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CSUF Salsa club livens up campus

By Ally Mackey-Fitzgerald Posted on October 22, 2013


A student’s time in college is often a process of self-discovery and personal growth.

Ally Fitzgerald / Daily Titan

Cal State Fullerton provides some of these young scholars with the opportunity to find themselves through dance.

The CSUF Salsa Club, which was established three years ago, is a vibrant and growing group on campus that helps students of all backgrounds, ages and skill levels to express themselves through the art of salsa dancing.

With the motto “Building a stronger community through salsa,” this club hosted an event open to both students and the community on Saturday in Portola Pavilion of the Titan Student Union.

The event was offered at no cost to those with a student ID and included a beginning level salsa lesson.

The event began at 8 p.m. and lasted until the early morning.

Janette Valenzuela, a CSUF alumna who is widely known in the salsa community to be an innovator, was the guest speaker at the event.

Valenzuela spoke about the rapid growth in popularity of salsa dance across Orange and Los Angeles counties in the last twenty years and how the community has changed.

She also founded the Salsa Brava Dance Company.

“If you’ve ever danced salsa on the West Coast, you’ve pretty much had an instructor from Salsa Brava Dance Company,” Joshua Mendoza, CSUF Salsa Club president, said. “They are pretty much the origin of what we dance today.”

After Valenzuela spoke, all in attendance were instructed by an upbeat and energetic dance instructor Kazumi DeVries to move to the dance floor.

Guys and gals lined the four outer edges on the floor as DeVries stood in the middle and asked for beginners to raise their hands.

Many hands were reluctantly raised among the mixed crowd of students, club members and the general public.

It was clear DeVries was comfortable teaching all of the attendees, regardless of their skill level, giving clear instructions and demonstrating each new move with a rotating partner from the group.

“She’s a professional, so anybody can learn from her,” Mendoza said. “She actually taught blind people how to dance and they’re actually really good!"

DeVries has worked with the group since it began in 2010. She and Mendoza have worked to ensure that the group meet its stated goals of providing affordable lessons and producing quality results among its members.

Essentially, this translates to teaching students how to dance salsa.

“You join our club to learn salsa, and by the end of the semester you will be dancing,” Mendoza said. “My parents told me I had to be a well-rounded man in order to get the ladies.”

Mendoza said when he first began taking lessons from DeVries when the club was founded he had a low skill level.

“It’s a very comfortable environment where people are trying to learn, so I think this is a good place to be if you’re beginning,” Jessica Torres, a finance major, said about the event.

Torres danced ballet most of her life, but recently began dancing salsa.

Torres learned of the event when she was handed an informational flier on campus.

DeVries said people can begin to learn salsa at any age. Like many in attendance at the event, DeVries did not start dancing salsa until she was an adult.

“I started really late, I had already had my two children,” DeVries said. “When they started going to school and I went back to school … and I needed something to let out my stress, and salsa was it.

Membership in the CSUF Salsa club is $35 and is open to all students. Classes meet on Wednesday evenings in the Kinesiology and Health Science Building.

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