Salsa dancing, a live band and cultural awareness filled the S.U.B.

College students were taught how to salsa dance at this year’s Latin American Heritage Event sponsored by the SPSCC Campus Activities Board (C.A.B.).

Six members of Salsa de Olympia taught the basic steps of salsa dancing to anyone willing to learn at lunch Oct. 10 in the Student Union Building (S.U.B.).

It took a month to plan, schedule and prepare for the event, said Mi Young Park, C.A.B. diversity events coordinator.
Along with salsa dancing, Cambalache played live Latin music, and those who answered a Latin culture questionnaire ate free nachos.

Student Gavin Plasko said he enjoyed the free salsa lesson from Salsa de Olympia and said they were really helpful. The dancing “got people out of their shells,” he said.

Heidi Andrade, SPSCC Hawks Prairie program support supervisor, said she had been looking forward to the salsa dancing and music at this year’s event. The turnout of students attending the event was impressive, she said.

She said she brought an ESL student, Darwin Andrade, to connect with something familiar. Andrade said he hopes next year’s Latin American Heritage Event can also include other types of Latin dances.

Beco Shavez of Salsa de Olympia said their group of 10 dancers started about six months ago. Dancing is important for the younger generation to “keep them out of trouble,” said.

Salsa de Olympia came to the college free of charge to help the community, said Shavez.

It is “important for younger people to learn other types of dance besides what society tells them,” said Lynda Zeman of Salsa de Olympia.

Kayla Wilson, owner of Salsa de Olympia, is also a previous student at SPSCC. She said a salsa dancing class she took at SPSCC sparked her love for the Latin.

The red-dressed Salsa de Olympia members teach students the basics of salsa dancing Photo by James Egaran

The red-dressed Salsa de Olympia members teach students the basics of salsa dancing
Photo by James Egaran

Cambalache started in 1999 as a school project for the University of Washington, said Pancho Chavez, Cambalache lead singer. Now, the group is a well-known Seattle-based salsa band that has performed all over the Pacific Northwest, he said. Cambalache has come to the college in the past for a Cinco de Mayo dance.

Events like these allow a cultural exchange to happen, where people of Latin American heritage can show their culture to students and vice-versa, said Chavez.

Richard Lopez, SPSCC jazz band professor, is Cambalache’s first trombone substitute, said Chavez. Lopez played with Cambalache for this year’s Latin American Heritage Event.

The C.A.B. paid $1,000 for Cambalache to perform. Club Latinoamerica de SPSCC donated $200 for the event food and decor, according to Juan Carlos Ruiz Duran, club vice president.

Ruiz Duran said he liked that this year’s event was interactive. He said he hopes the club can help add more interactive events to next year’s Latin American Heritage Event.