BODYGROOVE 9th ANNUAL HOLIDAY SALSA PARTY 2011:

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Our 9th Annual Holiday Salsa Party at Olivia's Restaurant! We joined Mike & Christina's event and had a BLAST!!! We ate, we drank, we partied, we danced til the wee hours of the night, celebrated a birthday, enjoyed some live dance performances and could have partied all night . . . but finally, the restaurant wanted to close and people had to wake up for work the following day. Ahhh, but we had FUN! (45 pictures)

 

STEVEN'S STEAKHOUSE 6.5.09:

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We tried out Steven's Steakhouse for our fieldtrip in City of Commerce. It's a great place to find salsa dancing every night, especially on Sundays. It was a bit crowded on this Friday, but for those who showed up, we still got in some dancing and several people came for dinner before the dancing started. Yum! I also had a chance to meet and dance with Tony Nardolillo (wearing a beanie cap in the pictures), who is the lead actor in the short film "Mano" and a FABULOUS dancer! His film includes a lot of salsa dancing and I believe he has a feature film coming out this year which includes more salsa dancing. (total of 31 pictures)

 

THE ODYSSEY 3.13.09:

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A first time fieldtrip to the Odyssey in Granada Hills with over 100+ students in attendance - WOW! Great view, great floor, great band, yummy tapas and salsa dancing - how much better could it get? (total of 56 pictures)

 

SPORTSMEN'S LODGE 10.31.08:

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It was Halloween Night at Sportmen's Lodge! We had lots of people show up in costume. Guess they couldn't resist an opportunity to "dress up"! Some of the costumes were soooo creative. It was a great last salsa fieldtrip at this wonderful venue, where we've held over 25+ salsa fieldtrips. We had a GREAT TIME! (total of 65 pictures)

 

SPORTSMEN'S LODGE 8.08.08:

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A fun summer night out for the salsa fieldtrip to Sportsmen's Lodge! (total of 23 pictures)

 

SPORTSMEN'S LODGE 6.06.08:

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Another GREAT salsa fieldtrip to Sportsmen's Lodge with over 100 students coming out to salsa on down! Oscar did the free salsa lesson and threw in some Bachata. Johnny Polanco Y su Conjunto Amistad played an incredible set - all in all, a great night of dancing and music. (total of 45 pictures)

 

SPORTSMEN'S LODGE 3.07.08:

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Our salsa fieldtrip back at Sportsmen's Lodge was a big hit! We had over 100 students come out and dance the night away! Think we have a group of people that love salsa?!! (total of 46 pictures)

 

SALSA FIELDTRIP 11.16.07:

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Our salsa fieldtrip to a local club in Burbank! (total of 53 pictures)

 

SPORTSMAN'S LODGE 8.17.07:

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Another fieldtrip to one of our favorite salsa places - Sportsman's Lodge! (total of 43 pictures)

 

SPORTSMAN'S LODGE 3.02.07:

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Our return to the Sportsman's Lodge after almost 3 years of no salsa dancing there. We had our biggest turnout ever of over 130 people! Live band, DJ, huge dance floor and a mini treat of 2 dance performances by two different couples competing in a dance contest. Do you think we have a few people hooked on salsa?! (total of 47 pictures)

 

THE RIO 12.03.06:

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Another fun-filled, dance-filled fieldtrip to the Rio! (total of 27 pictures)

 

THE RIO 09.17.06:

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Our fieldtrip started in the late afternoon at the Rio Lounge in Encino. Several people arrived early for the free salsa lesson and then more people came trickling in. There was plenty of room to dance and from the pictures, people were having fun! (total of 44 pictures)

 

THE GOLD COAST - LAS VEGAS 08.25.06:

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Our first Las Vegas fieldtrip for the first Las Vegas class to the Gold Coast Casino! We had a great time and everyone got up to dance - a lot! These people are not shy! Eight people from our class of 26 - a good turnout for the very first outing here. We've got more outings to come... hey L.A. students, come on out to Las Vegas and join us. This club has a huge dancefloor, plenty of seating and a live band. Kinda reminds me a little bit of Sportsman's Lodge, but, come check it out for yourselves! (total of 5 pictures)

 

THE RIO 03.05.06:

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We had another great turnout for our fieldtrip at the Rio in Encino! (total of 58 pictures)

 

THE GRANADA 11.12.05:

