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Road Test: Baila Soul

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For too long the Western world’s dancefloor has been dominated by awkward sidesteps.

Isn’t it time we injected some class into our (un)culture and looked to our South American counterparts for inspiration?

Famous for their depth of history, Latin dance styles like bachata, salsa and samba are captivating, invigorating, passionate, amazing to watch and even more amazing to perform. They also go hand-in-hand with the most irresistible music (how many of you still bust it out to Despacito? Guilty.).

Working to help spread the flavour of Latin dance is a new studio on Genge Street in Civic—BailaSoul. The creation of three good friends—Kristy, Harry and Ricky—BailaSoul, meaning Soul Dance, is a studio that specialises in Latin styles, particularly salsa and bachata.

“I think once salsa and bachata get into your heart, you’re hooked on Latin dancing.” says owner Kristy.

“Salsa because of the fun, excitement and laughter it brings people, and bachata because of the body movement and the smooth flow. It’s good exercise and such a great way to meet people and build new friendships in a super-fun environment!”

BailaSoul is rapidly becoming one of Canberra’s most popular schools, and after trying a few classes for myself, it’s easy to see why—they’re comfortable, relaxed and full of so much laughter. It’s like a big group of friends getting together to just dance, and it’s so enjoyable to be a part of.

The teachers break down each step in a simple and easy to understand way and their laidback style means you never feel embarrassed for missing a step or asking them to show it to you just one more time. They also have some amazing tracks to dance to! I was particularly excited when a Latin remix of Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You was used during bachata.

BailaSoul was born out of a love and passion for Latin dance. With extensive backgrounds in ballroom and Latin dancing and teaching, Harry, Kristy and Ricky became great friends while teaching at other local studios and competing at Latin dance championships around Australia. After a while, they decided it was time to band together and do something with this shared passion.

“BailaSoul is all about creating a dance community and showing people what Latin music and dance is really all about,” says Ricky.

“Latin has so much flavour. Take Despacito for example—to have a Latin song sit at number one for so long in an English speaking country, that’s something. It’s that flavour that we want to inject into our classes. It’s not serious, it’s fun and playful—playful is so us,” adds Harry.

According to the team, what really makes BailaSoul different to other dance studios is the rapport they are able to build with their students.

“We even go to Highball Express’ Latin Tuesdays with them to dance with each other and just hang out. It’s so nice and relaxed—we’re like one big gang,” explains Kristy.

The trio says that whether you’re an individual or a couple, a complete beginner or someone who has dabbled in other styles at any age before, BailaSoul is for you.

“There’s nothing more exciting, more passionate or more emotional than having an amazing dance experience,” says Harry. “If you’re interested in coming alone, just do it! You’ll meet new people; you’ll have the best time.”

Ricky says that when he first started, he was really out of his comfort zone.

“I’ve found that dance has given me a confidence I never had before. If you’re not someone who usually likes to get out of their comfort zone, dance is the best thing for you. – just stick at it. It’s not super easy but once you get over that hump, the world will open up to you,” explains Ricky.

“We want people to have fun! We want to create a relaxed, comfortable environment where, first and foremost, our students just have fun,” adds Kristy. “This is what Latin dance is all about – building confidence, having fun, making new friends and joining a community.”

To find out more about BailaSoul or to book into a class, visit


The author received dance lessons free of charge for review purposes. Her opinion remains her own.

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