Just have Fun - Jago Ayllon

Samantha StoutNovember 11, 2020Ballroom Chat: Episode #30
Jago Ayllon ballroom chat

Jago Ayllon is the man behind Utah Salsa and has been a member of the Salt Lake Salsa and Bachata community for over 15 years. Jago and Samantha discuss the intricacies of the Salsa style of dancing, how it differs in approach from ballroom dancing, and how its focus on fun and play make for an inclusive social dance experience.

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Show Notes

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Episode Transcript

Samantha: Welcome back to another episode of Ballroom Chat. I'm your host, Samantha with Love Live Dance. Before we get started today, I'd like to give a big thank you to our continuing supporters of this podcast. both Ballroom Box and The Girl with the Tree Tattoo more on that at the mid break. but without further ado, let me go ahead and introduce today's guest.

This week, I am joined by Jago Ayllon, he is a salsa dancer and social event organizer in Salt Lake City, Utah. And we get to talk a little bit about the differences and similarities between the salsa community and the ballroom dance community and demystify some of the aspects. Of the salsa dance experience that perplexes and confuses ballroom dancers.

So, without further ado, let's jump into our conversation with Jago. Well, thank you so much Jago for being a guest on today's podcast.

Jago: All right. Thank you for having me.

Samantha: so obviously we want to talk a lot about the salsa, bachata community, Latin social community, and dancing. But before we get into all of that, how did you start your dance journey?

What brought you into the dance community?

Jago: for me, I, I got out of college really early. And now I just, I just had all this time to kill. So, then I just went down seeing one time and I saw this, couple of weeks, well dancing. And I was like, well, they were really good. And I didn't know. I was like, I want to learn that.

So then there was no studios back then in here, at least in Utah. and then, and, this guy, this guy teaches in a garage, but only five people go. I went there like twice and then he kind of just moved away to California. Then after that, I just started taking. Not taking class because there were no classes.

So I had to order back then it was like on a DVDs, you have to buy it, you have to buy a DVD from somewhere and I would have to buy it on and see it. And that's how it was back then. There was, there was no YouTube, so that's how it started. And I learned it and then little by little started going dancing and here and there and so on.

And that's how I got into it.

Samantha: That's awesome. And you've been dancing for how long now?

Jago: Oh my gosh. For a long time. I would say a little bit over 15 years. So, I always count 2005 as the first, probably performance official thing that we've done. But maybe before that, maybe even before, I would say 2000 end of 2003, probably.

Samantha: That's amazing.

Jago: That's my guess.

Samantha: So, you've really seen the salsa community, especially here in Utah change and grow over the years. you mentioned that when you first started, I was just going to say

Jago: I was there from the almost beginning. Yeah. Like I was there from when there was nothing, there was nothing in here.

I mean, there was a club, but there was no like salsa community or bachata community, but yet there wasn't even a thing there. Sorry, my phone fell, but yet it wasn't even a thing then it was just a. It was like all kinds of Merengue and all kinds of stuff. But there was some salsa, but nothing like what it is now, there was no studios, there was no groups or a place to go specifically, Salsa/bachata dancing. You have to go to this one club. There was only one club was called a Tropicana and you would go and then they will play all kinds of music, including salsa. And then you would just dance there, but it was mostly like cumbia and merengue and some salsa, so that wasn't even a salsa room or anything like that.

Samantha: So, we got into a little bit of the history of casino Rueda with, Cesar, when I had him on, in a previous podcast episode. But for those of us that are in the ballroom community, we kind of just generally lump. Latin social dancing into one umbrella term. obviously, we have Mambo, that's very ballroom Mambo as part of our American rhythm syllabus and our competitions.

But for those of us that maybe aren't as versed in the vocabulary and the specific different styles of dance, what do you see and what are the differences between the different styles of dance that kind of fall under that Latin social dance umbrella?

Jago: Okay. For us. because I do teach at a ballroom studio, so I can kind of see the difference that you guys separated into international. I think and Latin, right? Is that what it is?

Samantha: Yeah, International and American

Jago: it is. Yeah. It is one. Yeah, it is one umbrella, but mostly it would fall into, salsa. Which has its own categories as well.

So, so, but it's salsa, but chatter, which also has now some categories. And then it's basically now it's Cha Cha, and Merengue and Cumbia. That's all. That will be basically the five. So, it will be salsa. Bachata, Merengue and Cha Cha and Cumbia. And then the latter three, they're not that popular in for the dancers because you can catch on extremely quick and there's no really challenge, but for Salsa and Bachata you have to take classes, you have to like practice and that's what kind of gets them hooked.

Cause it's a challenge for it. So, but within salsa itself, now we have Salsa on one, Salsa on two, Salsa Rueda like, like what he said, Casino Rueda, and then there's some other styles that have been coming up, but they kind of come and go or they have really small pockets. Now with bachata, we have Sensual Bachata then there's Dominican bachata.

I'm not an expert on Bachata, but I can see the difference. And then there's Merengue, Merengue just its own thing. And then Cumbia, there's Mexican Cumbia, Colombian Cumbia, South American Columbia, and so on, and then Cha Cha, Cha Chas is just Cha Cha. But it's different than you guys' Cha Cha. Just a little bit. It's a little more, I don't know. I guess more Salsa style a little bit, then ballroom Cha Cha.

Samantha: Yeah. is your, is your Cha Cha basic more forward and backward in place rather than the side basic than we use? Or is it more just the styling and how the partners relate?

Jago: No, it is more forward and backwards, but it's very similar.

It's just, I mean, this is going to sound really dumb, but maybe some people get mad, but it's, to me it's like basically forward and backward and it's just a salsa, with the three steps in the middle, but it's a lot slower. Right. But then you add so much more flavor and so much more. Of the Mambo style in it, which is really cool.

I think it looks amazing.

Samantha: That's interesting to hear you say that because, when I work with students that do the American rhythm syllabus and they start with Mambo. A lot of my students get overwhelmed because it's got that break on the two and it's very fast. so, I actually tell them that Mambo is Cha Cha without the Chas. And that's like, aha. Okay. I figured it out. So, it's interesting that you just flip it and you're like Cha Cha is just salsa with that, with the extra steps in the middle.

Jago: Yeah, that's exactly right. That's how I tell them, like, it's just basically Salsa just with the three things on the middle.

Samantha: Yeah.

Jago: But you know, in salsa is weird because we have Salsa on one and then Salsa on two and so on, most people don't that dance or the try Cha Cha, cause not a lot of people teach Cha Cha for the social dancers in the salsa community. A lot of them dance cha-cha on one, which is wrong because they're trying to incorporate the salsa in it. So, then I keep telling them no, no, there's no Cha Cha on one there.

They just, because of the music you can't, but a lot of them do it because they're trying and it's okay. I mean, just have fun, whatever, but. But at the same time, it's good to tell him, Hey, there's no Cha Cha on one. It's just they're Cha Cha on two. And that's just how it is. Cause the music is built that way. But when, if you ever go dancing to a social, at least in Utah and they play a Cha Cha, you're going to see a lot of dancers.

Because they can incorporate it from their Salsa knowledge, they will try to do Cha Cha on one.