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We had a HUGE turnout for our fieldtrip and there was lotsa dancing going on! Salsa on!!! (total of 58 pictures)

 

THE FLORENTINE GARDENS 8.26.05:

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We tried a new place for our fieldtrip - Florentine Gardens in Hollywood. We had a really nice turnout and I saw lots of us dancing! Hopefully, we'll get another chance to try this place out - the dancefloor was HUGE!. (total of 36 pictures)

 

THE GRANADA 6.4.05:

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Another fun trip out to Granada's - this time on a Saturday night. I heard some people stayed til 4:00 a.m.! (total of 40 pictures)

 

THE GRANADA 3.11.05:

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WOW! We had a really big turnout for our salsa fieldtrip to The Granada in Alhambra. It was a bit crowded at first, but if you stayed til midnight (after the dance contest), the dancefloor cleared up and we had lots more room to strut our stuff. Hope everyone had a good time (I know the people that stayed after midnight were having a blast)! (total of 59 pictures)

 

THE GRANADA 11.19.04:

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Another fun fieldtrip to The Granada in Alhambra - several people stayed to the wee hours of the morning!
(total of 50 pictures)

 

THE GRANADA 8.21.04:

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Our second fieldtrip to The Granada in Alhambra - great band, great dancing, great people!
(total of 21 pictures)

 

THE GRANADA 6.5.04:

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Our first fieldtrip to The Granada in Alhambra - I hear some people stayed til 4:00 a.m.! Wow! (total of 28 pictures - the first 8 are of the performance group for Spring Fling). Enjoy!

 

SPORTSMAN'S 5.7.04:

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Another great night at Sportsman's! Take a look at the pictures (total of 24 pictures). Enjoy!

 

SPORTSMAN'S 3.5.04:

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Another night at Sportsman's with over 80 people! And, many of you were still going at 12:45 a.m., when I left to go eat. WOW! I think we've got some salsa addicts in our group... (27 pictures)

 

SPORTSMAN'S 11.14.03:

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Our salsa fieldtrip to Sportman’s Lodge was a blast as usual! We had a big group and we did A LOT of dancing, which makes us all pretty happy campers. See more pictures from the event.


CLASS GROUP PICTURES – BURBANK FALL 2008:

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Class pictures from Fall Session! It was also our last class at the Verdugo studio before moving over to the Magnolia location. (10 pictures total)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – BURBANK SUMMER 2008:

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Class pictures from Summer Session! (9 pictures total)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – BURBANK WINTER 2008:

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Class pictures from Winter Session! (7 pictures total)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – BURBANK FALL 2007:

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Class pictures from Fall Session! + Halloween pictures (19 pictures total)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – BURBANK SPRING 2007:

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Class pictures from Spring Session! (5 pictures total)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – BURBANK WINTER 2007:

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Class pictures from Winter Session! (6 pictures total)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – BURBANK & LAS VEGAS FALL 2006:

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Some of the students from the Fall Session 2006! Sorry, I didn't get all the classes ...
(only 5 pictures total - I'll get more next session!)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – LAS VEGAS SUMMER 2006:

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Students from the first Las Vegas class, Summer 2006!
(there are suppose to be 2 pictures, but I have a lil glitch with the 2nd photo...)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – WINTER 2006:

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Students from Winter 2006 classes! (9 pictures...)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – FALL 2005 :

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"Graduates" from Fall 2005! (7 pictures...)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – SUMMER 2005 :

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Summer class pictures! (only 4 pictures...)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – SPRING 2005 :

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Another end of session "Graduation Class Pictures"!

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – WINTER 2005 :

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Since we take pictures AT THE END of a session, I thought we'd call them "Graduation Class Pictures"! After going thru 9 weeks of salsa dancing, it only seems appropriate to pass out mortarboards, right? I guess the people not wearing them didn't graduate, including Orlando and myself :-). (13 pictures)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – FALL 2004:

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Class pictures from Fall 2004 (14 pictures)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – SUMMER 2004:

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Happy Salsa Dancers from Summer! (9 pictures)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – SPRING 2004:

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These 15 pictures are finally up! (as of 9/2/04)

 

CLASS GROUP PICTURES – WINTER 2004:

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Another fun picture day in the life of salsa dancers!
CLASS GROUP PICTURES – FALL 2003:

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Remember the days when we all took a class picture for school? Well, here are some from the Fall Session 2003 Class. Hey, why not? It gives us another fun thing to do!

