COURTESY PHOTO / SALSA CLUB

It’s easy to tell when the William and Mary Salsa Club is having rehearsal in the Sadler Center Monday and Thursday nights, thanks to the sound of upbeat, rhythmic percussion and brass that energizes even those simply walking through. Over the past four years, the Salsa Club has almost tripled in size and has become an extremely popular club on campus, attracting students from many backgrounds — even those with no prior dance experience.

President Anna Baroody ’20 confirmed that many in the club have never danced Salsa before.   Most of the dances are taught by club members using dances they already know, congresses they have attended or even from YouTube videos. The club likes to emphasize collaboration as well, with a lot of its choreography being a group effort.

Social Chair Sheila Hill ’20 feels like she’s found a home in the Salsa club.

“You have to let a lot of things go to be comfortable dancing with someone and then you just bond over that,” Hill said. “You are connecting with somebody not through words, and it’s different than anything else I have ever done at school.”

Besides practicing in Sadler, the club demonstrates their routines and skills at Salsa competitions. They recently took home first place at the RVA Salsa and Bachata Congress September 7. It was their second time competing at this collegiate competition, and they were up against Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Virginia.

For Hill, the win was an unexpected one.

“We did not feel confident about it, but we practiced a lot,” Hill said.

In fact, many of the dances were choreographed in the summer, and members returned to school early to practice them every day. It was worth it, though.

“It was a lot of hard work, but I got to do what I love for several hours a day,” Hill said.

All of that hard work was combined with lots of fun. Baroody and Hill said they went in with the mindset of making sure they enjoyed the work because they did not know what the outcome would be.

“We went to have fun and we came home with a trophy,” Hill said.

Another enjoyable aspect about the Congress was the instructors that were there to teach different styles of Latin dance from all around the world. Along with the workshops, there was a party with live music and different ballrooms featuring different styles of dance. Because of their first place victory, they also participated in a show with all of the instructors.

Member JD Damarillo ’21 stated that Salsa was a worthwhile activity on campus.

“Salsa is a really great group of people and is a fun thing to do late nights on campus,” Damarillo said.

Fellow member Jimmy Halderman ’23 asserted that the club is a fun group to spend time with.

“It’s a great way to connect with people,” Halderman said.

All the members are excited for the showcase in April and for more opportunities to compete. In the meantime, practices continue to offer something special for all members: a great place to blow off steam with people who care about you while doing the thing you love the most.