The Team

Find out more about the Latin Collective team below…

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Joseph Davids – Team Leader/DJ/Promoter & BOSS

Joe’s background is in the original UK street dance scene of the 1980′s when he was a member of a hip-hop and breakdancing team that performed across the UK. After his dad died in 1979, he became the man of the family and learned the art of social dancing (waltz, quicktep, social foxtrot) from dancing with his mum and older sisters at the many family parties. It was his dads collection of big band jazz and classic soul that started a life-long interest in all forms of Jazz, Funk and Soul as well as latin classics played on original instruments.

Part of a very ethnically diverse gang of school friends (nicknamed The United Nations by others) he developed an interest in different forms of ethnic dancing including the Greek Dancing and Sega dancing (from Mauritius). He also developed a promotional partnership with best friend Michael Armoogum with whom he Dj’d at events and clubs right across London and the South East as well as learning his promotional skills.

While studying for his degree at Manchester University he was introduced to the martial and healing arts of Wing Chun, Tai Chi and Qi Gong which he studied in all for 7years. He also met up with friends who convinced him to study for a PhD in Medical Chemistry (towards an Antisense Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease and related conditions) at Imperial College where he took over the administration of the multiple computer networks in his department.

After leaving Imperial College in 1992 he decided to move into computing and went to QMW to study for a MSc in IT. It was here that he met and made friends with a Chilean waiter called Roberto who showed him his first basic steps in Salsa and took him to Bar Salsa which had then just opened.

Joe did not dance salsa at all however until 1995 when his friends took him out to the re-opening of Salsa Palladium at which he was dared to ask 25 different women to dance. He had great fun that night but his lack of skill (he was only able to do the basic steps that Roberto had taught him) made him determined to learn salsa. But he would have to wait until the end of 1997 before he could do this, when his best friend Waldemar (a Polish dancer) took him out to a Salsa Rapido night at Smithfields in London. It was there that they met and befriended Esther and Sarah, with whom ultimately Joe learned to dance. Through the guidance of these two girls he soon made progress and developed his skills as a leader and learned the different basic techniques of what is now known as Miami/Puerto Rican style salsa.

A few months later a chance meeting on the dancefloor introduced him to Nelson Batista (the Godfather of UK Salsa – a name Joe gave him) and a business partnership was formed between Nelson and the recently formed Latin8. Joe used the proceeds of running his Computer Consultancy, DJD, to finance many projects and in 2000 he developed one of his most successful projects and the UK’s biggest clubnight – the SCALA BANK HOLIDAY ALL-NIGHTERS.

Despite this success, Joe was still searching for someone from whom he could learn formally about the dance and the music we all love and in 2000 his chance came when he was asked to run The Bacardi UK Salsa Congress 2000. In the lead up to this event he organised a 2 week UK tour for Mr Eddie Torres and took time off work to taxi Eddie around the country. During this time they became good friends and Eddie stories and tales about salsa history played a massive part in Joe’s dance education. From that point on Joe became a dedicated fan and student of Eddie’s. Whenever possible Joe travels out to New York to study with Eddie or (better still brings him out here to work with us).

In the last few years, Joe has worked hard with his team to develop both his and their skills as dancers and teachers and the result has been some of the UK’s best dancers and most popular teachers. As well as festivals in the UK including Pontins, The Salsa Explosion Festival and numerous other weekenders Joe and his team have travelled abroad extensively for work and have taught already in:

Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norther Ireland and Ireland, Denmark and they are booked to visit India, Greece, Australia and Seattle & NY.

