Pupil is hoping to become the master
Magic Boyles first signed up to take part in salsa classes back in September 2009 with the idea of impressing a female friend.
It didn’t work out romantically with the girl, however he developed a passion for salsa dancing and is now an instructor at Sabor Dance School.
He also DJs at an event for Salsa lovers each Friday night and co-hosts a weekly salsa radio show on Magic 102.7.
According to the 26-year-old, Bermuda’s salsa scene is growing.
“I started off because a friend of mine at the time, she was really into salsa and I wasn’t really too big a fan of it.
“She was away in school so I decided to surprise her [by studying salsa so that] when she came back I could show her that I know a few moves, but it kind of grew on me.”
As a fan of Spanish-speaking cultures, Mr Boyles said he gravitated towards salsa and Latin dance songs. Thanks to his many classes over the years he is beginning to master the many steps — shimmies, rolls and lifts — involved. He is now at a semi-pro level and said his ultimate goal is to reach professional status.
In January he became one of the youngest salsa dance instructors on the Island when he stepped up to teach a beginners level class. Before that he had been an assistant instructor for nearly two years.
He said of the new role: “It’s not really too much of a challenge so far. I guess the hardest part will be adapting to different people’s learning styles because I am teaching so many different students, usually around 12 students at a time, but for the most part it’s been very fun.”
Salsa originated in Cuba in 1920. It is a combination of African and Cuban ritual dances, but also has strong influences from the mambo and rumba dance styles.
Locally the dance has been growing in popularity over the past ten years and there is a “fairly big” circle of regulars who come out to events, explained Mr Boyles.
“It’s a good switch from what is normally done here in Bermuda, with reggae and soca music, and it’s a great thing to get involved with.
“It also helps you adapt to different cultures, because salsa music is pretty big around the world and it’s grown pretty rapidly here in Bermuda.
“I would say the circle of [salsa lovers] is fairly big. Usually we have a packed venue on Friday nights and people who come down who are not salsa dancers usually they look on and become interested.
“I have had a few people reach out to me and ask how can they be involved and how can they take classes or whatnot.”
Salsa dancing has opened up a lot of doors for Mr Boyles. In October 2010, he was invited as a guest on Magic 102.7’s ‘Latin Flavours’ to talk about his travels to Colombia with volunteer group Bermuda Overseas Mission.
“I first came on the radio as a guest ... and they said I could come back whenever I like. I kept going each and every week, eventually I became head of social media and basically from there I would control Facebook and Twitter for bermudasalsa.com.
“Eventually I became a co-host and producer, which is where I stand now. I went from being a guest, right to the top of the whole radio show.”
‘Latin Flavours’, which airs Saturdays from 7pm until 9pm, has given Mr Boyles another avenue to promote salsa and Latin music to the general public.
“Most definitely it’s given me a platform, because people see the amount of doors it has opened for me just by starting classes, like they see that I now teach, perform, host a radio show, DJ, all the stuff I do within salsa. I hope it encourages a good bit of people.”
Mr Boyles works as an actuarial assistant at Allied World Assurance Company and keeps busy most nights of the week with his gigs. Sundays are pretty much his only time to relax and do nothing.
Despite the large commitment, he said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Salsa is my passion. I wonder nowadays where I would be without salsa because so many things I do now has stemmed from me starting classes way back in 2009.”
He recently got two of his friends signed up for classes and urges others to give salsa dancing a try. “A lot of people really wouldn’t think too highly about it, but I say don’t knock it until you try it.
“You can get a good workout from it, it does help with cardio, but also it’s a good chance to meet a lot of different people, it’s a very good social experience.”
To see Mr Boyles in action visit Victoria Street Grill’s Rumbar on Fridays from 9pm.
Useful website: www.bermudasalsa.com.