Salsaville Dance Studios

Salsaville's Winter Get-a-Away Music & Dance Tour in Cuba:
January 8th or 12th to January 22nd, 2017


Salsaville's epic Music & Dance Tour of Cuba - Santiago de Cuba and Havana

We will land in Cuba in the cultural capital of Santiago de Cuba to explore the laid-back provincial city. Santiago has a rich cultural heritage, and is known as the capital of "Son" music, the root of all salsa music (i.e. Buena Vista Social Club.) Then, likely on Monday, January 16th, we will all fly to Havana, Cuba's big city and salsa capital where we will spend the remaining 6 days & nights for a full and intense experience there.

You can leave either on Sunday, January 8th or Thursday, January 12th. If your schedule allows, I do recommend the longer version as you will have a much fuller and relaxed experience in Santiago, and will have significantly more time and exposure to learning Cuban dancing.


Please read the testimonials below from the members of Salsaville's first 3 trips to Cuba. Their heartfelt words explain much better than I can why this trip is such a memorable experience:

Testimonials from Salsaville's first Music & Dance trip to Cuba - November-December 2015
Testimonials from Salsaville's second Music & Dance trip to Cuba - January-February 2016
Testimonials from Salsaville's third Music & Dance trip to Cuba - March 2016

The Application Form is at bottom of this email.



Exploring Cuban Music & Dance in Havana and Santiago de Cuba

This trip will be run under a legal people-to-people educational license for travel in Cuba.

The group size will be limited to 14 travelers, but may not be more than 9 people.
Please note that this will be run as a "boutique" tour, meaning that the group size will kept small, each member of the trip will receive individual attention, and the tour can be somewhat customized to your desires & interests. In addition, we are staying in upscale accommodations, but as a home-stay, not in a hotel. The group will be able to move around more efficiently and do more than a larger group could. This way we can all achieve my goal of making sure that each person has an amazing experience.


Included in the package price is:

Basic Travel:

Music & Dance Activities:

Additional activities:

Professional photographer:


The only things that are not included in the package price and you should bring money for are:


Trip cost:

Payment schedule is as follows:

If you need to cancel for whatever reason, I'm afraid none of the payments are refundable, except for a partial refund if we can find a replacement traveler and transfer the plane tickets into their name.


Why travel with Eric "El Cubanito" Freeman?
Eric has been traveling to Cuba since 1995. He has traveled there 17 times, and spent a total of over 20 months there. He has studied dance there extensively and has developed numerous connections over the years. Join him to explore and experience the amazing things Cuba has to offer. The focus of the trip will be dancing and music, but the tour includes exploring Cuba's history, architecture, beaches, and their fascinating people.




From all the members of Salsaville's First Group trip to Havana, Cuba, November-December 2015
From Cathleen Zuzelski (czuzelski25@gmail.com):

"I knew Eric as a dance instructor and didn't know what to expect of him leading a trip to what has been a country unexplored to most of us living in the US. The result was better than I could have imagined. Not only did my dancing improve, but I was able to better interpret the Cuban music as well as understand the origins of where it came from. (There are still nights I drift asleep to the beat of the son clave). After the trip, I can't imagine having explored Havana for the first time as a solo traveler. Eric knows the city, can walk the talk, and is passionate about others experiencing the magic that is Cuba. Even with a group of 8 foreigners, I never felt like a tourist. From the casa particulars, intimate house dinners and private dance parties, I couldn't have felt more at home in this foreign land."

From Lorena Herrera (lorepharmd@yahoo.com):

"Eric,

Thank you so much for the wonderful experience in Cuba. The trip was more than I expected.

Your knowledge of the people, culture and places made this trip hassle free and pleasurable. The hardest part was keeping up with all the events and activities you had planned for us.

As I was going though my pictures, I couldn't believe we did so much in just ten days: dance lessons, night clubs, concerts (Los Van Van and Habana D'Primera to name a few), road trip to ViŮales, road trip to the beach, El Callejon de Hamel, the parks we visited, field trip to see the band practice, nice dinners and so much more.

