Aug 21, 2019

Salsa Club: five years of rhythm

Joseph Edgecomb / The Collegian

The word “salsa,” in Spanish, literally means “sauce.” But to the 30 to 40 active participants of the Fresno State Salsa Club, salsa means “dance like crazy,” and it still is very “spicy” in nature.

For the last five years, the Fresno State Salsa Club, informally known as the FSSC, has been teaching anyone willing to donate two hours on a Friday night to learn the intricate, Cuban-based art of salsa dancing.

With the club’s fifth anniversary celebration in April, the FSSC is preparing an original salsa performance to be showcased at Vintage Day’s Salsa Night on April 18. Many of the active club members have been preparing for a performance so wild and “caliente,” Fresno State might just feel the heat rising off the stage.

“There are many different people putting so much effort and talent into these performances,” the club’s performance team coordinator Leticia Santa Cruz said. “This club is very multi-cultural and this is because dance is universal.”

For members who want to put their dancing abilities on display at Salsa Night, hard work and practice is a must.

The dancers are subject to an audition to test their knowledge of basic salsa steps. They are then required to attend two-hour practices at least twice a week and are also expected to perfect the choreographed dance steps created by choreographer Dina Hernandez.

Santa Cruz, is responsible for bringing in Hernandez to construct an authentic salsa performance for April 18.

“It’s really all about having a vision or story, following through and making it happen. You select the music, you cut it accordingly, you learn and drill choreography and you perform your little heart out,” Santa Cruz said. “The purpose of the performance is to promote the art of salsa dancing, as well as showcase the cultural roots of salsa.”

Santa Cruz is a three-year member of the FSSC and is in her second year as team performance coordinator. Despite all her obligations to the performance preparations, Santa Cruz still takes time to reminisce about when she first joined the club.

“I remember coming to my first meeting,” Santa Cruz said. “I had seen a flyer and had always loved dancing, so I came to check it out. I ended up having a great time.”

Santa Cruz is not the only member of the club that can recall their first encounter with the salsa club. Freshman Ruben Romero danced in a Latin dance group at Buchanan high school.

“I was looking to salsa dance,” Romero said. “Then I found out about the FSSC. I started coming to meetings and getting more and more involved.”

Romero became so involved, in fact, that he serves as secretary of the FSSC and even brings his younger brother, Matt, along to the Friday night socials.

When fellow club member Jonathan Mendoza first came to the FSSC, he was a little nervous. But, just as so many others that found a place in the FSSC, he was very pleased with what he discovered. Mendoza, the club’s current historian, came to the club in 2004, as a quiet type. He was also new to Fresno State and therefore did not know many people.

“I had heard through one of the club officers about the Friday night meetings,” Mendoza said. “I didn’t know anything about salsa dancing until I came to the club.”

Now Mendoza dances with confidence, as a result of his experience. This is his fourth year in the FSSC and he has been with the club as long as any active member.

According to Mendoza, “It’s the company, the social experience, and the friends that I’ve made since joining the FSSC. That’s what keeps me coming back.”

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