Fun to a Latin Beat

“The main focus is to have fun,” says Frances Seward, and everyone nods agreement. But, as the last hour had just shown, a whole lot of dancing goes into that fun.

Dancing — with a Latin Beat. Every Tuesday afternoon, 1:30-2:30.

Centre member and volunteer Wendy Hatanaka has exactly the right background to lead the group.

“My own main dance is the Argentine tango — it’s addictive — but here we focus on slower dances, with simpler steps. Right now, lots of merengue. If you can walk, you can dance the merengue!”

And, to the pulsing strains of Suavemente, that’s exactly what everybody is doing, this mild, cloudy January afternoon. Wendy (from left) partners Rae Collins, while Rae’s husband Paul Morris dances with Frances.

It’s all very relaxed and cheerful, with encouragement and demos by Wendy throughout the hour.

Paul twirls Mary Beam…

…then people switch partners, even switch who leads and who follows. Now (from left) Rae twirls Frances, while Paul practices a hand-hold move with Centre intern Vivian Liu.

Vivian, who dropped in out of curiosity, and has never done any of this before, later talks about how joyful and friendly it is, along with being very good exercise. She and Rae share a joke as they dance…

…and are still laughing as they try an ambitious back-to-back manoeuvre.

Right near the end of class, a quick taste of a different dance, the bachata. Slower than the merengue, also with a basic set of side-to-side and backwards/forward steps, but with a little tap! thrown in.


Wendy is a good teacher, says Paul: she helps everybody get the hang of what they’re doing, and feel good about it. He and Mary joke about “two left feet” and agree you get over that worry very quickly. You start dancing, and discover you have one left foot and one right foot after all.

Frances sums it up. “Nobody wants to look dumb. And you never look dumb here.”


Intro to Latin Dance

Tuesdays, 1:30-2:30 PM

$5 members; $6 non-members


Penny Williams, January 17, 2018.