Salsa lovers come together to meet, greet and dance

Being single isn’t so bad – especially if it means a chance to move to the beat and dance some salsa.

The Salsa for Singles event held on Tuesdays at Whistler’s Grille – located at Broadview and Mortimer avenues in East York – offers East Yorkers as well as other GTA residents a chance to swish and sway to the beat of a Latin tune.

Veteran dancer Betty Colón, who is the head instructor and owner of the Salsa for Singles Company, encourages people to come out for her classes.

“There’s not a lot of salsa dancing in East York and I knew that the best place for the classes would be in East York.”

Colón, who is an East York resident herself, came to Canada 14 years ago from Venezuela and says she noticed a need for Latin dance in the Toronto community.

“We started in smaller places, like community centres. Then we realized that we needed to be in a place where people can socialize and feel more in the party mood,” Colón said.

That’s when Colón’s business found a “partner” in Whistler’s Grille – and its McNeil Room, the banquet room that hosts the salsa lessons.

Using the spacious venue, the Salsa for Singles event is not only for those looking to find love.

“We’re not a dating service,” Colón said, “but what we guarantee is that you will meet people.”

Participants travel from far and wide to attend classes. Like Laura Castane and her husband Rafael Richards. The couple live in Markham and travel 30 minutes just to attend class with Betty.

“I do it for fun and because I like dancing,” Castane said. “This is not only for singles.”

Castane has been attending Colón’s classes for more than six months now, and joined the event after hearing about it through her husband.

But others have traveled from even further – like Korea.

K-Young Kang has been in Canada for only a few weeks, and found the event through He said he came to the class because he wants to develop his English-speaking abilities and meet other people.

“It was exciting and the right thing for me,” Kang said, “but it was a little difficult since this was my first time.”

But this wasn’t Scarborough resident Gabriela Behar’s first time. She has been dancing with the social club for over a year now and said she loves attending, not only for the social aspect but also because there’s no pressure.

“It’s not structured and you get a chance to practice after the class.”

Tamara Rogers, on the other hand, decided to get into salsa dancing as a way of finding something she could love.

“I was looking for something to give me joy in life,” Rogers said, “and I knew that I loved dancing.”

The home-based business owner, who also found the event through, attended a salsa class over ten years ago with a different company, but didn’t show much interest. It’s different for her the second time around. She wants to find that life balance.

“The nice thing about salsa is that it’s so interactive,” Rogers said. “Most dancing you’re not in contact with your partner and this really sort of forces that.”

And that’s exactly what Betty Colón is trying to get across.

“Right now our ultimate goal is to make yourself into a better dancer, but also a better person – a better you,” Colón said. “We give you the tools how to dance but we also give you the tools how to socialize and how to interact with other people.”

About this article

By: Elana Saimovici
Posted: May 8 2009 11:02 am
Filed under: Arts & Life