The lights are bright and the music throbs as men and women take to the dance floor. Hot Latin music spills out of the club into the cool night air as the people inside dance the night away.
This is how some Simpson students have been spending a number of of their Tuesday nights this semester.
“It’s a very fun time to relax and get away from Simpson during the week. The music is all Spanish so students get an idea of the type of music that Hispanic countries play,” said senior Gary Huynh, a member of CASA, one of the groups organizing these events.
Salsa dancing is held every Tuesday night at Raccoon River Brewing Company in downtown Des Moines. The salsa dancing lesions are from 9 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and the rest of the night is open for dancing, until around 1 a.m. or whenever people start to clear out. The fee is $5 but Huynh said, that sometimes the club gives coupons or passes to use on the next visit.
A few Simpson students discovered salsa dancing last summer and started bringing groups of friends to the club. After that, the word spread through the groups on campus and some of them decided to make it a Simpson sponsored event.
A couple of groups, including CASA and Ruckus, on campus have picked up the salsa beat and taken students to Raccoon River Brewing Company.
CASA is the campus Spanish club. Its purpose is to give students opportunities to learn about and share their knowledge of the culture of Spanish-speaking countries. Some of the activities of the club include sharing photos, food, and stories from travel abroad, hosting guest speakers, as well as planning to sponsor a Spanish film festival.
Ruckus is a group of students who are committed to bringing distinctive activities and new experiences to their fellow Simpson students and also to the Indianola community.
“At Salsa dancing, they just play different types of music and people dance whenever they feel like it,” said Huynh. “There are tables scattered around the dance floor. There is no formality to it at all. No dress code, but people usually try to look nice and wear dancing shoes.”
There are three types of songs with corresponding dances played throughout the night: Salsa, meringue and bachata.
These groups usually provide transportation from the Brenton Student Center, usually leaving around 8:30 p.m. each Tuesday night. After the half-hour lesson the students are free to dance, or hangout. There is a bar at Raccoon River Brewing Company for those who are over 21.
The turn out thus far this semester has been good with between ten and fifteen people attending each time. People make friends at salsa dancing and find other people with similar interest in both fun and multicultural events.