Students Let Loose with Salsa Dancing Lessons

Written by Jessica Espinoza
Megaphone Staff Writer

As one of the fifteen or so students fortunate to attend Friday Night Live’s salsa dancing lessons, I can, with a completely straight face, describe it as an eye-opening experience. Salsa is a dance which takes its roots in Caribbean rhythms, especially those of Cuba and Puerto Rico. The actual word “salsa” is Spanish for “sauce”, which conjures up images of electrifying dancers in straw sun-hats. However, the roots of salsa are not, as some might believe, provocative. On the contrary, it is very much a social gathering. Dances are usually performed in pairs or large group. It is only rarely performed as a solo art. The name “salsa” also suggests a mixture of flavors, because of its Afro-Caribbean origin. Of course, no one was thinking about any of this when, at 10:30 on Friday January 18 i n the Cove, several unsuspecting dancers were assembled under the instruction of Ricardo Moncada. We were thinking, “We are going to make complete and utter fools of ourselves.”

Only a few in our number had actually taken salsa lessons before, and I for one was just the slightest bit apprehensive. As some readers may know, I more not the world’s gift to the art of modern dance. I am not even the consolation prize, so it is understandable that there may have been some nervous energy flying around.

Moncada began to call the steps, starting with the most basic, a sidestep from the left to the right. Simple, you say. It may very well have been simple to the average human being, but I assure you this reporter found a way to do it wrong. To add to the quickly-developing chaos, Moncada began to add turns and rocking motions, compounding our uniform look of complete confusion. It is impossible to think about turning to the right, and still remember to do counts of four and rock back and forth. Such things defy the laws of physics.

Needless to say, Cove patrons found us riotously funny, and laughed hysterically.
“Who cares?” junior Natalie Sanders said, voicing the sentiment of the evening, “we’re here to enjoy ourselves.” Agreeing with Sanders, Moncada turned his microphone to the spectators and said, “Stop laughing. Get out here on the floor.”

We were then allowed to make up our own dances. Others were managing very well by now, embracing the central aspect of salsa, which is improvisation. They rocked and swayed and stepped quite their own free will. My improvisational skills were limiting to turning around in circles repeatedly, thus embracing the central aspect of visually-impaired dancers everywhere, which is buffoonery.

As we began to learn to dance with partners, the complications went from farcical to sitcom-worthy, as Your Humble Reporter proceeded to tread on the feet of every person she danced with, punctuating each measure with a flood of apology. Luckily, because salsa is more about gathering with friends than about getting the correct steps exactly right, nobody seemed to mind very much.

Everyone appeared to enjoy the event, judging from the laughter emanating from my fellow dancers. Most expressed the wish that SU host more dance events, which will definitely be an asset to the Friday Night Live presentations. Not only is it an opportunity to learn a new skill and possibly discover a hidden talent, but a chance to explore diverse cultures.

There is even talk of “inclusive” dance programs for people who are unable to dance in the traditional way. Either way, the salsa night was a big success for Friday Night Live and future dance programs are eagerly anticipated.

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