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Friday salsa dancing on Sixth Avenue

Oy caramba!

FRIDAY NIGHT: Bend a date at Studio 6 Ballroom. Photo credit: Studio 6 Ballroom

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Imagine, one hand against your partner's waist, pulling her or him close - hands clasped and hovering at eye level. You begin to make small bends in your knees. One, two, one, two. ... The motion creates a circle in your hips, and the two of you begin to dance. 

This is the dance of the merengue. This song and dance of the Dominican Republic was believed to have started in the sugar beet fields, as slaves were chained at the ankles, thus creating the close proximity and foot dragging the dance is revered for today. 

The merengue, as well as the bachata and salsa, are taught in mini-versions, with or without partner, at varying levels of experience, every Friday night at Studio 6 Ballroom in Tacoma. After the last instruction, the club lights flip on, disco ball drops and Studio 6 fills with cross body leads, hand throws and hammerlocks.

"It's always fun and memorable," says Natasha Thayer, master coach at Studio 6 Ballroom. "One of the reasons we chose Friday nights was so that you could club hop on Sixth Avenue and go out for food after."

Thayer is a national award winning dancer, has appeared on television, trains world-wide competitors and has partied at a salsa jam inside Gloria Estefan's club in South Beach, Miami. 

But don't let Thayer's high credentials intimidate you, Friday nights are all about fun.

"We work hard to maintain a comfortable, fun and safe feeling environment to learn in," she says. "It's more important than anything, including rent, that this is a supportive place from both instructors and other students. As a coach, it is always my mission to make dancing more approachable and easy to catch on than you would have ever imagined or have ever seen."

While a good crowd of 35 people or more get out on the dance floor, Studio 6 encourages group dates, couple dates and solos to come out and "let the rhythm get you."

"I like to keep things light hearted and fun," says Thayer. "No partner necessary ... I can also help you communicate better if you already have a partner!"


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