Salsa in Kathmandu
-   2017-08-30 | nepaltraveller.com
Doctors, lawyers, professionals and people from all walks of life come together at Tamarind Restaurant and Bar every Tuesday to Salsa
Jhamsikhel is the crossroads of fine eateries with a number of bars and restaurants serving a variety of food and drinks ranging from Indian to Italian. And with various events happening there every week, it is definitely one of the best places to hang out in Kathmandu. To see if the hype was real, I found myself visiting Tamarind Restaurant and Bar on a Tuesday evening which also happened to be their Salsa Night.
Located in the calm and welcoming neighbourhood of Jhamsikhel, Tamarind is a multi cuisine restaurant where you can relax with either your family or your friends. They also have a huge screen where one can enjoy football matches while sipping their favourite cocktails. But Tuesdays is all about salsa.
I am not much of a dancer but as I walk in the restaurant with tunes of Despachito playing in the background, I couldn’t help sway a bit. As I enter the restaurant Latino tracks echo through the evening as I notice a shimmy here, a spin there, and bodies that are moving in tandem. This is the weekly hangout and almost a ritual for many Salsa dancers in the city.
After arriving in Nepal in the late 90s, Salsa has evolved into a form of social dance which has swayed its way into clubs, cafes and even homes, where salsa enthusiasts get together to dance and socialise. Gradually people of all ages and backgrounds are learning the basic steps of a partner social dance that is all about great rhythm and individual flair.
The brain behind the Salsa Night is Riyaz Shrestha who’s been involved in salsa dancing for a number of years now. “It was fun when Salsa Nepal used to host it, but as it was just once a month. There were times I didn’t dance for 2 months which is why I wanted this to be a weekly thing so people don’t miss it as much,” shares Riyaz.
Salsa Night at Tamarind started in 2011 and for the past 6 years it has been growing strong in popularity and is a huge crowd puller. “The initial 6 months was a bit tough and there were times it was only me and couple of mates who would be dancing. But gradually the word started to spread and now we’re pretty big here,” said Riyaz.
While there are many dance schools that teach you Salsa, the only opportunity people get to practice and rejuvenate is at these socials. I stumble across Nicole from New York, who was there for the first time and she tells me how she never thought she’d be doing the Salsa in Nepal. “Everyone I’ve danced with today has been patient and well mannered. All of them here on the dance floor are pretty good and there are a ton of men which is quite encouraging,” said Nicole.
Even if you are not a dancer it’s amazing to watch the dancers, especially the really good ones. I notice one couple who were totally captivated by the music and dancing as if they were filming a Hollywood movie, this, in turn, captivates many fellow dancers on the floor.
The dance form has evolved so much that people do not want to just limit themselves to learning it in dance institutes. At socials, you meet different people with the same passion, who have fun and dance away to glory.
Everyone who’s interested attends the Salsa Night at Tamarind which to my surprise was full of locals. From doctors, lawyers and media professionals to actors and businessmen, people from all walks of life and age groups come together to dance. The night starts at around 7 pm and goes on until 10 pm.
Gone are the days when salsa was restricted to dance schools alone. They believe it’s not just a dance it is a way of life for many. It teaches you etiquettes and it also boosts your confidence, after all, it does teach you how to communicate with your body. They say it energises both your body and relaxes your mind.
All you need is a Latino track, dancing shoes, a cold cocktail and a floor, and you will swivel, spin and shimmy; move, turn and lift. After all, it’s not just a dance; it is the magic of Salsa.
For more information:
Salsa Night at Tamarind happens every Tuesday from 7 pm onwards