It is a secret society of passion, pulsating music and dance – salsa dance, to be exact. The members of the UCSB Salsa Club do not have brands on their inner thighs, they do not participate in animal sacrifices and they are not planning to take over the world… Yet. Instead, this diverse group of young people, seniors, novices and experienced dancers comes together on Monday nights at Hillel to salsa.
Dancing skills are not a prerequisite for people looking to take part in Salsa Club. In fact the group opens its doors to anyone who is interested in learning how to salsa dance. But like any society, the UCSB Salsa Club has rules for its members as well. Do not be intimidated because everyone is there to have fun. Switch it up – the more partners, the better. And last but not least, shake it.
Members, such as UCSB Salsa Club President J.T. Yu, recommend that potential participants pop a breath mint beforehand and not be afraid to get close to new people.
“American culture restrains people from physical interaction when first meeting, unlike Latin American cultures. Salsa is good in the way that it breaks the ice right away by immediate physical interaction with each other,” Yu said.
Perhaps it is this type of interaction that keeps the Salsa Club’s meetings abuzz, with a large number of spinning and laughing individuals circling the dance floor all night. Salsa Club members do not conceal or deny their affiliation with the society of Salsa. Evan Moon, a third-year sociology major, said he comes to the club because of the atmosphere at the dances.
“It has an upbeatness that keeps the energy lively in the room, that doesn’t get old. You can dance all night and still have fun by the last dance,” Moon said.
Of course, what would a secret society be without its ceremonies? This Monday, members took part in a ritual birthday dance, where the celebrated birthday boy coupled with a partner stood in the middle of a circle of girls who were dancing around him and trying to steal him away from his dance companion. “ÁAy Caramba!”
The liveliness of the dancing is contagious, and all the participants are especially welcoming. Raquel Lemus, a fourth-year psychology major, said she is not afraid to work up a sweat dancing salsa in front of the rest of the club’s members.
“Everyone is friendly, and no matter what your level is, someone is willing to teach you something new. Everyone teaches everyone,” Lemus said.
The Salsa Club, with its diverse group of dancers and positive, welcoming vibes, is like its own secret world in the middle of the Isla Vista community. Beginners and pros alike should let the spirits of dance lead them to the society of salsa. Salsa Club is open to everyone and is held every Monday night at Hillel. Beginner’s lessons start at 8:30 p.m. and open dancing goes from 9 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.