Samantha: Yeah. Yeah.

Jago: That's just our nature.

Samantha: Yeah. I feel like, if a salsa dancer comes to one of our ballroom social nights, which obviously we haven't had in a very long time, but pre pandemic, And I would be dancing with them for a Cha cha and they were breaking on one.

I was like, "you were taught Cha Cha by a salsa dancer, weren't you?" And then like 4 dances later, when a salsa is when a salsa comes on and they dance with me, they were like, "you were taught salsa by a ballroom dancer weren't you?"

Jago: exactly. Yeah, because they just try their best, but they do their salsa on one to the Cha Cha.

Samantha: Yeah.

Jago: You know, it works for them I guess, but we need to educate them a little bit because there's no Cha Cha on one.

Samantha: Yeah. So, let's, let's talk about education for a second. So, with the ballroom community, We have established syllabi. every studio kind of does their own thing, depending on what syllabus they subscribe to or if they create their own. But we have sort of a standardized version of all of our steps for all of our dances. Is there a similar methodology within the salsa community or is that still sort of on its way to being developed and codified?

Jago: There is not. So I've, I've noticed that cause a lot of ballroom dancers, they've shown me the syllabus and you have to have this combo or this step or this movement or this technique in order for you to be in this level. And then because you have like different. I don't know entirely why there's bronze and the different, different things and so on. That doesn't exist in the Salsa community, or at least they never, I don't know if anybody has tried and I never heard of anything like that. Yeah. But that doesn't exist. So, each studio kind of managers and then tell them, okay, this is the beginners, and this is the intermediates and then this is the advanced, and these are the pros.

Right. But there isn't no syllabus. I've known of a couple of teams in San Francisco and one in, in San Diego that they do have some kind of a syllabus, but it it's not even the same. It's completely different because we haven't had that. We haven't standardized that as a whole global thing. Like in ballroom, you like it’s just the global, because you have competition standards that they follow the same structure. We don't, we don't. it's just too, too street. I guess. We're too social for us to do because for you guys, it's more, it's, it's like a sport. I mean, you could easily go into the Olympics for ballroom, honestly, because it's so standardized and you guys have this technique that you have to execute it at that level.

And then they can calculate oh, it’s at the wrong angle that was supposed to be this angle, where in Salsa, it's a little more relaxed and same thing with bachata. So, we don't have that, make sense? So, we're like, and that's what we can tell too. Like that's a ballroom dancer, like, Oh, cause he's so technical and he's like, where in Salsa and you can tell like, Oh, he's more relaxed and more flowy and more like.

I don’t know, not as follower of the rules and techniques. So, we don't have that. I haven't seen, I've seen the, from a couple of teams, but that hasn't spread out as a whole and on, on the whole world.

Samantha: So what then are some of the universal characteristics that it doesn't matter if you're in LA, if you're in New York, if you're in Florida, if you're in Puerto Rico that are going to be identifiable and are going to be a common thread, no matter where you go with your dancing salsa.

Jago: it's the basic three will be basic is the basic, I mean, if you go forward and backwards, the basic, and then the simple turn or simple turns, and then the crossbody lead. If you know those three, you can, if you know them really good at, or at least try to follow in some minimum, Minimal way that combinations are thrown because every combination we have is based out of those three, everything basically, except for what we call them shines.

I think you guys call them the freestyle. When you just dance them by yourself, we call them shines. So. Unless you're doing shines and you don't need those three, but everything else in salsa is based out of those three. So, if you have those three, you can travel the world. You can communicate, I can go to Japan and I can dance with anybody that doesn't even speak my language.

And then they will understand because it's just the same three, just doing it in different format and doing different combinations. But if you know those three, you'll be good.

Samantha: So, let's talk about shines. cause that is definitely something that if I'm at a social and the partner that I'm dancing with, lets me go for half a second to do like his thing.

I just get this look of sheer panic on my face because in the ballroom community, we really don't do that unless it's a choreographed routine and we've planned it out and we know exactly where we're going. So, what is it about the. Style of salsa, the social aspect of salsa that really creates a home for that in the moment improvisation?

Jago: It's the music, it's the musicality of it. So, if you feel it and it's coming or some kind of a conga, you know, like, Oh my gosh is there. Or the trumpet is going to go nuts. Or the piano guy is just going to go crazy and you feel it. And you have to express it with your own body. That's its musicality of it.

So, if you feel it, you go, another way I will also think is when you messed up. You messed up. Like, let's say I'm in the middle of, I at least I do it. And I've seen a lot of people that are doing a combo and they went over and they didn't really catch it right, and then in order for you not to mess up their hands or not get hurt, or just let them go do a couple of shines to catch up and then go back in there and then just to fix it all day.

But usually it's the music. And then when you can do it and express it and then. then people use like, Oh, your musicality is really good. So, shines usually goes with the music. So, you feel it then that's when you, it's mostly my feel. If you feel like, wow, that part of the music deserves to have its own shines, then you go for it.

Samantha: And then is that something that typically the lead is responsible for communicating to the follower, or is that something that the follow can say like, Hey, I know this song inside and out and something really cool was coming up here. And I feel like I want to do something and break hold.

Jago: it can be both. It's mostly for the lead, but when the follow does it, we call it a hijack.

So, which is okay. It, girls can, ladies can hijack the step and they can go in. And it's not really that, you know the song I think is mostly that you know the rules and it feels like it. Like, I don't know every song on the planet, of course, but. I think I've done it so much that when you go, because everything is by four. So, you go one, two, three, five, seven, eight, one two three, five six seven eight. When you feel like there's four of them, you know, the song is escalating. And so, he kind of feels that way or the trumpets, like going in it, or you cannot feel it like something's coming. Even, I never heard a song. Something is coming. So that at that moment you kind of like go for it.

So it's not necessarily like the, you know, the song, it just, I don't know, like to explain it, but you can feel it like, it's like, it's coming, it's coming. And then you, you feel like you want to go for it and you just go for it. And then the follows do do it. So, when you're spinning, that will let you go. Cause in salsa, we don't really hold them entirely. At least if you're doing it properly, it's barely a connection so they can let you go. And that's usually called a hijack.

Samantha: Okay. Okay. Yeah. hijack would be like the worst thing to be told that you were doing in ballroom, because that means like I'm no longer listening to my partner.

I've just taken over and I'm doing my thing. So that's like very much a dirty world, a dirty word in our world. so, it's interesting to see that it's yeah,

Jago: it doesn't happen as much as in Salsa, but it does, but it's not that bad. It's not like a taboo.

Samantha: so, I want to go back to kind of the growth of Salsa, the salsa community in Utah. Was that something that came out of the community? Was that something that was driven by dance studios and kind of what was the process to growing it up? Cause I, I feel like now, especially in Salt Lake, there are socials, again, pre pandemic, multiple nights a week at a couple of different locations between salt Lake and Utah counties.

Jago: Yeah. Even now there's socials. Honestly, right now they haven't. Once they came back, they came and they're following the rules and then wherever the health department is. But there is some now. okay, so before the growth, so how can I explain it before, when there was no socials? The few dancers, it was like five basically couples that were always the same couples.

