JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – You can’t celebrate and honor Hispanic Heritage Month without a look at the history of Latin dancing. There’s a lot to learn.
For example, there are many different styles of salsa. New York Salsa, L.A. Salsa, Toronto and London Salsa -- just to name a few. Each has its own flair but once you feel the rhythm and relinquish a little control, you can do almost anything.
Sean Anthony, owner and founder of LatinBeat 904, put me to the test on the dance floor.
Sean comes alive here but that wasn’t always the case. It all started many years ago, as so many things do, with attraction. A woman invited him to dance and at that time he was clueless.
“I felt pretty embarrassed, I was like I don’t know what’s going on here tonight. I don’t understand this music and I really wanted to learn because of the music. It was very interesting to me, very energetic. I felt connected to it but I didn’t know what to do,” Sean said.
Sean felt a rhythm that dates back to before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. The Mayans, Aztecs and Incas who lived in what’s now Central and South American connected with the percussion and wind instruments that you still hear in Latin music today.
“It doesn’t matter what you’re dancing, it’s still the same rhythm that you’re dancing to,” Sean said.
Latin dance dates back to at least the 15th century. It gained popularity in the United States with the rhumba in the early 1930s.
“As it moved towards the Americas and the West, people were like how do we learn this and it became a little bit more modernized. People were like what kind of salsa do I learn. There’s Cuban, there’s New York, there’s LA style, there’s Columbia style salsa,” said Sean, who now teaches Latin dance to a crowd that’s found a connection through dance. “We may all learn to dance from different places. We may learn different styles but we’re trying to connect. Dancing is a way for people to connect and share something with each other it’s not about being perfect.”
We worked on several styles merengue, bachata and salsa and I learned it’s all about letting loose, connecting to the music and eventually your partner all while appreciating a culture that brought us music and dance.
There are lots of ways to learn to dance at LatinBeat 904. They offer group lessons and parties which are super affordable and private lessons which are more expensive but have other benefits.
For more information, visit latinbeat904.com.