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SPRING FLING 2009:

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We had four great couples for our 2009 Spring Fling Performance Team! They all got along really well and as you'll see from the pictures, had a great deal of fun. They really worked their booties off this year to master the routine. A big thanks goes out to Orlando and Nicole who choreographed the routine and oversaw the whole shibang this year. The team had 3 performances and each one progressively got better and better. They almost weren't even nervous by the time the third one came around at the Alex Theatre. The last picture shows us all at Don Cuco's for our after-performance dinner. Everyone did a tremendous job and I'm so proud of them all!
(25 pictures)

 

BODYGROOVE 6th ANNUAL HOLIDAY SALSA PARTY 2008:

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Our 6th Annual Holiday Salsa Party at Guantanamera Restaurant! We ate, we partied, we danced and had a surprise Asian Salsa performance by Orlando & Nicole - what a treat! (45 pictures)

 

SPRING FLING 2008:

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We had three couples for our 2008 Spring Fling Performance Team and they did an incredible job! We had 2 veteran couples and one newly matched couple and all 3 pulled off two great performances without a hitch. One performance was at the grand ol' Alex Theatre in Glendale to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Garri Dance Studio. The other performance was at Burbank High School. The team danced to "Johnny's Mambo" from More Dirty Dancing and was a sort of tribute to Patick Swayze, who has been very ill. We all wish him the best. This team worked really hard and it showed in their wonderful performances!!! (23 pictures)

 

BACHATA WORKSHOP JUNE 2008:

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We had an awesome Bachata Workshop with guest instructor Alejandro Rey and his partner Sabrina! They did a nice job breaking down the basics and then putting together some partner combinations for us. Sabrina showed us the hip action and some styling to go with the dance. The 2-hour workshop was great fun and over before you knew it. (5 pictures)

 

BODYGROOVE 5th ANNUAL HOLIDAY GATHERING 2007:

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Our 5th Annual Holiday Gathering at El Floridita Restaurant! (28 pictures)

 

SPRING FLING 2007:

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Our 2007 Spring Performance was by far, one of the best! We had a very dedicated and well rehearsed 4 couples who really put their hearts and souls into the performance. They put together some stunning red costumes with lots of sparkly stones and they all just loved performing! There were 2 different recitals and they were just AWESOME! (23 pictures)

 

WORLD SALSA CHAMPIONSHIPS DECEMBER 16, 2006, LAS VEGAS:

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The 2nd Annual World Salsa Championships were GREAT! A group of us went to the finals that lasted 5 hours long on Saturday night. I even saw a few more students from L.A. come in to attend. There were Four Divisions: "On1", "On2", Team and Cabaret, consisting of 10 couples/teams in each division. Abel, the "Patrick Swayze of Salsa" and Zulmara from L.A. captured their 2nd "On1" title with an amazing and thrilling performance (pictured above). Their energy and chemistry together as performers really stood out (and no, they are not a couple in real life). Altho all the dancers in this division were good, several couples seemed to be missing that spark and energy to make them stand apart from the rest. Abel and Zulmara were by far and away, the crowd and judges' favorite in this division. Next came the Team competition, where a style of dance from Colombia called "Caleno" or "Salsa Cali Style" from the city of Cali in Colombia, had the crowd giving the 18-person Colombian team an enthusiastic "oh-my-gosh-can-you-believe-it" standing ovation. The dance consists of amazingly FAST footwork synchronized with your partner. It was certainly one of the highlights of the competition. In fact, this style of dance will have you sweating just looking at it! Most of the "On2" couples were all pretty exceptional - great technique, strong choreography, strong interpretation of the music and fabulous stage presence. Costumes of course, were all glittery, shiny, skin-baring and over-the-top for both men and women. Costumes were FABULOUS! Finally, about 12 midnite (show started at 8 p.m.), came the most exciting of the divisions - Cabaret, filled w/ tricks, aerials, dips, lifts and too-many-to-count-spins. Talk about practicing with, working with and trusting your partner. The majority of the couples had very beautiful, creative and unusual tricks along with really wonderful dancing. It was well worth staying for this 5th hour to see this division perform. It was a treat to see so many fantastic performers in one night. At 1:00 a.m., the floor was open to the crowd for dancing, but, a few of us middle aged folks were only up to a few dances after sitting thru a 5-hour show (hmmm...who could those people be?). Pictures and videotaping were not allowed during the show, but, I did get a chance to meet up w/ Abel and Zulmara and they were gracious and happy to take photos with me.
Winners:
"On 1": 1st - Abel Pena & Zulmara Torres, L.A. (2nd win), 2nd - Ibi Reiguera & Marina Prado, Stockholm,
3rd - Darlin & Kathleen, Philadelphia and Dominican Republic
Team: 1st - El Mulato y Su Swing Latino, Cali, Colombia, 2nd - Pretty Boys & Girls, San Jose, CA,
3rd - SalsaMania, Oakland, CA
"On 2": 1st - Oliver Pineda & Luda Kroiter,Sydney (2nd win), 2nd - Jr. & Emily Alabi, San Francisco,
3rd - John Navarez & Liz Rojas, Oakland, CA
Caberet: 1st - Kelvin Hernandez & Licelott Maldonado, Venzuela/Puerta Rico, 2nd - Jhon Vazquez & Judy Aguilar, New Jersey and Colombia, 3rd - John & Johanna, Cali, Colombia
(Total of 13 photos)

