Best Samba Class: A complex dance made easy, sort of
Gold's Gym 600 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-451-4653
As long as you're gonna get all Brazilian on us, you'd better learn to samba, too. Samba is a dynamic dance, reflective of that rich South American culture. Because it's so fast-paced and complex, first-timers are easily intimidated. But instructor Raffaella Falchi of the Lake Merritt Gold's Gym makes it fun for newbies as well as veteran sambistas. She has been teaching for four years, dancing for eight, and is knowledgeable, patient, and friendly, a professional dancer who loves to share her art form. She breaks down the complex combinations into simple steps. In this class, the range of samba is explored so that students are exposed not only to the movements, but also to the cultural aspects of samba and its different styles: axé, samba reggae, frevo, and Rio. Raffaella is a hands-on teacher. She walks around and talks to her students, giving encouragement and instruction. You'll learn something in her class no matter what your level. The class meets at 9 a.m. every Monday: You don't have to be a gym member to take the class, although nonmembers have to pay a fee.