Frequently Asked Questions
How do I book courses?
Online or in person at any of our classes.
The beginners class is run as courses, click here for details. All other levels are on a pay as you go basis. Just pay on the door.
Couples places - can I book this with my friend to get the discount?
The couples discounts apply to 2 people booking together who fulfil both roles i.e. a leader and follower. Traditionally these roles would be taken by a man and woman respectively. We have an inclusive policy at our classes so it is up to the individual which role they wish to learn. However please note that if you book as a lead, you have to complete the course as a lead and can only progress to the next level as a lead - it is not possible to switch roles.
This is a question frequently asked by female friends who want to come together but both wish to learn the follower's role - in this case you would need to purchase 2 ladies places, not a couple's place.
What should I wear to classes?
Dress for salsa is generally smart casual. The most important aspect is footwear. While it is not necessary to buy special dance shoes initially, we do recommend you wear shoes that support your feet (e.g. not backless shoes, stilettos, slip-ons). It is better if they have a smooth sole to allow freedom of movement on the floor, trainers are not suitable due to the rubber grip soles. Eventually you may want to invest in dance shoes, on which we will be able to advise you.
Where can I buy dance shoes?
We have deals with these online shops;
Intermational Dance Shoes. Quote DSADCH0001 for 20% discount off orders over £25.
Larisa London. Quote 'Alchemy' for 10% discount.
DSI. Quote 'Alchemy' for 10% discount.
Alternatively, you may find some suitable shoes in your local dance shop.
Do I need to bring a partner?
No. We rotate partners during class. The best way to develop leading and following skills is to experience a variety of partners... and it's more social! Please note that for beginners courses we aim to keep the male:female ratio as equal as possible and limit places to keep a balance.
Can I just dance with my own partner?
The vast majority of people rotate partners in class for the reasons given above. However if you wish to stay with your partner, please inform the teachers before your class commences.
Do I need previous dance experience?
No. Our beginners course is structured to take you step-by-step through the basic fundamentals of salsa. This is necessary for everyone whether they have any other dance experience or not.
Can I bring my children to class?
This is a very frequently asked question, so unfortunately we have to say no otherwise we would probably end up with as many kids as adults at our classes! We like to keep Alchemy a relaxing environment for adults, so why not book a babysitter and have some quality adult time. The minimum age for attending our classes is 18.
I booked the Southampton beginners course but cannot make it one week, can I do the Basingstoke class instead?
You can transfer your lesson to another evening of the same week in special circumstances. The class content for the beginners course is virtually the same on all evenings each week.
What if I want to attend more than once a week?
Brilliant! There's no better way to accelerate and consolidate your learning than attending more than once a week. Students on the beginners course are entitled to one lesson per week in their course fee. Just pay the drop-in class fee (£10) for any extra lessons.
I have completed the beginners course, what happens now?
At the end of the 6 week course, if you and your teacher feel you have a good grasp of the basics, you will move onto the Level 2 class which is attended on a weekly drop-in basis. Students also have the option of repeating the course to consolidate their understanding of the subjects covered. Your teacher will help guide your progress.
I have danced salsa before, how do I know which level class to join?
We teach Cross-Body On2...
Cross-body On1 dancers: If you are new to On2 or have not had a tumbao rhythm break-down, you will be required to have an Introduction to On2. Contact us to book your place.
Cuban/Cali or other style salsa dancers: Please attend our beginners course to learn cross-body techniques and On2 timing.
Cross-body On2 dancers: If you have prior On2 experience please book an induction for your first visit. These are usually held from 7pm. We have found this to be the best method to integrate new students into our school. You will have a brief dance with one of the teachers, they will assign you to the most appropriate level class and give you tips to adapt to our methods and techniques. To book an induction, please email us.
If you have been learning salsa elsewhere, please be aware that the class structure here differs, and the level you may be attending elsewhere may not be appropriate for you at Alchemy. It is normal for new students to start at a lower level to get used our methods.
Why can't I choose which level class I do?
Our Academy is structured like a dance school not a salsa club. We have a syllabus designed carefully to take students through a progression of building blocks intended to create good foundations for dancing salsa the Alchemy Way. We aim to have all our students in an accurate level class for their individual ability, which is more beneficial and enjoyable to both teacher and class. We know which level students should be in based on our many years of dance teaching experience and knowledge of our own syllabus.
How do I get invited to the Level 4/5 classes?
All students undergo an assessment dance with Marchant & Davina to ascertain if they are ready for the Level 4 classes or what specific aspects of your dancing you should work on in order to progress.
The Level 4 and 4/5 classes are for students who have come through the other levels at Alchemy or people who can demonstrate a good level of dancing cross-body salsa On2 which is in line with the Alchemy methods.
I've been to Alchemy Dance Academy before, can I come back to the class I attended previously?
That would depend on how long you were at Alchemy, whether you've been dancing in the meantime, and how long you've been away. If you are out of practice, have been away from the Academy for some time, or cannot remember what you learnt previously, start at a lower level. If you have not learned On2 before or have little experience, you will be required to have an Introduction to On2 and join a lower level.
The Level 4 & 4/5 classes are in constant progression, therefore invitation to the class can be revoked if students do not attend for a period of time. This is to minimise disruption to regular students. If you have not attended for more than 2 months, please attend the Level 3 class or check with Marchant/Davina.
How do I learn On2?
People with little/no experience of dancing cross-body salsa should attend our beginners course. More experienced dancers should have an Introduction to On2. We will then be able to assign you to the most appropriate level class to continue your On2 development. Please email us if you wish to have an intro to On2.
What is the 'Alchemy Way'?
The Alchemy Way is a method of dancing salsa and mambo developed by Marchant & Davina Birch. Through continual experimentation and exploration, the Alchemy Way is constantly evolving and developing. It is a flowing, smooth, rhythmical and effortless style of salsa. The aim being to create a harmony between the man, woman and music. Check out our gallery for video clips.