Maria C Ceballos

Salsa Evangelist

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I am a 33-year-old Cuban psychologist, and I love dancing. A friend of mine says that going to a party without me is like attending a social gathering. This reputation has helped me get invited to hundreds of parties where I have danced with all kinds of dancers. Of course, not all Cubans dance the same way, and I have been able to feed on many different styles.

I am mad about Cuban rhythms and dances, and enjoy sharing my experiences in terms of places to visit, dance steps to learn, different styles, techniques and secrets. My life experience is like a nightlife guide through Cuba. I know the night-time hotspots of Havana like the back of my hand.

I have also discovered some of the best nightlife hotspots in other provinces during my tours throughout the island. I like to explore other cities and see different dancing scenarios on my holidays. When I arrive to a new city, I ask where to go dancing first. During the day, I enjoy walking around the streets, meeting the place's local people and immersing in the culture... but at night my business is to go dancing. Although the passion for dancing is like a vein running through the whole country, every city and town has its own way to live it.

I am the mother of a beautiful four-year-old girl. During her early baby years, I had to control the urge to go dancing and exploring places, but now, little by little, I'm getting myself back on track. I try to, at least once a week, go out dancing. I have many duties as a mother, a psychologist, a housewife and a dance teacher, but dancing invigorates me. I feel that after venting out my passion for dancing I yield better results on weekdays, I feel happier, and that becomes my gift to those around me. Besides, I have created games for my daughter related to dancing, and we both enjoy playing them together.

One of the reasons why Cubans dance so much and so good is because Cuba is a musical country: from a very early age we are in contact with music and dancing. On top of that, many Cubans study in boarding high schools where once a week a day is dedicated to recreational activities and the school plays music for dancing until midnight. Many Cuban boys and girls learned how to dance with or without a partner in these large group lessons.

I dearly remember the big casino roundelays we had when I was in senior high school, or pre, as we call it here. We all wanted to join in and so we used to practice a lot even during breaks between regular lessons. I learned to dance in these sessions with some of my old school friends.

Most recently, using my training as a psychologist and trusting that all the flattery they have thrown at me regarding my way of dancing is true, I started to teach dancing in my free time. It has been a challenge to organise all my practical learning into a teaching method. This teaching experience has turned to be very amusing and invigorating activity for me.

As I believe dancing cannot only be practiced in classes, I always recommend my foreign students the best places to go during their stay in Cuba. I also suggest the theme songs they should listen to in order to truly feel the Cuban salsa. I tell them that dancing well goes through three stages: following the steps, understanding the rhythm while feeling the music and finding yourself in it. The latter is the most complex and I think you can only reach it when you dance not as a goal in itself, but as a way to feel good, to enjoy yourself, to feel free.

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Maria C Ceballos

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Recent articles by Maria

  • 07 Feb 2017
  • Travel Advice
Clubbing and nightlife guide to Cuba

Salsa Classes in Cuba with ViaDanza: one of the best ways to learn the island’s most seductive dance

Over 10 years' experience teaching Cuban salsa comes in handy for recognising the excellent work of Danza Chevere and ViaDanza - a mutual association between a Cuban dance company and a German travel agency that has found a way to differentiate itself from most salsa dancing academies. Including excellent teachers and individualised attention to students, they offer a fantastic addition to your holiday in Cuba and today I would like to share my own experience as part of this company.
  • 15 Jul 2016
  • Travel Advice
Clubbing and nightlife guide to Cuba

El Diablo Tun Tun: a true dancer's paradise in Havana

A unique place in Havana for non-stop dancing with the excellent Cuban Son singer, Ray Fernandez. Experience something different in this special spot in Havana, which vibrates with live music each Thursday from 5pm to 9pm. Frequented mostly by locals, the Miramar venue boasts great prices in a tranquil ambiance where tourists can easily unwind and blend in. Improvised Son rhymes, dancing and laughter are guaranteed; could it get any better than this?
  • 22 Mar 2015
  • Travel Advice
Clubbing and nightlife guide to Cuba

The Nostalgia Machine: dance along the musical history of Cuba

This is my review of one of the best places in Havana to dance salsa and other popular rhythms. Every Sunday afternoon, La Maquina de la Melancolia (Nostalgia Machine) takes over El Sauce in the leafy Siboney neighbourhood to bring the audience good music from yesterday to dance to. From timeless salsa classics to live popular tunes of today, this is an open invitation for dancing under the stars as you're taken through Cuba's musical history.