Salsa dancing finds a foothold in valley

Night of Latin American dance will be shaking up the Station Pub

A popular Latin American dance style is stepping its way into a local establishment on Sunday (February 24).

The Station Pub is hosting its first-ever salsa dancing night, in which newcomers and seasoned salsa swingers alike will have the opportunity to take a $10 lesson at 8 p.m. An open dance session will begin at 9 p.m., at which point anyone is welcome to join in on the dance floor without having to pay.

All skill levels are welcome and no partner is required, said organizer Kirsten Harma, herself a devoted salsa dancer. The evening will begin with the simpler meringue style, and move into basic salsa from there.

“Anyone can pick up the basic steps pretty quickly,” she said. “For women, it really helps to have heels, as they force you to be on your toes.”

Salsa is a mid-tempo ballroom dancing style that’s rooted in Afro-Caribbean culture and augmented with Spanish flair.

The steps typically take place to a four-beat measure, with a male partner taking the  lead role in the dance pair.

“A lot of Latin dances actually developed in the Caribbean; Cuba is very well known for its salsa dancing,” noted Harma.

Though her training is in the areas of jazz and Highland dancing, the local demand for salsa led Desiderata Health and Wellness Studio owner and instructor Colleen Wagner to start a two-nights-a-week salsa class last November. She’s already planning another three-week session in March.

“Salsa is very tricky, and I learned through my first session of teaching it to start off with the basics,” she said. “I’ve just started my teaching experience with salsa, and I’m finding the Latin American dances are very vibrant. It’s a different area of dance for me.”

The salsa night at the pub will include snacks along the lines of chips and salsa, and other refreshments won’t be far away.

“I’ve been looking for a way to get a salsa teacher out here from Calgary, as there’s a bit of a salsa scene there,” said Harma. Distance and winter driving conditions have prevented that from happening thus far.

“My ulterior motive in doing this is to get people who already know how to dance to come out as well,” she added.