There’s no better portrait of Hispanic flare for Hispanic Heritage Month than the rhythms and moves of salsa dance. This vibrant piece of Hispanic culture is setting feet on fire in Madison County.
“I always tell people that dance is joy,” said Gabriela Gonzalez, owner of Baila Huntsville. “It just makes me happy whenever I dance. The music, it just makes you want to move. And when you’re dancing it’s like you forget all your problems, you forget about everything you’re thinking about.”
Gonzalez grew up on the border between Juarez and El Paso, her childhood marked by music.
“Most Hispanic people, we like to dance,” she said. “I remember when I was little my grandma used to have parties at her house so we would all go to my grandma’s house and all the adults would stay up dancing all night until like 6:00 in the morning and I remember I wanted to stay dancing with them, but of course my mom wouldn’t let me. But now that I’m a grown-up I can dance as much as I want!”
The dance, with its roots in Cuba and Africa, has made its way across the world, picking up different styles and flavors. As it connects people to the culture, it connects them to each other.
“Salsa dancing, it transcends culture, it transcends gender, it transcends everything,” said Carlos Colon with Baila Huntsville. “You see salsa dancing all across the world.”
The flares and rhythms of Hispanic culture energize the packed rooms at Baila Huntsville, where they teach L.A. style salsa, meaning you step on the first beat. The rhythm infects even the most timid dancers.
“Their whole attitude, their whole expression on their face, it lightens up and they really enjoy it,” Gonzalez said. “They’re just happy that they found dance because it just brings joy into people’s life.”
“I think that epitomizes our culture,” Colon continued. “Where there’s joy, there’s laughter, there’s that family unit, you see that in the dancing. You see that when you watch the music videos. And you see that in our classes here at Huntsville. When we come together there’s lots of laughing, there’s lots of bonding and camaraderie, and I think that’s just a perfect example of the Hispanic culture. Once you’re in the family you’re in the family. You’re eating at the table alongside us and we’re just cutting up together.”
Salsa dancing is a piece of culture thousands of miles away from those who learned the steps as children and a piece of joy brought to anyone who learns the moves.
“To be able to share it with everybody that lives in the Huntsville area too,” Gonzalez said. “That it’s something new to them, something that they always had wanted to try. It brings a lot of pride and joy to be able to do it.”
See when you can take a salsa class here.