 

SPRING FLING 2006:

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This year there were 4 SalsaStar couples on the Student Performance Team and they did a really HOT routine! They worked really hard to perfect it and performed it at 2 shows and one recital. The couples went all out on their costumes this year and looked all shiny and spectacular. The "boys" even allowed glitter spray in their hair - ha! They were so jazzed to perform that I think they're hooked on performing!
(6 pictures)

 

BODYGROOVE 3rd ANNUAL HOLIDAY SALSA PARTY 2005:

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Our 3rd Annual Holiday Salsa Party at Soly Azul was a big hit! Our food was definitely on the "spicy" side, but, that got us all revved up for the dancing afterward. Our student dance performance was awesome and even though we all danced on tiled floor, we all managed to stay upright and dancing on our feet. Check out the pictures - all 74 of them!

 

SPRING FLING 2005:

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Our annual Spring Performance was, well...we thought AWESOME! We had 3 couples on the Performance Team and our routine was choreographed by 2004 Mayan Amateur Champion Alex Caicedo. It was a challenging routine for all of us and included 3 stunts (many bruises to show for it during our practices). But, we got thru it all and had a great time performing it. We like the routine so much, we may perform it again at a summer festival. Even with the bruises and lots of practice hours later, we really, really enjoyed it!
(21 pictures)

 

HOLIDAY SALSA PARTY 2004:

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Our 2nd annual Holiday Salsa Party at Havana on Sunset was another big party celebration! This year we had a 7-piece band that played really great salsa music until 1:30 a.m. Good food, salsa dancing, a dance performance and a great live band...check out the pictures - all 78 of them!

 

SPRING FLING PERFORMANCE 2004:

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HOLIDAY SALSA PARTY 2003:

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We had a great time at our 1st Holiday Salsa Party! Plenty of good food (thank you to Havana on Sunset), lotsa dancing, a terrific lil band, a Rueda routine (thanks to Orlando, Rod, Eddy, Francisco, Jovita, Alina & Yvette - great job guys - thank you!), salsa "shakers" (okay, they were kinda hokey, but weren't they fun?!), door prizes which included an aerial ride for 2 over Santa Barbara (thank you to Carlos Aquino, who is a flight instructor) and all the others who were so generous in donating prizes. People were popping out of the woodwork to donate prizes last night at the dinner all spur of the moment - thank you all for your generosity. A big thank you to Vanessa Segui for helping check everybody in and playing the part of "Vanna White" as we passed out door prizes (thank you Vanessa - your were terrific!). I tried getting everyone's picture in front of the Christmas Tree as they arrived, so go take a peek - you might be there!

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LONDON/PARIS VACATION JANUARY 2007:

