I'm going to start my blog with the question that is asked of me the most (I get this question at least once a week or more).
Why does a white guy like you dance and teach Salsa and Bachata?
I actually don't mind answering this question because it allows me to talk about my history and a little bit of the current state of Salsa and Bachata in the world.
A quick answer is that Salsa and Bachata are danced in almost every country in the world. They are internationally recognized dances and they have been supported by all shapes, sizes and colors for a long time.
For me personally it all started in Los Angeles, California. I was born in Anaheim and then at age 7 my family moved to South Pasadena. The Latino culture is a huge part of LA. As a child growing up in So. Cal, you don't even realize that it could be a different culture than your own because the Latino culture is so much a part of everyday life. The food, music, Spanish language and dance are everywhere.
I didn't really search out Salsa or any kind of Latin music as I grew up. It was just all around me. My family business hired many people from Guadalajara. Some of these employees have worked with my family since I was born. I would work at the family biz with my co-workers from Mexico listening to their music, eat their yummy food and even dance. I have great memories from working with my friends from Guadalajara.
During high school I was involved in Musicals, choirs, dance and any other extra curricular activity that would get me out of the house on a week night. After high school I became interested in African inspired dance and drumming. I spent about 4 years drumming and dancing with a troupe in Grass Valley, CA. It was then that I learned how to play the clave.
During the time of studying African music I went to LA to study Conga. My teacher said that if I was going to study conga then I needed to listen to Poncho Sanchez, a really well known conguero in LA (buy his music, it's awesome). That was my first exposure to Latin Jazz. I was floored. It was the perfect combination of African rhythm and European music. I couldn't get enough. Soon I found some live salsa orchestras to watch in LA and I was hooked. Not only was it amazing music but everyone danced with each other too. I would just sit and watch the salsa dancers and listen to the music all night. Soon after I found salsa dance teachers and the rest is history.
I love music and a good piece of music will make me want to just move my body. I could never make it as a musician because if the music is good I can't sit still. Salsa is a perfect match of rhythm and orchestration. I hope that everyone has a chance to experience a dance like I get to experience salsa. Teaching salsa has become a way of life for me. I can only hope people will find something that inspires them like teaching and dancing inspires me.