And each one started creating their own team and everything. This is a little bit before me when I was barely learning and there was competitions. I remember it because of there was a new way of dancing. Cause nobody knew all these combinations and all this. Nobody knew that except for those five couples, and they would always be competing against each other.

So, they would always be like, okay, there's a competition. And there was a lot of clubs back then. So, there was Papi's, there was Tropicana. there was Mambo. And then there was, there was one in, there was like five clubs and there was Sky Bar and everything, and each club had its own annual competition. So, there's a competition every two, three months.

And you would always see those five couples compete because nobody wants to do against them. Nobody knew how to dance like them. So, what happened is those five couples kind of became the instructors of each one and. And they had the little groups and the little students, and that's kind of, I think the growth at the very beginning, in my opinion, it was competition.

They wanted to be the best team. They wanted to be the best group. So, then they started getting more students and then they started growing and then this other guy started doing the same thing. So, they wanted to be the top dog. So. They would practice as hard as they could get as many DVDs as they could.

And then just go and learn them because they wanted to win. The next competition would just coming up in three months, you lose that one. It's okay. There's another competition after that in three months at another club because clubs use that to get, and then those guys use it competitions to get new students because they're like, Hey, how'd you do that?

How do you dance like that? Then we'll get students on so on. And then that's when I can, I came in when I saw one of them. And then he he's like, Oh, I teach at this garage. There wasn't even a dance studio like. So, I went and I'm like, okay, I think competition. And even when I started my team, it was still competition.

What drove the community because each team was gathering more students. And by doing that, they were the community, which is growing and growing and growing and growing, where now is there's not a lot of competition, I would say, but. It's just the dance studios that kind of like, they're just too big of a community to have a competition when it just becomes so many of them, like, eh. But at the very beginning, I think what drove the growth was the competition and they wanted to be the top guys and so on, but now it's just too big to control. And then you just get hooked by watching somebody else or your friends.

You're going to always see new people in social. They're like, Oh, why are you here? Like my friend told me this cool thing and he can dance really cool. And. You know, it just more everybody's spreading it, which is cool.

Samantha: Yeah. so, for those of us, again, coming from the ballroom mindset, what does a typical salsa competition look like? How is it structured? how do you know what level to enter or is it open level? What are the judges looking for? How, how does the competitive world work for that style of dance?

Jago: There's so many variations of it because we don't have a standardized way like you guys, right? So, competition in Utah could be, is completely different than in Vegas.

It can be completely different than in California. And so on. There is the World Latin Dance Cup, which is like one of the biggest ones. Right. Where everybody tries to go and everything like that, but it's so different than everywhere. And even within Utah, one city can have a competition that's completely different than the next studio and so on.

For us, we try to follow as close as possible as some of the rules from the World Latin Dance Cup, but in the World Latin Dance Cup they have so many levels. We can't do that because our population's not that big. We don't have that many dancers, so we can't have like three, four levels. And in each level only one or two couples, that's not a competition at all.

Samantha: Right.

Jago: So, what we do is we separate it into two levels, which is beginners and advanced or pro. So, we put advance and pros together and we put beginners and amateurs together. At least to create it. And even like that, sometimes we don't have any competitors because a lot of people. I think the competitions in Utah kind of have died out because not a lot of people like to compete anymore.

It's not the competitive nature as it used to be at the beginning. Now they're just more worried about having fun and then social dancing. There's still some of them that would love to compete on everything, but there's not. They're not that level, there's not that many that would like to do, because again, it's, it's work, you have to practice and you have to take privates and you have to get your costume and your music it's work. Where in ballroom, there's just so many ballroom people, a lot more, I think. And then in, in our, in Salsa, at least how can I say it? Like in ballroom, you guys are, worry about how your technique and your skill has to improve like your hips and your hands. So, you want to test those things out, its more like a sport. So you want to test it out.

Whereas in Salsa, its just like, nah, it's, it's just fun. Just go have socials. Not really your technique too much. It's just have fun. But in ballroom is very, like, I want to test to see how good I am on my technique. That's the difference. That's why in ballroom, you guys have huge competitions and so many people. And you guys can charge for the entries, where when we charge there's nobody going to compete if we ever charge for competitions. So we have to kind of just say, this is the price. We just hope at least three couples compete at least now. But, yeah. So, and then the rules are completely different here than it can be somewhere else.

You just have to kind of like, see if you ever want to compete or go to a different state or anything like that. You have to read the rules and so on. But for us. Basically beginners or amateurs, they don't do flip or they don't do anything that leaves the ground. And then they don't do more than three spins or something like that.

And they cannot do any, anything that could hurt them, basically, like anything that, what did they try? Cause they want to impress a very, they try something and then they fall on their shoulder and they mess it up. So that's not good, but were they advanced and pros, we let them do that because they're at that level where they can.

They can try that the technique is better. So that's basically what it is. And then in the, in the judges aspect, aspects of that, you asked me, we usually look for five things. It's usually musical tempo cause have to dance with the correct music and musicality included how their costume and everything is and stage presence. And so on. Then we have, the technique and then we have one session. That's basically how you do as a solo, likes your shines area. And then the last one is I think crowd reaction or how the crowd is liking you as well. So that's usually how we judge them.

Samantha: That's interesting that, crowd interaction is one of the judging criteria.

I kind of like that because, one of the things that's, Typically left towards the end of instruction in ballroom communities is like, how do you perform? How do you act engaging? How do you like actually present as a dancer? so it's interesting that that's actually one of the criteria is like, does the crowd care that you are dancing right now? Are they excited by what you're doing? Or are they like totally checked out?

Jago: Yeah, exactly. Cause you have to, like, you have to put on a show basically, and then you have to like, Get them excited on certain parts or something you do for music and it just picks up or you go down and so on. So we do use that at least on an, in our competition.

I'm not talking about all Salsa competitions, just ours. We do give some points based on the crowd reaction and the audience,

Samantha: I like that. are your couples, when they're competing or when they're training in that competitive mindset, are they mostly mixed amateur? Are they Pro-Am? Do you even have a Pro-Am division at larger competition?

Jago: Yeah. In larger competitions there are. In larger competitions, like at the World Latin there's, I think there's like five divisions. Cause it's just so many now. I lost track to be honest. like if you, we went the last time we went and competed 2007. So this is a long time ago. none of my couples have competed, I would say after 2009.

Yeah, that was probably the last competition we went. But, nowadays, I probably would be the wrong, guy to talk to about competitions because we haven't competed or sent anybody to compete since then. And then, you know, I've noticed like since 2011 or so it kind of has the competition mentality kind of has dwindled out in Utah. So there's not that many, very few people that go outside or train or dance on a team specifically to compete. There is some in Utah, but not like it used to be not they don't have that mentality now. Just go have fun and socials and learn cool moves from classes, but don't worry about too much about technique or you don't have that goal.

Like, Oh, I'm going to learn this to go compete somewhere, no. Just like, just learn and just to use it and get better at it for social dancing.

Samantha: I like that. I want to talk a little bit about regional differences. Because obviously if you have not yet codified a dance and it's really based on the instructor in the area and the studio to kind of like put together their own particular style and to teach it and, bring others into the community.