(these are just a selection of comments)

“We have been learning salsa at congresses (all over Europe) and many of the teachers were not too professional. During the first workshop you were teaching I was thinking – this is the teacher that I want to learn with.” message from Elena – Salsasisters (Lithuania)

“you and your friends weer reallt good .hope some day i can be like that. and if you want to visit Sweden some day just mail me” message from Simon Utas (Russia)

“I’m really looking forward to next salsaweekend where you are going to teach again. Your class was one of the best I have ever attended…..Yes you did a great job at Uddevalla. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) was so pleased with you. You taught us dance and how to cooperate - true partnerwork.” message from Bettina Andersen (Sweden)

Joe is my favourite because he’s the best at explaining. He would be a great teacher of anything because he communicates exceptionally well. He’s constantly aware of how everyone in the class is doing, and he understands how to modify or add to his explanations whenever any of his students face any difficulties. Each of Joe’s classes focuses on learning a specific technique, and how/when to use it, as opposed to copying and trying to remember an elaborate turn pattern without necessarily understanding what you’re doing. Joe helps to create dancers who can freely pull off moves as they choose and actively dance with the music, as opposed to those who use/respond to memorised sequences and only use the music as a guide for when to step. website post on

Many thanks to Joe and the other members of the Latin Collective (all very high quality teachers) for making a small part of my life a whole lot better. website post on

Even though there are no words to describe the excellence of Joe Davids personality and teaching methodology, the tittle of this forum topic also says it all really. But to add to that, it is greatly appreciated that he and his demonstration partner/female dance instructors integrate themselves as part of the class group in the middle or at the end of the teaching period to dance a song or two with you -  and have even gone out of their way to dance with you after classes also!! This is proper Latin Collective Team’s dedication & friendliness, which is so vital for all their family of students (just as he calls us  )!!! website post on

Joe is an absolutely awesome teacher who knows exactly how to break things down to make even the most goddam complicated sequence seem as easy as shaking hands. He also treats every one of his students as an individual (even the ones with multiple left feet) and patiently dedicates time to correcting mistakes and praising improvement. His classes are well orgainsed and well structured…website post on

You and Niki have been largely responsible for the success of Salsa School 06………..Mike of Salsa School 06

you are the best male teacher for knowing and doing the followers-footwork;- thought I should pass the compliment on………………….Sean Jennings, London


Our Team is comprised of THE most respected and well known DJs and instructors on the UK Scene. Our teaching team is one of the best in the UK. All are dedicated to providing the very best tuition in a fun and enjoyable atmosphere.

One of our Old Team Photos
Les Mercer (a.k.a Big Les)

According to a number of surveys, Les is “the best DJ on the UK scene”. Playing a hot selection of the very latest Salsa tracks plus a few little gems that no one else has, Les is in great demand. The most senior member of the Team, he has been teaching at venues throughout London and the South East of England and has been invited to DJ at events all over Europe.

Danie Street – former team member

Danie began teaching in October 2006 under the expert instruction of Joseph Davids. Since then she has become a prominent member of the team teaching at many of our venues across London and the Home Counties and at events such as Latin Collective All-Dayers, Dance Assylum – Belfast and The London Latinfest. Danie trained as a professional dancer and has previous teaching experience in aerobics, ballet and jazz. She has developped a confident teaching style and focusses on explaining details and providing students with individual feedback.

She has worked with top names including Irene Miguel, Laith Sami and Andrea Stewart performing at Scala, Bar Salsa and the Uk Congress. Danie is a passionate, dynamic performer, and a skilled, patient teacher. She recently took a break from teaching to undertake a six month contract as a dancer on a cruise ship, now Danie returns to the UK to continue her work with the Latin Collective.

She is looking forward to further developping her teaching skills and experience and to seeing what new challenges the future holds. Watch this space…

Danie left the team in 2011 to pursue other career paths

Andrea Sturt-Grosbois – Teacher/Marketing

With a lifelong background in ballet on an international circuit, Andrea took her first dance steps at the age of three. Addicted to salsa for over three years, Andrea has had the opportunity to learn with a wide variety of prestigious instructors, notably Joe Davids, Andrea Stewart, Susana Montero and Nelson Flores. She performs regularly with two highly acclaimed dance groups, Duende and Oro Negro, both choreographed by Andrea Stewart.