Being so close to the culture was my favorite part. Talking to people and hearing their stories about how they deal with scarcity was very touching. The dancing was the best I've ever seen. The money exchange ;-). Walking through the streets and seeing real Cuba is what I wanted to experience and what I got.

I appreciate your continuous concern for making sure the we were enjoying ourselves and that you had picked out the most memorable places to see and things to do.

This is a trip I will never forget. And I think your love and enthusiasm for Cuba has become contagious because now I want to see the rest of the country.

Sincerely, Lorena"

From Shawhin Roudbari (shawhin.roudbari@gmail.com) and Shideh Dashti (shidehd@gmail.com):

"What a trip! It was an unforgettable and magical experience. It left a deep, deep impression on me and my wife. Cuba is an amazing country with so many complex things going on... and on top of it all music and dance is everywhere. For the first few days back in CO, we couldn't get the rumba out of our shoulders and hips. The classes were intense and great. We learned a lot. We bonded with some of the instructors and miss them terribly! Being with Eric and the group for a week was awesome. Meals together, cramming into taxis together, getting humbled on the dance floor together was all so, so wonderful. We miss the friends we made and canít wait to get together again soon... Anyhow, itís hard to express in words how fun, rich, and impactful the experience was."

From Lupe Ledezma (lupeprizes@yahoo.com):

"I am thankful to Eric Freeman for providing this unique opportunity to travel to Cuba and learn about the culture, as well as taking amazing Cuban salsa lessons daily. It was a great trip that I will remember always. The chance to interact and become immersed in Cuban daily life was a way to really ďfeelĒ the soul of the music. Watching everyone from little kids to elderly move to the beat of the music on a daily basis was reflected in the hustle of the city of Habana. It is a city ďfrozen in timeĒ in many ways, while still offering most of the conveniences of modern living. Even the slight glitches and delays were an integral part of the experience given that the Cuban people live with these issues on a daily basis. While the trip was about taking classes and improving the craft of dancing salsa, it became a way to get an intimate look at another form of living and a once in a lifetime vacation. I canít wait to go again!"

From Graciella Funes (gtfunes@yahoo.com):

"Eric and I have been friends for years and I was thrilled when I learned that he was taking a group of travelers to Cuba at the same time that I was going to be visiting my family in Havana. I didn't know at the time when I planned my trip that this fortuitous coincidence would enrich my return to my birth country more than I could have imagined. Eric's love and understanding of Cuba and it's people, culture and music is impressive and contagious. I've known him for a long time and sometimes, I just sat back and noticed how much he was in his element. His crafty ways of getting around obstacles, his vast knowledge of Cuban musical traditions, dances and folklore and his surprising Cuban street savvy ways, provided us with unique and fabulous experiences. Cuba is interesting, different, unpredictable and very fun, but in order to enjoy her, you have to be curious, open and flexible. Eric has mastered the art of navigating Cuba's temperamental nature and has turned it into a colorful adventure. Thank you my friend for inspiring me to see my country through a different lens."

From Laura E. GŁida (guidal@hotmail.com, 303-827-8416):

"Why travel to Cuba with Eric Freeman? Because you will count on an experienced traveler, dancer, and teacher who would open doors into the Cuban life that you could not find otherwise. Eric provided me with a wonderful opportunity to explore the life and music of Cuba as he developed a well planned itinerary that included great housing, sightseeing, music events, dance lessons with great instructors and touristic attractions. He invited us to enjoy with him his love for music and the Cuban lifestyle which made this trip worth repeating as soon as I have a chance.

Even though I speak Spanish as a first language I could have not experienced Cuba and its music with the depth that Eric's expertise allowed me to grasp. His knowledge of the Cuban ways, the plethora of tips and pointers that he gave me as I explored this unique culture, and his genuine love for music facilitated my enjoyment and learning.

Eric is a wonderful teacher: his patience, his ability to analyze and learn, and his technical knowledge transpired every time we were exposed to Cuban music. He offered us an ample array of opportunities to learn and enjoy the most authentic of experiences as we danced to the best bands of Cuba, witnessed band rehearsals, and visited many dancing venues where we were in humble awe of very talented dancers, some of whom recognized Eric as a teacher across the globe! It was with immense pride that I identified myself as one of his students although I still have much to learn.