You're going to have regional differences, almost similar to accents or dialects. It's always going to be a little bit different based on where you are. when I first moved to Utah, I noticed that there was a big difference, at least in the way that I knew my basic bachata from growing up, up on the East coast to here.

I think one of the first things either you or one of the other instructors told me when we were goofing around on a social night was like, Don't, look, don't do this hip lift. Like you're doing a hip lift there's we aren't doing that anymore.

Jago: Yes.

Samantha: So what do you see as the biggest difference between East coast, salsa and bachata community West coast, salsa, salsa, bachata community. And is there anything that you can kind of point to, to say, like, this is where it's split or was it just general over time, the community is growing in their own way?

Jago: Okay. I'm want to talk about salsa first. So on salsa. I would say the East coast is mostly known to dance salsa on two. So they dance salsa on two. So they're on the second beat of the song on the West coast is mostly on one, but that was the at least the trajectory in the late nineties, early two thousands. But now everybody is kind of like mixing into it. So you kind of have to know both. You kind of like, Oh, I'm, you know, I can do both where, when I started going to this convention, the congresses and the festivals, like you would have to ask her, can I have this dance?

Like, and then they'll tell you, is it on one or is it on two? Because I only know on two. I don't know. I'm like, shoot I'm on one dancer. Then, but nowadays everybody can do both. At least if you want to be a well-rounded dancer in salsa. So you want to know one and you want to know two, at least you want to be a good leader, good follow to just enjoy the music.

So that kind of faded away. And the majority of the own one dancers, and you can do this based on the coast. They kind of intertwined. Now there's a lot of on two dancers here. There's a lot on one dancers here. So that kind of. I'm not going to say disappear, because its still there. The majority of on two dancers are on the West coast, I mean, on the East coast and the majority of on one dancers on the West coast.

And the reason is, is there was this dancer in New York who started teaching and everything. And his name is Eddie Torres. He's the one that kind of started expanded, expanding the on two mentality because he was also a ballroom dancer. So he was coming from the Mambo. Part, right. So he's the one that came up with the rules are like this, your basic, this is the cross body lead.

It's like giving them those names and so on, which is fine. It's great. And he expanded that. It was in the late seventies, eighties and so on. But in the nineties, when that kind of got to Los Angeles, Los Angeles kind of winged it, they didn't understand exactly. There was this three brothers that kind of like said, yeah, we understand the rules and we are somewhat the same, but instead of starting on two, I think, and this is just a guess.

I'm just saying they heard the on one better and they just did it on the one. They did all those things, but they did on the one. So then they expanded out on the West coast. So that's kind of what happened, like with the, on one'rs on the West and the on two'ers on the East, but now they, you're going to find on a lot on two dancers here, even socials.

That are it's half and half split, even on the West coast and then same thing on the East. So that's happening on both sides, but that was. Now in case of Utah, because we were closer to the West coast. We did start, as an on one city. I mean, state, I guess, because honestly it was only Salt Lake City, so nothing was happening anywhere else, but we started as an on one community.

Then some dance teams, started doing it on two, which is fine. And then that's a key, you can differentiate that these guys are from that dance studio. Cause they're dancing on two. Like for example, DF Dance is only on two. Then Daiyany's Orisha dancers. They started on one, but then now they switch to on two, we always did in on one-on-one on one just because.

I like it. I can dance on two, yes, but I like on one, but I like the firepower of one on one where they like the flowiness, and the technique. it just, the flavor of on two, which is fine, they're both. They're both beautiful. They're both amazing. Its just personal preference, but that's what happened now on in Utah, you have dancers that dance on both, which is great, I think, and you have dancers that they just don't care to just dance on any number. They want them, they just go for whatever they want, but, but for technical and the ones that are studying and improving their craft, most of them, the good ones they can dance on both. So, and I think that's really good, even though I'm an on one dancer. I'm so glad that some of those dance teams switched to on two, because that provided, that expanded our knowledge.

So we're not like LA at the beginning, we're only on one-on-one and one, no, because of those dance teams as switched on two our knowledge is actually better. I think

Samantha: I like that. I like that.

Jago: Wait, that was on Salsa. Let me tell you about the bachata. The whole leg thing, I'm going to talk about the whole hip thing. Okay. So yes, original bachata was the whole hip thing and everything, but that wasn't just in Utah that kind of started improving, not improving, just changing over time. That just kind of like started. And then it was like the little hip thing, but then when more combination started happening, and more people started coming up with more combinations and flows and different body rolls and so on, they start noticing that that hip thing was kind of like stopping those things. So then they started taking them out because you needed that time to start doing some moves or some combinations or some roles where the hip thing would kind of like get in the way. So that's why a lot of them don't do it unless, I mean, they still do it when there's not a combination or something that the guy is doing.

So they still do it. Or if you're just doing the basics, they still do that. But. A lot of them, they just do a lot of combinations and different things and they, you don't do it anymore because you need that little space or time in order for you to set up for the next move on for the next move on. So on.

So it's not a bad thing, but if you're more advanced and you're doing a lot of combos, then you kind of have to not do it because you got to have that ready. You have to be ready for the next combo and so on. So don't think it's bad.

Samantha: No, that makes sense. That makes sense. Let's talk about combos. Let's talk about, kind of dancers safety and surviving a social dance scene, both from the lead's perspective and from the followers perspective. So in ballroom dancing, when we talk to beginners about social dancing, we really rely on the framework and the connection to protect our dancers. So if you have, you know, forward connection, that's going to make sure that nobody's pulling on each other. If you're lifting and holding your own frame, you're not, you know, dead weighting your partner's arm. We talk about the loose touch and kind of a fingertip to fingertip connection. Whenever we're turning, we make sure that they're very aware of. What their lead is going to impact the follow and their follow, how they can protect themselves. So if you have a rougher lead, kind of like how to, how to protect yourself, how to avoid injury. from a salsa perspective, when you do have a lot of fast turns, a lot of intricate moves a lot of more difficult patterns when it comes to arm position and rotation, what are the ways that leads can get themselves into trouble and what are the ways that follows can get themselves into?

Jago: So in salsa, because of the quickness, and then there's the multiple turns or fast turns that we do. We teach them to be tight. And then we teach them the same thing. They're very connection very lightly, because if something happens, you don't want to be stuck with a thumb and super strong grip where you can hurt your shoulders.

That does happen though, for people that don't have a lot of technique. And then those that are just teaching themselves. There's nothing wrong with that, but at the same time, it could happen. It could happen because salsa is quick. Salsa is very quick and there's lots of turns and there's so many pretzels or we call them where you get in there. but I do appreciate the fact that you cannot accomplish them until you technique goes higher. So a lot of the beginners won't even dare to try and because it looks too complicated and the brain cannot figure it out unless you're like really try it and again, do it and create muscle memory.

