What do salsa and marching have in common? They each have great costume opportunities, and they both involve learning complex routines to music.
You'll also find they're equally addictive. But of course they really are quite different. Read how.
Salsa is more than just a dance done in pairs – all that passionate, emotional music will give you a romantic and exhilarating high. Moving closely with your partner to the same rhythm brings intensity and satisfaction you won't get from anything else.
And then there are the new friends – Latin dancing means heaps of fiery, lively people, and probably food to match. Prepare for a few late nights.
Don't be fooled by what starts as a gentle sway – salsa will have your heart racing as the rhythm heats up! It is classed as a high-intensity cardiovascular activity that can burn up to 450 calories an hour.
Dancing the salsa will give your upper body and arms more strength and tone, while promoting a Latin curve in the thighs.
Cost and Gear
Many classes will let you have your first 'taster' session free. After that, an average class is $15 a pop. There's no set dress for a salsa session.
You can dress up, or down, as much as you like – from sneakers and sweats to something from the 'Dancing with the Stars' wardrobe department. If you want the gear and don't have the cash, op shops will have something for you!
Salsa dancing is becoming more and more popular across New Zealand. From well-established Latin centres in the big cities to local halls trying out their first steps.
Look out for nightclubs and bars running Latin nights. You don't need a Latino to run the class, just the passion of one. So if you haven't got a class near you, grab a few friends and rent or buy a 'how to' DVD.
It's entirely up to you. Where classes are held, they're usually weekly and a class lasts generally two hours. In the bigger centres you should be able to find somewhere to dance a few times a week.
Spend an evening in a Latin bar and you'll be inspired to dance all night!
For more information, see the DANZ (Dance Aotearoa New Zealand) website.
Marching and Leisure Marching
Don't knock marching till you've tried it. The sensation of moving as a team in a single unit is magical.
Marching has an extensive social network across New Zealand with plenty of regional and national competitions. It's also big on community – lots of social events and fundraisers give marchers a real sense of belonging. And someone gets to blow the whistle!
Great posture is one of marching's best spin-offs – you will stand tall. Routines are done again and again until perfected so you'll also build up plenty of stamina. Expect to develop a strong stride and good centre of gravity. Marching will definitely keep you active. And remember: complex routines also keep the grey matter in good order.
Cost and Gear
Gear is central to marching – everyone has to look the part and everyone has to look impeccable.
Raising money for uniforms and travelling to competitions means lots of team fundraising. So don't worry too much about handing over heaps of cash – just practice baking for the cake stall.
A sport for 6 to 60 and beyond, marching and leisure marching is a heartland sport, and you can find teams from Auckland to Invercargill.
Practices tend to happen at neighbourhood school grounds and parks. You'll be marching regularly all summer, so choose a team that practices nearby.
Signing up for marching can be a serious matter. In order to get any good, you'll need to put in the hours – this is not a 'once in a while' sport.
Expect at least a couple of practices a week in the season plus whole weekends spent charging around the country competing.
For more information, see the Marching New Zealand website or the Leisure Marching website.
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