Picture this: it's a Monday night and there is nothing to do, so while scrolling mindlessly on Instagram a colorful flyer comes across the screen. That flier is full of information for Western’s Salsa and Bachata dance club.
The green and purple hand-drawn poster with a couple dancing on it looks intriguing. After messaging the classmate who had reposted it, about it. All they have to say is positive and energetic feedback about the meetings with encouragement around new members.
That is a similar experience for second-year Kaitlin Ringle and why she decided to start coming to the meetings.
After her first meeting, Ringle said she could tell that it was a welcoming environment.
“If I messed up they were like you're doing a great job, keep going,” Ringle said. “It's a lot more positive and upbeat than I was expecting.”
Ringle said since joining the club, she has met people she hopes to become friends with and she will spread the word in hopes others join.
The feeling of the hopefulness of new attendees is something members of the leadership team share with Ringle.
With a pre-pandemic turnout of an average of 30 people and uncertainty of who was going to join after a year of no club meetings due to COVID-19 restrictions, the idea of making posters to advertise the club came up.
“We made flyers on kinda a whim,” said leadership member Romane Frevol, who has been a part of the club for three years. “Clearly, they worked out.”
Frevol and fellow leadership member Patrick Antush agree that students are feeling restless after online schooling and the ups and downs of the first school year back in person. They both believe that the posters the club put around campus caught the attention of these students.
The posters worked much better than expected. The club now sees attendance at around 100 people, causing them to sometimes split up the lessons into two different rooms.
Because of this new large turnout, most current members ony have a couple lessons under their belt. Others have four to seven years of experience.
Antush said that one of the older members, John Beau, has been a part of the club for seven years.
In the 11 years the club has been around, it has taught people at all skill levels with each meeting consisting of a beginner’s lesson and an intermediate lesson taught each week. This value still reigns true to this day.
“We really try to instill into our environment here that everyone can dance and that everyone can come out and learn to dance,” Antsuh said.
A lot of new members are joining with little to no dancing experience; however, a few have joined with years of experience in Salsa, Bachata or other styles of dance.
Second-year transfer student Ramon Prado Jr., who has been attending the club meetings for the last two quarters, has been dancing for almost his entire life.
When transferring, one of his draws to Western was the extensive dance community.
“I wanted to join the [all five dance clubs],” he said. “But in the fall of 2021, none of them were active.”
In the winter quarter, he noticed a group of people dancing Salsa in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Viking Union. As a dancer who prefers partner dances over group dances, he looked into what was going on and went to the next meeting.
He has been going to the meetings and hour-long dance socials ever since. The dance socials are an hour-long free dance period that takes place after the official meeting where the members are able to practice what they had just learned and dance with others.
Starting this quarter, he became a part of the leadership team and hopes to continue spreading the message that everyone is welcome to the club.
“I want everyone to feel included,” he said. “I am a very big person on making sure people feel welcome.”
This can be seen at the beginning of any of his lessons.
Before starting any class or coaching members individually he likes to open the space up for people to comfortably ask questions or make mistakes. He does this by saying, “if you have questions let us know, if you fuck up keep going, and the last is that this is a dance that is all about having fun.”
The Salsa Bachata Club meets every Monday in the MPR located on level 6 in the VU at 8 p.m. with a dance social starting at 9 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend the meetings. Just make sure you are ready to learn how to dance and have fun.
Desiree Erdmann (She/Her) is a reporter for the campus life beat at The Front this quarter. She is a 4th year transfer student new to Western looking to graduate with a bachelors in Visual Journalism. In her free time Desiree enjoys taking care of her many houseplants, watching the sunset, trying new coffee shops, and exploring her new home of Bellingham.
Her instagram is @desiarai