So yes, you're going to always find that guy that thinks he can do it. And he's just going to jerk you around and then try it. But that's really rare. They won't even try it because it just looks too complicated to figure it out on your own or at least to see like all, let me try that now. It's not going to happen. You got to actually try it and see what step by step is happening because the hands are going everywhere. Everything, the technique where you stepping is too quick for the brain to catch for somebody to say. Hey hold my drink. Let me try that. That's not, that's not going to happen. So, there is not that much that we need, that we worry in that aspect because they're too intricate for people to try.

If they want to try, then they have to actually go and take a lesson or learn them or learn the rules to get there. you know, so. I mean in a club, I can maybe see that being when somebody is like drinking too much and like, I want to try it, but in a social dance, no, they will. They won't dare, it's too complicated. Like I said, in bachata, I think is more, even though its slower, I think it will be the same thing. Cause now the combinations that they have in bachata is like it's too much touch and then too much, sensitivity for you to actually pull it off. I don't think they were all able to get into trouble in bachata, even less than in salsa because it's not as fast.

So I don't think she will get injured and, but she will not understand what the guy's asking. You need too much technique for you to get in to trouble.

Samantha: Yeah. So, so, personal experience, Leads that have maybe taken one or two bachata classes, or salsa classes. but in this case it was in a bachata and they were like, Oh, I know how to make the girl do a really cool dip or really cool body roll. So I'm going to lead this complete stranger the way that I think I learned in class. but because there's not necessarily a codified structure, because the patterns that I have in my repertoire are not necessarily the same that you just learned at the studio down the street two days ago, the li the signal that I was getting was not the signal that was being intended.

I could see someone, I could see a follow with less training reacting to the lead given and really doing some damage to their back. So if you're a follow in that situation, what is the proper social etiquette within the salsa/bachata community to be like, eh, let's not do that. Can they just not do the move?

Should they say something? Should they speak up or should they just wait until the dance ends and then not dance with that person again? What's what would, how would you navigate that?

Jago: Well I mean like okay. As somebody, like, I love to dance with beginners. I love it. Cause that fine tunes my lead, like to make sure that they really understand what I'm asking to do.

So, and then, but I've seen the same thing where some leads, they learn some cool move. And they just want to try it on this brand new dancer who hasn't danced and then they're going to hurt them. Right. So yes, that's usually they can accomplish that. Or they're like, they're not understanding to get to those positions and they can just like say, Oh, sorry, I don't know.

And that's basically it. And then it's mostly on the lead. I think it's mostly on the leads. What do you call it? It's his, Responsibility. That's the word responsible. Most of the responsibility will fall on the lead to make sure that you don't want to, you want to go and what this follow can accomplish. So you don't want to. If I'm dancing with somebody that's beginner. It's like, instead of dancing with my lady and I know she can take like five turns and then go open and bah-bah-bah again. But if I'm dancing with someone that’s a beginner and I'm like, okay, you know, slow and then try one turn or try a regular crossbody lead, she did that.

Okay. Let's try crossbody lead with one turn, you know, so I think that would follow more on the lead. So if she cannot accomplish as a follow, she would just say like, Oh, I usually what they do is like, Oh, I, I don't know that. Cause I haven't taken lessons or I'm barely learning. That's what they usually say. And then the guy, usually, if he was most of the guys, they're like usually, okay, no problem.

And they take it a little bit easier, but. You're always going to find a jerk here and there, you know, like whatever, but just don't dance with that guy ever again. But most of the guys they'll, they're cool. They're like, Oh, sure thing. Yeah, let's try this. Let's try slower. And they try to, because they want the community to grow.

So most people are really cool about it, but you're always exceptions and anything.

Samantha: Thank you again to the Ballroom Box for their continued support of the podcast. If you've not already heard, they're a quarterly subscription service made by dancers for dancers. Their fall box was absolutely wonderful and included a travel mug, makeup from Chella cosmetics, a bedazzled face mask, and a couple other goodies. They're currently taking orders for their holiday box. So head over to Ballroombox.me and use the offer code "Ballroomchat" at checkout to save 5% and to support the podcast. Again, thank you to Ballroom Box for supporting Ballroom Chat.

But also like to give a big, thank you to The Girl with the Tree Tattoo for also supporting the podcast. If you are interested in picking up either her, her eBooks, the Dance Diaries series, or if you want to take your dancing to the next level and want her guide on how to solo practice as well as her companion journals, you can do so over at practiceballroomdance.com and be sure to use the code "BallroomChat" at checkout to save 10% and to support the podcast. Again that's practiceballroomdance.com and the offer code is "BallroomChat" at checkout. Thank you again to The Girl with the Tree Tattoo.

Talking about kind of social etiquette and communicating with a lead, with a follow, what you're comfortable with, what your knowledge base is. last week we talked with Marisa Hamamoto about her experience.

I'm not going to go back into her story, but. We never know what people are dealing with in their own personal lives when they come into a studio. So how do you as an event organizer, foster a community where people that are dealing with things like PTSD and trauma can feel comfortable stepping into the studio space and dancing? And how do you foster community that is embracing and positive and understanding to people that maybe are dealing with a lot and aren't necessarily comfortable jumping in with two feet into the social scene?

Jago: Okay. So I think that starts in the classes. Like for example, yesterday we had a class and there was three people that have never even danced before and they showed up and then like the first thing I do for me, at least I always joke around "Oh, you're in trouble now we're going to kill you here", you know?

And then like start laughing and like, nah, I'm just kidding, man. Just go. I always tell them just going to have fun. And then just do what makes comfortable if you go. And then I always tell people, look, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that nobody is watching you and nobody cares about you and everyone everybody's in their own thing.

And the bad news is nobody's watching you. Nobody cares about you. That's, that's basically the same thing, but just go and have fun, you know, just have fun. And it doesn't matter if you make any mistakes and this is the place to make mistakes, because then when you go social dancing, you're going to start doing less and less and less.

And then one day you will. I mean, you're always going to make mistakes. I'm making mistakes when I go dancing and. The only difference that I hide it really, really, really good with some shines. So, if we are going to get to that point, just don't feel embarrassed because everybody makes mistakes. So you, you tell them that.

And now they, for events in itself, we always have brand new people that come every single time. Cause I usually know my crowd. I know my clientele, but I always see like, Oh, I've never seen this person before. I've never seen that person before. And then. I know when they're brand new, they never danced before. And then I tell him, Hey, you know, just go in there and have a blast. And I tell them it's different than a club.

I can tell when somebody is new, cause I'm at the door. I'm like, it's different than a club. Just make sure you know, the rules here are, girls can ask guys to dance here. It's not like a club where you use dancing a group of girls dancing on your own any guy in your circle. No here, girls ask guys.

Cause everybody's, we're part of a community and then just have fun. It doesn't matter. Just have a blast and have fun. And then one thing that I think, that all the dance teams in Utah, because all the dance teams will be basically the dance schools, even some of them don't have their own studio. They rent a studio here, that I would just call it dance teams in Utah have done is there, they have taught most of the community to be very inclusive.

And I think that's because we grew from nothing where we have 10, 20 people in the scene. And every weekend we will go to our smallest 20 people social. It was dancing with a semi bowl. So it was awesome. We just started growing and growing. And the bigger you are, the more options you have to dance with. So it's funner, it's a lot more fun. So I think the fact that we all struggled at the very beginning, because we were so small and it's Utah, we became more welcoming of new dancers because we needed them because it's. If they come in and they learn and they fall in love with our art, they're going to have, they're going to be another option for us to dance with.