The people and music of Cuba will touch your heart, and there is no better opportunity to experience them than with Eric's help. Now go enjoy the trip!

Feel free to contact me if you want more details or have questions."

From Barry Solway (barry.solway@gmail.com):

"We landed in Tampa on a Friday night. Eric met up with a friend who showed us around downtown Tampa and eight hours after we had left Denver we were already dancing salsa in a little bar. And we weren't even in Cuba yet! Cuba is a strange mix. World class architecture from over a hundred years ago mixed with poverty and lack of maintenance. Sixty year old cars with tricked out sound systems. Walking the historic district, seeing the bazaars, the Hotel Ambos Mundos where Earnest Hemingway lived and wrote. Walking up to a window off the street to order a pizza. The culture of dance and music that is woven throughout the country. Every day felt like two days, with the mornings full of dance lessons and the afternoons and evenings full of sightseeing, concerts and night clubs. As he showed us in Tampa, Eric connected with an amazing assortment of people. We had an opportunity to see both the tourist side of Cuba and to live with the Cubans themselves, eating dinner together and dancing together. This was a great experience and Eric's passion for the music and dance of Cuba made this an unforgettable trip."

From Lisa McIntyre (mcgreenhouse@gmail.com):

"My trip to Cuba this past November was an experience of a lifetime! Thanks to Eric Freeman for doing such a fabulous job orchestrating the entire journey. Not only did he handle all the details from flights to meals, but he allowed time for us to explore the culture of the area as well. We had a taxi available all day and night as we be-bopped around the city from our private casas to restaurants and events. Music and dance are an integral part of the Cuban culture and Eric ensured that we were exposed to all of it! The daily salsa lesson included personal instructors who love to teach. By the time we left Havana, each of us were walking to the rhythm of salsa: uno, dos, tres ... cinco, seis, siete!

One of my fondest memories was spending Thanksgiving afternoon at the beach drinking our make-shift pina coladas in the sand. We bought a bottle of Havana Club Rum, a box of pineapple juice, then purchased fresh coconuts from a local vendor who opened them with a machete so we could access the sweet milk and create our cocktail. Beats turkey and candied yams any day.

I had a desire to explore things outside of salsa dancing, including baseball and coffee. Since I am not a Spanish speaker, I needed to have someone with me who could speak English and share the details of the landscape, the politics and interesting cultural facts. Eric ensured this happened by lining up the right people at the right price. I took an entire afternoon away from the group with my Cuban guides, Keyler and Jorgie, and traveled in a '55 Chevy to the La Mocha region outside of Havana. There we drove along a hand-laid cobblestone road to a three-hundred-year-old French-Cuban coffee plantation at the top of mountain. We also stopped at a park where kids were playing baseball, Cuba's national sport. I was peering through the fence, taking it all in when some of the mothers noticed me and my blonde hair. They smiled and waved with full acceptance of my interest in the game. The people of Cuba were always welcoming, both in the city and in the countryside.

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!"



From all the members of Salsaville's Second Group trip to Havana, Cuba, January-February 2016
From Sherri Brody (sherribrody@q.com):

"The trip to Cuba was nothing short of amazing and one of the most memorable experiences of my life. From the moment I stepped out of the airport, I felt as though I had stepped into a bizarre time warp of old 50's automobiles, horse drawn carts, and neoclassic architecture, a scene that hinted of the once opulent lifestyle of old Cuba. It is like nothing I have ever seen! Within the rows of narrow streets lined with dilapidated but ornate dwellings with original marble floors, stained glass, and Corinthian columns dwell a people who are too poor even to paint their homes but whose passion for life and music are too contagious to ignore, whose smiles light up a city block, and whose sense of pure play drives everything they do. The city pulses with song and dance in a way that makes you want to get up yourself and dance on every sidewalk, in every restaurant, and on every beach; and finally, here is a place where it is as normal as breathing to do just that! Here is a place where an average meander through the colorful and busy streets might take you into some incredible adventure like running into the Buena Vista Social Club performing in a small restaurant, or perhaps just making a new friend and sharing a dance; wandering through a lush jungle to find at the other end of the trail a paradisiacal outdoor dance floor with a high energy salsa band playing for the locals. This - for a salsa dancer - might be comparable to finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow! Eric's passion for the Cuban culture is extremely contagious. He went above and beyond to bring our group back-to-back incredible and authentic experiences that we could have never known without the guidance of one so immersed himself in the culture. This is a man who loves his job and has found his calling in a big, big way.

