Pierre and Patricia Learning Salsa

Arrebato Caleño, the dance school where I live at the moment, is a true encounter of cultures. It’s not just a typical dance school but also a home for people from all over the world. At the moment there are residents from Guatemala, Canada, The Netherlands, Moldova, France and Colombia, and also the students come from all around the globe. Today, I interviewed the French-Colombian couple Pierre and Patricia.

Pierre, how did you end up in Cali from Paris?
Well, the first time I came here was a year ago and it was because of salsa. I love salsa and I already used to dance in Paris, yet it was always Casino – Cuban salsa or L.A. style, which is more flashy. In Paris, there are two Cali style dance schools, however they are very far from my house and with the traffic jams of the city, it’s impossible for me to go there. The only occasions on which I can go, is if there are workshops during the weekends.

Patricia, you’re from the Caribbean coast. Did you used to dance salsa?
Yes and no. In Barranquilla, where I used to live for 11 years, there are dance schools, yet I’ve never taken any classes before. At the coast, be it the Caribbean or the Pacific, everyone dances. However, it’s very callejero (casual, from the streets). But here…I find it incredible how people dance! In Cartagena or Barranquilla salsa is not glamorous.

Pierre, why did you choose Arrebato Caleño from all dance schools?
The first time I came to Cali I had a local guide who showed me the place and told me I can take private classes. What I really love about this place is that I learn things I can easily practice in a club afterwards. It’s exactly the kind of social dancing skills I need.

And have you been out practicing?
Oh yes! We’re only staying here for 5 days, yet we’ve been to La Topa Tolondra here in San Antonio, which is our favorite place so far. We also went to Café Mi Tierra in Menga Neighborhood, but we didn’t think it was so great. The energy was just not the same as in La Topa. This Saturday we’ll still go to Tin Tin Deo before leaving Cali on Sunday.

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It seems you both enjoy salsa. Patricia, what is it that you like about it?
To me, it’s a very typical form expression both in my country as well as at the coast. I identify with dance, because that’s how I express myself as well. Where I’m from, it’s mostly Vallenatos we dance, not so much salsa. In fact, in my region people really have no clue how to dance salsa. Yet, my mother is from the North, near Sucre and Tolum, where there are many black people. And where there are black people, there’s always also dance.

And you, Pierre, what is it you like about salsa?
I especially love the music. I listen to salsa all the time and I need it. In fact, it’s how I’ve learned to speak Spanish. Although I’m not Latin American and no one in my family dances, I feel a strong connection to salsa music and to the dance. In the beginning I thought it was impossible for me to learn, as it was so complicated! However, after I went for a salsa journey to Havanna, I knew I was addicted.

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And Pierre, do you plan to return to Colombia sometime in the future?
Yes! I hope I can come back to Cali next year. When I have vacation, I want to go to foreign countries, see new people and experience other cultures. This time I’m only staying for five days in Cali and five days in Cartagena. In Paris, everyone’s busy all the time and there’s never really time to enjoy life. Here, it’s a lot better.

The teachers of Pierre and Patricia were Kanelo and Andrés, on both of which I will do an interview later on, showcasing also the way they dance. Kanelo just won the Solo Dancer’s Category at the Mundial de la Salsa (the World Salsa Competition) 2017.

Written by Sissi Korhonen
Exploring, interpreting and understanding cultures through local languages and people. An advocate for intercultural communication as a basis for diversity acceptance and human equality.