This is the first of a series of Dance Spot posts highlighting different places to go dancing.

Dance Spot: Alberto's Salsa Nights
Price: $10
Time:
- Tuesdays/Thursdays 7:30pm beginner class; 9pm intermediate class; 10pm social dancing
- Fridays 8pm beginner class; 9pm intermediate class; 10pm social dancing
Location: 736 W Dana St., Mountain View, CA 94041

On Thursday, I went with a few friends to Alberto‘s in Mountain View (SF Bay Area) for Salsa dancing. They have Salsa night every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday with classes taught by Pantea and social dancing afterwards — all for a single door price of $10, and they take credit cards.

My friend and I were aiming for the beginner Salsa class at 7:30pm. But once we got to Mountain View, we were hungry and decided to eat first, thinking that the dance class may start late or that it’s OK to miss part of the class.

When we arrived at 8pm, the dance class was already in progress. Pantea was teaching some basic steps and spot turn. Throughout the class, we switch partners routinely so that the extra leads could get their turn dancing with a partner. We then transitioned to “fancy routine” part of the beginner class — I suppose this is for advanced beginners. Pantea first taught the simple version before moving on to the complex version.1 While this routine was quite hard for some people, I saw that Pantea was very nice and gave some 1:1 time to dancers who asked her for help.

IMAG8245 (2)

The beginner class was followed by practice time with music. It’s basically social dancing, but it is before the intermediate class, so most people dancing at this time are beginners practicing the routine they just learned. The intermediate class started a bit after 9pm, although it’s listed as 8:30pm. More people have joined at this time, so the dance floor gets more crowded and it’s harder to see the instructors. Pantea also speeds up how often we switch partners. This may be due to having even more role inbalance or simply because intermediate dancers are more comfortable with and learn faster from switching partners. At the end of class, Pantea lets us record the routine on video:

After the class, social dancing begins. While most songs are Salsa, the night is interspersed with occasional Merengue and Bachata songs. When we tire of dancing, there were plenty of chairs and tables by the side for resting. There is also a bar selling beverages. I saw many people getting alcoholic drinks and water bottles.

As the night goes on, more and more advanced dancers join the club. My friend pointed out the dancers wearing competition shoes and admired their dancing. Eventually, I left at 11:30pm. There were still plenty of people carrying the party forward. But after 3.5 hours of dancing, my body was getting tired. So I left after having a great time and plans to return again!

1 The simple version involved a two-handed turn to the right for the follow, then unwinding the hands through a two-handed turn to the left for the follow.  The complex version involved separating the two hands on the 2nd turn followed by a spot turn.

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