Eric brought us to various music venues to see some of the hottest Cuban bands. The energy in these places went right through the roof. I cannot remember this kind of energy at a concert since I saw the Rolling Stones about 15 years ago from the 5th row (Mick Jagger might feel right at home in Habana). There was one surprise on our day at the beach that was completely random though partly engineered by Eric that made my entire year! I remember feeling so overwhelmed with emotion that I was thinking, "I could die now" because my life felt somehow complete. Overwhelmed by emotion for the remainder of the trip and mouth gaping in wonder, I fell sweepingly in love with the Cuban culture and hope to return some day. I'm glad that I could bring some of that electricity back into my daily life!

In addition to the intensive immersion, the group synergy was really wonderful - I enjoyed sharing my days with such fun and interesting people. Eric really took care of us, looking out for us every step of the way. He planned every detail and everything was seamless, especially for a group our size. It was a great relief not to have to plan anything and to have no decisions to make except what I wanted for dinner that night.

If you do decide you want to go to Cuba, I highly recommend going with Eric on one of these group tours while they are still available, especially at this low cost. You will not be disappointed. A trip like this is easily worth two or three times the cost, but more accurately, is priceless. You will definitely want to know some Spanish and, of course, take a crash course in Cuban salsa dance before you go.

Finally, I wish to say to you, Eric, how very grateful I am to you, my friend. My life is richer for having you in it.

Brazos y besos, Sherri"

From Greg Slopey (gslopey@yahoo.com):

"Are you looking for an sensual injection of Cuban dance, music, and culture? Eric's trip to Cuba provides you with an instant immersion to the real Cuba before the onslaught of Americans. You immediately meet friendly Cubans who introduce and teach you the rich history of their culture and salsa dance. Where can you meet the best dancers/instructors and musicians in Cuba, up close and personal? - only with Eric!

Eric's extensive Cuba experience covers the waterfront of non-stop action. I feel fortunate to be on the last trip and see Cuba as it starts its transformation. I highly recommend this trip. I have traveled and lived around the world, this trip injected my soul with the Cuban spirit!! Bravo Eric!!"

From Kim Horton (kim@efaa.org):

"This trip was amazing! Generally, I avoid travelling with a group and prefer to go solo. However, I am convinced that for this kind of trip, it was the best way to go. Eric organized everything so well, I didn't waste any time trying to figure out where to go or how to get there. My goal was to enjoy as much music and dancing as possible and I was not disappointed. Thanks to Ericís knowledge and direction I was able to enjoy great social dancing every night of the week at the best salsa clubs in Havana. There were so many great options for live music it was hard to choose which ones to attend. All the concerts we went to were amazing. I couldnít have been happier with all the great dance lessons and quality instructors. In addition to all that, we enjoyed parties, a tour of the city, delicious dinners, trips to the beach and opportunities to get to know locals. There is no way I would have been able to squeeze in so many awesome activities without Ericís great planning. This was truly one of the most memorable trips I have ever had."

From Laura Brenton (llbrenton@gmail.com):

"Iím having trouble expressing how much this trip meant to me. But hereís a try ...

This is a trip you donít want to miss. If you love dancing and love music, you will love this trip. Eric created a cohesive group of people who were really fun to be with - not your typical "group trip". Adding in our Cuban dance partners, it turned into a full-fledged dance party. What a way to experience another culture!

