Salsa dance heats up Wednesdays in Port Angeles
By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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This Wednesday night Salsa in PA, the new organization devoted to teaching and practicing Latin dance, will begin its weekly gatherings at Aglazing Art Studio, 207 W. First St.
Beginners and experienced dancers are welcome, said Rosalynn Rees, the studio owner and a lover of Latin steps.
Port Angeles teacher Paul Kelly will lead lessons from 7:30 p.m. till 8:15 p.m., and then social dancing will go till 11:30 p.m. The $3 admission covers everything.
This Salsa in PA thing started out hot — in every sense, Rees reported.
The first night of lessons and dancing was Aug. 15, when temperatures stayed up in the 80s — as did attendance.
“We had a total of 85 people come through the door on the 15th. I was amazed,” Rees noted. “This was far beyond what I imagined.”
Kelly, who is an environmental educator at NatureBridge, taught the basic salsa step, a turn and the cross-body lead move.
Then he and co-instructor Claire Puntenney mingled, offered guidance and danced all the way till 11:30 p.m., Rees added.
While about half the crowd departed by 10 p.m., “a few newcomers came in around 10:30. There were 12 diehards, including Paul and I, until 11:30,” she said.
“Paul led us in a ronda, where we all danced in a circle and switched partners on his cues. We had people of all levels in this group of 12, and it was a blast.
“I would like to try that next time, but earlier in the evening to get more people involved.”
Rees puts together refreshments and provides bottled water, which are included in the admission charge. At the first Salsa in PA party, she made fresh salsa to go with chips, shrimp ceviche, raspberries with chocolate and fruit kabobs.
This was “staying true to my Latina upbringing,” said Rees, who was born in Panama City, Panama.
“I wanted people to feel at home at my event, and I believe food is a great way to achieve that,” she said, adding, “I love to cook almost as much as I love to dance.”
Rees and Kelly, who met through teaching in Peninsula College's Upward Bound program for teenagers, wanted to create a relaxed atmosphere in which people would feel like trying something new.
“Salsa dancing may not be everyone's favorite thing to do, but everyone should try it at least once in their lifetime,” Rees said.
“The great thing about salsa is that there is always something new to try or learn, so everyone can always dance and learn at their own individual pace,” she added. “It is never boring.”
Kelly, for his part, learned his steps with the salsa club at Michigan State University in East Lansing, of all places. He encourages his fellow men to join the dance — with open minds and light hearts.
“Women love guys who can dance,” he noted. “Show up, and you're already winning.”
While Salsa in PA is an every-Wednesday event from now on, another salsa night takes place in Port Townsend on the second Sunday of each month.
The next evening of lessons and social dancing is this coming Sunday at The Upstage, 923 Washington St., Port Townsend, and it features Kelly and co-instructor Judy Rudolph teaching a rueda lesson from 5:30 p.m. till 6:15 p.m. and a beginning salsa lesson from 6:15 p.m. till
Open dancing then continues till 9 p.m., and the $5 cover charge includes it all.
“Paul is a great instructor and is able to really break down the mechanics,” said Rees, adding that it doesn't take long to learn the basics.
For details on Salsa in PA, see its page on Facebook or phone 360-797-1278.
For information on the monthly salsa night at The Upstage, phone 360-385-6919.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: September 03. 2012 4:50PM