Every Sunday afternoon at the Civic Center, you can hear the sound of Latin music. If you follow that exotic sound, you will find a group of people from all over the world dancing. Watching from the sides will be a larger group of locals, who are fascinated by the music and dancing, but are perhaps just a touch too shy to join in. If you do happen to be one of the spectators, don’t be shy. Just join in because that’s exactly what the group is all about.
The Latin dance classes are a free course started by Patrice Guilemond, a French engineer who has been living in Shenzhen since 2011. The classes are now organized by Oswaldo Loor, while Patrice focuses his time on his family after the birth of his child.
In the beginning, Patrice used to invite his friends to dance, but they didn’t know how, so he taught them. “At first it was between friends, but little by little, friends invited their friends and it grew like this,” explained Patrice.
According to Patrice, salsa, and dancing in general, is a great way to meet people and make new friends. It’s also an activity where you can have fun while also burning a few extra calories
He also said that dancing can help us discover our true self and gain confidence. “Of course at first, the shyness will prevent you to achieve your true potential, but you’ll see you’ll gradually raise your self-confidence and improve yourself.”
Oswaldo comes from Ecuador, the heart of Latin America, but he admits he didn’t know how to dance before coming to China. “In Ecuador, we learn to dance since we are little kids, but my only interest back then was reading comics and adventure books,” said Oswaldo, adding that he kept postponing learning to dance for different reasons.
“When I came to China, at the beginning I was bored with nothing to do as I didn’t have many friends, and someone told me there was a salsa party at Coco Park. I thought that in Ecuador I was a terrible dancer, but here for sure it would be ok, but after I arrived at the party I saw that everybody was dancing so elegantly, so again I was sitting at the party just looking at the others dance,” Oswaldo recalled.
Step by step, however, Oswaldo learned to dance better and better by attending different dancing parties across the city. One day, he joined Patrice’s course and the two began to invite more friends to join the classes.
“We do not only teach salsa, but also bachata, kizomba, and a bit of reggaeton, and we are looking to add other cool dances. We currently have more than 660 members in our group and every day it grows more and more. It’s scientifically proven that dancing works in the brain to make you happier,” said Oswaldo.
Currently, there are four instructors teaching the class in rotation, namely Adrian Esquivel from Colombia, Daniel Canosa from Spain, Jenny Wu from China, and Amga Gamboa, whose parents originate from both Colombian & Mongolia.
Amga grew up in Colombia where he learned to dance salsa, merengue and other dances with his family since he was a child. “Now I am dancing all the time, be it cooking, showering or cleaning the house,” said Amga.
For Amga, Chinese people are a bit shy. “When I first came to Chia, people just passed by or stood there watching us dance. But gradually, after they listen to the music and feel the passion, they fall in love with dancing and Latin culture.”
“Some people feel lonely, but when they dance in the group, they feel comfortable and not lonely anymore, some even find their life partner via dancing. Others come becaue it is a kind of sport for them, but later they realize that it’s also a hobby with passion and more feelings,” said Adrian.
Daniel said he fell in love with the atmosphere of dancing when he first joined a party in Madrid in 2014. “People from all ages were smiling, dancing…The vibe was amazing. From then on I started taking classes every week,” said Daniel.
“Salsa makes people happy so I want to spread happiness throughout the world. It’s also amazing to see the student’s faces when they are finally able to make a difficult step successfully,” said Daniel.
For Jenny, salsa is a kind of interesting and joyful dance. She wants to make more people join the salsa community in order to enjoy themselves.
Isabel, one of the students joining the group, commented that she benefits from the course a lot and always invites her friends to join.
“I met Adrian, one of the teachers from the Salsa Beginners Group, in the elevator of my building and he invited me to join the class,” said Ginevra, another student of the course.
“The activity is really well organized. The location (Civic Center) is beautiful. The classes vary every week, trying to cover different styles and aspects of Latin dances, from basic steps to musicality, interpretation, and self-expression,” said Ginevra.
Yannis from Greece found the class on ShenzhenParty.com and joined the group. “All the guys that run the salsa group – Oswaldo, Amga, Adrian, and Daniel – are great guys, and very helpful and willing to offer great advice. They are cool, upbeat, and fun guys. Like most Latino people I’ve met in my life, they are so optimistic and expressive!” said Yannis who started dancing salsa and bachata about two years ago.
Additionally, the group has now their own party, every Wednesday and Friday at the Mr. Wong Bar at the Hilton Futian. They also invite different instructors with rich dancing experience to share in the class from time to time. For example, Aaron from Colombia with 15 years of dancing experience. Stephanie and Vivian, who both have their own studios have also been invited. Also, Alex, a Chinese national that organizes salsa parties, also sponsors drinks for the class.
If you want to join their group, feel free to add Oswaldo Loor on WeChat. His ID is ‘osloor’ and his phone number is 13380386829.