There just isnít enough time to do everything you want. Having Eric make arrangements saved lots of time. We were able to see and do things that wouldnít be possible traveling solo. Although you could choose to opt out of activities, I never wanted to miss out on anything so it was an action-packed time. Traveling in Cuba, being outside the mainstream media was truly a retreat. If thereís any possibility of going on this trip - GO!

Eric, thanks so much for everything."

From Nora Reznickova (norareznickova@gmail.com):

"I am still trying to recover from the "Cuban dream." Not only did the trip exceed my high expectations, but Eric with his knowledge of the country made it a very special trip with great immersion into the Cuban dance and music and he tailored the experience to every person of the group. It was a very, very busy trip. We saw, heard and danced so much! We made so many connections with local people and especially with Cuban dancers. We saw Cuba changing in front of our eyes. I wish I could go back with the next group."

From Adam F (adam@lovebuzzphoto.com):

"Eric is the ultimate guide for your dance-inspired adventure in Cuba. His expertise of the area, the culture and the local dance scene is truly invaluable. He is open, easy going and a super fun person to be around! No matter what your dancing level, I highly recommend traveling to Cuba with Eric ĎEl Cubanitoí Freeman if youíre interested in learning how to dance Cuban salsa in the ultimate full imersion environment."

From Diane Brenton (db_brenton@yahoo.com):

"When I hastily signed up for a trip to Cuba, organized and led by the very competent Eric Freeman, I had no idea what a treat I was in for. Having lived in Venezuela for many years, I am well aware of the challenges of negotiating schedules, events, transportation, and lodging in certain countries. Any number of things could have gone wrong, and quite honestly, this was a perfectly run trip. Because of Ericís experience traveling around and living in Cuba, the whole sojourn was an utter delight. If your goal is to experience the culture, the energy, and the very soul of Cuba, then this is the kind of trip for you. Eric has a knack for lining up "once-in-a-lifetime" meetings. His energy is boundless and infectious, making everything - the dancing, the transport, the sightseeing, the meals - tons of fun. Eric is personable, ever so patient, and super connected. These assets are invaluable when traveling in Cuba, a yet unconnected domain. His friends and his overall know how of ways to maneuver Havana, and the rest of the country, saved us days of flailing, wandering around aimlessly, and frustration. Eric thought of details one may not think of him/herself, e.g. when and how to change money into the 2 differing currencies, where and how to buy water, where to eat, transportation to and from every single event, delicious breakfasts (and all meals), dance lessons AND private lessons, cultural and musical experiences beyond oneís imagination, and so much more! Traveling with Eric as leader opened up a world to us in a way we could never have experienced Cuba without his expertise. I couldnít recommend this trip more highly. It was inexplicably fun and extremely productive, all due to the meticulous and intuitive planning by Mr. Eric Freeman. Youíd be crazy to pass up a trip offered by him. Go and have a great time!"

From Peyman (Sasha) Razifard (bouldercountyrealestate@gmail.com):

"I had wanted to visit Cuba for years. So when Eric mentioned his upcoming tour I was excited to join the trip, though I didn't know what to expect. It turned out that the trip exceeded my expectations in every aspect and I can't wait to join Eric's next trip to Cuba. Eric was very well organized, we stayed at comfortable apartments, enjoyed lovely tours of Havana, Tropicoco Beach and the town of Vinales. We shared great food and enjoyed awesome dance classes during the week. It was one of those "Once in a Life Time Adventures" and I highly recommend it."

From Keith Nowicki (knowicki@boulder.swri.edu):

"I went with Eric on his February music and dancing tour in Cuba. I have nothing but good things to say about my experience. The dance schools were energetic and intensive. The nights were filled with live music and dancing. Eric spent a lot of effort to make certain everything ran smoothly and provided us with an overflowing selection of events to attend.

Cuba itself is in a transition and seeing the changes to the society was fascinating. In my free time I wandered the city and talked with people. If you want to see what Cuba has been like due to years of tense relations with the US and see how it will change as those international relationships normalize, now is the time to go and see this fantastic island. But, here's a warning: A few of us got pretty depressed having to leave that island and return to our normal lives. I've already asked to be included on the trip later this year."