As a regular teacher for the Latin Collective team, she specialises in ladies’ spinning and styling techniques, getting students addicted to salsa across the UK and abroad. Her enthusiastic and encouraging nature always makes her a popular teacher among her students.

Kristie Matthews – Teacher

At the age of 9 my mum decided I needed a hobby so naturally threw me into the nearest dance class, which happened to be with a Latin and Ballroom school, DCDance, and I’ve never looked back since. During the 10 years I spent on the Latin and ballroom scene, I represented Essex across the country and competed five times at the British National Open Formation Championships, in 2001 achieving 4th place. At the age of 14 I began assisting in adult classes and teaching classes for children aged 3-16. Whilst at DCDance, I achieved Gold Bar Level 2 in both Ballroom and Latin with the IDTA and NDTA.

After splitting with my long term boyfriend (also my dance partner) in 2007, I found that simply teaching dance wasn’t enough – I wanted to dance too! Whilst looking for something to satisfy my hunger, I stumbled across the Salsa SOS website. I emailed the organiser (Stuart) to try to get a feel of what I could expect, and after a very heated discussion regarding the differences between ballroom and salsa dancers, I decided I simply had to go – if only to meet the man (Stuart) who was sending me emails!

I started on a Tuesday @ Colors, in beginners with Kerry and did my obligatory minimum of 4 weeks before moving up to improvers with Nik. From there I moved up to intermediate with Kimmy and finally to advanced with Stuart, at which point Stuart approached me to teach. After detailed training with Stuart, I began teaching at Salsa SOS in Jan 08 at beginner level.

Since Jan 08 I have taught on 5 different club nights at 4 different venues for salsa SOS. I have also trained with Joe Davids of The Latin Collective Team and am now a valued member of both Salsa SOS and The Latin Collective. I appreciate and enjoy all styles of salsa and my favourite style changes depending on what mood I’m in. I also Love dancing meringue, bachata, cha cha and many other Latin dances – I just can’t get enough. To me dancing is extremely important, it’s a great way to keep fit, meet new people, build self confidence and make friends. I can’t imagine my life without dancing, I’d make it compulsory in the work place if I had the chance.
Dance like no one is watching.

Olga Ribaka – Teacher/Admin

Olga Ribaka was raised in Latvia. She began her dance training in the city of Riga at a young age. After high school she pursued her dream in becoming a dancer: taking a diploma in dance and culture management at Latvia Culture College and graduated in 2002 along with a diploma in fitness industry. She started to teach LA Style Salsa in Latvia in 2004 as well as travelling abroad to different Salsa festivals. While pursuing her career in dance, she freelances her fitness teaching skills to educate members in fitness clubs who are interested in the concept of dance.

In 2006, while in the UK she started taking classes with The Latin Collective and was so impressed by their teaching methods that she enrolled in their teacher training skill. She rapidly made progress and in 2007, she moved to London (UK) where she started to teach NY Style Salsa for The Latin Collective. Her teaching skill goes beyond demonstrating salsa dance combination; she has a deep understanding of teaching the technical aspects of leading and following techniques which she shares with students and dancers at all levels.

Sam Hounsell – Teacher

Sam is a long term member of the Latin Collective, and regularly teaches at one of London’s most popular Latin venues, Bar Salsa. A very patient teacher, Sam enjoys building up the confidence of his students by improving their technique and understanding of the dance in a fun and relaxed environment.

As a performer, Sam has taken the stage at international salsa congresses both in the UK and overseas with Laith Sami’s two time European team champions the Diablo Dance Company, and Andrea Stewart’s Oro Negro.

James Richardson – former team member

James first encountered salsa as a student Durham in 1997, but it was not until 2004 that he got himself along to a class in London and got himself completely hooked. His first classes were in LA style salsa but soon found himself taking classes with top teachers in London. He now specialises in dancing New York Style on1 and on2 and gets himself to New York as often as he can for continued inspiration and to keep his skills sharp.

