Social Skills is a monthly column featuring community groups where you can meet new people through exercise or other enjoyable activities.
It was a love of salsa – wordless passion spoken in curves of arms, legs and gliding hips – that brought French expat Patrice Guillemound to teach curious pals in early 2017. What started as casual bi-weekly dance lessons grew as friends of friends joined the flock. Then Guillemound’s wife gave birth to their child and their teacher flew out of the picture.
But before leaving, he brought Oswaldo Loor in. The Ecuador native now runs the group, with a rotating pool of teachers: Adrian Esquivel and Amga Gamboa (both Colombian), Daniel Canosa (Spanish) and Jenny Wu (Chinese).
“All of them are really good dancers and very patient to teach beginners,” Loor tells us. As the name makes clear, the Sunday classes are open to everyone who wants to learn salsa – or other Latin dances like bachata and kizomba – in a judgment-free space, stumbling together toward more elegant heights.
“When I started learning salsa,” Loor reminisces with a laugh, “I was so bad! The teacher asked me to come earlier for extra lessons. So there we were, dancing in a club with all these people watching me dance with this guy, when I was supposed to be dancing with a girl. It was so embarrassing!”
But those looking to add more salsa to their life shouldn’t worry: at events, there are usually partners of the preferred gender on hand to practice. Of course it’s best to bring a partner of your own – it’s easier to master the steps that way – but most people find a new one each time.
“Usually people come alone or with a friend of the same gender,” Loor explains, “so it’s a great place for meeting new friends.” Or maybe more. “Two of my best friends met at the salsa classes,” he continues, “Rommy from Guangdong and Michael from Ukraine. They became friends first and later found out they have so much in common – now they are a happy couple.”
Don’t worry about meeting the love of your life; just dance and see what happens. Special gear is also unnecessary – sports shoes and comfortable clothing are all you need for the outdoor practice in Civic Center every weekend from 2-4pm. Join them any given Sunday… at least until the weather gets too hot for anyone to enjoy.
Add Loor on WeChat (ID ‘osloor’) to join the Latin dance group where members exchange info about classes, upcoming parties and salsa festivals.
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