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Salsa dance classes heat up wintry Syracuse

La Familia de la Salsa's lessons bring people together and lift their spirits, even in the depths of winter.

The room is filled with twirling bodies, sweat-drenched faces and occasional laughter after missing the beat.

The energetic atmosphere of the evening salsa class at Syracuse Pulse Fitness Studio, 713 W. Fayette St., makes it easy to forget the freezing temperatures outside. The snowy weather apparently didn’t prevent people from coming to the weekly lesson.

Judith Cowden, one of the 13 students in this class, has been practicing salsa for four years. For Cowden, salsa dancing is more than just a venue to exercise and de-stress. It’s also a unique social experience.

“People I met four years ago are friends that I still have now,” said Cowden “You can know people from age 16 to age 80 here, and it’s all cultures and all languages. It’s just like a melting pot.”

The organizer of the class is La Familia de la Salsa, a local salsa performance and training organization founded in 2004. In the past nine years, the group has introduced thousands of people to the Syracuse salsa community. The group holds a Latin dance party every Friday night at Johnston’s Ballybay Pub, 550 Richmond Ave. During this weekly event, people with no previous training can have a taste of this popular Afro-Latin dance style in a 75-minute “salsa survival lesson.”

La Familia offers two styles of salsa training. One is Cuban-style Rueda de Casino, where participants stand in circles and rapidly swap partners. The other is Cuban-style cardio salsa, where dancers stand in line and practice fundamental salsa moves. No partner is required in cardio salsa. Cuban style is usually accompanied with upbeat polyrythmic music. This type of music allows more freedom in choreography creation.

One of the major differences between the Cuban style salsa and other types of Latin dance, according to Brian Bromka, instructor and founder of La Familia de la Salsa, is the frequent interaction between males and females. This cooperation can help form a close bonding among dancers and strengthen trainees’ social skills.

“We stomp, we clap, and I try to get everyone outside of the box they are living in,” said Bromka.

Many students of the salsa classes have changed from being reserved at the beginning to becoming more self-confident by the end of the training. And that, according to Bromka, is exactly the purpose of the salsa training. People don’t need to remember all the moves and doing all the techniques correctly to meet new friends and have fun.

“We are not training people to be Broadway performers,” said Bromka. “It’s about communicating with one another and having a conversation on the social dance floor.”

If you're interested in trying out salsa for yourself, check out these classes in Syracuse.

Salsa Survival Lesson

Ballybay Pub/Nightclub, 550 Richmond Ave, Syracuse, NY

Fridays, 8:15 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

$7 per class

Cardio Salsa Class

Community Center Group Fitness Studio, 311B Towne Dr. Fayetteville,

Mondays, 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

$7 per class for full time student with valid ID

One Village Center

117 Harvard Place, Syracuse, NY

Sundays, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

$7 per class for full time student with valid ID

Information about salsa classes

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