Rock chick journalist Fiona Shepherd is more used to getting sweaty in the mosh pit than on the salsa dance floor. So we sent her to pick up some Latin moves at Cuba Norte.
As far as I'm concerned, weekdays between 6—8pm should be spent eating pasta (again) in front of Top of the Pops 2 or sitting in the pub contemplating whichever rock concert I'm being sent to review that night. It should not be spent swivelling your hips in the direction of a total stranger. But tonight's different. I‘m joining other, more adventurous souls and learning how to express some latent Latin passion through salsa.
Rather than make it up as | go along, I'm seeking a little tuition for a sexier look. Statuesque, elastic instructor Shannon Shiell stands tall and sassy on the little stage. radio mic on. ready to get the assembled folk twist-and— grinding. Thankfully, this beginners' class is relaxed and unimposing even when — as I soon discover — everyone else is halfway through an eight-week course and l have absolutely no prior experience of salsa.
But I do have a sparkly top to distract attention should I demonstrate the grace and pliancy of a hippo in traction. First. some basic steps to the side to get the hips moving. This is easy; just like the Slosh with added wiggle. But salsa is about getting up close and personal so everyone partners up and the real work begins. Shiell's right-hand man Chris, draws the short straw and has to contend with my erratic interpretation of the basic ocho (eight) step manoeuvre which involves shimmying back and forth and then a few turns. My version of these moves involves turning on the wrong foot. and striding out rather than stepping seductively.
Eventually, I manage to execute a complete cycle without treading on any toes. And with a few rum cocktails down my gullet, l might even be able to do it again. Moshing to Jane's Addiction will have a whole new meaning.
I Beginners' salsa lessons at £5 per session or £30 for the eight-lesson course, Cuba Norte, 77 John Street, Glasgow, Mon & Wed, 6pm. Call 07932 070 672 to book or log on to www.academiadesalsa.co.uk
Recently opened. this Turkish Barbers (Thu until 7.30pm, I 8 Earl Street, Lothian Road) is the real deal. Offering hot wet shaves for $310. Veyi Yazgan learned the art in Istanbul at the age of 12: so let him lather yOu up and take the blade. Meanwhile. just round the corner lies the legendary Nail Factory (Mon—Wed until 7pm and Thu until 8pm, 32 Lady Lawson Street, 227 I880). Dating back to the
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708. this is somewhere to be trimmed. extended. buffed and painted with true care and attention. But if it's a bad hair day you're haVing. take yourself along to Mosko (Mon—Thu until 9pm, Fri until 8pm, l7 North Bridge. 557 6968). Its late openings will set you up for the night ahead. Once your bonce is looking fine and y0ur face smooth, yOu'll need a bit of grub. The Elephant House (27 George N Bridge. 220 5355) is an old classic. but still great after all these years. Cosy and elegant. it's the kind of place you could write a book in (oh look, Harry Potter). read the papers. chat over a huge. creamy hot chocolate and uiiWind in the company of elephants. Further out of the city
centre lies a little piece of Victoriana. Not only is this the most elegant of baths in Edinburgh, it's the most luxurious. Portobello Swim Centre’s l/Vlon- Thu until 9pm, Fri until 7.40pm. 57 Promenade. Portobello. 669 6888) beautifully tiled Turkish and RuSSian baths are worth the effort and for pure indulgence. ladies. you can book a massage in the steam rooms (Wed 4—9pm). Call Caroline Small on (364 8842.
And so you've treated yetirself good and proper. but do you deserve it? Perhaps. if vouve sacrificed Hol/yoaks for Kung Fu. After seeing Uma Thurman in that yellow tracksuit. you know Kung Fu is pretty damn cool. Kick away a day's stress at Wu Tao Kwoon Kung Foo (The Tone Zone. 20-22 Bread Street. 07754 7520 79) while over at Jack Kane Sports Centre (208 Niddrie Mains Road. (569 0404) you can follow the Cantana school of martial arts — or just run off those frustrations on the football pitch. For a less combative form of exerCise. Dance Base (14— l 6 Grassniarket. 225 5525) is the place. An award- winning building with classes from ballot to belly, it doesn't get much
better than this. And finally, for another kind of propelling action. try Speed Dater (Tue 7pm, Three Sisters, 139 Cowgate. £78, call 0870 300 3535). It may not be good for the soul, and probably not for the mind, but it could lead to nice things for the body. so we're sticking it in this section. Yep. no. no. mmm, maybe. YES. no. errrr . . . Come and find a date in less than five minutes. Booking essential.
Feeding the body comes in many different guises. Start by working muscles you didn't even know you had in the luxurious environs of Arlington Baths Club (67 Arlington 8!. 332 6027). It's the oldest surviving swimming club in Europe and also boasts reasonable rates: membership is £38 a month. Plus there's a trapeze over the pool — how good is that? Another outlet for workday frustrations is a few rounds of kickboxing at Partick Burgh Hall (Mon 8. Wed
6. 30pm, 9 Burgh Hall Street, 07950 355453) with three-time world kickboxing champion Duncan Airlie James as your instructor. Just as physical, but with less potential for bruises. is a spin round the floor at Cuba Norte (17 John Street, 552 3505) where dancers of all aptitudes are given guidance.
If, however, it‘s after-hours pampering you desire. then Rainbow Room International (24 Royal Exchange Square. 204 4460) offers hair and massage treatments until 8pm on Thursdays. As does Free (37 Chisholm Street. 552 7 700). a funky hairdresser and gallery in one with late opening on Thursdays.
You can combine indulgence and relaxation at Peckhams (67 —65 Glassford Street. 553 0666) as it brings together a wine and beer cellar. an eat-in deli and. on the top floor Hanson’s Chi Yoga Centre offers classes in Pilates. yoga. and more.
As enticing as beer on its own can be. it's good to have a twist. something Republic Bier Stube (Ki/marnock Road. 636 8653) knows very well. Its idea is to dangle a free pizza slice in front of those who sample a two-pint stien of beer from its extensive range of international intoxicants.
20 THE LIST lil~27 Nov 2003