Tim Rowe started with salsa in 2002, instantly falling in love with the dance, music and environment around it. Fast-forward 12 years and he makes his first movie appearance in the 2014 British romantic comedy film Cuban Fury, alongside celebrities Nick Frost, Rashida Jones and Chris O’Dowd. How did it all happen?
I started teaching for ‘Salsa UK’ in 2004. From helping beginners, I was soon doing regular classes which led on to teaching classes for ‘Salsateca’ and ‘City Salsa’, and being booked to do shows and classes at party nights.
At one point, I took voluntary redundancy and became a professional dancer for a year and a half. Some of my favourite clubs that I worked for have been Abacus near Bank, where I taught intermediate and advanced salsa, and Corks near Oxford Street, which was one of the first clubs to introduce Bachata into the country.
How were you asked to participate in Cuban Fury?
I dropped into Bar Salsa, London, late one Wednesday night after dancing at Hammersmith and a girl approached me and asked me if I wanted to be in a film! At the time, I thought she was talking about some kind of YouTube video, but it seemed like fun so I said yes.
I felt a bit starstruck when I first met Nick Frost
She went on to explain that it would be made by the people who did Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. I was hoping that it might also be directed by Edgar Wright because he was a friend of mine when I was a teenager. We used to work in the Hot Fuzz supermarket and some music I wrote is included on the Hot Fuzz DVD.
What was that experience like?
I was involved in the filming for a couple of weeks. They were long 12 hour days at a club in Camden, but it was amazing to get some insight into the filmmaking process and spend time with a great bunch of people.
Most of the time my role was just milling about the club being part of the crowd and applauding the dancers, but there was one day where they filmed our part as dancers, where we competed against Nick Frost in the competition. Having to get up and dance through the routine over and over again for 12 hours as the cameras were set up at different angles was exhausting!
The final film shows very small fast clips of the dancing, but it does look effective which is the important thing. I think they made a very good job of it. It’s amazing to have your name listed on the credits of a film like that and to have an entry in IMDb.
What was the most thrilling part of your experience, and the most stressful one?
The Cuban Brothers were absolutely hilarious in real life, and we had some great parties towards the end of the filming.
The most stressful part was whipping a routine together with my partner in half an hour so we’d have something interesting to show once the cameras started rolling.
How was it to star next to Nick Frost, Rashida Jones and Chris O’Dowd? What are they like?
I felt a bit starstruck when I first met Nick Frost because I love the films he’s been in, but in reality, he’s an incredibly friendly person. Just like in the films where he plays the part of someone’s best friend, if you met him you’d want him to be your best friend in real life!
Chris O’Dowd came onto the set for one day, but I didn’t get to chat with him. Rashida was also very friendly. She was interested in these glittered shoes I was wearing as part of my costume.
Does Nick Frost really dance salsa?
Nick Frost put a lot of hard work in and did months of training learning salsa from some of the top London teachers, so yes he is a genuine salsa dancer. I believe that special effects were only used to make him appear heroic and more good-looking 😉
What other unique or interesting experiences has salsa brought for you?
I had a couple of TV appearances on Strictly Dance Fever and Dance like Michael Jackson. Another interesting episode was when I choreographed routines for UCL students, which they performed at a charity event to raise awareness for the situation in Burma.
Over the years, the highlight of my salsa experience has to be winning the European championship in 2005 with Laith Sami’s Diablo Dance Company.
Tim Rowe currently teaches in Wimbledon on Tuesdays/Sundays and Croydon on Thursdays with Salsa Party Time, and in Hammersmith on Wednesdays and Putney on Fridays with Incognito Dance. Tim is also a novelist. Catch all his latest updates on his futurology site The Tomorrow Lounge and get his latest book Cyberia from Amazon.
Painting by artist Francesca Rogers, featuring Tim Rowe and his former partner Michelle Rogers.