These dance styles are all the rage in local venues – The Daily Gazette

The 10 couples spun and paced as salsa music poured from the speakers at Newberry Music Hall in downtown Saratoga Springs.

“Five, six, seven, cross lead,” shouted Felix Ortiz, as the couples changed direction.

It was the intermediate salsa class held at the club every Friday night. Ortiz was his instructor. On the other side of the dance floor was the beginner class led by Johnny Martinez. Both instructors are part of Tango Fusion Dance Company, a local studio that Martinez runs with Diane Lachtrupp, who also teaches a variety of dance styles. At the end of the session, Martinez and Lachtrupp gave a salsa demonstration of what evening students could aspire to. A party then followed.

Friday’s “Latin Night” event was typical of what people who love the social dance scene enjoy. Several nights and certain days of each week, one or another studio or place gives a class or devotes an evening to a type of dance, whether it is swing, salsa, contra, line or tango, among others.

“There’s always an ebb and flow, but right now there’s been an increase in swing dancing over the last two months,” said Dave Wolf of Saratoga Savoy and the Diamond Dance organizer who has held every third Friday of the month on the third floor of Saratoga Springs City Hall.

Wolf attributes this interest not to the popularity of television shows like “Dancing with the Stars” but to the fact that people just want to dance and meet people. Most classes and even large monthly events do not require partners, as partner rotation is the norm.

“Social dancing is about people going dancing because they want to dance with someone rather than watching someone dance or doing competitive dancing,” he said.

‘On top’

Jim Apicella, who owns and runs Danceland in Latham, agreed.

“These TV shows are overdone,” he said. “It’s entertainment.”

Whether dancers have to pay a choreographer to create a dance, they also have to spend money on costumes and have to rehearse to get the routines. For social dancing, a reasonable cover charge takes care of everything and unlike competitive dancing, there is little stress as no one grades the dancers on their abilities.

For example, Apicella said, he recently offered a line dancing class, in which everyone forms lines and takes the same steps. Seventy-five people showed up and the night had been very cold. This large number even surprised him.

“Usually we get around 40 people,” he said.

While ballroom, which includes waltzing, is also big at Danceland, Lachtrupp said he’s noticed swing and tango are currently particularly strong with more swing parties being offered at clubs that had never danced much. With the exception of big swing parties like Wolf’s Diamond Dance which has a live band, most use a disc jockey with recorded music. Swing is more than a lindy or a jitterbug.

“There’s an east coast and west coast swing,” Lachtrupp said. “East Coast is a circular style, faster tempo over hopeful music like jitterbug. West Coast is more rhythmic and bluesy, slower tempo with footsteps coming and going.
Wolf agreed.

“Swing has a wide variety of sounds,” he said.

Tango varieties

But tango is just as popular and there are differences here too. There is Argentine tango, like what we dance in the clubs of Buenos Aires, and the more contemporary tango. Sherrie Lyons knows the difference. She has been a fan of tango for years and has traveled to Buenos Aires three times to dance in local clubs. Almost four years ago she organized a tango night called Milonga for the first Saturday of every month at Arthur’s Market in Schenectady’s Stockade.

“We usually host up to thirty people,” Lyons said. “It’s an intimate space but it’s like the trendy places in Buenos Aires. We transform the place with flowers, candles and tango artwork. »

The focus here is on Argentine tango, which Lyons said was like giving your partner a hug and then walking together. Beginners are always welcome, but Lyons warns that learning to dance to this sensual and exotic music could take over your life.

“Tango people will drive anywhere to dance. They are crazy,” she said.

In addition to making friends, social dancing can help with weight loss, improve a person’s state of mind, and provide unexpected benefits for the athlete in you.

“I work with high school football and lacrosse teams,” Lachtrupp said. “I do Latin with the lacrosse teams and hip hop with the soccer teams. It helps with their footwork.

This story is just a sampling of what’s out there, but dance fans know that attending an event will lead to other places not mentioned here. These include the annual Dance Flurry scheduled for February 16-18 in Saratoga Springs and monthly new dances at the Jazz Bar operated by the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

Colleen D. Ervin