Salsa Bursts onto Swarthmore Campus

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Salsa, a form of Latin dance with a fusion of African and Caribbean musical traditions, has officially come to Swarthmore. Interest in salsa has been high this year, and after two interest meetings, about 20 people danced salsa last Wednesday (Sept. 24) in Upper Tarble.

The club got its roots from Carlos Villafuerte ’08, who in his last semester started teaching his salsa skills to his dorm-mates and other people who enjoyed salsa for its passionate and expressive moves and rhythms. As word spread, the club grew to almost 15 regular members who met every Thursday night to dance.

This year, though scheduling issues are still being worked out, the club plans to have its own professional instructor from Take the Lead Dance Studio in West Philadelphia. Last Wednesday, Garincha Hilaire, who is the owner and founder of Take the Lead, taught Swarthmore students the basic steps of salsa, including the forward-back step, side-break, and the back-break steps.

In order to give Swarthmore students more opportunities to dance salsa, the club is also planning a salsa Paces party as an opportunity for students of all different experience levels to dance to authentic music. Also in the works is a possible trip to salsa dance in Philly.

What’s so intriguing about salsa? As Nelson Freire, ’10, one of the first members of salsa club, explained, “The sound of it just makes you want to move. People who really know what they’re doing make one dance look like a work of art.”

Chelsea Spalding ‘11, who joined last year’s unofficial club, likes salsa for its fluidity and freedom of movement. Another reason why she feels strongly that salsa club will be a continuing presence at Swarthmore is that “a lot of students of Latino heritage want to be involved in something such as salsa dancing because it’s part of their history.”

The club meets every Wednesday at 8 PM in Upper Tarble. Anyone interested should email nfreire1, cspaldi1, or emanzo1.


  1. 0
    Argos says:

    Damn. I thought they meant that salsa literally burst onto campus. Like, a giant vat of salsa flooded Kohlberg or something…washed Dobby away in an avalanche of diced tomatoes…swept up unsuspecting children in its wake of death…
    That would have been rad.

  2. 0
    Learn To Salsa Dance says:

    That’s awesome how the club started. It’s really cool that Carlos Villafuerte actually took time out of his day to teach people how to salsa dance. I love salsa and I love the music. Thanks for the article.

  3. 0
    Julie says:

    It’s so great to hear that this group is together. I have a salsa company right in Media, PA. No one needs to travel to Philly anymore if they don’t want to because I host monthly salsa parties right here in the ‘burbs! The next party is October 25th. I would love to have you all!! Please visit for more info!

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