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Photo courtesy of Brandon Austin

The Rev. Brandon Austin gives instructions duirng a salsa dance class at Davis United Methodist Church in California. Alma Hernandez is his partner for this dance.

Learn salsa dancing at church

 

By Christine Kumar
July-August 2017

It Worked for Us

Learning salsa dancing at church

If you live near Davis United Methodist Church in Davis, California, and want to learn how to dance salsa style, talk with the pastor and he will teach you. You may even see him break into a salsa during a Sunday sermon.

The Rev. Brandon Austin is a 15-year salsero (male salsa dancer). He loves the dance that originated in Cuba. His mastery of the dance and willingness to teach it in his last four churches is a relationship-building gift he brings.

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In February, more than 75 people of all ages showed up for the first class Austin taught at Davis. "We get about half of the dancers from the church and the other half from the community," Austin says. "It is great for community building and enriches relationships." If a student doesn't come with a partner, he or she is paired with another class member.

Students learn the fundamentals of salsa dancing, including the basic steps, etiquette, attire and learn to dance the merengue, bachata and cha-cha-cha. Once the dancers complete seven 90-minute sessions and graduate, they are "club ready" – they can go to clubs as a group and dance there.

Austin discovered his love for dance as a ninth-grader when he bought the "Saturday Night Fever" album. He has not stopped dancing since. "I enjoy people, and dancing nourishes and feeds my soul," he says.

Austin says he experiences the same feeling while dancing that he does when he walks a labyrinth. He knows that different people find joy in different things, like painting, writing, sports and dancing. He encourages people to find and make use of their passions like he did.

In addition to his churches, Austin has taught salsa dancing at church camps, fitness clubs and in people's homes.

"It Worked for Us" is written by Christine Kumar, a freelance writer and administrator, Baltimore Metropolitan District, Baltimore-Washington Conference.