From members of Salsaville's Third Group trip to Havana and Santiago, Cuba, March 2016
From Matthew Dean Moyers (Matthew.Moyers@Colorado.EDU):

"What an experience! When can I go back? My name is Matt Moyers and I have just returned from a 10-day Cuban excursion packed with music, laughter, meaningful connections, and salsa dancing. I am blessed to have been able to travel all over the world within my short 23 years of life, and I can say without a doubt that my time in Cuba gave me the most lasting impression of a different culture.

The big difference between the other journeys and the 10 days in Havana was the fact that I went with a group from Salsaville Dance Studios. Our leader, Eric Freeman, had visited the country over 20 times before and had mapped out a daily schedule filled to the brim with dance classes, tours, dinners, and live music. In between our busy schedule, I was able to reach out to the friendly Cuban people who were eager to dive into deep conversations about everything from baseball to international relations. In this way I was able to utilize every second of my time on the island and fully engage in the vibrant Cuban community. I would recommend this program for anyone who sees himself or herself as a "go-getter" and wants to learn not only how to dance salsa, but to fully experience life on the Cuban island with an open mind."

From Jamie Montoya (jamie.montoya4@gmail.com):

"The March expedition to Cuba was an amazing experience that exceeded my expectations as a dancer and as a tourist. Part of my motivation to go on this trip was for the salsa dancing, which was phenomenal in Cuba. There are so many people who are such great dancers, it was even great to watch the children dance with so much confidence and attitude.

Another reason I was inclined for this trip was just pure curiosity about this country that has been cut off from the United States for so many years. Eric did a great job in finding a balance between Salsa and allowing us to tour and experience the city. Even though I do not speak Spanish, there were many opportunities for me to interact with locals and learn a little bit about the Cuban culture.

There was very little time to relax, but all the fun events and activities were well worth it. There was so much to do in so little time, and I was amazed with all that we did in 8 days in Havana. The Los Van Van concert was my favorite experience. That day we also had the chance to hang out with some locals, and take a break from the touristy areas of Havana. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to visit Cuba, and I hope to get the chance to visit again soon."

From Sally Lamberson (sally_lamberson@comcast.net):

"Donít put off this opportunity! I had more fun than Iíve had in 20 years! Seeing Cuba as it is now & experiencing the people, music & dance all at once completely filled my senses. You just canít get any better of a tour, and worth much more than I paid for. Eric really knows the flavor & the people- and he brings it all to you in a way that helps you really understand Cuba in a visceral way. Architecture- cars- sensuality. We saw the grandeur & the poverty & everything in between.

The dancing? Incredible. There were dance partners for all our lessons, and they joined us on several occasions in the clubs at night, making it less intimidating for those of us not used to the club scene. ALL the dance schools were welcoming & each had a flavor of itís own. Feeling a part of things, joining in a neighborhood "block party", participating in a band rehearsal & learning what each instrument was for ... all added to the richness of the trip. Eric had everything so well organized, and there was never a moment of nothing to do- but it was also not a problem to create some time & experiences on your own. Our home stays were comfortable & warm. Meeting everyone from our hosts, to our guides, photographer & of course the wonderful people on the tour will never leave my memory."

From Ruth Kalin (ruth.kalin@gmail.com):

"Just returned from Eric's wonderful trip to Cuba. Where shall I begin? Of course, the dancing, dancing, dancing with our own personal teachers for every class, and then private lessons on top of that. The numerous opportunities to hear live music, twice played by musician friends of Eric's in their own homes and backyards. One night Eric arranged a party at the last moment at the home of a bandleader, he knew - Armando Machado of Los Guanches. An entire roasted pig was brought to the party and Armando invited his family and neighbors, and the teachers from the dancing school came too. We were dancing with Armando's aunts, cousins, friends; it was very special.

Traveling with Eric felt as if you were traveling with a friend who was sharing all of his favorite places and people in Cuba. I'm usually not a traveler who enjoys tours, but I this one couldn't have been better.

