I’ve gone salsa dancing at different clubs around town for three to four years. 720 is really good right now. Tropicana was another one. I’ve been to El Cielo, Inta’s–you could go salsa dancing at a different club every night. They all have someone that teaches salsa, cha-cha, merengue; some teach lambada, cumbia. I’ve come with the same friends all this time. There are about six of us in the group, women and men. We went to college together and we pretty much live in the same neighborhood. We learned together–we picked it up on my friend’s living room floor. We had a video and traced the steps on her floor and we walked on them; her living room still has the footprints. Basically it’s a count of six. That’s what most of the dances have in common. There’s more hip movement with salsa, and salsa is more elegant, kinda like tango. A lot of people don’t know how to dance it, though there’s more things that you can do. Merengue is more common–it’s just marching and moving your hips up and down–it’s pretty easy to pick up. Salsa takes more technique and grace. The Macarena is fun in a group but it’s not really for serious dancers.

–Elisa Mendoza, fifth-grade teacher