Dancing lessons for me took a nice long nap (between the ages of 8 and 24). As a teenager, of course I got down to some Backstreet Boys at Homecomings and Proms and an occasional Russian Techno Dance Party at a friend’s house, but I didn’t take actual classes until I got myself employed and ready to mingle in South Korea.
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The teachers at Noche de Salsa in Dunsandong were always friendly and welcoming of all levels and since we were all beginners, that’s what we learned – Beginner 1. There was no need to bring a partner, since partners were always rotated throughout the class. There wasn’t always a balanced amount of females vs males, but it was manageable. You also got a chance to meet and interact with your dancing partners (Koreans as well as foreigners). During my time there, a friend of mine ended up meeting, dating, and eventually marrying a lovely Korean girl and now they have two children together. Go Salsa classes!
Currently, they have Beginner 1 class, which lasts 5 weeks and costs 50,000 krw. Beginner 2 class is just as long but is 60,000 krw. Discount is given to those who transfer money before the first day of classes.
Classes take place during the week and also on Saturdays in the evenings. For more information go to Noche de Salsa’s Facebook page here.
My most memorable moment came not from Beginners classes but from a “Performance Class.” Usually taken after both or at least one beginner’s class is finished. Performance class is an intensive class with the goal of performing the routine at the end in front of the live audience. It was incredibly time-consuming, especially towards the end. We purchased our performance dresses and shoes from Gmarket (but other arrangements could be made in town).
The night of the performance was completely nerve-wracking especially when the studio started to fill up. The lights went dim, the music started to play and with our glittering dresses, we made our way on stage…
Click here to watch the video: Noche de Salsa Performance
The decision to be hoisted up in the air like a baby Simba was not my own, but that’s what I got for not understanding enough Korean and just smiling and nodding at whatever people ask me. It’s not the best strategy in my “Foreigner Toolkit of body language”, but most of the time it’s not as embarrassing…
If Beginner or Performance classes are not your cup of tea, you can always put on your dancing shoes at Thursday’s Line Dancing. Doors open at 8 pm and open dancing starting at 9:45 pm. An entrance fee of 7,000 krw gets you a free non-alcoholic drink.
If you’re interested in Salsa dancing in Daejeon, visit their Facebook page.
After realizing that I would probably enjoy practicing dancing without constantly needing a partner, I discovered Belly Dancing (also in Dunsandong). Conveniently located close to the subway line (City Hall Stop, Exit 5). Chu Min Soo’s Belly Dance Academy specializes both in Belly Dancing and Chu’s Pop Dance and offers classes in the mornings and evenings to suit your schedule. The classes are done in Korean, but if you’re good at mirroring or repeating steps, learning should be not a problem. Don’t be intimidated by all the ajjumas (Korean older ladies) with their jingly belts and dangly bras. If I’ve learned anything in my seven years in here, is that Koreans go above and beyond when participating in their hobbies. And honestly, the movement of the jingly belts helps you to see the movement of your hips and whether or not you’re doing a move right. Oh, did I mention that Chu Min Soo is 49 years old and is kind of a big deal with her girlish looks and cat-like moves?
Watch her videos and get more information here
If you’re located closer to KAIST or if your budget is on the smaller side, you may also take some Belly Dancing Classes as a part of KAIST’s Culture Program. Offered every spring, summer, fall, and winter, Basic and Advanced classes usually meet in the evenings and are solely taught in English. Dominica Konikowska is the teacher to contact.
KAIST’s Culture Program also offers Badminton, Capoeira, Dado, Yoga, Guitar, Korean Tea, and Coffee classes (spring 2016) for those who are interested.
Yours truly was even a part of a Belly Dancing performance, which took part at KAIST’s year-end party last year and was a lot of fun. Performances from various clubs on campus were followed by a buffet dinner.
Did I mention that I’ve never felt sexier until I learned Belly Dancing, and no not from the outfits!
Zumba Dance took me completely by surprise. It is high energy, high pace combination of various dances in one 50min-1hr long workout. Depending on the instructor, you may be dancing Salsa, Bachata, Pop, Bollywood, Tango, or a combination of styles. That’s why it’s so addicting – it’s not just one genre, but a melting pot of styles!
I started Zumba at a Tanbang Homeplus (Cultural Center on the 3rd floor). I figured, since I hate doing cardio at the gym, I need to find other ways of doing it. The class was full of Koreans, where I was the token white girl. But, for dance – no language is necessary. Just repeat after the teacher and try not to bump into people too much. Sure, they’ll scold you for wearing your outdoor shoes inside, or look you up and down for not having the latest Zumba gear. But you’re there on a mission – exercise to your heart’s content, because it’s only about 5,000krw/class. Prices vary depending on how frequently you attend and sign-ups are typically for a 3 month period at a time.
After going to Tanbang for a month and having around 4 classes under my belt, this token white girl (in Korea, having a foreigner in your group is sometimes advantageous) was invited to do a showcase at a local festival. The reasoning was to advertise our class to the community with our brand new t-shirts and brightly colored clothing. “Free shirt? Sure, I’ll do it” – I thought.
So if I look like I’m a second behind on all the moves, it is because I am (memorizing choreography is not my strongest suit). Either way, it was super fun, ridiculously hot, and a great way to burn some calories on a Saturday afternoon.
Watch the video here! (apparently, this music is copyrighted, so I hope the video still works)
Zumba in Daejeon is actually a hot new thing right now and can be found at almost any gym. If the gym advertises DANCE or GX, then they probably have it, just ask.
To give you another idea for pricing, you can sign up at “Second Breath” gym in Dunsandong for a 1-year membership (as of Jan 2016). It’ll cost you 42,000krw/month. This gym offers Zumba 5 days a week in the mornings and evenings, so the more you go, the cheaper each class becomes. Fortunately, Yoga and Pilates classes are also included in the GX (Dance) bundle as well.
Sometimes, planets align and you’ll find yourself in the company of a fantastic dancing student – turned teacher, with years of background in Ballroom, Hip-Hop, and Latin dance. An incredibly beautiful and talented, Alexandra Shatalova was my teacher for a little while at a local studio before she graduated university and moved to Seoul. If you’re in town, definitely give her a shout, she always has a workshop or a class going on. Ahhh…if only I lived in Seoul 🙁 Daejeon misses you!
So, are there any other dance classes offered in Daejeon? I bet, I just haven’t tried them yet. Let me know in the comments if there is a dance or a class to try!