This trip was so rich ó all the dancing, a little bit of sightseeing but not too much, dance performances, a live performance of the top band in Cuba, dancing in a pavilion in a lush garden with live music and ó hardly any tourists! A highlight of this trip were the many opportunities to visit with Cubans in their own homes and talk with them about the political/economic/social conditions in the country.

Eric was conscientious and detail-oriented, and super accommodating. As his aunt (disclaimer!), I was very impressed. This guy left no stone unturned!

It was a great visit to Cuba."

From Shirley Cieluch (Scieluch@aol.com):

"My trip to Cuba, March 2016, the first leg in Havana, the 2nd leg in Santiago de Cuba.

I don't know where to start. Some of my questions before the trip: 2 weeks is a long time. Will I have the stamina to dance that much? I don't speak the language.

My answers to those questions, 2 weeks was not long enough, I had more than enough stamina to dance every day, and I managed to communicate without knowing any spanish. I fell in love with the people and the country. I personally am going back again.

Eric does an amazing job of guiding you through every step of the way. He schedules a variety of activities above and beyond dance. Whatever you want to get out of the experience is possible, just ask. He gives you knowledge and tools that allow you to navigate independently."

From Lori Kashman (lk_bisous@yahoo.com):

"Que experiencia fascinante! This was a trip of a lifetime. I have dreamed of visiting Cuba for over 20 years. Eric made this dream a reality. He exposed us to a country that we could never have experienced so intimately without his vast knowledge of the culture and the people. Eric proved to be an invaluable resource as we explored this foreign land, which is surprisingly only 90 miles from the shores of the USA.

I loved feeling like we had ventured back in time to the 1950's. Everything from the gorgeous, old model Chevy's to the antiquated, colorful mansions - you could close your eyes and imagine what it must have been like in the heyday - before the Castro dictatorship put an end to it all. The opulence of the past remained very evident as we roamed the streets of Havana.

The warmth from our new Cuban friends was so profound. Gretell, Keyler, Karel, our host families, and the dance instructors were all amazing! They made us feel so welcome and seemed to really enjoy sharing their culture with us. The energy there was phenomenal. Eric exposed us to many diverse opportunities. I loved when we went to see a private rehearsal of the Oderquis Reve y su Changui band. We got a history lesson of how Cuban music evolved and had the opportunity to talk to the musicians and interact with them on a personal level. We took a group picture before we left the rehearsal venue, and before we left Havana, we received a CD from the band with our personal group picture, and a picture of the Cuban flag and US flag together, along with the title of all the songs on their disc. I was beyond touched by this gesture of friendship. It is a souvenir I will treasure forever.

Thank you, Eric, for all you did to create an unforgettable, unique journey to a country you have admired for so many years. It was truly wonderful to see Cuba through your eyes."

From Gary Brenner (gbrenner@cadmath.com):

"My Salsaville trip to Cuba. Here are a few impressions:

1. Today Cuba is the place. Everyone wants to go. But you'd like to do more than just look on. You'd like to be part of the scene, to share a moment beyond commerce. Traveling Cuba with Eric is like being with a really cool cousin who not only knows everybody, grammas to hepcats, but they all love him. And because he's your cousin, they give you credit for being really cool too, and you are cool: everyone wants to talk to you and dance with you, even if, like me, you don't dance worth beans.
2. The State Department should be paying Eric to conduct these trips. Since when have a bunch of not-rich or famous Americans made a kinder, gentler, livelier, and more likable presence than the Europeans? Case in point: Near the Hotel Florida, we step off the street into a huge barroom with sky-high ceilings. Inside, a 4-piece band, guitar, flute, congas and string bass. Some of the tables are populated by Nordic blonds chain-smoking and just looking, looking bored. We come in, with all the spark and goofiness of a kids' birthday party, sit down, and the band begins to play. And after a while, Eric gets up and dances with Nikita, with Aunt Ruthie, with Jamie, with Sally. Matt and Shirley get up. Griff gets up. Lorrie gets up. The band looks up and smiles. It just fits, it complements what's going on in a respectful and good-hearted way.
3. There are glitches. It's often too hot, and sometimes we furiously wait for each other to take another picture or show up late in front of the apartment building. Eric is not expert at herding cats; hepcats included. Bring your Imodium and Cipro - someone is going need it. The maniacal swarm known as traffic in Santiago will batter your senses and choke you in fumes.
4. Things to bring: a willingness to open your heart (guides, drivers, dance instructors, even people you meet on the street will pry open your heart), some Spanish, and a dollop of patience. A few dance steps wouldn't hurt, although, after 2-some weeks, it's still my belief that a fearless attempt will carry you.
5. In the early fifties, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck starred in a screwball comedy called Roman Holiday. It's set in Rome, Rome is beautiful, there isn't much of a plot. One night at about 2 am as we sit in a Chinatown restaurant after searching half of old Havana on foot for a place to eat (our redoubtable driver, Kayler following in his beautiful red and white two-toned '54 or '55 "Club" car), it occurs to me that this is the essence of that movie. Getting away from a world that seems inescapable, and into another, more exotic, with your heart on your sleeve and nothing to do but drink it in."

