 'come out if the closet' and he felt it would help him if he learnt how to dance. He dragged me (after much begging) to a new salsa night they were running in the pub at the end of our street! Cut a long story short he never went back but my addiction started after just one hit! By the end of that year I moved to London so I could do more and learn from some of the best. :-) I was well and truly hooked. 

By Richard on 14th September 2014 at 21:50

Love this thread, and only just caught up! What strikes me about all the experiences above is that I've been around for most of them. I danced with Mel, Sophie, Donna & Carla on those nights and just look at where we all are now. I had a great time with all of you, and you are such a memorable part of my salsa history!

So, here goes with my story!

I'd recently moved to Leeds, and about 6 months in, two friends of mine were telling me about a salsa class they had been going to for a while in Huddersfield. One day, for a bit of fun, some mutual friends and I drove them over to the class to see what it was about. We didn't plan on getting involved, so we just sat in the bar for a while, allowing ourselves to get bored before we eventually left. When we came back to pick them up later, we saw them freestyling, and a little part of me went, "I want to be able to do that."

I then consulted a southern friend of mine, who I know had tried it before, and asked him about it. He said "I didn't enjoy it, but you've always told me you'd rather regret something you did, than something you didn't." It was the argument of the century. I couldn't argue with me!

So I gave it a shot, and really enjoyed myself, and looked forward all week to driving to Huddersfield each Sunday to learn more moves! Then one day, I was wandering around Leeds City Centre when I saw a sign for salsa classes. It never occurred to me that there might have been classes in Leeds!

So I when I went to the class, it was really fresh and cool, with plenty of people my age and quite an ecclectic mix of music. I was thoroughly hooked and have been ever since, some times going out 6 nights a week - and I still attend the odd class where it all started in Huddersfield.

Taking up salsa (along with moving to Leeds) is the best decision I've ever made, it gives me a much needed release from the monotony of day-to-day life, and now it's something I couldn't live without!

By Siobhan on 18th September 2014 at 06:46

Love this thread!  I can't really remember my first class as such, but this is my salsa story anyway.

My dance life started with ballet aged 3, I dabbled with tap and modern too but they didn't stic, ballet was the one. I did that until I was 18...then pretty much stopped any kind of dance (other than out in clubs) for the next five years.

Then I started zumba, which included elements of salsa, samba, rumba, bachata, reggaeton etc. Two years ago, I attended Calle Ocho with a few girls from my class. Having never done a 'proper' salsa class this was a real eye opener!

Finally, at the start of this year my zumba teacher, whose dance background was latin anyway, started a salsa course which I jumped at the chance of being on.

When Jake (who happens to be a good friend of my fiancé) found out I'd picked up salsa he began encouraging me to come to one of his nights. I eventually got myself and my mum (whose salsa story is similar to mine!) down one Weds night and needless to say we loved it!

The best thing about StreetSalsa's classes for me is the friendliness, everyone is so welcoming. I do remember standing at thr bar on our first night and Allison came over and starting chatting to us like we'd known her forever, I knew at that point I was going to love it here!

By Jake on 28th December 2014 at 18:26

Can't wait to welcome plenty of new faces in 2015!  Thanks to everyone who's posted up their comments, think they're really going to help new people to make the brave leap into taking their first class!

By Rosa on 16th February 2015 at 13:35

A little late but here's my story:

My sister and mum had been salsa dancing for ages, and I went home to London for the summer just as my dad had started refusing to accompany mum to lessons. Eventually mum pursuaded me to come with her for a beginners' class. It all went down fine, until the intermediate class (an hour later) was one follow down and mum nominated me. Needless to say, it was quite the car crash, but it was still a lot of fun and people even asked me to dance during the social (cue more car crashes). 

I think it's fair to say I was pretty much hooked from that evening onwards. 

By Jane on 20th February 2015 at 19:28

I went along to Joe's BRB beginners class with a friend my husband had set me up with and I was in a low confidence place after being made redundant. It's there that I met our Jake (and James) and they encouraged us to move up to the next level and built my confidence by always dancing with me even though I was rubbish and Catherine was awesome (and much younger and slimmer). Then I started losing weight (thanks slimming world) and as the weight came off my confidence grew and I was doing 3-4 nights salsa a week And got much better! And then I got a full time job. Stopped the late nights and still miss salsa so much. I will return home soon. Just 3 more assignments and an exam in June to go....

By Emma on 14th March 2015 at 15:43

My Salsa story is also very similar to Siobhans. I started ballet from a young age and kept it going till I was about 15 then focussed all my energy into School and University. I was a massive geek and felt like I had no time to do anything other than get my head down and get a good degree; however I still loved to dance. Any night out I would dance all night long and I was frequently caught dancing round my room by my housemates. Once I started work and discovered that I actually had this thing called spare time I found a Zumba class with a few of my girlfriends and when the teacher asked if I had danced before I knew how much I had missed it.

The night I discovered Salsa however was a complete surprise. One drunken evening out stumbling round Leeds trying to find somewhere different to go other than the infamous Call Lane, we decided to try out Oracle, but turned out you had to be 25 to get in that night (we had no chance), so instead we went to the Tapas bar Azucar. As soon as we walked in it was like been transported to South America. The music, the atmosphere, the tequila….

