Dance Articles > Salsa article from the Denver Post

Discussion in 'Dance Articles' started by tj, Jun 1, 2004.

  1. tj

    tj New Member

    Copied from The Denver Post

    Salsa, the dance that won't die
    By Sheba R. Wheeler
    Denver Post Staff Writer

    Sunday, May 30, 2004 -

    Try salsa. Get hooked.

    The sensual moves and romantic overtones of this social dance craze electrify Denver nightclubs with staying power. And for devotees, salsa's allure is addictive.

    "Pretty soon your whole life is salsa," says Barbie Novoryta, a 40-year-old instructor with Latin Dance FX who danced West Coast swing until eight years ago, when salsa became her passion. "The freedom of the music hit me in the heart."

    Salsa retains its spot in the local nightlife scene because the dance community continues to grow and salsa's popularity reaches worldwide, says Joseph Snowhawk, who owns The Dance Collective studio in Arvada.

    "Generally a dance will have a two- or three-year run, like swing did," Snowhawk says. "But salsa is still hot, and it's the hottest dance all over the world. You even have Japanese bands playing salsa. It's the kind of dance that allows you to bring your own style to it."

    At least half a dozen clubs host weekly salsa nights to tap into the salseros scene. This dance community is heavily influenced by the city's burgeoning Latino population - specifically Puerto Ricans and Cubans.

    Dancing in a salsa club is like meeting delegates from the United Nations. You may dance with someone from Argentina for one song, then be drawn into the arms of someone from Peru.

    When the band gives props to people from Colombia, Guatemala, other Latin countries - and even Denver - sections of the crowd roar in recognition. Many dancers are far from home. But on salsa nights, the club is filled with their language, their music, their culture. They return every week because there is security in familiarity.

    "I moved away from Denver six years ago, and when I came back, the same group of people were dancing at La Rumba," says Robin Mireles, 36, who met her husband at that night club. "It's not just dance; it's our social life."

    Purple Martini recently became the newest club to designate a weekly salsa night - Tuesdays in the Denver Tech Center at Interstate 25 and East Belleview Avenue, and Wednesdays downtown at 1336 15th St.

    It's the lounge's first foray into the dancing world. Purple Martini is better known for its expansive drink list and upscale clientele, says Tani Tucker, the lounge's marketing director.

    Tucker says the lounge's phone used to ring every week with callers asking the same question: Do you have a salsa night at your club? When local salsa promoter Jose Garcia made a pitch last month to start a salsa night at Purple Martini, managers thought it was a great opportunity to attract a new demographic.

    "You walk by a salsa club, and there's always high energy and people having fun," Tucker says.

    One of Denver's most popular and long-lived salsa clubs is La Rumba. The packed dance floor and diverse crowd continues to snare newcomers to salsa dancing.

    The awe-filled gaze of Juanita Metoyer, 55, and her work buddy Valerie Brooks immediately pegged them as newbies when they visited La Rumba recently. The two professional women circled the dance floor overloaded with a throng of sweaty dancers who rhythmically reveled in Kizumba's live rendition of "Me Libere" by El Gran Combo.

    "When you are 53 and walk into most Denver nightclubs surrounded by 20-year-olds, you feel uncomfortable, like you are trying to be something you aren't," Brooks says. "This was one of the best places where there is diversity of ages, ethnicity and dance skills."

    That diversity breaks down barriers, allowing the dance to become a way to access Latino life and culture.

    Most people taking salsa lessons with Novoryta and Snowhawk are non-Latinos who want to experience the culture. So what if you can't do more than count to 10 in Spanish? That won't preclude you from feeling the beat and allowing your body to move to it.

    "American people love salsa," says Francesca Ruiz, manager of Los Cabos II, another longtime establishment that features a Peruvian restaurant and weekly salsa nights. "They see salsa as a way to learn about our people and our culture. They meet and fall in love with Latino guys and girls. It's hard to explain it when the heart is involved."

    Salsa hinges on old-fashioned courtship rituals that focus on well-defined male and female roles. When you are dancing cheek to cheek and hip to hip, it's easy to imagine the potential of something romantic without it necessarily becoming romantic.

    But dancers don't appreciate racy displays on the floor; they prefer couples "take it to a room." More accepted are flirty glances, sensuous touches and suggestive movements. With each salsa step, the dancers decide how far they want to go.

    "In other clubs, I feel like I'm in a meat locker," Metoyer says. "But people here really love the dance for the dance."

    That's because most guys - who generally have the difficult duty of asking the lady to dance - have learned the hard way: A dance does not mean a possession.

    "I've been dancing for a long time, but it's never easy," says Carlos Pacheco, 45, a La Rumba regular. "All it takes is for one guy to mess up, to grope a woman and treat her with disrespect, and that woman will feel the same way for every man from that point on."

    "Dance with them, move them, but you don't own them."

    Still, don't let your fear rule should romance bite you in the keister.

    Juan Mireles, 36, was immediately taken with the woman who would be his wife when he first saw her at a La Rumba Halloween party. She stood out in her cheerleading outfit, one of only about 10 people in the packed club who had the guts to dress up.

    But would he ask her to dance?

    "I was scared," he says. "She was so beautiful."

    He used his connections at the club - her best friend - to get the scoop on her. Did she have a boyfriend? Would she be interested in going out?

    "We had a lot of química (Spanish for chemistry) when we danced together, a lot of turns and looking eye to eye," Robin Mireles remembers. "But he still had to work hard to get me. Meeting him outside of the club helped us develop the love that would last over time instead of focusing on the sparks that flew when we danced."

    Now, shall we dance?