From Judy Grosswiler (yiddlette@yahoo.com):

"I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Cuba and hope someday to go again! The Cuban people were so open, warmly friendly and engaging and I feel very close to the ones I connected with--especially a violinist in a street band (we shared making music). Going to the National Theatre to see the National Ballet of Cuba was very exciting. The crumbling buildings had a rich, elegant grandness to them. People's homes open right onto the street and I loved walking down them because there was such an opportunity to communicate and feel a part of their world. Seeing and riding in "fixed up" old cars brought back memories and was fun. Last but not least, my salsa technique was lifted to a higher level."




APPLICATION FORM:


Please copy & paste the below text into an email to eric@salsaville.com and fill in:
(Please avoid printing out this form and writing in answers by hand.)


1. Which dates are you signing up for:
Option #1: January 8th to January 22nd
or:
Option #2: January 12th to January 22nd

2. Would you like single or double occupancy?
If double occupancy, tell me the name of the person you are sharing a room with:
Note: For Havana, rooms usually have one bed only. For Santiago, rooms usually have two beds.
Let me know if you would like me to attempt to match you with another traveler to share a room.

3. Please indicate your preferred origin and return airports:
For example if you live in Boulder, CO, then normally DIA (Denver) would be the airport for both leaving and returning. If you want to return to a different airport, or perhaps stay in Miami on your own for a few extra days on the way back, please indicate this.

4. Your email address:
(If you do not check your email at least once every 24 hours, please let me know that.)

5. Your cell phone number with the ability to receive text messages:
(If you do not have a cell phone that you regularly use, please provide an alternate phone number, and let me know that you cannot receive text messages.)

6. Do you have Facebook?
We tend to use Facebook for group communications (mostly before the trip), but this is not at all required.

7. Fill in the info below as it appears on your passport. (Needed to book airline tickets).
First name:
Middle name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
Gender:

8. Contact info for any emergency:
Name of person:
Relationship:
Phone number:

9. Your mailing address:

10. Attach a good quality scan of your passport. (You can take a photo with a smartphone camera instead.)

11. Do you have any physical and/or psychological issues that could impede your ability to successfully participate in this trip?

12. Understand that this tour will involve walking at a moderate pace of up to 1-3 miles per day. This will be in, depending on the weather, fairly hot, humid conditions. In addition, we will be doing (on about 8 days) 2 to 3 hours a day of dance lessons in well-ventilated, but non-airconditioned rooms. In most evenings we will be going out dancing for 2-3 hours. All activities are optional. If you are tired at any point, you can always opt-out and go home to relax, rest, etc.

13. You will need to sign a fairly standard liability waiver to sign which will be delivered to you upon accepting of your application.

14. What are your expectations for participating in this trip? (Two sentence minimum here please.)

15. Any dietary restrictions that could be relevant to this trip - like if you don't eat red meat, poultry, fish, dairy, etc.




Eric "El Cubanito" Freeman
Owner, Salsaville Dance Studios
www.Salsaville.com
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