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London and Paris were fabulous! even if it was freezing cold the first several days. You'll see us pretty bundled up in a few of the pictures. This will be just a short little travelogue to point out some of the highlights of our trip. And yes, I did check out the salsa scene in London. It is also VERY POPULAR there - I met Mario, the man of a million moves (salsa moves!) and his partner Susana. Both excellent instructors and boy, are they cooking at their club. Three different levels of classes going on in the club at one time. They danced "on 1", tho I hear "on 2" is fairly popular in London now too. London - we saw the main attractions: Big Ben, Windsor Castle, Tower of London & Jewels, Harrods, the London Eye (huge ferris wheel by Virgin Airways that has great views of the city), Leicester Square, Covent Gardens, Notting Hill, Bond Street, Hyde Park, Chinatown and several museums. We used the TUBE (underground subway) a lot. It's really great to visit a city that has great transportation options. Unlike L.A., you're really able to get around and see the city. We saw two plays - Lady in Black and yes, Dirty Dancing! It's still corny as heck, but, the theatre was packed and groups of females were there singing and swaying to the music. You couldn't help but enjoy it, just like the movie version. Dirty Dancing is so popular, it's sold out for the next year. We had really nice room accomodations with views overlooking the Thames River. You'll see one of the pictures from our room overlooking the river with a great view of Big Ben. There's so much to see and do in London. Paris - we took a 3-1/2 day side trip here using the train and we wish we had had more time. Paris is LOVELY at any time of the year! There is just a feeling of romance, even if the sun is not shining and it's cold and overcast. We stayed in a little boutique hotel near the Seine River. It was a few blocks away and across the street from the Louvre Museum. We loved the food and the shopping here - it was fantastic! Of course, we went to and up, the Eiffel Tower and even went to the Caberet Theatre one night. We got lazy here and started taking taxis - we had been walking so much all over London and Paris. We went to the Louvre and marvelled at the size of this museum. We got up close and personal with Mona (Lisa), Venus (de Milo) and a few other beautiful artifacts. We walked the Champs Elysees (mostly all chain stores now), checked out a casino, took in the Notre Dame Cathedral and some of the designer shops. Loved the Bon Marche department store! But, we really loved the restaurants here and the cheeses & chocolates. Yum! (50 pictures)

 

AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND VACATION DECEMBER 2004:

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Travelogue to come...(posted 6/12/05). Well, on second thought, no travelogue!

 

JAPAN VACATION APRIL 2003:

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Ahhhhh...Japan, what a wonderful and gastronomic trip! Rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner and all the good Japanese delicacies at every corner and on every street. I was in food heaven! Now Ken, on the other hand, really enjoyed the food, but reluctantly pulled me in to an Italian restaurant one night for dinner. We ate really well, but seemed to work it all off walking. Japan has an excellent subway and rail system for getting around town, but with 12 million people in the city of Tokyo, there are tons of trains and subway stations with stairs, stairs and more stairs and long walks to different platforms, depending on where you're going. Thank goodness for some escalators (they mostly go in the up direction), but for the most part, a maze of hallways and stairs are what's used to get from one platform to another. We opted to tour Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara on our own, (versus using a tour guide), so we utilized public transport a lot, including the bullet train. The bullet train is fast, very smooth (like riding the monorail in Disneyland), comfortable and very on time. In fact, everything runs exactly on time in Japan - absolutely no grace period - NONE. Initially, it is very difficult to navigate your way through the train stations, but with a little help from kind strangers, station employees, a little work and patience, we started getting to know our way around.

We toured several sections in Tokyo, including Ginza - the Beverly Hills of Tokyo, Asakusa - an older area with a famous temple and tons of souvenir booths and freshly made "monju" (a Japanese sweet pastry), an electronics area, a Toyota showroom with several really cute and teeny cars that we don't have here in the states (see me sitting in one in the pictures below), Roppongi - the area with all the night life, clubs and dancing and the Tsukiji Fish Market - where huge whole tunas are sold as well as lots of other fish/seafood. In fact, we arrived at the Fish Market one morning around 6:30 a.m., watched the end of the tuna auction, then had a sashimi breakfast at 7:00 a.m. YUM, YUM! We toured a few of the department stores at some of the train stations and had a field day in the dept store basements where they had the Japanese version of mall food courts, but the food was incredibly healthy and tasty.

While in Tokyo, I met two of my students' mothers who live in Yokohama, which is right outside of Tokyo. They both came in by train and treated Ken and I to a marvelous traditional Japanese lunch. It was one of the highlights of our trip - to meet them and to eat this incredible meal. For those of you who know Kiyoshi & Miho Honda (former students), they arranged for their respective mothers to meet us in Tokyo. I was able to communicate with them via e-mail before we left for Japan and then, voila, we met in Tokyo!

