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Rhythm secret uncovered by Journal's James

You don’t have to travel far to groove the night away to steamy Latin rhythms of south America. Stroud News and Journal reporter James Davis found plenty to rumba about on his own doorstep – and got up close and personal with his readers.

Had someone asked me to execute a cross body lead, perform a mambo or pull off an open step two weeks ago I would have given them a blank stare.

But having attended Bar Riga’s new weekly dance class I now know these are the key ingredients of the groin-grinding, shoulder-shaking and hip-thrusting salsa.

All too aware of my woeful lack of natural rhythm I was delighted to learn there are no strict rules to modern salsa – which originates from steps performed to Cuban son music in the late 19th Century.

And predictably the inaugural class of this sensual and stylish South American dance started out in a typically British fashion as many of the 50-strong crowd refused to part company with their inhibitions.

But as partners came and went the pace became faster and more furious in what seemed like an innovative adaptation of speed dating.

And before I could say ‘cha-cha-cha’ Thomas – our charismatic Venezuelan coach – soon had hips swinging and arms flailing.

With the basics not so much mastered as vaguely memorised we paired off putting our newly acquired skills into practice.

Later everyone was invited back to the floor.

And pleasantly surprised by the night’s entertainment it wasn’t long before I was once again breaking out the moves.

The Latin spirit eventually sunk through and after a few experimental shapes had been thrown and numerous collisions narrowly avoided it came as quite a disappointment when the class finally came to an end.