The people who know what they're doing make salsa dancing look effortless. Their hips shimmy and their feet fly, so we're surprised to learn that this dance is a good choice for beginners like us.
"Salsa is probably one of the easiest dances to learn," says instructor Luisito Cabrera. He explains that the basic timing of this dance never changes. You move on counts one, two and three and pause on four. You move again on counts five, six and seven and pause on eight.
In this beginner class we start by learning the basic. There’s no music, just Luisito’s constant counting. I’ve already had a few lessons and given Sonya a heads up about the footwork so we quickly move on to learning the right turn and that cross body lead.
Now it’s time to try the moves with a partner and at times it’s ugly. Sonya is stepping on people’s feet and I hit one poor guy in the face with my elbow. In spite of all that, Luisito turns on the music and counts us through the steps. Regulars like Sara Reimer are practically glowing. "One of my friends asked if I would take salsa lessons with him so I gave it a try and now I'm hooked!"
Sara stuck with beginner lessons and quickly moved through intermediate and onto advanced classes. "It's fun!” she says, “Plus, it's a great workout, so that's a bonus!" If you're as talented as some of these people, you can burn about 400 calories an hour! "It depends on how showy you are,” says Luisito, “some ladies will work a lot of arms and a lot of hips and the guys have to learn how to lead a turn, which requires a lot of arm strength."
There are more perks: dancing reduces stress, increases energy, and makes you happy! What more could you ask for?!?
"That's part of the magic of salsa,” Luisito says with a laugh, “it is fun. It’s very social and you make a lot of friends, a lot of friends."
For more information on salsa dancing www.salsadesmoines.org.
To see salsa dancing and area celebrities competing come to the Latino Heritage Festival on Sunday afternoon! For more information visit www.latinoheritagefestival.org.