Wendy and Rodrigo Jimenez come to Chiang Mai Salsa Club

 | Mon 3 Aug 2015 06:54 ICT

To some, the thought of syncopating your steps to the hyper-rhythmic hand drums and percussion of salsa music might seem daunting. But Salsa Club Chiang Mai is determined to break down peoples’ inhibitions and welcome them into the energetic and welcoming community of Latin dance.


Salsa Club Chiang Mai offers free dancing lessons throughout the week at different venues around Chiang Mai. The event has been meeting since 2010 and these days the steamy dance rooms are chocked full of dancers, many of whom show up for their first time, while others have been dancing for years. The lessons start off with comprehensive instructions, and later, erupt into a free-for-all giving newcomers the chance to practice their moves, and seasoned dancers the freedom to let loose.

“Despite different nationalities, we can be friends and understand each other through dancing,” says Ariya Skulchaisirivich, one of Chiang Mai Salsa Club’s members. “Dancing will help you be more confident and meet new friends. Many dancing students even fall in love in class and start dating.”

Phimphisa Chailoet, founder of the Chiang Mai Salsa Club, added to the benefits of dance, including those for men specifically. “Dancing can open your mind and offer you a whole new sense of community. It also makes a man more polite and gentile. Dancing can also teach a man to be a leader, because a good dancer will be a good leader as well.”


Last month I caught up with dance instructors Rodrigo and Wendy Jimenez, who are currently on tour around Asia offering lessons and putting on impressive performances that combine a variety of different Latin dance styles.

The electric dancing couple has received international acclaim for their skills, which they formed by training extensively with world master instructors and ESPN world salsa and Argentine Tango champions. They were also featured in the international Latin dance film “La Epoca” and these days travel the world spreading the art and enjoyment of Argentine Tango, Salsa, Bachata, Flamenco and Kizomba.

The couple came to Chiang Mai to teach and feature one of their favourite dance styles, Bachata, a style of social dance originating from the Domincan Republic, fused with other Tango styles.

“[Bachata] has a lot of footwork, musical style, and it’s a little bit faster.” Explains Wendy. “When the style of music changes, Bachata changes as well. The music can become more romantic, slower, and people have an opportunity to connect with each other as a couple and to express more of their body movement through more technicalities and more sensuality. It’s a good dance for a couple. There are a few people that have come as a couple. Most of the students come alone, but they can find a partner here. Over time we have counted something around 80 couples that met in dance class and got married. Lots of people say ‘I’m here looking for a boyfriend’.”

I was really surprised by how many people Wendy had seen meet and get married just from dancing. It seems that a social dance really can turn into a date! While dancing together as partners, dancers share special moments together. When the music plays, without a word, dancers talk to each other through their eyes, their touch, and movements. It’s no wonder that it can kick off a romantic relationship.

“Eight years ago, I met Wendy and we dated for three months, and then got married,” recounted Rodrigo. “Now we have been working together, because we love dancing and teaching.”

But, according to the Jimenezes, dancing has more to offer than even the prospect of romance.

“Dancing really helps people to become a better person,” Rodrigo explains. “We have lots of different cases of people coming in when they have a problem and are stressed– they’ve been through a divorce recently or are faced with some sort of difficulty. Dance is a therapy, and can help them get better. They enjoy their time, they make friends, and they become part of a big family.”

At first, I really wasn’t interested in dancing at all. I never imagined myself on the floor. But after speaking with the Jiminezes, I thought I should give it a try, especially when these professional dancers were in town.

I didn’t have to wait long for my chance. Some of the Citylife interns and I were invited to join a class and see the performance by the Jiminezes at the Warm Up Café one evening. We accepted the invitation of course, not wanting to miss the rare opportunity to see the couple dance, as they would soon be off to Vietnam.


During the experience of watching the dramatic dances of the Jiminezes, learning from them, and trying out the style on my own, I realized how different dance can be for everyone. I cannot tell you what a dance will mean for you. For some, it may start as a challenge, but hopefully, it will eventually lead to a free, light-hearted feeling. I suggest you to find your own definition of dance, as I found mine while I tried out the moves on the floor with my kind dance partner.

Dancers of any skill level are encouraged to join Salsa Club Chiang Mai at any of their free dancing nights (some locations charge an entrance fee to cover cost of room rental, but the lessons are free):

Tuesdays at Warm Up Café at 8pm

Thursdays at Big Daddy’s Sports Bar at 8pm

Every last Saturday at Le Meridien Hotel at 7.30pm

For more information, please contact Salsa Club Chiang Mai: