The sounds of Latin music fill the Wilkinson Student Center’s main ballroom every Tuesday night, and anyone who wants to brush up on their dance skills can join in.
The BYU Salsa Club offers free Latin dance lessons every Tuesday night from 8:30-9pm in the WSC main ballroom, followed by a full-on Latin dance. Various instructors take turns teaching two popular yet distinct styles of Latin dance, salsa and bachata.
Kristian Gil, a BYU Salsa Club dance instructor, said they have 30 minutes of instruction each night the clubs meets.
“We focus on teaching salsa and bachata because they are a little more technical than the other styles,” Gil said. “We teach 15 minutes of salsa and 15 minutes of bachata and the rest of the night we just free dance.”
He said the club events are designed to create a learning environment where everyone can feel comfortable, regardless of their dance experience.
“A lot of people shy away from coming because they feel like they can’t dance, but that’s why we do this,” Gil said. “Anybody can learn. Salsa is like any skill; it can be learned with instruction and practice. When I started, I didn’t know how to dance at all because in Peru we dance differently.”
The BYU Salsa Club is one of the largest clubs on campus with hundreds of members from all walks of life.
“There are usually 200-250 people in attendance any given Tuesday. It’s a great place to bring a date,” Gil said. “The great thing about Latin dancing is that it is one on one, so it’s a great time to talk to someone and get to know them.”
Many students use club events as a way to take a break from the stresses of school and socialize with their fellow students.
Amy Pelaez, a salsa club member, said the salsa club’s events are more than just dance lessons, but are also great opportunities for students to socialize and relax.
“Salsa club is a great place for me to share a little part of my culture with my friends and complete strangers,” Pelaez said. “It provides the perfect environment for people to just show up and dance with whoever they want to dance with, so you meet a lot of new people. It allows me to take a break from school for a short period of time and just have some fun. It’s necessary sometimes.”
The BYU Salsa Club presidency invites students to come and enjoy what the club has to offer.
Colton Graham, BYU Salsa Club president, said Latin dancing is a beautiful way to express oneself.
“It teaches us that whatever culture we may be, we are not too different from one another,” Graham said. “It brings people together and teaches us that we are all brothers and sisters.”