By Emily Ballard
Baylor’s ban on dancing on campus was lifted in 1996 after 151 years of a strictly enforced no-dance policy.
One group that takes advantage of this freedom of recreational dance is Baylor’s Latin Dance Society. The society will feature the 11th annual Salsa Invasion this weekend for two days of Latin dance performances and lessons.
The event will kick off at 8 p.m. Friday at Hoffman Hall at 4th St. and Jackson Ave. with a beginning salsa class. Social dancing will continue until midnight, but students can return Saturday morning to learn other forms of Latin dance. Houston junior Maria Villalva, secretary of the Latin Dance Society, said the society is bringing in more professionals than previous years from New York, Chicago, Dallas and San Antonio. “Our main headliners are from New York — a group called Los Pachangueros,” she said. “Pachanga in Spanish means party. This form of dance is bouncy and a lot of fun.”
Baylor’s Latin Dance Society’s performance group will showcase their talent Saturday night, alongside the Latin dance societies of the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
“After the showcase, there will be more social dancing,” Villalva said. “And then Sunday just sleep after so much dancing.”
Baylor students, faculty and staff can purchase a full two-day pass for $12, a Friday social dance pass for $3 or a Saturday morning pass for $6 on baylorlatindance.com.
“That’s a big difference from what we offer non-Baylor students,” Villalva said.
Non-Baylor participants must pay $60 for a full two-day pass and $40 for the Saturday workshop.
Villalva said the society members have been extremely busy with fundraising and practicing for performances at Salsa Invasion.
“We’ve had to raise a lot of money to bring in all of the professionals,” she said.
Every Saturday night, the society members teach Latin dance at 10 p.m. at Tres Mexican restaurant. The lessons last an hour and are free. The restaurant pays the society for their instructing time, but people can remain there dancing until 2 a.m.
“All of our officers love teaching first-timers,” she said.
Cookies, cupcakes and cake-pops baked by the society’s members will be sold from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day this week in the Baylor Science Building. Villalva said the society members will also have a car wash to raise additional money. The location has yet to be determined.
Huntsville freshman Jordan Floyd said he has enjoyed learning salsa and cha-cha moves through his involvement in the society.
“I think dancing is a skill everyone should learn at one point,” he said.
Floyd used his new dancing skills to teach one of his friends some Latin moves.
Rockwall junior Tyler Kirwan said he came to Baylor not knowing how to dance and not having a desire to learn, but a friend in Latin Dance Society invited him to a group session. He has been hooked since his first lesson.
“My dancing skills have improved 20-fold,” he said.
For Kirwan, the Latin Dance Society is more than a group of people that shares his interest in Latin dancing.
“It’s important because this is my core group of friends now,” he said. “The dancing throws me out of my comfort zone consistently. Also, I’m starting to speak Spanish again.”
Villalva agreed with Kirwan and said the society has become an important part of her life.
“We’ve all grown pretty close to each other,” she said. “We go out to eat together, study together and hang out on the weekends. I feel like that makes us work harder toward our goals.”