As part of the Latinx Heritage Month celebration, the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Compliance (EDIC) invited students and faculty to the Arch for “Stomp the Yard: Salsa Edition.” Attendees learned and performed traditional Latin dances, including salsa, bachata and merengue.
The college brought in a dance instructor who broke each dance down step-by-step with a four-count beat. The experience of each dance was cumulative. After attendees practiced each new step individually with and without music, the old movements were added back into the mix, leading to all the steps being brought together at the end of each lesson.
After a brief warmup, the first dance was salsa, which traditionally comes from Cuba. Attendees got a feel for each move, leading to a group dance to the beat by the end of the lesson. Students and staff passing by were also encouraged to join in on the event.
Next came bachata, a dance originating from the Dominican Republic. With bachata, dancers move side-to-side with an eight-count beat. They take four steps to one side and stop on the opposite foot they started on. Then, they repeat the same steps moving to the other side.
Once attendees had a good grasp on the flow of the steps, they were paired up with a partner. Partners held hands and moved in tandem with each other. After two cycles of eight-count beats, one partner helped spin the other partner around to one side and back to the other, all while keeping their steps in sync.
The final dance was merengue, another traditional Dominican dance involving some fancy footwork. Following that was a freestyle dance, where attendees partnered up to perform any of the three dances while “Vivir Mi Vida” closed out the event.
The event was met with a lot of praise from attendees, citing the high spirits and energy.
“I think it was very inclusive. Everyone was being involved, even when they didn’t feel comfortable, which kind of made it a lot more comfortable,” said junior Alyssa Jackler.
“It was just fun seeing everyone engage and have fun while doing it,” said freshman Jay Jimenez. “My favorite part, I feel, was the instructor getting everyone hyped and in a good mood. It kind of made my day a bit.”
Rachel Sawyer-Walker, associate director of EDIC, said the event was exciting, and she enjoyed the camaraderie the most.
“I think it’s something that was different that you don’t see often where people are doing salsa, bachata, et cetera at the Arch,” she said. “I think my favorite part was probably seeing people partner together, and they were [dancing] with people they just met for the first time, so it was kind of building a community.”