In Kyoto/Nara, we toured the city - Imperial Palace, Noji Temple, downtown Kyoto with all the department stores/shops and took a day excursion out to Nara. There is a very large park (you could walk for miles here, which is exactly what we ended up doing), where deer are everywhere and you can hand feed them. There are deer food vendors all over the park as well as several temples. We saw the biggest bronze Buddha in the world here and eventually, took a very short rickshaw ride because we were tired and couldn't walk anymore. One night, we went to a Geisha show that featured a tea ceremony, short 5 - 10 minute comical play, flower arranging, Japanese instrument playing, a Geisha doing a dance as well as a very amazing puppet show, which utilized 3 people working in unison to work one puppet. We supposedly walked down the street where true Geisha are hired to entertain groups of businessmen with unlimited business accounts (at least that's what our imaginations told us). Didn't get to see inside these establishments, but we think we got a glimpse of a professional Geisha waiting inside a taxi. They are really quite beautiful to see in person, unlike what you may have seen on t.v. shows.

And yes, I did get in a night of salsa dancing at a club called Salsa Caribe in Tokyo! I met a couple of instructors, who are proponents of dancing "on2", so they're headed out to the New York Congress and not planning on coming to the LA Congress. But, I danced with several good "on1" dancers. I also met a yoga instructor, Rajay, who was nice enough to show me to another club and fill me in on the salsa scene. Salsa is very popular in Tokyo (a monthly magazine comes out listing salsa events) as still are the discos (lots of discos). The Roppongi area has an abundance of dance clubs, but my new friend Rajay took me to a very popular club, Salsa Sudata, with what she called a good size dance floor. Now, you have to remember that space is at a premium in Tokyo, so what they consider big in Japan is very, very, teeny, tiny to us. One club was the size of a small bedroom, maybe 12' x 15' and the other "bigger" club was maybe, one-fourth the size of our room at McCambridge Rec Ctr. It was that small. So, you have to tone down your LA style moves, since there's not space enough to execute them. On average, the admission price to a club is 1500 yen or roughly, $13. That does include one drink, but no live band. At 10:00 p.m., this club was almost full.

My last must-mention item in Japan and one of my favorite and memorable things were the heated toilet seats (yes, heated!) and toilets with built in bidets. These are the most remarkable and functional contraptions I have come across in years. They are...one of the best inventions since, well, sliced bread! This may be one of those cases where you had to have been there or in this case, had to have used them. But, I'm telling you, these toilets which look just like regular good ol toilets, have a heated seat and pressure controlled sprays of warm water. I'll let your imagination figure out the rest. As they say, while in Japan, do as the Japanese do!

Japan is a remarkable and amazing country to visit. It is super clean - no graffitti or litter ANYWHERE, a wonderful source of tasty and healthy food (hey, I was a happy camper) and a very polite and extremely service-oriented culture. Even with the crowds of people, especially in Tokyo, small spaces and a much higher cost of living in comparison to here, I'd recommend it in a heartbeat as a vacation spot!

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FLYING TRAPEZE VACATION DECEMBER 2002:

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I know, I know, we had a really long break in between last session and the one coming up...in fact, much too long. So, what did you do over Christmas break? Normally, I would just share vacations that had some salsa highlights or activity, but this last one was too much fun not to share with you. It all began by reading an article in the LA Times about a circus school in San Francisco that taught flying trapeze lessons. When I went to the circus as a kid (you know, the good ol' fashion Ringling Bros Circus), I always loved watching the flying trapeze acts and thought it was such an amazing thing to be able to do. I had no idea that schools existed for the non-professional circus performer. Soooooo, when I read this article about a 1-1/2 hour class that would teach you to swing high up through the air (over 22 feet), kick your feet up over the trapeze bar while swinging (no easy feat), hang upside down from a swinging bar by your bent legs AND have your arms caught by another trapeze artist to transfer you to his bar, I just had to do it! IT...IS...SUCH...A...BLAST! The first time you jump off the platform and start swinging high above the ground is such an exhilarating feeling - having a rush of air blowing in your face. It is SO MUCH FUN! Okay, okay, yes, it is a bit scary and I found myself breathing rather quickly (aka hyperventilating) as I climbed the ladder and stood on this rather thin platform. But, once airborne, it's such a rush! Believe it or not, there are no demanding physical requirements for this beginner's class, but it does help if you are in shape and have somewhat of a daredevil in you. Here are some of my pictures and because I enjoyed it so much, I plan on taking a few more lessons. Get this, there's a school out here in Woodland Hills (just a wee bit closer than San Francisco, but then again, I got a chance to spend time in lovely San Francisco!), so I'll be taking more lessons down here. But, it was an absolutely fantastic experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone. If you're interested or want more details, just send me an e-mail about my flying trapeze adventure!

