August 29

I tried Caliente dance studio Bugis 15 times – here’s what I learnt


Bailar, con bachata…

The music plays over the speakers, as strangers go hand in hand, stepping back and forth.

It’s a strange sight, especially when it’s adults, not children dancing.

I started dancing after hearing Shane Melaugh’s advice on being a more attractive man. His 3 adages?

  1. Dance
  2. Cook
  3. Lift

It made me more intent to see how dancing would work out.

I’d only danced very briefly in Zumba classes in university. Those were solo dances, where you looked at an instructor and everyone did their own moves.

Salsa, and bachata, was clearly very different. You had to hold someone’s hand and start taking them through a routine.

This is my honest review of Caliente Studio, 4 months after I danced with them. I went for a total of 14 classes, and 1 social class over 4 months.

I will start with what’s great, before moving onto what could be improved before you decide to splash hundreds on the classes there.

Great, great atmosphere

For someone with sweaty palms, and had never held another girl’s (save my mother) hands before, the instructors made it a very easy atmosphere to start.

They made it fun by making light-hearted jokes, like of how our partners were not holding our hands right (‘imagine you’re on the MRT, holding the rail’).

It made it much less serious, and a safe place to fail, as a dance partner.

I also loved how they made it easy to laugh at each other’s mistakes, especially in a non-shaming way. Mistakes are inevitable in any dance class. But rather than past dance classes that pick out a particular person, and say, ‘No, you need to do it this way,’ they made a joke out of it.

That’s really important. I’ve been in classes before where the instructors have told me, ‘No, right leg in front”. I kept doing it the other way.

Rather than enjoying myself, I felt I was constantly needing to take note of my mistakes, and leaning into the depths of the fun we could have as dancers.

The costs

If you sign up for a package, the classes are quite affordable. When you sign up the first time, you could also get to spin a wheel that gives you a 5,10 or 15% discount. That’s really important in pushing down the price to almost $15 per class, which is very, very affordable.

The packages offered at Caliente

Imagine, a nice meal out each week, replaced by a nice dance atmosphere!

The people you dance with

Most of the people I danced with were not professional, and had probably tried this only once or twice before. This was very important in helping people to have the psychological safety to fail safely.

If you’re keen to dance with people at an amateur level, Caliente is definitely the place to go.

There’s a caveat though.

I went for a social dance one night, and was surprised to see the proficiency of the dancers there. They were really, really good!

They had all these moves they were pulling out of the bag.

I would say that if you have not gone for at least a Level 4 class, you shouldn’t try a social dance. Unless you were okay with doing the same moves over, and over again.

It’s also okay if you were a female, as the male partner is normally the one who needs to lead on the dance floor.

A real variety of activities

Whilst I’m not sure about other studios, Caliente Dance Studio Bugis offers a broad mix of activities, from pool parties, to social dances, to even holidays abroad to visit other dance studios!

An example of the many activities they organise

It’s definitely a great community, if you’re looking for one.

Some introduction, please?

As someone who enjoys hearing the history and culture behind the things I do, I would have appreciated that the instructors have offered some cultural context to what was being taught. For example, when I first started, I went for both the salsa and the bachata, and didn’t know what the difference was between the both.

The instructor also didn’t really explain.

I had to find out on my own what it was. I would have appreciated some understanding around

  • why people would even dance these moves
  • when these dance moves would be used (if it was at social gatherings, for example)
  • the difference in styles between both

But beyond that, whilst the dance moves are important, I would have appreciated the culture behind the dance.

  • Like how did you ask someone for a dance?
  • how did you introduce yourself without sounding creepy?
  • What were certain things you couldn’t do?
  • What were certain things you had to do?

But go!

As I did class after class at Caliente dance studio, I slowly found myself relaxing and laughing at the mistakes I made. As someone who was regularly stressed over the many things I was doing at work, this was a welcome comic relief to my work.

But more importantly, it made me embrace my masculinity and who I was as a male.

Masculinity has gotten a bad rep recently, with all the negative press around abuse, and discrimination. But we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water, and end up missing the good that can be present in masculinity.

In these lessons, I learnt 3 things about masculinity.

Firstly, the male leads. Always.

When I used to work within social service agencies, I was always afraid of taking the lead, primarily because I was afraid of how I would be seen. I was scared to be seen as the brash, aggressive person. But dancing at Caliente helped me to see the leader that was present in me, and to embrace that leadership.

Secondly, it’s okay to ask for the hand of another lady.

I confess. I’ve failed terribly at dating. I’ve not had a single girlfriend in my life. I’ve been rejected so many times that some of the rejections have sounded like complete jokes.

One simply told me,

I prayed about this, but sensed that this was not the right time to meet someone new.

I mean, seriously?

And sometimes, rejections can be really scary to see, isn’t it?

It made me scared to ever ask another girl to go out with, thinking that I was rejected because of who I was rather than who the girl was.

But Caliente Dance Studio helped me to find my feet and confidence again. You may find the same for yourself, especially if you are a male who’s been rejected.

Lastly, it’s okay to be male.

Growing up in a nurturing society, where our fathers go to work, and our mothers are present most of the times, we may end up growing up without healthy male role models to aspire to.

We don’t see much of our fathers, and we think that’s how the male is supposed to be. Cold, aloof, detached.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. It can be more than that. There’s much good in being male.

As Dr Glover writes in ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’,

This book is unapologetically pro-male.

There’s much truth in what he says. There is good in being a man, that you may have found drummed out of you as you grew up.

Teachers that told you that you couldn’t beat someone up, girls that shouted at you for being naughty and playful, and possibly even friends that cried when you beat them.

Maybe this even happens at work, where your boss reminds you over and over again to follow what is said. Or your toxic colleague shames you for doing something wrong.

But within the masculine heart is a desire for 3 things. As John Eldredge writes in ‘Wild At Heart’, the male desires a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue, and an adventure to live. And within your masculine heart, is a shining gem.

Don’t hide that away.

Bring that out.

And Caliente Dance Studio, may just help you to rediscover your masculine heart.


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