Charles Ruh was a contractor, not a dancer — until he tried salsa.
“I’d never danced,” Ruh said. “My buddy and I went to Hannah’s on a Monday night for a lesson and it was really addicting. I’ve caught the bug.”
That was months ago and the 31-year-old Moraine man is now a regular at DaytOn1 Salsa events. A lifelong athlete, who also enjoys soccer and kayaking, Ruh was amazed by the workout that salsa dancing provides.
“It’s great cardio,” he said. “And it’s great for your legs and core and, oh my gosh, your hips.”
Ruh is part of a growing community of salsa enthusiasts in the Dayton area. Emily Polander and David Sommer co-founded DaytOn1 Salsa in January to unify the local Latin dance resources and help expand the community.
“I’ve never been involved in an activity that has so much diversity — all ages, all races, all professions, single people and people with families — it’s open to everyone,” Polander said. “And, because of the nature of this kind of dance, it forces you to branch out and meet new people.”
DaytOn1 Salsa currently offers lessons in two locations weekly — Hannah’s, in downtown Dayton, and The Barrel, in Springboro. They also offer workshops and host a variety of social events.
“Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of talented dancers commute to Columbus or Cincinnati to dance and one of our big goals is to have enough options here that they don’t have to do that,” said Polander, an avid dancer and instructor. “We want them to gain the dance skills, but it’s also the community aspect we are trying to grow.”
The quick footwork and spins might seem a bit daunting, but it needn’t be a deterrent as Polander has seen all ages and ability levels get their salsa on. And no partner is required as there are plenty of people to pair up with at the lessons.
If you don’t believe the instructor, local DaytOn1 Salsa dancers weigh in on what got them hooked.
• Charles Ruh, Moraine: “It’s a great community and I can’t remember a time I’ve been dancing that I haven’t had a smile on my face.”
• Saa Shemsu, Washington Twp.: “When I go into something, I want to master it and this has definitely been a challenge for me. I like the fun of it, the community and the challenge.”
• Latonya Victoria, Huber Heights: “Dancing is one of my favorite forms of stress relief. When I’m dancing, I’m stress free and so happy to be there. And I know, when I’m done, I’ll feel good.”
• Ann Will, Dayton: “I wanted to learn Latin dance — I like the music and I like the rhythm. The people are so friendly and so welcoming. I went for the dance but, now, it’s the new friends that are the best part.”