James was particularly impressed by the Latin Collective’s approach to teaching that emphasises repeated teaching of the same technique over the course of a number of lessons. He was so impressed that he decided he needed to teach for the Latin Collective. James has now entered the world of promotion by running his own Latin Collective franchised nights as well as teaching at a number of the regular nights.

In 2008 James joined the new performance group Oro Negro and has enjoyed performing with them in and around London.

James has a passion for seeing his students develop and gain confidence in their dancing. His teaching style emphasises technical aspects of leading and following technique mixed in with his unique sense of humour.

The schedule of famaily life made it much harder to find time for the workload and so James left the team in the summer of 2011.

Rae Lim – former team member

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Kerry Barker – former team member

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Ka Fai Leung – Teacher

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Daniel Olive – former team member

Daniel Olive learned started his latin dancing from scratch with the Latin Collective in 2008 and spent many hours working intensively with the senior team members to develop his skills. He joined the teaching team in 2010 when we moved to the new USC venue and was an integral part of the team right up to his departure in 2015.

Abbe Edwards – former team member

Abbe trained with the Latin Collective from 2009 onwards and was part of our touring team performing in different countries across Europe at a number of festivals.
Abbe left the team to pursue a career in Massage therapy in 2012.

Zac Iskander – Teacher

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Vishal Gokool – Teacher/Venue Owner

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Sammy – Marketing

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Andrea Stewart

Andrea was born in the UK but of Jamaican heritage. She has been dancing Salsa for 15 years and was taught by Mauricio Reyes of Latin Motion.

Andrea’s teachers were Jayson Molina, Descarga Latina and Santo Rico and lists her influences as Juan Matos, Felipe Polanco, Tania Santiago, Nancy Ortiz, Eddie Torres, Hache y Machete and Jhesus Aponte.

Andrea is sought after for her Ladies’ Styling, SalsAfro Styling, Shines and Reggaeton. Andrea is well respected by her students for her ability to connect, putting them at ease and understanding their needs. Andrea teaches ‘on 1′ and ‘on 2′.

Off the dance floor Andrea is humble and down to earth but on the dance floor and when performing she becomes something else and is well known for alighting the stage with her originality, musicality, flavour and SalsAfro.

Today, she has founder two of the UK’s most formidable dance teams; Duende & Oro Negro.

She is the principle female teacher within the Latin Collective and works closely with Joseph in all aspects of development.

Mauro Casali

Mauro Casali began his dance career in 2001 at the Fiesta Havana Club in Central London learning from Julian “The Duke” of the Salsoteca Dance School. After one year Salsoteca’s owner, Elder Sanchez, offered to train Mauro to work as a teacher in his team and, soon afterwards, Mauro began teaching beginners level classes.

Through his work with Salsoteca, Mauro started to work with the Piccadilly Mambo dance troupe run by Iris De Britto. There he met and started partnering Niki Britton of the Latin Collective team, a dance partnership which saw them narrowly miss out on first place at the British Salsa Championships in 2003. During this time, he was invited to work with The Latin Collective as an associate teacher. Mauro was also introduced to the SOS (Salsa on Sundays) clubnight which, run by two of the UK’s top instructors Tamambo and Leon Rose, who asked him to join the SOS team. As a result, Mauro has taught in most of the best London salsa clubs and studios such as Bar Salsa, Bar Havana, Bar Rumba, La Finca, Salsa Palladium and Pineapple Studios and has gained an enviable reputation.

From then on, Mauro’s hard work as well in learning and developing new skills have led to a number of invites to international salsa congresses across the World.

Other past credits include:

  • 75 2002 – I was part of a video on MTV Asia along with Laith Sami (British Champion 2003)
  • 76 December 2003 – I won second place in the British Salsa Competition (Cross Body Lead Style).

Claire Annett-Davids – Team Advisor

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Agata Jelen

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Maja Maj – Cambridge

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Simone Costanzo – London

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Laura Williams – London

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Alex Rasero – Associate teacher

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Colleen Daniels – Associate Teacher

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Katie Bretherick – London

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