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Monday, November 28th, 2011 | Posted by Anne Kirya

Salsa in Kigali injects Latin flavor in capitals nightlife


A Spanish, a British and an American lady walk into a bar in Kigali. Salsa, says the Spanish one. Salsa, repeats the British woman. To the American one replies: Salsa!

'Salsa in Kigali' is all about fun. (courtesy photo)

Admittedly, this must be the lousiest joke in history. Its just that its not a joke those three ladies did indeed team up, together with Rwandan national Kassim Mbarushimana, to form Salsa in Kigali to promote this style of dance in Rwanda. Salsa in Kigali started four years ago as a small venture, but is has been steadily growing. They offer salsa dance classes to anyone who wants to learn, as well as dancing occasions for more experienced people. And all for free. The classes are held every Thursday in Passadena Bar in Gikondo and every Friday at The Manor hotel in Nyarutarama, from 8 pm to midnight. We have two parts: in the first hour we have class, and after that we have social dancing, says Kassim, adding that the classes are also open to the already initiated to improve their moves. But why should you learn salsa in Rwanda? Kassim argues that, apart from having fun, there are several benefits. When you dance you exercise (and salsa is a vigorous dance indeed, ed.), so its good for your health and a great way to lose weight, he explains. It is also a social activity that allows people to interact and make new friends. And it is a new skill to learn, it cannot hurt to have one more in your tool box. An additional advantage is that salsa can be danced by people of all a ges. Even a 5-year old can dance, Kassim says. Plus Salsa in Kigali is not about competition, but all about enjoying the dance. Therefore they often arrange Salsa Camps during which members get away for a few days to learn, practice and dance more. The next camp, from December 2 to 4, will be heading to the beaches of Burundi. Yet the fact that the classes take place in the evening means that access is restricted; youth who are still in high school, for instance, might not get permission to attend. Therefore, the group plans to launch a project of school dancing and organize competitions; they also hope to start Saturday sessions. There are various types of Salsa. It is originally a fusion of Latin American dance and Rumba from Africa. With time, salsa has undergone different changes in various regions cultures keep adding local touches to the original dance. Kassim teaches various styles because they all have different movements, rhythms and intensities. These include Kizomba style, a variation from Angola, which is a more relaxed form of Salsa. But there are also Bachata and Merenge, both more energetic variations from Latin America. And, who knows, soon we might also have Rwandan Salsa, courtesy of Salsa in Kigali.