A touchdown dance in football is nothing new—even though they’ve been banned in some instances. But baseball? Thanks to Oakland A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso, dancing is making a splash in baseball, and it’s all about salsa. The Cuban batsman is 29 years old and was first drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2008’s amateur draft. He moved out of rookie status in 2011 and has played for the Padres, Athletics and Reds previously. Alonso’s been showing off his salsa moves since June of this year, getting teammate Danny Valencia in on the action, too. You’ll see Valencia getting down in the dugout. As for Alonso, he’s celebrating his .320/.379/.456 three homer record and walk for almost every strikeout in the best way possible.
As you can see in the gif above, even though Alonso has roped his buddy into his dance frenzy, it’s still very much a solo shine dance and proof that you don’t need a partner to salsa! A nod to his Cuban roots, a country where salsa has a very rich and long history, it provides a completely new type of entertainment to the game. Plus, dancing is an excellent cardio workout, so it complements every sport. Would you have the confidence to shake it on national television for thousands of fans?
When to Party
Although dance classes and salsa clubs are obvious popular picks for salsa dancing, don’t feel confined by them. Dancing is a fantastic stress reliever and fun way to move throughout the day. You can always take a dance break instead of a walk around the block, or use dance as a way to shake off stress, tiredness, and stiff muscles from a full day of sitting at a desk job. For many with desk jobs, it’s a good idea to set a reminder to get up and move every twenty minutes, and many fitness watches have an option to remind you when you haven’t moved for awhile.
Although dancing can benefit your cardio, weight management and muscle toning goals and regimen no matter what your fitness level, it’s especially popular for those who are new (or getting back to) exercising. You can customize salsa to be as vigorous or mellow as you like. As you can see from Alonso’s moves, it also doesn’t take months of classes to embrace your salsa-ing self. Every time you salsa, you better your rhythm, balance and endurance.
Shine and Flair
Although “flair” usually refers to women/follows showing off solo on the dance floor, men can certainly have flair, too! However, it’s more often called “shine” and Alonso has plenty of it. A rhythmic hip gyration, interesting hand placement, and of course attitude (and in Alonso’s case a touch of machismo!) can go a long way. Unlike partner or rueda de casino salsa, shine, flair and solo performances don’t have any stringent rules. You can make up whatever moves you like, but there are certainly some elements that make salsa “salsa.”
For example, it’s all about the hips, whether you’re a man or woman. Salsa utilizes an eight-beat count, but you usually don’t count all of them. Instead, feet often move to a 1-2-3 beat and a pause is on the fourth. You then pick it up again with the 5-6-7 and pause on the eighth. For those just beginning to learn the beats of salsa, clapping with each step (except the pause) can be very helpful. Of course, listening to salsa music is the most helpful of all! Every human was made to dance and naturally pick up rhythms and beats in music.
Want to know more about Alonso? Originally from Havana, he’s currently worth $2.65 million and is #29 with the Athletics. His father, Luis, used to play and coach for the Cuban National Series team the Industriales. He also taught Yonder to play at a young age. In 1996, the family defected and relocated to Miami, where Yonder joined a Little League team backed by Jose Canseco. He later attended Coral Gables High and was picked by the Minnesota Twins in the 2005 MLB draft—however, he took a pass and attended the University of Miami instead.
As a freshman, he led the college Hurricane teams to the College World Series. His sister attended the same college and was a cheerleader. Clearly, athleticism—and perhaps dance moves—run in the family.