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Steak and Shake

Salsa Brava lessons offer an after-dinner workout course at Black Angus.


LAGUNA NIGUEL — South County has a new place to salsa in Stuart Anderson's Black Angus.

About 15 eager couples showed up for a recent beginners lesson, forcing some who were waiting on the modest dance floor to move to a tiled area in front of the adjacent bar. The good news is that management happily moves bar tables and stools aside to accommodate the dance crowd.

Antonio Madrigal of Dana Point teaches the lesson every Wednesday. A skilled promoter, he's devised what he calls Salsa Brava: salsa mixed with ballroom dances, wherein dancers twirl, dip and travel across the floor.

Only the latter is rare among most noncompetitive salsa dancers, who cover little terrain as they dance. By the end of Madrigal's hourlong lesson, students had learned a simple pattern incorporating a single spin.

He got them through the basic footwork and hip movement in 20 minutes and explained such all-important concepts as arm "resistance" and "dance frame," the fundamentals of any lead-and-follow dance. That's not bad for $6 a lesson. (Or eat dinner at the restaurant first, and the lesson is free.)

After the lesson, the casually dressed thirty- and fortysomething crowd thinned. But the more advanced dancers who arrived exploited the extra floor space. Some borrowed intricate turn and arm patterns from West Coast swing and country. Others appeared to have been raised on Latin rhythm. Claro que si! Good hips! Good dips!

Equally tropical is recorded music by such heavy-hitters as Oscar D'Leon, Luis Enrique and Rey Ruiz. The deejay favors salsa but spins a few merengue, cumbia and cha cha tunes.

The chain restaurant's dark-wood steakhouse decor is distinctly un-tropical, but the steaks are good and reasonably priced ($10.99 for top sirloin with vegetables, potato and soup or salad). The menu also includes chicken, seafood and a chicken teriyaki salad. Margaritas go for $2 from 9 p.m. to midnight, and the bar serves a nonalcoholic strawberry daiquiri for $2.50.

Another plus: The dance floor and bar are completely separate from the restaurant, although dinner is served at tables and comfy booths on both sides of the large, freeway-close complex.

Madrigal also teaches salsa from 8 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays at Serra's Bar and Grill, 859 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Open dancing continues until 2 a.m. Dinner served. (714) 497-2566. Cover: $6.


Salsa dancing at Stuart Anderson's Black Angus, 28100 Cabot Road, Laguna Niguel; (714) 364-4100. Lessons every Wednesday, 8:30-9:30 p.m.; dancing until 1:30 a.m. Cover: $6; free if dining.

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