Vamos a bailar!

by David Rosales
Published February 21, 2008

“You can’t hear this music without moving,” says Jessica De Leon, president of the Redondo Union High School Sabor de Salsa club.

She’s right. Inside the high school Dance Room, nearly 15 couples spin on their toes. Girls fall with delicate grace, in the arms of their male partners, raise their legs and arms, caressing the chant of trumpets, trombones, congas and timbales.

In the face of every student it’s possible to read concentration and effort, like that of a quarterback just a few yards from a touchdown.

“They work very hard for themselves with a very personal drive”, said Mike SooHoo, the advisor and co-founder of the club. The students practice Mondays and Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. It’s not unusual to see couples rehearsing steps a dozen times with the same focus and fiery energy with which they began.

On Wednesdays, they plan sales and performances to raise fund for their lavish outfits.
Sabor de Salsa began in 2003 with five couples. Now 15 guys and 15 girls belong to this spinning army of rhythm. And the group is still growing.

“A lot of students want to be a part of it,” De Leon said. “They come to our rehearsal and they’re amazed, but when they start practicing and see how hard it is, some of them withdraw – but with tons of respect for what we are doing in this room.”

Their goals are ambitious. They want to become a part of LA’s professional dance scene. They dream of competing against groups from Colombia and Puerto Rico, countries that have produced many world champions.

“Everybody anticipates our big event of the year. We always invite our families and now we’re planning to invite other schools and salsa clubs from LA on April 26th,” De Leon said. ER