UA salsa club opens the floor for new members
Whether you’re an experienced dancer or have two left feet, Ritmos Latinos encourages everyone to join their weekly salsa dancing classes.
“I have, like, two-and-a-half left feet and I have managed to learn the basic steps,” Kristina Mihajlovic, a member of Ritmos Latinos, said. “The thing we stress here is to always improve, practice, learn and have fun.”
Ritmos Latinos is a University of Arizona club that aims to bring together people who love Latin music and want to learn how to salsa dance. During the classes, the club’s volunteer instructors teach members Rueda de Casino, a Cuban style of salsa dancing.
Members of Ritmos Latinos gathered at the La Vita House on Sept. 3 and hosted a Latin dance night, giving students a glimpse of what the club has to offer. They started the event off with a quick run through of the basics, then they danced the night away as Latin music blared over the speakers.
“It was a promotion event,” Damian Romero, a member of Ritmos Latinos and one of the volunteer instructors, said. “We worked with new students and gave them a sample class, very basic stuff, but fun.”
Romero, a graduate student, learned how to salsa dance in Canada before joining Ritmos Latinos. Romero had initially learned about the club while working as a teaching assistant three years ago and has been involved with the club ever since.
“I started teaching salsa in my Spanish class because I am a teaching assistant for the Spanish Department,” Romero said. “One of my students got involved with Ritmos Latinos and she told me to come. It was just a great experience from the beginning.”
Unlike Romero, UA senior Soraya Sandoval joined Ritmos Latinos her first semester of freshman year when she considered herself to have two left feet and couldn’t dance. After being persuaded by the former club president, she took a chance, joined, and never looked back.
“I came across Ritmos Latinos at the club fair and I had no dance experience whatsoever,” Sandoval said. “I just decided to join and try it out. I found it to be pretty cool and I was able to make all kinds of new friends.”
You don’t have to be a UA student in order to participate; Ritmos Latinos is open to all Tucson community members and salsa enthusiasts. Maria Rivera, a Tucson resident, saw the event on Facebook and decided to come check it out.
“I went to another dance event and someone had mentioned the club, then I found the event on Facebook,” Rivera said. “I haven’t done salsa dancing in Tucson before, I had danced in Florida prior.”
While Mihajlovic does have fun dancing, she believes that getting the opportunity to meet all kinds of new people makes the club what it is.
“I think the most fun aspect is getting to meet new people and trying new things,” Mihajlovic said. “You get to go out of your comfort zone, but in a safe environment where everyone is there to help you learn. I think that is the best part.”
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Sandoval also agrees that getting to meet new people is the best part of joining Ritmos Latinos. She describes it as a group dance experience because you are constantly switching dance partners, allowing members the chance to meet everyone.
“I think the social aspect is great and it’s just fun,” Sandoval said. “It’s not competitive so you come even if you have no dance experience.”
As for the rest of the semester, Ritmos Latinos will continue to host weekly dance classes and is introducing a new event that allows dancers from all levels to come together and enjoy Latin music.
“This semester, we are trying out our Wildcat Latin dance parties that we will have once a month,” Sandoval said. “Usually we only went to class once a week, but now, with this dance party aspect, we can bring in more UA students who aren’t part of the club.”
If you are interested in learning more about Ritmos Latinos and what they do, you can visit their website, ritmoslatinos.org.
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