And at the same time, because we wanted to pull some cool moves with us. We needed, it was for our benefit to make sure that they become better at dancing because then we can pull our cooler moves with them. So, because we struggled with that, we became more inclusive. And because when we can run an inclusive, multiple join, but then we needed.

For all of them to get better so we can pull our cooler moves. So all of us, the community keeps doing that. And I think that has worked great. At least in here in Utah, I can't speak for any other cities I've heard of, we have, we had our bad stuff. I'm not going to lie, cause like there was some dance teams back in the day. Where, if you're part of this dance team, you can't dance with anybody else that you're not part of the dance team and, or like, Oh, Hey, you're part of this clique. You can cannot hang out with them or you cannot go through that social that has, luckily that has disappeared all over. And there's just too much to worry about now, I guess, you know what let's include everybody let's invite everybody.

Let's improve everybody because if they improve. There'll be better dancers in the scene and we can come up with some really cool social dancing steps with them. So that's awesome as a community. Yeah, we're still competitive. We're like, Oh, we never want to make sure that we have people here. And then there's the social and the social.

Luckily we all coordinate. So we don't bump into each other. We're at that level. That's pretty cool. but I think that's the way you should embrace the community. Like basically embrace them because if. If you get more it's for your own benefit and if they get good, it's also for your own benefit. So we have that mentality, which is great.

And then newcomers come in and then they're really good dancers. They ask them to dance and because they're really good dancers, they know how to turn it up or turn it down and technique. They like, like I said, I was like to dance with beginners. And if I have a chance, because I know if I dance with a beginner and they're like, Oh, how are you doing?

Like, you know, just put your foot in the back. That's the one. And I'm like, okay, so this is the basic one. And then, and then they fall in love with it. And the next thing I know they're coming to the classes and the next thing they know, they come into the socials and they brought friends and now there's more people in the community and they're learning basics and it just better overall.

So all of us is dance teams, even my own competition. They've done great in embracing new people and growing, and you know, what's cool. Like. If that dance school over there has more students than me that's, that's fine. because one of the days I have my social and it's better. Cause they have to go dancing somewhere and they come to us.

The same thing with us. We have more students and they're learning, or they want to test it out. We don't have a social this week, but those guys do. Hey go check it out over there and go dance, go test your skills over there. So everybody benefits from being more inclusive. And I think everybody has gotten that. And it's great. So that's how we do it, at least in the Salsa community, Bachata community, I don't know on the rest.

Samantha: Yeah, no, I, I like that. It's, it's that old adage of "a rising tide floats all boats". Right. if you foster an inclusive community where everyone can benefit from it, then. I, it just makes it a better experience for the dancer and for the studio organizer or for the event organizer, which is awesome.

One thing that we didn't talk about that, I feel like is at least from an outside perspective, very unique to the salsa performance competitive experience is the idea of formation teams. we have them. To a certain extent in the ballroom community, but it tends to be more with, the university level or, internationally, if you have like a very strong studio team, they'll put together a formation routine, but it's not really done at a more individual studio level here in the States.

So what is the process like? Is there a specific, requirement that you have for your formations? performers and then, kind of what, what is the process like for training and performing and does it have a season? What, what is it like? Give me, give me the details.

Jago: Okay. So every dance team in Utah is different and we, I'm going to talk only about us because I don't know what they're doing. I know they. There's one dance team that the one that's still competitive and goes out. I think they only have one team, but the one team does in different levels. I think for us, at least when we're at the at our biggest, we would always separate it into A, B and C. So we would always like you're on the A team.

You're on the B Team, the C team. So when we have tryouts, we would have tryout, but they're not really tryouts. Everybody's welcome to come. And it doesn't matter what level you're in. Even if you only on the basic and a crossbody lead. You're going to land on our team. So everybody lands on our team because like I said, it's very inclusive, right?

And then we're not a big community, like in the ballroom where if you come and try out, sorry, you didn't make it. No, you're going to make it. You're going to make it somewhere. So it's very inclusive because we have teams that are super beginner. Then we have the intermediate teams and then we have the advanced teams, right. For us, at least for the Callejeros team, was the name of the team. We have Callejeros team. We always, when we had seasons, we created seasons and that I learned from the ballroom people actually, cause they would have seasons. Back then it was like, okay, well let's do a routine now we would all routine. And however long it took us.

Then once we finished like, Oh, okay, let's start another routine. And then we would do it. But then I start noticing there's certain big events. In which we want to be ready for. So for example, there's always July the very 4th of July weekend, it was the Las Vegas salsa convention. So we're like, we want to be ready for that. So if you want to be ready for that, we need at least three months to prepare. So then we need June, we need May and we need April. So that means that we have to start our teams at the end of March. So then I knew that's one season. So I knew that. April, May, and June is going to get us ready for the beginning of 4th of July weekend.

So that's one season. Okay. So that was usually our Vegas season to get ready for Vegas. Then right after that, we started growing our Halloween, event, which became huge and here, and then we're like, okay. So once we're done with July 4th of July, which is the first weekend of July, we can rest for one week, two weeks, and then we can start, try out for July, August.

Well, basically August, September, October, that will get us ready for Halloween, which is October 31st. So then, Oh, now we have two seasons. I'm like, okay. Now, what are we going to do in November, December, or there's a Reno convention that everybody goes to and that's close enough to salt Lake city. So now we have November, December that gets us ready for our four Reno.

Then in Reno, we will take a whole month off because it's too cold in Utah to outside. Everybody's kind of having it hung over from Christmas. Then we will just take January off kind after Reno, and then we will start in February. So we'll have February, March to have a really small. To be ready by the end of March, because then right after that, we're back to the Vegas or back to Vegas.

So then that's how we created the seasons for us. I did notice that some of the dance teams, that I in Utah, they would also go to the same events that we went. So I'm sure that they kind of, we'll also base themselves for, Vegas and then Reno, but then there's a couple of teams, at least one, I think one or two. One or two teams that they would get ready for the end of December, which was the World Latin Dance Cup, which is the biggest competition. So they will get ready for that instead of Reno. And then, so their season was a little shorter, but that's about it. but that's how we started coming up with seasons because we knew the big performances weren't in set date or set around.

There is 4th of July. It's going to always going to be 4th of July. I mean, that's just that weekend because we can do it on Halloween is always on October 31st closest weekend to Halloween. So we knew that's going to be our seasons. We have to have themes, the teams ready for those dates. the other two kind of fell into place because of Reno.

And the last one is whatever was left. So we became a seasons team and then. We knew like, okay, this from this day to this day is this team. From this date to this day, this teams and so on, that's how we did it. It worked out great. And in regards to levels, we always had three levels. So we had, the very beginning, beginning once they would have to be on that team at least for two seasons.

So after we, cause by the second season, they don't want to do the same level, they want to go higher. So from C team, you will do C team one season C team, the second season. And then you did it two seasons. You got to B team then B team you're there for three seasons. And then you, you can pull up the A team, which is basically you're with the instructors.

