Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
Spicy, bold, saucy, and fiery are a few ways to describe salsa, but don’t read too into it as I’m not describing the dip, but the dance.
Salsa dancing is a relatively new form of dancing that evolved in the 70’s in New York. Like New York, salsa dancing is quite the melting pot and includes forms of the Mambo, “Cha cha cha”, swing dancing, as well as elements of Afro-Cuban and Caribbean dance steps.
The dance itself has many variations and is done with a partner, but typical movements include small quick steps, lots of twirling, arm and shoulder movements, and the swaying of the upper torso from side to side.
The music is upbeat, with fast tempos that include Cuban, Latin, or Puerto Rican dance style – heavy percussion provides the beat (steel drums, maracas, cymbals, and clapping) while horns and singing carry the tune. It’s the type of music that dares you to sit still – it’s almost impossible not to want to sway your hips and start spinning across the dance floor.
Ready to move? The Yakima Salsa Dance Company hosts a Friday night dance party at The Seasons Yakima which starts at 9 PM, a free lesson is offered periodically before dancing to Salsa, Bachata, Cumbia & Merengue to 1 AM, cost is $7. Click here for more info.
The company is headed up by Sal Castaneda and his wife Primi. They started a little over 3 years ago in the basement of Gilbert Cellars and quickly grew out of the space. Now they are located at the Seasons Yakima and on a busy Friday, Sal said you can expect 80-90 people dancing.
“When you first see Sal demonstrate the dance moves, you think there is no way that I can do that,” said Beverly Samuelson who has been a regular at the Friday night dances. “But then he breaks it down into little segments and before you know you it, you’re like, I can’t believe I’m doing it!”
There are several big events planned over the next couple of months, including professional dancers from Seattle and Portland in September, a Halloween dance in October, a Masquerade event in November, and a Christmas Salsa Ball in December – keep on eye on their Facebook page for more details.
“It's a very respectful environment,” said Sal. “with many individuals from different backgrounds just having a great time dancing and socializing.”
As for other dancing forms in the valley, there are options. From Latin, Contra, to Swing, to dance parties and lessons, you’re sure to feel carried away by the rhythm of the beat.
Check out this list that Discover Yakima put together of other dancing options in the valley:
• Latin dance, including bachata and cumbia instruction, every Friday night at Casa Vittore, 212 E. Yakima Ave. It starts at 8 p.m. Info: 509-452-8329.
• Swing dancing every Wednesday night at Le Chateau, 15 N. Naches Ave. Lessons start at 7:30 p.m. and dancing at 8:30 p.m. Info: 509-853-1060.
• The Harman Center at Gailleon Park puts on dances for adults from 1:30 to 3:45 p.m. every Wednesday and Friday, featuring accordion music. Info: 509-575-6166. The center also offers community dances on the first and third Friday of every month from 8-11 p.m. The dances take in a variety of styles, including rock, swing, big band, Latin and country.
• Contra dancing takes place every second Saturday of the month at the Broadway Grange Hall, 10th Avenue at Nob Hill Boulevard. It runs from 6:30 to 11 p.m. and starts with a lesson. Bring a dish to share at a potluck.
• Line dance classes every Tuesday and Thursday from 10-11:30 a.m. The site is the Selah Church of Latter-Day Saints across from Selah High School. It is sponsored by Footloose Dance & Entertainment. Info: 509-580-0288.
• Partner dance classes, also by Footloose, from 6-7 p.m. every Friday at Footlites Dance Studio, 12 N. First Street in Selah. Info: 509-580-0288.
• The Yakima chapter of USA Dance holds monthly partner dances. Info: 509-833-3993.
Other links you might like: