The opportunity to learn two popular Latin dances from professional dancers was a fantastic experience. 

When I arrived at the event room in UTCC at Azusa Pacific University, the music and ambiance immediately captivated me. The room was filled with Spanish songs that I had listened to when I walked the streets of Chile before coming to the States. It brought nostalgia and served as an immersive experience.

Snacks and drinks were provided in the event room. There was a pack of water bottles, cookies of different flavors and a nacho plate with a pot of melted cheese.

Photo courtesy of James Chung

Alan Huizar, the President of APU’s Sigma Delta Pi, organized this event enabling those from Hispanic culture and beyond to create fond memories to last for decades. Huizar, a senior psychology and Spanish major, explained what led him to come up with this event.

“I’ve always had this conversation with many people, and sometimes, it’s difficult to see many Spanish representations and dances. Because they’ll play the same two or three songs, and then that’s it for the Spanish representation. And I feel like there was a lot more rich culture and rhythm in Hispanic music that sometimes doesn’t get fully celebrated,”  Huizar said. 

Then I asked him how he felt about the event’s outcome.

Huizar said, “I am feeling good! It was a pretty good turnout. We have lovely decorations, great dance teachers, and a solid DJ; many people are dancing! Few people were sitting down, which was my whole purpose—to keep the party going and have people enjoy a lot of the Hispanic music.” 

The highlight of this event was the hired professional dancers who taught Bachata and Salsa. For many who don’t know these dances, Bachata originated in the Dominican Republic and Salsa originated in Cuba and Puerto Rico. 

The event began with Huizar introducing himself. Two professional dancers then took to the stage to kick off the festivities. 

The first hour of the event was divided into two sections. The instructors focused on teaching the steps of Bachata for the first 30 minutes and then the steps of Salsa for the remaining 30 minutes. Both dances were elementary and quick to learn. 

The dancers broke down the steps of both dances extremely well and everyone was filled with so much energy. Learning two dances within an hour was entertaining. 

Although I had forgotten the steps of both dances, one thing I hadn’t overlooked throughout the event was the rhythm of the dance. I remember the instructors when they were showing the Bachata. They emphasized that steps one, two, three and four get skipped; five, six, seven and eight aren’t counted either. Every fourth beat is used to measure the rhythm. 

Photo courtesy of James Chung

 After the first hour of learning the dance, the instructors stepped off the stage and we were free to dance to the Spanish music independently. The energy in the room was high and the atmosphere was quite lively due to the music. It was a time full of excitement and enthusiasm.

For those who didn’t have the opportunity to attend, I highly recommend participating in this event in the future because dancing to Spanish music and learning Latin dances is quite an opportunity that rarely comes!