Now you're with the big boys. So you buy by then you've done it so long that you can pull off the moves. You can do the spins, you can do all the crazy stuff. And then, you know what we did, on C team and B team. We would have them come. So we would have like a list, minimum five couples. We would put three couples in the front, two couples on the back so they're all visible.

And then I would have them compete, like, okay, let's say, let's do, these are the routine, right? This guy in the front made three mistakes. The guy in the back only made two. So the couple in the back comes to the front. They go on the front and goes to the back. So we would have the team competing and then. The only ones that could move up to the entire team will be the front row. This row has to stay for one more team, but they always worked out what it was just two seasons. Cause by the time the couples in the back who moved to the front, the new people will come in. So then this guy is the next graduating and so on. And they liked it because it was challenging for them. And so on. That's how we did it. I don't know how other dance teams do it. but that's that worked out great for us.

Samantha: I like that. When you're putting together routines, are you choreographing them? Are you getting choreography from someone else? what's the balance between, like, we would refer to choreography as anything that you wouldn't do in a social dance. So anything that's more of like that Hollywood performed to stage perform to front side by side kind of stuff. what's the balance between. Actual patterns that you would use, or you would see on a social dance floor versus just straight choreography.

Jago: So in salsa, 90% of the stuff that we do on our choreography, you can do it, social dancing, like most of it, except for the flips, or except for when you do a pose, when there's a certain hit of the music where you have to kind of act out, you will never do that on a social dancing, but 90% of the combinations that you learn on a routine, on a choreography, you can pull off on a social dancing. And that's also the reason why a lot of people joined the teams because they knew those patterns were a lot harder than what we were teaching in classes. They're like, no, no, I want to learn what you guys know. And we're like, okay, well you want something harder than the classes, join a team.

That's the only way you're going to get there. And then they would join the teams. so in that aspect now in regards to originality our dance teams and up to five months ago, all, all that the routines that we have became a hundred percent of them were original. We've never purchased anything from anybody.

And then most of them came from my brain. even the crazy ones, even the sucky ones, they came from my brain. I know of some dance teams that it's half and a half. They do it and they purchase it from other choreography, which is completely fine. I mean, it's, you're right. That's what, that's what they're for too as well. They do it. and then there's some that are a hundred percent getting choreography from somebody else. So it's all ranges here in Utah. As for us, it was always original, always original, always do our own thing. that way nobody can say, Oh, this guy is, and we just liked our style. We just liked it. And then I liked it, especially for the goofy acting stuff that we had to do for Halloween.

So for Halloween, I was had to go, you have to be like a zombie in this area, or you have to be werewolf in here or. What I was, we always put a special effect. Like everybody stays there. I'm posed this on everybody. Howl to the moon cause we're werewolves and so on. So I had the benefit of having that for Halloween and I was able to mix the music at that moment where everybody is supposed to howl to the moon and so on.

So that's that for us was the. We never done anything that somebody else did until about five months ago when I quit doing the routines. So one of my guys, one of my instructors that are teachers at the studio is that I have this routine that I bought and I'm like, okay, where did you buy it? And he told me like, Oh, I, he started doing it with his partner.

I'm like, Hey, that's pretty cool. He goes, yeah, but it will look better as a team. I'm like, okay, well let's teach it to the other instructor. So then. That was the first time we did a routine that came from somebody else. But at the same time, it was like, ah, it is cool, but let's inject a couple of things there. So we switched it around a little bit and then it became better.

Nowadays, we have a team going on, but one of our instructors came up with the whole thing. So still a hundred percent, but no longer my mind it's them. So, I don't know if I will be creating more routines cause I think, I'm I have burned myself in that. I I'm out of that. I think so I'm letting my guys now taking care of that, which I think it's really good.

I think it's their time to step up, but, I don't know if some of them will buy some or, or come up with their own,

Samantha: is there a stigma in that, in the salsa community, because in the ballroom community, like paying for a coach to come in and choreograph your competition's routines is completely the norm. And I would say it would almost be.

Weird or, or some people would find it odd if your teacher was the only person that had any input on the routine that you were working on. It's, it's more accepted in our community for you to have a lot of minds coming in and putting pieces together of the routine. Is there a stigma against that in the salsa community or is it more just, you want it to have the ownership of the routine for your, for your folks?

Jago: I would say for competition level, for competitions, you probably one of the, what the ballroom people, you probably want to get a little bit feedback here and so on and they do it. That's fine. But in regards to like, for example, the majority of the routines that people create are not for competition is to go to the conventions and represent your city and so on.

Right? So in that sense, most people want to be original. Now, one thing that has happened. In salsa and bachata committee that has not happened in ballroom as some of the super giant stars. When we like, I mean, we're talking about people that you pay them to travel from convention to convention because they're so wanted and there, because their team is, if your team is amazing and everybody loves it, then everybody wants you or their convention.

Now, if you do that, then you make a lot of money because everybody loves that routine. Right? So at one point we were like that, they would want us at different conventions and so on and everything. But then after we stopped being that I've noticed that some of them climbed so high, that everybody wanted to learn from them, but they couldn't be everywhere at the same time.

So what they create is they created franchises and that they're kind of blue everywhere. So then if you were to learn, let's say. This, I'm just going to name one of the teams that Alma Latina. So they started creating franchises everywhere. So Alma Latina, they were in San Diego, but there was Alma Latina Tijuana, Alma Latina Mexico, Alma Latina Portland, Alma Latina Seattle.

Alma Latina Miami. Alma Latina Utah. Alma Latina Denver. And then they would create this routine and video. They will send it to all those franchises and they will learn it. and then the Denver people will show up at the Reno convention and the Seattle would show up and guess what, when they performed, it was the same routine from both cities.

So then I was like, Oh no, we don't want to be the same. Then we want to be original. So we never did the franchise thing. I, because I want to be completely unique. But that happened. And then at one point, a lot of those franchises, they will perform on stage and you will see them. And it was very, a lot, the quality was a little bit lower, but then they would have like 60 dancers in and we're like, where'd they get that?

I suppose those guys come from Tampa. Those guys are from San Francisco and they will all just be joined because that team was in that particular. So. Oh, I didn't like it. Some people like it. I mean, it's whatever, but the quality was really low because they have to make sure that everybody gets the routine. So you couldn't really push to the max, especially over video that's going to be hard to do it, you know? in that sense, that kind of was like a lot of stigma because it's like, you're just like, eh, it's a team, but I have that guy did it. That guy did it. I did it. So, but for competitions, you need it. I think you need it.

You need. To get the feedback from this guy who was really good. You get a feedback from that lady, that's it, her styling is on point, you know, so you want to get that. I think it's necessary for competition and ballroom is mostly for competition. So that's why you guys have that thing. I, my personal opinion, do you need that? Because it's competition, it's a sport. Ballroom is mostly a sport where we're more like a social dance, you know,

Samantha: Yeah. No, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, awesome. anything else that you wanted to talk to our listeners about? Plug, tell, share? most of our listeners are obviously ballroom dance folks. So anything that you want to demystify about the social community?

