Learn to Dance in Lombok
Learn to Dance in Lombok
body + soul
29 October 2017
It’s Latin night at Puri Mas and the restaurant is jam-packed with people clapping and stamping their feet. Out of the corner of my eye I notice a young man who’s bopping in the corner, and although he’s trying his best to be inconspicuous, he doesn’t seem to be succeeding, when suddenly one of the performers quickly pulls him onto the dance floor.
Within 10 minutes hardly anyone is left seated. Marcel de Rijk, the resort’s owner, grabs my hand just as I’m nishing my sea scallop risotto, and soon enough I’m dancing, too – an impressive ballroom number that I’d been practising with Marcel days earlier.
Spread over two lush areas– one of them in the shing village of Mangsit Bay (Puri Mas Beach Resort) and the other (Puri Mas Spa Resort) two kilometres away in Kerandangan village, Puri Mas is not your typical island resort. Sure, the villas are delightfully decorated with plenty of beautiful Javanese-Balinese interior design features. There are also lots of smiling, super helpful members of staff pottering around. Meals are divine, served in the beachfront restaurant or, on clear evenings, under a blanket of stars.
It even has an award-winning spa. But the biggest difference at this resort is that it’s recognised on a national level for its dance program. That’s all thanks to Marcel – a Dutch former professional dancer whomade thisbeautiful island home in the 1980s.
Fast-forwardto 2017 and PuriMas is one of theoldest and mostrenowned resorts in Lombok. It’s a place where people come to relax in the tropical surrounds, enjoy the complimentary yoga sessions, indulge in blissful spa treatments, and watch and learn how to dance.
I’m here to try out the lot – the dancing, the yoga, the relaxation – but also to discover a bit more about how this unique concept came about.
During our first meeting, Marcel explains that dance has always been a passion of his. He wanted to nurture a community atmosphere when he moved to Lombok, so he decided to make dance more accessible to young people. What initially started as Marcel teaching a few young kids to dance has evolved into the Lombok International Dance Studio. On the surface, Marcel and his dance instructors teach kids to dance and perform. On a deeper level, the kids nurture friendships outside their social and religious norms.
Every Monday evening all of the students come to the resort to put on a show for guests, and after the lively performance the diners almost always join in. There are group Latin dance lessons held on Mondays and Thursdays and for more serious enthusiasts, private lessons.
I try out both, first skulking in the background at a group lesson, then slowing gaining confidence after my second class, and finally booking a private lesson with Marcel himself. It’s a unique opportunity to combine all the fabulousness that come with a tropical holiday, with learning a fun new skill to take home.
That’s not to say I’m dancing non-stop throughout my stay – there are plenty of the usual suspects you’ve come to expect from wellness resorts worth trying out, too. I spa, I swim, I attempt to yoga and I eat – a lot – the amazing seafood platters at the resort really are a work of art.
To top off my trip, my final meal is a traditional rijsttafel feast – an Indonesian-Dutch custom that incorporates several hearty local dishes served with rice… but with all the dancing I’ve done, who’s counting the kilojoules?