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ART FEATURE SALSA DANCING


Salsa! More


than just a popular condiment


by Linda Finney


DANCING. SCIENTISTS BELIEVE THAT dancing combines two of our greatest pleasures: movement and music. Parents find that a cuddly, bouncing lullaby is one of the best ways to calm a fussy infant in the middle of the night. Fred and Ginger certainly knew a thing or two about finding happiness while “dancing cheek to cheek.” Columbia University neurologist John Krakauer, writing in the September 2008 issue of Scientific American, puts it this way: “Maybe synchronizing music (which many studies have shown is pleasing to both the ear and brain) and movement (in essence, dance) constitutes a pleasure double-play.” Perhaps this is the explanation for the salsa dance


craze that has swept the globe and has become an active part of the Spokane scene. Simply Dance Studio owner, teacher and professional dancer Marianna di Lorenzo certainly agrees. “Salsa dancing gets to your soul and all your ‘feel good hormones.’ You can’t have a sad thought. Dance is like eating—it’s a need we’re born with.”Saturday Night Salsa has been a “hot lead- er” at Simply Dance for the past five years. Colored lights illuminate couples swaying to the rhythm of the upbeat, fast-paced music as one song flows into another. “We’re having a great time,” says Marianna of the Salsa nights.


“You’re connecting with people.


You’re dressed up. The music is phenomenal, the envi- ronment is beautiful. You’re moving your body. What could be more fun?” Where does salsa come from? It is a “sauce” of


several ingredients: the obvious African influences and Cuban mambo are central, but there are also influences from American jitterbug and jive. The com- monly accepted story is that when it was imported from Cuba to American clubs in the 1930s, club-goers didn’t know quite what it was. But the dance looked hot to them, so they started to shout “Salsa! Salsa!” “People are curious; they see the studio lights and


hear the music,” says Marianna. “But, sometimes they wait a long time to come up the stairs. When they get here, they really are glad they’ve finally done it.”


170 SPOKANE CDA • July - August • 2011


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