And 5, 6, 5, 6, 7, 8! Left, right, left, tap, right, left, right, tap. You just learned the basic steps of Bachata; a three-step dance followed by a tap on the fourth beat that originated in the Dominican Republic.
Last Friday, I had the privilege of attending The Latin Connection’s first Bachata workshop of the quarter; and for somebody who has vowed to not enjoy or excel at dancing their entire life, I had a really fun time. The dance floor was an Engineering Tower classroom whose desks had been moved toward the walls and out of the way. Aside from the fact that I had my Editor-in-Chief Jessica Pratt and my Associate News Editor Ryan Wallace in tow, I felt immediately comfortable because I was greeted as soon as I walked through the door and because the $5 workshop fee was waived when I told the members that I was there to profile their club.
Once the workshop began, we were separated into three horizontal lines, one behind the other and were taught the basic steps that I mentioned earlier. As we progressed, these same steps were slightly altered to perform different moves; like moving forward and back, and even doing half and full spins. As we learned each move, music was played to help us incorporate the rhythm of Bachata songs into our movements. Once we learned the entire individual routine for the evening — which took us about an hour — we entered what was for me the most enjoyable part of the workshop: partner work. Aside from it being so interesting that individual steps translated perfectly into a partner dance, it was so nice to finally feel like I knew what I was doing when dancing with another person. To me this miracle is a testament to the quality of the instruction The Latin Connection provides during its workshops. If they were able to get me to dance, they can get anybody to dance.
The class was perfect for a beginner like me. We were taught calmly, yet efficiently. Something that I really appreciated was that every time we were taught a new step, the instructors would take time to ask if we had any questions. The subsequent ambience that was created by this directness was very welcoming and relaxing. So for those of you who are wary of attending a workshop because of your perceived lack of dance ability, do not fear.
“We would love for everyone to show up here and learn more about our culture as well because this is part of us,” professional instructor Eder Avila said.
“Essentially anybody who’s interested, at least at the very minimal, in something in dance,” co-president Diana Carlos said when asked who is eligible to attend meetings.
“And we not only teach you the steps, but we teach you to listen to the instruments so there is that aspect of learning the music, just like we did in Mambo and as we will start doing in Bachata. So, we do invite everybody, but we do invite everybody who’s interested in learning something in the Latin world through music.”.
The Latin Connection would like to emphasize that they are focused on teaching partner dancing, and not on individual performance. They are looking forward to preparing and finishing an entire program by the end of the academic school year. In this program, they will teach a complete specific routine and type of dance, either in Mambo or Bachata.
“It provides the students with a knowledge in music and as well as the dance, and the different types of dancing styles that we have here around our area,” Avila said.
“It’s also a stress reliever. Yea , you know we have it on Friday because we’re done with school and we don’t have to worry,” co-president Gracielle Tan said.
This quarter The Latin Connection meets every Friday at 6 p.m. in Engineering Tower 204. Workshop fees run $25 per quarter and $5 per workshop. If you are interested in dancing, learning something new or simply picking up a new hobby, I encourage you to attend a workshop. I guarantee you will have fun, you will learn something new and you will get your money’s worth. I had a really good time and the workshop encouraged me to dance more and not assume that I am horrible at it, like I have been thinking my entire life. I enjoyed it so much that I think I will attend this Friday’s workshop as well. Expand your horizons my Anteaters, spread your wings and fly, learn a new dance, meet new people, have fun with something. Close your laptops and get off your butts for something other than going to class or getting inebriated. I love you. ZOT!