    Staff writer Sheba R. Wheeler can be reached at 303-820-1283 or

    Clubs around town will keep you dancing all week

    Salsa continues to be so popular in the metro area that salseros can satisfy their dance cravings nearly every night of the week. Several websites can keep you in the loop about clubs and instructors in the metro area, but we suggest

    Suffering through a long commute through the Denver Tech Center? Purple Martini, at Interstate 25 and East Belleview Avenue, next to Cool River Cafe, offers salsa night Tuesdays.

    Purple Martini is also the prime site for salsa Wednesday nights at its downtown location, 1336 15th St.

    Trilogy Lounge in Boulder, at 2017 13th St., is a good bet Wednesday nights and often features live music from local band La Candela.

    Thursday nights belong to La Rumba, 99 W. Ninth Ave., where Latin Dance FX hosts free 30-minute lessons.

    Blue Ice at 22 Broadway and Los Cabos II at 1512 Curtis St. host salsa nights Fridays.

    Dating couples may prefer Los Cabos because it's also a restaurant that serves authentic Peruvian fare.

    Saturday night, it's back to La Rumba for a free lesson with the Shut Up & Dance company and live music from Conjunto Colores or Kizumba.

    The D Note in Arvada at 7519 Grandview Ave. on Sunday nights is a great spot away from downtown.

    The nonsmoking environment is appreciated among serious salseros who don't want anything to interfere with their dancing.

    We suggest you rest up on Mondays until a new club claims that for its salsa night.

    - Sheba R. Wheeler

    How to have a hot night of salsa

    Below is a primer for those who want to enter the world of salsa:

    Be on time

    Arrive early if you want to have space to dance. By 11 p.m., most salsa dance floors are so crowded you can barely move let alone turn your partner.

    Thou shalt not fear rejection

    Salsa clubs tend to be less cliquish than other structured social dance environments. But let’s face it, everyone fears the word “no.” A “regular” is more likely to get asked to dance than someone who appears to be a “tourist” visiting the club, according to some salseros.

    Realize that it’s easier to ask someone you know than to take a chance on a new person who just walked through the door.

    Who's zooming who?

    Instructors often tell their male students that it is proper to ask a woman to dance, lead her to the floor and escort her back when the dance is over. Private instructor Drew Burlingame says it's always wise for men to find out whether a woman is at the club with another man before asking her to dance.

    On the flip side, a woman shouldn't be afraid to ask a man to dance. Most men will be secretly relieved. And if a man declines, women should remember the last time they turned someone down and suck it up.

    All by yourself

    Don't freeze up if your partner lets you go in the middle of a dance. Most salsa music has five or more rhythms going at any given time. Get crazy; do your own footwork and styling to make the salsa groove your own.

    Meeting in the ladies' room

    If you really want to know what's going on in the club that night, hang out in the bathroom. It's there that clubbies literally let their hair down and gossip about the latest drama in the dance community, who's seeing who and who is about to get dumped.

    That's also the place where you can bum Tic Tacs - a necessity when dancing up close.

    Be afraid, be very afraid

    If you decide to stick with salsa dancing, be aware that you could become hopelessly addicted. The dangers of becoming a "salsa-holic" include taking an easy day job so you have the energy to dance all night or buying more concealer to hide those bags under your eyes.

    At , these "salsa-holic" experts identify some warning signs:

    Stage No. 1: "Quit watching TV." Check.

    Stage No. 3: "Lost 10 pounds." Check.

    Stage No. 10: "All your friends have now abandoned you." Turn back now.

    - Sheba R. Wheeler
  2. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Good to know I am with the "in" dance. :)
  3. jon

    jon Member

    I wonder if women in the swing dance world use the bathrooms for similar purposes. The only conversations I've ever heard in the men's room at a swing dance have to do with how hot and humid it is, as people mop off sweat and change shirts :)
  4. Dancegal

    Dancegal Member

    Absolutely! I've also witnessed in more than one occasion conversations on how frustrated women get when not asked to dance - women hate to do the asking (having to "work" to get dances without getting asked makes them feel unwanted, like they suck at dancing even if they really don't)........
  5. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Woooohoooooo! Go Denver, Go Denver!!!!
  6. danceguy

    danceguy New Member

    Great article...thanks for sharing! Man, now I want to go visit Denver now...;)

    Dancegal - Welcome to our world...why should men do all the asking anyway? ;)

  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Great article. It looks like the author really has a feel for how the salsa community works.
  8. MapleLeaf Salsero

    MapleLeaf Salsero New Member

    Is there a shorter version of this article? :shock:
  9. tj

    tj New Member

    Cover your left eye and read every other word. :roll:
  10. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    :lol: TJ and MapleLeaf! Careful now before I give you both detention :wink: :lol:

    Now, where did I put my red pen :twisted: :lol:
  11. MapleLeaf Salsero

    MapleLeaf Salsero New Member

    :shock: Oh no, not the red pen thing. Anything but that... :wink: :wink:
  12. tj

    tj New Member


    (actually Mapleleaf, go to the web link that I put on the original post - provided it's still there - and it'll be formatted better.)
  13. MapleLeaf Salsero

    MapleLeaf Salsero New Member

    Just to say that it´s not there anymore.
  14. tj

    tj New Member

    Yup, you're right. I tried to search for it with no luck either.
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Did you not notice that, the thread is 13 years old..
  16. RythmHansen

    RythmHansen New Member

    I agree with the article. As my cousin had told me before, "Salsa is forever, Salsa is life." ;)
  17. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I also wonder how many of those clubs are still in business. My guess is 2 .

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