Dance is a way for many people to express themselves through art, and to have some fun while doing it.
Western University hosts a Salsa club every week that allows students to do just that. If there’s one type of dance that demands upbeat rhythm, a fun spirit, and even a little shake of the hips – Salsa is that.
The UWO Salsa Club practices on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6 to 8. Beginner classes from 6-7, intermediate 7-8. The idea of having two different levels, is to make everyone feel comfortable with different skill strengths, and to also pose a challenge for returning members.
The club is run by Christian Saavedra, a Colombian native who brought his moves to Canada.
“Growing up, Salsa was always a huge part of my culture,” says Saavedra. I loved it so much, that when I moved here to Canada, I wanted to bring my culture with me and teach other people who haven’t been exposed to it.”
He’s backed up by his team of executives who help the classes run smoothly, and who also have some background with the dance too.
“Back home in Venezuela, I was always embarrassed as a kid to do Salsa,” says Santiago Ramirez, UWO Salsa Exec. I was always forced to take part at family gatherings and everyone would watch. Now that I’ve grown up, I realize it’s actually cool and I do it by choice.”
The dancers range from first year students to alumni, and other adults who love the dance. One member, Lisa Bernard, says she participates not only for the dance itself, but the culture that comes with it.
“One of the reasons I love the Salsa club is because it involves such a fun social aspect to it,” says Bernard. “We go to Spanish restaurants, attend Latin nights at local bars and we’ve all become a close group because of it.”
Christian Saavedra says teaching doesn’t come as work for him – even when he spends hours of his spare time going over the moves to prepare for class.
“They’re such a fun group of guys and girls,” says Saavedra. “They make the experience so enjoyable, whether they get the steps or not, they stay patient and can laugh at themselves when they mess up too.”
The UWO Salsa members who have been a part of the team for multiple years attend shows throughout Ontario, specifically Toronto, each year to compete against other schools. Some compete in pairs, other solo.
Anyone who wants to join the club can show up on a walk-in basis, with a $20 membership for the year.