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Outdoor Salsa at City Hall provides free dance for beginners and experts alike

By Jared Davidson on July 16, 2013

Last Wednesday, two local Latin dance studios teamed up to kick off a series of free events under the title Outdoor Salsa at City Hall. Every Wednesday this summer, Azucar! Latin Dance Company and Salsa Force will be bringing a free evening of dance to the Rink of Dreams in front of City Hall. Each event consists of two parts: a beginner lesson from 6 until 7 and a night of social dancing from 7 until 11. The dancing is backed by live or DJed Latin music, and food courtesy of Mr. Churritos.

Being a total beginner at Latin dancing, I showed up for the lesson hoping to brush up on the basics. As it turns out, salsa dancing is rather difficult! I’m pretty hopeless at styles of dance that require more than a simple bobbing and shaking motion, and as Salsa Force Director Jose Sandoval led me and several dozen other attendees through an increasingly complicated series of moves, I found myself continually out of step.

But being terrible at something doesn’t preclude enjoying it, and enjoy it I did. After all, I wasn’t the only beginner there, and there’s something uniquely fun about fumbling about on a dance floor with several dozen others, exchanging glances that say, “I have no idea what I’m doing!”

When I talked to Sandoval after the lesson, he reassured me that my lack of aptitude was normal.

“Every time you do something new it’s likely going to be hard,” he said. “But give it a couple more tries and you’ll see how your body will start reacting to the music.”

Luckily for me, there’s plenty of time to improve: Outdoor Salsa at City Hall runs until August 28th, with different lessons every week. This week’s event features an introduction to salsa partner work taught by Ana Gherasim and Jeffrey Huang of Azucar.

Gherasim, Co-Director of Azucar! Latin Dance Company, hopes to introduce as many people as she can to salsa dancing.

“What’s special about salsa is that it’s one of the liveliest and fun dances,” said Gherasim. “It really celebrates the joy of living and of being alive.”

The event was born when Azucar’s staff noticed that the Rink of Dreams was to be open for events this summer.

“We thought it would make a fantastic outdoor dance floor,” said Gherasim.

Unfortunately, Gherasim’s statement has yet to be tested – last week’s poor weather forced the event to move indoors to the Jean Pigott Hall inside City Hall. And while the indoor venue served it well, the thought of dancing outdoors is infinitely more appealing. The organizers hope that this week’s weather will be more agreeable.