It’s Thursday evening 7 o’clock and it’s the first beginners’ salsa lesson at the International Club. Cathelijne, a second-year MSc student, and Damien, a French Erasmus student, are performing quite well already. But Cathelijne is one of the lucky women, as she has a male dance partner.
One of the oldest clubs in Wageningen, the International Club offers a programme that changes in monthly, with the emphasis on providing a relaxed atmosphere. ‘There are lots of Latin parties and tropical parties, but also nights where other cultures are featured,’ explains Dasa, a Czech MSc student who works at the club. The DJs are chosen depending on the theme for the evening. ‘Party themes arise from the people who come to us with ideas, and they arrange food, music and so on. The ‘organisers’ are often Latin Americas, and they have their favourite music, salsa of course.’
With its origins in Latin America and the Caribbean, salsa is a mix of Latin music, pop, jazz rock and R&B. Maybe this is one of the reasons salsa is so popular at dance clubs. Modern salsa is for dancing to, and lessons are on offer in many places. The International Club has lessons for all levels from beginners to advanced on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and there was an introductory evening last week Wednesday in De Bongerd sports centre.
There’s one problem though. It’s almost impossible for a girl to find a male dance partner. At De Bongerd there were seventy girls and just one man. When asked, guys tend to reply along the lines of, ‘I’d love to learn to dance, but at the moment I don’t have time to join a course’. Others claim they don’t like dancing in couples. ‘They have all sorts of excuses,’ Cathelijne says, recalling her own experiences until she found Damien, who also likes dancing and agreed to start lessons with her.
‘I don’t know why guys are not so interested in dancing. I like it, and I also like the salsa parties at the International Club. Having a chance to salsa on the dance floor with nice girls? I can think of worse things to do in the world,’ is Damien’s comment.
But is Wageningen suffering from an overdose of salsa? Does everyone like it, or do some complain? ‘I can imagine that some people think there is too much salsa at the International Club,’ Edward from Bolivia thinks. ‘It depends on the DJ, and I think they should be flexible and cover all tastes. But as far as I’m concerned there can never be too much salsa at a party.’ Dasa adds: ‘On Fridays there’s usually a wider selection of music at the International Club, and DJs take requests.’ Maybe the salsa girls should use Fridays to introduce the guys to the magic of the salsa rhythm. / Henrik Schmale