Jago: Okay. So the one thing, if I were to talk to ballroom dancers, I would like to say. Come on, try it. I know it's not as technical and I know it's easy. It's easy. It's easy for you guys to get. It's so easy for you guys to get our dance, but it's so hard for us to get your technique. So you're going to see a lot less of us going to your dances because it's hard.

It's what you guys do, the technique and the precision. It's hard. Okay. So like even doing tango that's basic, we're not going to look as good as you, but you, because of your training, you can come over and you can just become really good in our world really quick. So, but yeah, I have to relax it. You have to like, just enjoy it and then just, yeah.

Do it from the gut, whatever you feel. Just do it. There's no rules. There's no tech, don't worry about technique. Just have fun. If you feel like you have to flip your head and one point in the music just do it. There's no, nothing. And then just come on over and have fun. And that's one thing I noticed that the ballroom people worry is like the technique.

Nah, don't sweat. It. It's just a social. Just have fun. I would just say just, we're completely different, but you have a lot easier access to our stuff, then we do to your stuff because what you do took years to do, and we can't do that in one day. Where you can come in and in one-night social dance, be like, I got Salsa, I got Bachata, easy. And then if you want to unwind, just come on over. Don't worry. If you don't want to worry about rules, technique, lines, just come on unwind. You're going to have a blast. Trust me.

Samantha: So, I do have to ask the followup to that. What can we in the ballroom dance community do better to make it more inviting for members of the salsa community to try it out so that it doesn't feel as intimidating or overwhelming?

Jago: I, I don't think there's anything you're going to, because you're talking about, okay, so an example, you're talking about me going to play soccer or the rec center where me practicing soccer to go to the world cup. Make sense? That that just, I think your, your technique is, is so advanced that it feels very far away.

So maybe what you can do in the so- is because your dance is requires a lot of technique. I think. I, I don't see any one of, let me see, the only one that I can see, maybe it will be easier to get invited is the tango, but the one issue is that if I go to your social, they'll play one tango, then they're going to want to jive and they're going to go into Paso Doble and they're gonna go into like, I'm like, Oh my God, I don't know any of them.

I just know one. Where in Salsa, like you have three, four Salsas, then you have Bachata, which is piece of cake, three or four bachatas and that's it.Salsa again, piece of cake or if I want to go ballroom, no, I got, I know six, seven dances on at least a couple of it's just farther to get there, which is, it's not that it's not inviting. It's just, it's just harder.

It's like, you know, like don't want to go and play soccer at a rec or don't want to go. And really practice for, you know, the, World Cup. It's an Olympic, like I said, ballroom could easily be an Olympic sport. Be honest, you know, it's, it's at that level where I don't see salsa or bachata ever becoming at a level, I just, it's too relaxed. Too from the gut. You can just can't, you know, like that's what it is. It's not that it's not inviting. It's just the nature of the, of the, I would call it ballroom as a sport. It's the nature of your sport, whereas we're not even close to be a sport, it's just more, just a little part of entertaining. That's all you're doing.

Just having fun, you know?

Samantha: Yeah. Yeah.

Jago: So it's, it's different at the same time. We can go a little bit. We can maybe nibble at the little thing that you have, but it's too technical for us, but because you guys are so technical, you can, and then you just, you will have just as much fun. It's easier for you than for us to go there.

Samantha: I can totally understand what you were saying. I just, I now want to make it my mission for the next like six months to, to demystify and to de-overwhelm it for you. If you're like, no, it's really easier I promise, but you're right. It can be.

Jago: The basics are easy

Samantha: Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you wouldn't do it at a high level, Yeah.

Jago: Yeah, but if I were to go to a social, let's say you guys do social or a dance. I have to know at least six or seven basics. I mean then, then I have to have tango. Then I have to have you guys have Paso and then you have Waltz, Viennese Waltz, and then there's what the Cha Cha, or then you guys do then it's like a lot. I'm like, well, I only know one tango basic. And that's going to get played, you know, knows, you know what I mean?

Samantha: Yeah.

Jago: But it's harder.

Samantha: It is.

Jago: It's just harder. Not impossible, but it's harder.

Samantha: Yeah. Yeah. I, I would agree with that. That it is, there's a steeper learning curve. There's more that you have to know in the beginning stages in order to get out there and be comfortable. Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Jago

Jago: and I'm sure you guys get the same thing from West coast, West coast swing.

Samantha: Definitely.

Jago: Those guys only dance west coast swing. So, I'm sure it's the same thing as us, they only dance West coast swing. So, it's hard for them to come to ballroom. Where you guys can easily go to West coast swing easily.

Samantha: Yeah. But you, you still have the same hurdle. So I would say from a ballroom dancer mindset, The dances that I find the most intimidating, which I feel like the outside world would be like, well, those are the easiest ones to get into our salsa West coast in Argentine, tango. And it's because of the amount of freedom that is given to the follows to interpret the music and to react to the music.

Whereas ballroom is so structured and I've been locked in that mindset for 10 years now going on 11, When I'm, when I'm doing like a West coast swing or, or a Lindy swing or a salsa basic, and my partner is like, you can do something here if you want. I'm like, well, I don't know

what, just tell me what you want me to do.

Jago: Yeah. Yeah. And that's one thing I would really tell, ballroom. Ballroom dancers when they come, because we do get once in a while, some of you guys stick in there or coming over it's, they're very like structure and technique and I'm like, no, no. Just relax, just relax. And you know what wing it for once you just wing it, just wing it and then do what feels in the gut, you know?

Samantha: Yeah. Yeah. Well, awesome. Well, thank you so much, Jago, for being a guest on today's podcast. if folks want to find you find what you do, be a part of the salsa community that you just talked about, what can they do? Where can they go work? Where can they find you?

Jago: Okay. So, if you want to come on dancing, we do have socials right now. Right now, masks are required. We'll want to take your temperature and not all the time, because we're going basically, on what the Health Department is saying. But if you want to take classes, we're there every Wednesday, if you want to find us check Utahsalsa.com and we're there, we're in social media as well on Facebook and Instagram.

because of the environment that we live in right now, things can change any moment. So, but when all this is over, hopefully when there'll be over or before this, you will always have a consistent social, certain dates. And you will have a consistent class that every, every single Wednesday and so on, but for now always check you to salsa.com for more information about what we do when we teach.

And when we do have events, which right now are very few in between.

Samantha: I'd like to give a big, thank you again to Jago for being a guest on today's podcast. If you want to follow him or Utah Salsa, you can do so using the links in the description box below. Thank you again to Ballroom Box and The Girl with the Tree Tattoo for their continued support of this podcast. If you are interested in purchasing either the holiday box, or if you want to get ahold of your own copy of the solo practice guide links to the affiliate codes for both of those are also in the description box below.

As always, I'm Samantha, I've been your host with Love Live Dance. You can find this and all of our podcast episodes at ballroomchat.com and you can find us across social media at Ballroom Chat on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you've not already done, so please do consider subscribing or following this podcast and even giving us a review on your favorite podcast platform of choice. You can also support this podcast by becoming a patron at patreon.com/ballroomchat. As always stay safe, stay positive, and we hope to see you dancing.