My journey with ballroom dance started at an older age. I learned in my mid 20’s that my grandfather migrated from Cuba to Jamaica at a young age, and that may be where my natural love for Latin music originated. The music has so much feeling, so much authenticity, so much passion that I could not help but move to the marriage of the instruments. The way the drums, horns, bells, and smooth accompaniment of a soulful voice created love in motion, evoked a different side of me that I never knew existed. It was the second birth of my journey to dance partnership.
My interest in partner dances grew from having Puerto Rican friends in Staten Island. The Vale family’s living room is where some of my first experiences with Latin dances took place. I would spend some of my Saturday and sometimes Sunday evenings eating Spanish rice and beans, learning how to speak Spanish, and dancing to salsa music. My favorite salsa song ‘Suavemente’ by Elvis Crespo is a classic and is usually the catalyst to my salsa dance experiences. I could not help myself when this song was played. The phrase ‘Ay dios mio!,’ was often used by everyone in the living room, to describe my enthusiasm towards dancing. I would dance for hours changing partners when one got a little tired. There is just something about Salsa music that transports you to the culture, frees the person inside you, and the world becomes obsolete for that moment you are dancing with a partner.
I started college at the age of 21, a little later than most. Similar to living in Staten Island, I met a few Puerto Rican friends that had parents that were smoother than water when it came to salsa dancing. One of those friend’s Dad taught me a move that I am an absolute pro at today. This move involves leading the lady in rhythm at full extension of the arms before pulling her in, lifting her arms over my head and letting her arms slowly descend down my neck and chest before getting back to the open flowy arms of salsa. After learning that move, I knew I wanted to learn more.
After graduating college, I had the dream to be a dancer on SYTYCD. Therefore, I set out to learn as much as I could because I knew ballroom was a requirement. After doing some research on the ballroom movement in Buffalo, I took a deeper interest into the Argentine Tango movement and consistently took a few classes. These classes taught the basics of leading and following. Some employed different concepts of communication that I had never used before in dance, but it all helped with learning how to lead more effectively. Then after each lesson, they would provide us with an hour to just dance the night away or practice what I learned throughout the course of the lesson.
Valentine’s Day was just a little over a week ago, but Ballroom dance is something you and a friend or significant other can definitely find room in your schedule to create new experiences together all year round. There are so many opportunities around the city of Buffalo to get you started. Eli Kol has a Kizomba movement that is beautiful and becoming more and more popular in the ballroom scene. Also Salsarita or Sarah is still doing here thing with her following and facebook page Salsa for the Soul. Natasha Perkins host/teaches Salsa and Bachata Nights if you are looking for variety. There is also Sabor Latino Nights with Fanny and Calvin that has been going strong for a couple years now. Finally, Tali Tigreñia and Katya have also revamped the Argentine Tango club at UB. If those two don’t satisfy your appetite for Argentine Tango, then Travis Widrick continues to share his love with open classes all over the City.
These are all opportunities to get a taste of some ballroom in your life. The ballroom experience doesn’t have an age limit either. It ranges from 18 to as old as your body allows you to follow or lead. Even if you end up going solo, there will always be opportunities to dance with new partners. It is an excellent opportunity to not only meet and learn a new dance style, but you develop a new way to live through music with deeply rooted culture.
Feel free to reach out to us by commenting below if you have any questions about the ballroom classes mentioned above.