But the biggest thing that hit me was the couples dancing, people actually dancing with each other. This was unseen on any night out I’d ever been on, aside from some creepy guy grinding up against a random drunk girls backside. We took a booth and just sat watching in awe, especially one girl, who we nick named ‘The Girl in the Orange Dress’ was incredible. At one point a guy had a threesome (a dance threesome that is) with her and another girl and I remember my friend Ben saying ‘He is the Man’. All the time we were sat watching men would come ask us to dance and, even though I really wanted to, I never felt like I could, thought I would be useless and look ridiculous; however after another cocktail I agreed. I was so surprised by how I just seemed to be going where I was led, spinning and dipping, doing things I’d only ever seen on Strictly Come Dancing.

That night we danced till 5 in the morning and the next day all we could talk about was how amazing it was. Unfortunately I was then heading to Australia for a month so while I was away my friend vowed to find us a Salsa class where we could actually learn to do it. When I returned we went to our first class at Distrikt and the rest is history. I can’t quite remember the actual class except that I had a fantastic time, and the follow teacher……The girl in the orange dress. Now known to me as Emma Greenwood.

By Siobhan on 14th March 2015 at 16:22

Emma, I looove your story! x

By Richard on 14th March 2015 at 16:29

Haha. Love how Emma was the girl in the orange dress. Of course she was!

By Emma on 14th March 2015 at 17:36

Wow feel slightly emotional, was not expecting that! Can't imagine anyone watching me thinking I was incredible (you sure it was me hahahahaha).

Erm I'm trying to think of my first salsa class and I can't really remember it. I started dancing at 16, I practically lived at Yorkshire dance (doing Jazz, Ballet, Musical theatre) the only week night I wasn't there was Friday and thats because they were shut I believe. Think I first started at Yorkshire dance doing a Latin vibes class with the lovely Ella and Bobak. We looked at Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton, Bachata and Samba. Merengue and Reggaeton were my favourite. Ella moved to London and Bobak took over the class but needed an assistant, I was amazed that he asked me to join him in teaching, I really enjoyed it. After a while Bobak moved on and the lovely Julia Lawson took over as lead teacher. We had a brilliant time teaching and when Julia was ill and couldn't make the class she put her trust in me to lead it. I will never forget the day I had to lead the class as Julia was unwell and the director/choreographer from the musical theatre company I am with decided to come along to the class as she had a rare night off, I was so nervous to teach in front of her but at the end of the class she said she had really enjoyed it.

 I remember attending classes with the fabulous Nicky (where Red Hot Buffet now is) and was wowed by how amazing she was.

Due to performing in shows I dipped in and out of salsa a lot as rehearsals clashed with classes.

My first experience with Street Salsa was the Tuesday class at Distrikt, Bobak had posted he was doing a class as a guest teacher there so to show support for a friend I decided to rock up. I was made to feel so welcome, met some really lovely people and had a fab night. I made Tuesday nights a regular thing and so glad I did.

By Siobhan on 14th March 2015 at 18:08

Awww lovely Julia is that zumba teacher brought salsa to my life! :-)

By Siobhan on 14th March 2015 at 18:08

*who brought salsa...lol

By Priyanka on 14th March 2015 at 23:23

Interesting thread! I reckon quite a few people know my story but feel like contributing regardless :)

At the end of last summer I got onto a project in Leeds for work and was very excited to actually spend some time with Emma - however she does salsa 2/3 nights I'm in leeds so I didn't have much choice but to come along to smokestack or hi fi to see her!

Ive actually done indian classical dancing for over 10 years so I'm never one to shy away from a dance floor (in Emma's post above she talks about dancing all night when at uni - I was right there with her!), however partner dancing really made me nervous and I actually came to quite a few classes and didn't have the nerve to join in!

Until... I had one too many drinks and signed up to Strictly Come StreetSalsa. True to my word I came back the next week, had my first class with Donna, got paired with Panos for the competition, learnt merengue, cross body, Cuban and not even sure what else ... and ended up making it through to the semi finals!

Now I've bought salsa shoes and I'll be continuing salsa when I'm back in London for good (although it won't be the same I'm sure!)

By Myra on 23rd October 2015 at 08:40

These are lovely to hear! Here's mine:

Myself and a friend had gone to Saturday comedy at hifi and stayed for the club night afterwards. After a bit of our usual dancing, we noticed a couple of people in the club were doing a specific kind of dance that looked so good and so much fun! So we asked them what it was and if we could do that too! This was my first introduction to salsa as a dance and not just a sauce. They said come to hifi on a Wednesday and you can do this too, so we went the very next Wednesday night! I was hooked from the very first class, everyone was so friendly and welcoming and it was so much fun!
I've always completely loved to dance (not unusual to find me as the last one in the club...) but have always been utterly hopeless at following steps and being told how to dance. Trying to follow a Zumba or aerobics class is one of my most exasperating experiences, and they're supposed to be easy to follow! Ive never done any organised dancing before, apart from a 10week course in breakdancing at school... (and 1 tango, 2 swing, and 1 ballroom taster classes), none of which went very well... so I didn't really have much expectation that I would be able to pick up salsa either! From the first class at hifi, it seemed to come quite easily... I was really surprised! I can only assume that it's because the teachers broke down the steps in a manageable format for even the most confused person to follow, and that it was all about having fun in a safe and relaxed atmosphere! I fell in love with it instantly from the very first class, I couldn't stop laughing and smiling and excitably chattering- sometimes I think I must have been quite unbearable! But I loved it! The feeling from dancing, and the satisfaction from seeing such marked improvements every session was and still is addictive! It should come with a warning of addiction... other things in my life may have fallen by the wayside, as I just want to keep dancing! Wholeheartedly believe that everyone should give it a try, at least once, but in particular, make sure that you try it with this group of extra lovely and supportive people!