EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Free salsa dance classes were offered here Oct. 3 and Oct. 5 as part this year’s National Hispanic Heritage Month events. Both classes were conducted at the field house training facility.
The observance runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. This year’s theme is “Together we can do this – Unidos lo podemos hacer!”
Master Sgt. Rosalba McCoy, a 33rd Fighter Wing member and a Hispanic Heritage Month committee member, organized the classes.
“Salsa is an extraction of many Latin and Afro-Caribbean dances, thus it is a large part of the Hispanic culture,” said McCoy, who is of Cuban descent. “Salsa dancing is a great way to build confidence, improve posture and coordination and makes people happy overall.”
Isabelle Sabato, a dance instructor, lead the 12 Oct. 3 class participants through basic salsa dance steps - forward and back, side steps, cumbia, and ladies’ and men’s turns.
The group paired off and practiced to a simple beat with no music, moving through the basic steps as Sabato called them out. Throughout the session, the pairs changed partners and repeated the process.
“They did very well, for their first time,” Sabato said.
Sabato, a Guadalajara, Mexico native, said dancing is important to Hispanic culture.
“We come out dancing from the time we’re born,” she said. “Our culture is rich in dancing. Salsa comes from many Latin countries. It’s huge all over the world.”
Cpl. Michael Duran and his wife, Taylor, were on leave from Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., visiting with family in the local area. The young couple took the class so Michael could get better at salsa dancing with his wife.
“This is my first time taking a salsa class,” said Michael, 24. “I enjoyed it. I especially liked learning to lead by understanding how to use the tension in my hands, to non-verbally tell my partner what to do.”
Taylor, 23, the more seasoned dancer of the two, said her husband did a good job.
“He picked up the steps quite well,” she said. “We will keep practicing. He’ll be great.”
Sabato saw the dance classes as a window to learning more Hispanic dances.
”I hope the participants become interested in more dances than just salsa,” she said. “We have bachata, meringue, cumbia and more. I hope more people learn the dances, get hooked on them and pass them on to their friends and families.”
The month’s agenda includes bilingual readings and arts classes at Eglin’s Child Development Center and Niceville Elementary School, and a Finale Fiesta at Luke’s Place Oct. 13 from 3 - 7 p.m. For ticket information, call 882-3037.