The salsa capital of the Netherlands

By Paula Ozola

The streets of Utrecht are vibrant in the evenings: people chit-chatting at cafes after work, rushing to the supermarket, and… cycling on their way to a salsa party. Exactly, quite a lot of Utrecht’s inhabitants spend their evenings dancing. Believe it or not, it’s not that difficult to become one of them.

Utrecht has a lot to offer when it comes to salsa. From the outside Café Maria and Stairway to Heaven look just like any other café in town. But wait till you get in: you feel, hear and see the difference. Tables and chairs are put aside to create a dance floor, and you can already hear Mark Anthony’s or Luis Enrique’s voice and the classic salsa, bachata or merengue rhythms.

Your first salsa party demands some courage – luckily facilitated by the bartenders ready to serve you a confidence-increasing shot. Perhaps intimidated by all the amazing dancers, do not underestimate your capabilities. People are friendly and always willing to teach you some moves. Or come early and follow a workshop which will introduce you to the basics of salsa.

My first salsa party ended at 5 am only because the DJ stopped playing. I could have continued dancing until sunrise with the amateur salsa champion of Holland. Who would have thought that a guy like that would dance with me – a beginner?!

Salsa is a social dance with lots of interaction. Most dancers are a bit older than you and usually a few men even remind you of your grandparents (until you see their dance moves). You’ll meet a guy who keeps asking you for a dance, or a girl who continuously smiles at you. Don’t be surprised if someone asks your number. Yet remember that this is only a secondary thing; a salsa party is all about living in the moment and enjoying it to the fullest.

Besides the salsa evenings in little places like Café Tropical, every few months huge salsa parties are organized in the Winkel van Sinkel and at the stadium. Especially the last one is an extraordinary experience: the dancing floors are wonderful.

At the end of the evening, you are soaked in sweat and feel an ache in your feet. Huge amounts of endorphins have been released, people are waving you good-bye and you feel genuinely happy. Be aware: salsa parties may cause a serious addiction!

Salsa is just an amazing way to forget about your deadlines and stress. Plus, it’s an exciting way to get to know Utrecht from a different angle. Whether you’re already taking salsa classes on campus or not, you can always join UCU’s salsacilious group headed to town on Tuesdays (Stairway to Heaven) and/or Thursdays (Café Maria).

More information for salsa in Utrecht? Visit: http://salsa.latinnet.nl/salsa/agenda/utrecht-stad/

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