Kalisi, the Salsa guru

What is Salsa? Salsa is more than a dance. It’s a sport in which all body parts participate. Sometimes I think even my hair dances while I’m at it. With Salsa routine, one does not need to go to a gym to exercise!

What is Salsa?

Salsa is more than a dance. It’s a sport in which all body parts participate. Sometimes I think even my hair dances while I’m at it. With Salsa routine, one does not need to go to a gym to exercise!

How did you get hooked?

In 2008, I attended a party at which lots of salsa was being played. I danced to the salsa beat, which was new but captivating to me. I danced to it just like I did the other genres of music. By then, I did not even know that the dance form had its own unique moves. But the good thing is that already I had a special interest in dance as an art form, so I still managed to catch the attention of other party-goers with my daring moves.

An English lady was one of those people who were enchanted by my dancing abilities. That night, she approached me with the idea of initiating a salsa club in Kigali. Because I am a stickler for dance, I immediately warmed up to the idea. The two of us exchanged contacts that night. Little did I know that this chance meeting would culminate in the birth of a new culture, that of salsa, in Kigali; and that I would be the one to spearhead it to the public.

Three months later, she called me to ask if I was ready to kick start the project. She proposed Passadena Murugo, in Gikondo as a venue. For one and a half years, I went to Passadena every single Thursday, for salsa lessons.

A week into the training, a Belgian called Joost Bambuste, a huge salsa fan came to Passadena to check it out. Joost proved to be a good salsa teacher, and helped with the salsa classes. After two years of service to the salsa club, Joost left the country and returned to his native Belgium. It was time for me to take up the challenge and step into his shoes.

Together with a friend, I carried on from where Joost had left, with the little we knew. We were teaching other students while teaching ourselves at the same time. The numbers kept swelling, as interest in the Salsa grew.

When did you get a breakthrough?

The came a year after we had started. Salsa became such a huge addiction, and that was a big encouragement to us. It was so big, we ran into problems with some locals near the venue, who complained of too many cars jamming here (Passadena Murugo) every Thursday night. We were very reluctant to relocate, because this had become home. Corporate companies and institutions started calling us for promotions and cocktail parties. We also played at private weddings. Other nightclubs also asked us to export salsa to them. One of those places is the Cadillac VIP Discotheque, which adopted its own Salsa theme night.

 

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