The History of Latin Dance in Brisbane

When  Tarcisio Teatini-Climaco began his now famous Latin dance school in Brisbane 25 years ago, the most recognised partner dance styles in the country were rock'n'roll and the wedding waltz.  

Few  locals had heard of styles like Samba, Lambada or Forro, and for most  men especially, a night on the dance floor meant shuffling their feet shyly as their partner swayed or twirled.

“Not  long after arriving in Australia I was at a party and a few people were  up dancing so I thought I’d ask someone to dance (going out socially  and dancing was one of my favourite things back home in Brazil). I asked  a lady who I’d seen dancing with someone and she said “oh no, I can  only dance with my husband because we learned the steps together”. I  couldn’t understand, for me partner dance was social and you could do it  with anyone!.” said Tarcisio, Rio Rhythmics Founding and Creative  Director.

He  began Rio Rhythmics Latin Dance Academy in 1994 with just 6 students.  Now, a quarter of a century later the Rio Rhythmics team has taught  social Latin dance to over 43,000 people and employ a team of 17 to  deliver classes 7 days a week in their two West End Studios.

What  began as wanting to share his culture and dance has grown into  something much bigger. Tarcisio said “our mission is to improve as many  people’s lives through social Latin dance, culture and community as we  possibly can” because he says “the benefits I’ve witnessed people enjoy  have been life-changing. From improved mental health, losing weight,  better lifestyle habits (less drinking and more dancing!), life partners  found, a strong sense of belonging, improved confidence and life-long  friendships to name a few.”

Tarcisio  was the first person to start teaching authentic Latin dance (not the  European Ballroom kind) in Australia and he’s seen a huge shift since he  first started. He said “When I first started there was no authentic  Latin dance being taught in Australia, now you can find many Academies,  schools, classes and social nights in every major city and in many  smaller towns also.”

Jada,  Tarcisio’s wife and Rio Rhythmics Managing Director says “Brisbane is  no exception with a strong social Latin dance scene. We offer classes 7  days a week and social dance parties every Friday and Saturday night”.

With  Australian culture pretty heavily in the ‘I don’t dance’ category we’ve  seen a huge shift over the years with popular TV shows like ‘Dancing  with the Stars’ showcasing non-dancers giving it a go and showing that  swinging your hips and taking a twirl can be ‘manly’ and a lot of fun.

When  people come along to learn Latin dance moves their most common reasons  are “for fun” and “I’ve always wanted to learn”. The next thing they  usually say is “I wish I’d started sooner!” says Jada.

The  effects people have enjoyed dancing with Rio Rhythmics have spread far  beyond the dance floor. Giving people a sense of belonging, increased  self confidence, improved communication skills, deeper cultural  understanding and acceptance not to mention a whole new way to party.

Tarcisio  left us with one final thought “Everyone can dance, we guarantee it, if  you can walk, you can dance (and even if you can’t!). Look at any baby,  before they’re walking they’re dancing. We help people discover this  and feel comfortable dancing and connecting with other people in a  healthy way.”

They’re all about “dancing for life” and we reckon that it’s time more of us got on the Salsa train too!