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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA alum’s salsa club spicing up Tucson dancers

    Any UA student stuck in Tucson this summer can testify to the dull nights and ghost-town effect that take over once classes let out and many students leave for the season.

    Spouts of excitement do exist in the Old Pueblo, however. Just look at Tucson’s growing salsa dancing scene.

    Seven years ago, UA alum Gerardo Armendariz and his wife, Lupita, founded Ritmos Latinos, the first salsa group to hit the UA campus.

    Since then, salsa has been quickly emerging within the Tucson dance scene as a great way to meet others and have fun.

    “”When we started Ritmos Latinos, there were only 10 members,”” Armendariz said. “”Now, there are over 100.””

    Such growth has been seen in activities like the Sunday salsa social, where guests mingle and dance to live music before Armendariz teaches a complimentary class from 5-6 p.m.

    A year ago, 40 individuals attended the event, Armendariz said. Two weeks ago, 120 were in attendance.

    Armendariz’s Web site, www.tucsonsalsa.com, features a list of upcoming events and dance workshops, and lists some of the popular salsa hot spots around Tucson.

    “”We are definitely pushing for more salsa events here in town,”” Armendariz said. “”There is a need for more of a dance scene, especially for the 21-and-under crowd.””

    Currently, Casa Blanca Bar and Grill, 281 N. Stone Ave., is the only club that allows in individuals who are 18, although salsa addicts or curious clubgoers can soak up the scene and enjoy live music most days out of the week.

    On Wednesdays, it’s the Casa Blanca that features salsa dancing and music, while on Thursdays, Sharks Bar, 256 E. Congress St., does the same.

    Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for dancing at El Parador, 2744 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson’s oldest salsa club.

    If a lack of rhythm or exposure to the Latin dance has you feeling a little shy, Ritmos Latinos is an ideal group with which to “”shake off your nerves”” and become more comfortable with the dance, said Bhalchandra Desai, a mechanical engineering grad student.

    Desai joined the group last fall after a few of his friends tried it out and became addicted.

    “”It’s not that hard to learn, and it makes it easier to fit into the whole Latino scene here in Tucson,”” he said.

    Ron White, a Ritmos Latinos summer instructor, said the club is a great way to socialize and pick up a new skill at the same time.

    “”Salsa is not intuitive,”” White said. “”It takes work to learn, but it’s a lot of fun. It really brings people out of their shell.””

    Ritmos Latinos is growing every semester, White said. Right now, the group currently has between 40-50 couples, and that number nearly doubles during the school year.

    Amjad Chatila, a mechanical engineering senior, said he joined Ritmos Latinos a few weeks ago after hearing about it through a friend.

    “”I was just searching for something fun to do and found out the salsa community here is pretty happening,”” he said.

    A beginners class is offered every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the McClelland Hall courtyard. Intermediate classes are offered Wednesday evenings at the same time. Advanced classes will resume in the fall.

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