Simon tries salsa

MC for Ipswich Gets Fit SIMON TALBOT set himself the challenge to try every activity before it happens on the Cornhill - so he knows what he's talking about, and gets fit before hitting 40 next year.

MC for Ipswich Gets Fit SIMON TALBOT set himself the challenge to try every activity before it happens on the Cornhill - so he knows what he's talking about, and gets fit before hitting 40 next year. Here's how the Ipswich Community Radio presenter found salsa dancing.

THERE is an old adage that says: “free your mind and your feet will follow” (or words to that effect) and of all the lessons that I learned during my first salsa dance class, I think it's by far the most important.

I have always been impressed with the effortless cool of people who can dance to Latin music. Some years ago I was at a salsa club in London and after about three hours of standing against the wall fretting, finally asked a girl onto the floor.

My dance ignorance was apparent immediately. I might just as well have been throwing karate shapes for the all the effect my moves had on her. I have been wary of The Mambo ever since.

However the informal atmosphere at The Lait Dance Club was extremely welcoming. Students whose experience ranged from novice to expert began to warm up, and adopting what I hoped was a suitably Latin air I joined them.

The group started off doing some generic steps and turns, although what the instructor made of the bloke at the back doing a bad Antonia Banderas impression while running on the spot is anyone's guess.

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It was decided, wisely in my opinion, that I needed one-to-one tuition.

My instructor Myra was fantastic, putting me at ease in seconds and reminding me that dance is all about fun and “going with it” rather than intricate manoeuvres. She proceeded to show me some basic steps, and was very patient and encouraging as at first I demonstrated some confusion between left and right and a sudden inability to count from one to seven.

Despite my best efforts my feet would not do what I wanted them to even after I fixed them with a steely, menacing stare. Myra told me to look at her and not my shoes and to just go with the music, and to my surprise it all clicked, “that's it” she smiled “you're dancing.”

My confidence soared and I began to spin her like a child's wooden top until she rather queasily asked me to stop.

I quickly forgot that there were other people in the group as I became totally engrossed in my partner and the music. Lost in a private world of dance, I apologised to a table when I bumped into it and allowing my arms to go limp was moved around the room like a human puppet as part of a relaxation exercise. I was even shown a Cuban dance step called The Casino, which I subsequently attempted to teach to my surprised girlfriend in the middle of a friend's barbecue, proving that even Latin dancing has a time and a place.

If you find the gym boring and you're not into sport, I think this is a brilliant way to keep fit and loose a few inhibitions.

In a remarkably short space of time I had gone from an uptight guy who danced like he was in a full body plaster cast, to someone who was not afraid to move his hips once in a while, and I was exhausted.


The Lait School Of Dancing is at St Mathews Hall on Clarkson Street, Ipswich and teaches a wide variety of styles from Latin to Hip Hop and Disco.

Contact 01473 215543 or see


SALSA dancing will being Ipswich Cornhill alive tomorrow with the very first of 12 Ipswich Gets Fit events.

From 12noon to 2pm, the town centre will have a musical theme with salsa fit, a mixed dance class courtesy of Dance East. Instructor Lynn Turner will lead the class and issued an open invitation for everybody - including you - to join in.

The event will be accompanied by music from the Trinidad Steel Band, because the events will lead up to England playing Trinidad and Tobago in a Group B match in Germany.

Tomorrow will also see the launch of the Evening Star/Team Ipswich Walk to the Moon in which 2,000 people will attempt to collectively walk 240,000 miles in just 12 weeks. Courtesy of sponsors Suffolk Sport and the Suffolk On Board, everyone taking part in the Walk to the Moon are being given a free pedometer and sweatband worth a total of £5 each. There's just time to enter a team to start the challenge tomorrow.

There will also be a chance to try the Speed Kick competition and win prizes with the Evening Star, and My Juice will have healthy drinks on offer.

Then every Thursday for three months the Cornhill will be transformed at lunchtime into a gymnasium, sporting arena or dance studio in a bid to promote healthier living in the town.

The Evening Star joins forces with Team Ipswich - the borough council's sports initiative - to launch Ipswich Gets Fit. The campaign aims to show the people of the town how they can improve their lives through physical activity. It is also an opportunity for a number of sports clubs to showcase their activities to attract new members.