Music filled the Houston Room in the University Center on Thursday evening as the Council of Ethnic Organizations held a salsa-dancing lesson with the Salsa Magic dance school in honor of Hispanic Heritage week.
Despite the slow start, members of CEO were optimistic and held out for more students to show up. They set up a raffle for people who signed in to win a free t-shirt, flash drive or water bottle.
Sure enough, latecomers arrived, and soon there were about 50 students ready to groove.
“We were really happy with the amount of students that came to the event because we still had enough space for them to dance and not bump into each other,” said CEO Assistant Director Erica Tat. “We feel that interactive events help students learn more about the culture through hands-on participation.”
Professional dance instructors Favian Bustos and Cynthia Mendez helped students unleash their inner dancer by beginning the lesson with bachata, a style of dance from the Dominican Republic, and took it one step at a time.
Feeling confident in the students, Bustos asked the group to form an outer circle of men, an inner circle of women and to practice each new step with a partner. The partners danced, and the women rotated partners, where they combined old and new moves before continuing the cycle.
“We thought the instructors were very patient and helpful because they took the time to explain the steps and were willing to answer students’ questions,” Tat said.
There were an uneven number of people at several points during the lesson, but the members of CEO put on their dancing shoes to make sure everyone had a chance to participate. The bachata lesson continued until there were nine learned steps, with Bustos and Mendez demonstrating the correct way to dance.
“It was really fun, and it taught me how to do the salsa in very easy steps,” said hotel and restaurant management senior Weini Tsai. “I would definitely go again.”
Even though CEO cultural programming chairman Jimmy Mai announced the winners of the raffle to conclude the event, the music was loud, and students were too excited to pay attention as they continued to dance. Instead, CEO approached people as they were leaving to see if their name had been drawn.
“I love teaching and was excited to do this lesson for UH,” said Bustos.
“I would love to do something like this next year. It was such a great turnout.”
Additional reporting by Channler Hill.