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Everybody's Learning Salsa in Brisbane

Home > Brisbane > Courses | Dancing | Free | Fun Things To Do | Nightlife
by Helen Brennan (subscribe)
I am a creative soul through and through; designer, writer, lecturer and advocate of all things bright, bold and italic.
Published June 1st 2014
Are you missing something?
If you asked me a few months ago if I'd be interested in taking up Latin dance, I would have imagined myself doing the 'mambo' with my daughter a-la Dora the Explorer. Those with a toddler may know of this particular episode, and no, I don't think that's the way people really mambo. The hip flinging, hair flapping, maraca-shaking variety of dance was surely not a pastime I could see myself warming to. To be honest, any form of physical activity that requires a degree of skill has been on my 'must avoid' list for years. I am what some kindly refer to as accident-prone. I've seen those girlies jumping into their partner's arms with beads and sequins flailing. That just looks plain scary, and surely requires some talent, or at least balance.

Now I never thought I was missing out on anything. Who does Latin dance anyway? Surely it's a niche interest and not something on the occasional club-goer's radar. Unless you want to make a bit of an idiot of yourself, and if so, all the luck in the world to you. I had no idea that in recent years, the Latin dance scene in Brisbane had become somewhat mainstream. People are not only learning styles like Salsa, and more recently Zouk, they are getting good at it. As you'd expect, Brisbane's nightspots are noticing.

Jean-Luc Lambs has been running the incredibly successful 'Sunday Salsa Seduction' event at Casablanca, Petrie Terrace, for over eight years. Casablanca has always been Brisbane's hotspot for Latin dance, but Jean-Luc says he has noticed a groundswell of interest from newcomers to the style. Jean-Luc believes in creating a community atmosphere where newbies need not feel worried about their skill level, (or lack thereof). The regular 7pm free introductory Salsa lesson warms the crowd for a night of open dance and friendly hospitality. From 9pm, you can head upstairs and partake in a little Zouk, which, if you haven't heard, is the newer and cooler Lambada. It's pretty easy to pick up too, making the experience all the more fun.

Doudoule Latin Dance Camp
Latin Dance classes and events like large image

If you've ever watched any of those dancing shows (you know the ones), you are sure to have witnessed some form of performance Salsa. Yes, it looks daunting. But there's a reason Salsa and Zouk are becoming more popular and accessible. It's because, and get ready for this just about anyone can learn Latin dance. Even better, there are nice, non-judgmental people ready to laugh with you if you stumble, and high-five you when you work out that tricky turn.

So how do you get involved? You could literally walk right into Casablanca, Latin Friday Nights at Redacliff Place or Cloudland's Soul'sa on a Thursday night. You can bet there will be either some form on instruction, or at least some friendly people to show you some moves. You will have a great time, and you will probably get enough of a taste to want more.

Taking a short introductory course will help you find your feet, so to speak. With some knowledge comes confidence, and you'll be heading back out to the dance floor quicker than you can learn to pronounce merengue.

There are heaps of great Latin dance schools in Brisbane, and if you're looking for something very basic (like me), you're in luck. This year, world-renowned instructor and So You Think You Can Dance choreographer James Quinn-Hawtin started his own academy, JQHDA. This fella is not only a brilliant dancer, but more importantly from a beginner's perspective, a patient and skillful educator. He is currently Australia's only Black Belt DanceTM instructor, which means he has learnt how to break down Latin dance moves from some of the world's best. His classes are also a ton of fun, very social and well worth the relatively small fee (I hear there's even a Weekendnotes special).

"Dance improves self confidence and becomes a form of communication between two people. Once you've learned the basics of Salsa or Zouk you can travel the world and enjoy a free-flow of non-verbal dialogue that transcends language and cultural barriers," James says, "The empowerment you feel from being able to communicate in this way is a rush. It's addictive".

Yes, it is. I'll admit it now, I've got a taste for it, and I would like some more please. No, I shall never hurl myself across a room hoping to be caught by some Swayze-esque character. That doesn't sound all that fun anyway. I am pretty happy with my progress and I haven't bumped my head once. See you on the dance floor.

Thanks to the contributors to this article:

Jean-Luc Lambs: Casablanca Sunday Night Salsa Seduction

Every Sunday with free intro session at 7pm
52 Petrie Tce Paddington
More information:

James Quinn-Hawtin: James Quinn-Hawtin Dance Academy (JQHDA)
Courses run for four x 2 hour Sunday afternoon sessions in Sunnybank
More information at

The International Zouk Flashmob (IZFM) 2013
The International Zouk Flashmob large image

Some popular regular Latin dance nights and special events:

Cloudland Soul'sa
Thursday Nights
641 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley

Social dancing at Club 50/50
A social dance party that takes place approximately every second Saturday night. Visit the Facebook group for upcoming dates and venues.

Salsa under the Stars at SkyPoint Observation Deck
Level 77 of the Q1 Building, Surfers Paradise
Visit for upcoming dates

DouDouLe Latin Dance Camp
22-24th August 2014, Tallebudgera Recreation Centre,
Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast
Visit for details

International Zouk Flash Mob (Brisbane)
This global celebration of Zouk is set to take place on Sunday 21st September 2014. Brisbane instruction and practice will be held for seven Sundays and one Saturday leading up to the IZFM Day. Go to the IZFM booking page for details.
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