Cuban Salsa will transform the Southampton Cultural Center into a Cuban-style dance hall on Saturday night for its "Celebrate Latin Dance!" dance party. The family friendly event presents the chance for Salsa dancers to take to the floor or for those new to the dance to learn steps and put them into practice.

The dance is led by Jaime Ruiz Cuban Salsa Dancers, who are in residency at the Southampton Cultural Center. Each week, Cuban Salsa classes are offered on Monday nights and have created a community of dancers, said dance fan Anne Hastings. So much so, a second night of Cuban Dance will soon be offered on Wednesday nights.

Carlos Pinto and Cristina Bustos dance Cuban Salsa at Southampton Cultural Center. Photo courtesy Jaime Ruiz Cuban Salsa Dancers.

"Celebrate Latin Dance!" will take place on Saturday, November 17, 2018 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Southampton Cultural Center in Southampton, NY. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 children. Cuban Salsa will be danced to a deejay spinning music. The event is welcoming to those new to Cuban Salsa or those who know the dance.

Salsa was born in New York in the 1960s and is a mix of Cuban dances, such as the mambo, cha-cha-chá, Latin Hustle, Puerto Rican dance, such as bomba and plena, set to music that may be Latin Jazz or a dash of rock and roll. Rising from influences from 1920s musicians who came to NY from Cuba or Puerto Rico, Salsa has turned into a global phenomena.

Despite its New York birthplace, Cuban music is a strong root. Cuban Salsa captures some of the Cuban dance traditions that evolved separately than the worldwide Salsa. One difference is that it is danced in groups (as well as in couples).

Salsa typically places an emphasis on fast footwork and dramatic dips, spins and drops with the second musical beat in a clave important for dance steps. Cuban Salsa includes an aspect of improvisation with dance steps emphasizing different beats. Music has an Afro-Caribbean influence and comes closer to the historic Cuban "casino" dances that were an integral part of Cuban popular culture.

Dancing Cuban Salsa at Southampton Cultural Center. Photo courtesy Jaime Ruiz Cuban Salsa Dancers.

At Cuban Salsa classes at Southampton Cultural Center, led by Jaime Ruiz, dancers move in lines that occupy the entire dance floor, making it easy to learn moves and master them. Cuban Salsa is frequency danced in a circle with the group dynamic an important aspect of the dance.

"It's a social event," Anne Hastings said in a phone interview. "We start with a class. It's casual and informal and can be fun. It's grown so much over the last year, that we had to add a second beginners class on Mondays and we're adding a Wednesday night class."

At the "Celebrate Latin Dance!" party on Saturday, most of the dancers participating in the Monday night classes are expected to attend, ensuring the dance party will be a festive ones with experienced dancers part of the crowd. Music will be offered by a deejay with light refreshments served.

People from all walks of life are finding enjoyment in Cuban Salsa with a new community forming around a love of dance. By holding a public dance, the group hopes to create a connection among the dancers on the East End as well as encourage the curious to give it a try, Hastings said.

"We're hoping to expand and let more people know about it," Hastings said.

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Jaime Ruisz Cuban Salsa Dancers

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Attesting to the interest in Cuban Salsa and Jaime Ruiz, his dance ensemble are increasing being asked to perform at community gatherings on the East End. The Jaime Ruiz Cuban Salsa Dancers have appeared at events in Hampton Bays and Southampton, performing recently along Jobs Lane during SouthamptonFest 2018.

The group will perform at Guild Hall at part of the community event "artXchange" taking place on Sunday, November 25, 2018 from 1 to 4 p.m.

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Jaime Ruisz Cuban Salsa Dancers. Courtesy Jaime Ruiz.

Jaime Ruisz Cuban Salsa Dancers. Courtesy Jaime Ruiz.

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BASIC FACTS: "Celebrate Latin Dance!" takes place on Saturday, November 17, 2018 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Southampton Cultural Center. Tickets are available at the door and cost $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Cuban Salsa Classes with Jaime Ruiz is held on Monday evenings at the Southampton Cultural Center. The Beginner Level class begins at 7 p.m. with the Intermediate Level starting at 7:45 p.m. Open Dance is held from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. where dancers can stay and practice with Jaime Ruiz Cuban Salsa Dancers. Classes are $20 per person for one month or $40 per person for one month to take both classes. To register, call 631-377-1505 or visit www.scc-arts.org.

Southampton Cultural Center is located 25 Pond Lane, Southampton, NY 11968. www.scc-arts.org.

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