In the very last picture, I'm about to be caught by the trapeze artist on the other bar. If you look r-e-a-l-l-y close, you'll see one of his hands (more like a shadow) extending toward me. This "hand" is on the far right-hand side of the picture about half way down. Do you see it? And yes, we made contact and he did catch me! (pictures courtesy of my honey, Ken)

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BUENOS AIRES VACATION SEPTEMBER 2000:

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Meeting such wonderfully warm and friendly people
Seeing a couple of Tango Dinner Shows - some truly fantastic dancers (and good-looking men!!)
Salsa Dancing until 5:30 a.m. - clubs don't get going until 2 a.m.
Renting a car and driving among the crazy taxi cabs (Ken drove...)
City Tour
San Telmo Flea Market (tango dancers & entertainment in the plaza, shopping, restaurants, and more)
Window Shopping
Gambling on the Floating Casino (it's a boat docked in the water!)
Walking through the various neighborhoods of Buenos Aires


It was a wonderful vacation, although we were exhausted when we came back. The flight is long - about 15 hours with a 1 hour layover in Panama City. One of our best finds was flying on Copa Airlines (partially owned by Continental Airlines). The roundtrip flight was only $530!! If you're flying to South America, be sure to check them out. All the flights were on time, the stewards/stewardesses were helpful and friendly (but be sure to bring along some food you like - meals weren't the tastiest and all sandwiches had ham, in case you're not a ham eater) and the price was certainly right!
Being the dancer that I am, I of course had to see the dance of the country - Tango. Oh, such beautiful dancers and great musicians. We had a chance to see both the polished performance of a formal dinner/tango show and also the less formal and impromtu performance of dancers at the San Telmo Flea Market & Plaza. The dancers had such great attitude and the ladies' dresses were just fabulous with slits up to you know where!

I of course, had to check out the salsa scene and am happy to report it's alive and flourishing in Buenos Aires. For the most part, they danced on count 1, tho I did run into some dancing on count 2. I went to a well-known salsa club called "Salson" twice and it is a "happening" club. It has a huge dancefloor and good D.J. music. They give several lessons before the club starts its regular dancing and the instructors did a phenomenal job getting the crowd going. Even those who didn't know the steps were having a great time just moving to the music - there was that much electricity and excitement going on. People couldn't help but move to the music! I went to Salson a second time on a Saturday night and arrived at midnight. I was one of the first people there and waited until about 2 a.m. before starting to dance. Fortunately, I met a very warm and friendly dancer - Olga, who seemed to know all the people and instructors in the place, so she introduced me to everyone and I had a great time.

Since Ken (my fiance) is not into salsa dancing, he took off to the floating casino to check out the gambling scene and to gamble! Although he didn't win money, he didn't leave them with too much either. And, he enjoyed feeling that adrenaline rush you get when gambling with REAL MONEY! The place was packed and all the blackjack tables were full. The dealers are knowledgeable, efficient and extremely fast, so be prepared should you go to try your hand at blackjack. The dealers are courteous and friendly, but are there for a purpose - to deal, so they don't socialize much with the customers.

We took a city tour to visit several of the neighborhoods, as that's what Buenos Aires consists of - several neighborhood sections. We also drove around a bit on our own by renting a car. The streets and avenues are some of the widest you'll ever see. It seemed like there were 7 - 8 lanes going in one direction. On some streets where there should have been only 2 or 3 lanes, there were in fact 5 or 6 lanes since the taxi drivers do not pay attention to the lines in the road and will squeeze in between cars to make a lane that you'd think a car would not fit into. Yes, they are crazy drivers in Buenos Aires and Ken had a great time navigating through the maze. I know he did a few illegal turns and drove the wrong direction on one or two of the streets, but we figured he could claim tourist if stopped by the local police. What the heck, right? As the saying goes, "When in Rome...".

Since the exchange rate in Buenos Aires is pretty much 1:1 and since they accept American money, it was very easy to pay for things. We very rarely had to exchange U.S. currency for the local currency. It was so convenient and easy to calculate the cost of things and not have to worry about figuring out what something would cost in U.S. dollars. Most people also spoke English, so it was no problem getting around, ordering food, talking with people or requesting information.
All in all, it was a great vacation!!

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