I rolled through the Junction, a lively neighbourhood in Toronto’s west end, when I spotted AfroLatino Dance Company’s new location. The pull — that sudden feeling of wanting, needing to dance — was instant and almost strong enough to get me out of traffic and straight into the studio.
Beyond the large, welcoming store front window, underneath the chandeliers, I could see arms flying and dancers turning at the weekly Saturday Social. For a moment, I could almost hear the stroke of the clave, mingling expertly through the salsa beat, the Cuban rhythm; and I thought, if Cuba could speak my name, it would speak it in song.
Cuban salsa, also known as casino, is one of AfroLatino’s most popular dances to teach and was my first love in the city’s social dance scene. Salsa and I have had great times together with friends: in the park for a picnic, on a rooftop patio at sunset, late at night in the club when sleep is overrated. We’ve had great times with strangers, too: at the Sweet Potato in Barbados and at Club Tropicana in Houston, Texas. Often, however, the best place to dance salsa outside of Cuba is where you feel at home — and that’s what AfroLatino has become, a home for casino and those who love it in Toronto.
On June 24 starting at 7 p.m., casineros will be coming “home” to celebrate AfroLatino’s 12th Anniversary. They will join lovers of Bachata, Reggaeton, Kizomba, Semba and Afro-House at this multi-room bash to share in what AfroLatino does best — fostering an inviting dance community and authentic cultural hub.
I warn you, however, that once you get a taste of what AfroLatino has to offer, be prepared to feel the pull, that inevitable urge to dance, whether you’re in the studio or, like me, rolling through traffic in the west end.