P.M.-Dawn: Salsa Fever Friday

Erica Thompson

I absolutely love to dance, so attending Salsa Fever Friday at Park Street Patio last week was a no-brainer. The night started off on a positive note; when I pulled into the parking lot off Spruce Street, a lovely older woman with an English accent offered me her spot. She was on her way out and didn't want the paid reservation to go to waste.

I arrived a little after 8 p.m., just before the $10 dance lessons began. Basically, patrons receive two hours of instruction, and then they may either leave or show off their moves on the dance floor, which is open to the rest of the public from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. I told Stacy Coil, the friendly teacher, that I knew a few basic steps from Zumba class. He'd worked with Zumba dancers before. "You guys start with the right foot and go forward," he said. "It's actually the opposite."

We gathered on the small dance floor at the end of the bar, below the DJ. Coil separated the men from the women, and we learned some beginner-to-immediate moves in three Latin styles: salsa, bachata and merengue. Coil was a fantastic instructor - patient, encouraging and pretty hilarious. He cracked jokes throughout to ease our nervousness.

The best part of the class was rotating partners. Even though I came alone, I was able to dance with men of all skill levels who were very eager to learn (ladies, some of them are single). Overall, we were a small group, so I was able to get to know a bit about everyone. Among them were a young, bubbly Zumba instructor and her fiancé, who was a little more laid back but determined to the nail the steps. There was another young couple that was very nice but gradually stopped participating in the rotation. There was an older couple, Steve and Tancy, who told me about other salsa nights in the city worth checking out.

There was also a young guy who came alone to learn some moves for the upcoming weddings he planned to attend. Then there was John, whom I ended up paired with the most. Born in Hawaii and now studying to become an electrician in the city, he was a dance enthusiast who taught me some additional steps.

After class, the lights dimmed and people from the bar quickly crowded the dance floor. I took turns dancing with John, Coil and another teacher. Being formally asked to dance and properly led by a partner is such a cool experience. I can't wait for my next lesson!

I left around 11 p.m. in a great mood. I gave my parking pass to a grateful group of women - gotta pay it forward.