By Alicia Baker Sizzling Salsa

As I slip my 3-inch high heeled dance shoes on, I think, “Ahh, I feel at home.” Many women cringe at the thought of wearing heels, but because I’ve been salsa dancing for so long, I’m used to them.

I walk across the dance floor, thinking of my favorite song, “Do You Only Wanna Dance” by the Julio Daviel Big Band, and turn it on, loud. I feel the melody start to move me – I move my hips, put my hands on my body, twirl. But salsa dancing doesn’t happen alone. Having a great partner to dance with can create an awesome feeling. When you’re connected to your partner, not just physically but also on beat together, the moves seem to come easily, and just looking at that person can make you feel like you are the only one there.

Now don’t get me wrong, after dancing for three hours in one night, several times a week, my feet are screaming. If they could talk, they’d be swearing. My scrunched up toes have had blisters and nails cut in half and bleeding, and the top of my feet scar from being kicked by other heels – all for the sake of dancing. I just love dancing too much to worry about the pain that nobody else sees.

When I was a child, my family lived in six different states, including Puerto Rico, but we moved to New Mexico when I was in elementary and middle school. Growing up mostly in the Southwest in a Hispanic culture were my first experiences with Latin-style music and dancing. I remember looking at those girls, thinking how fun and beautiful they looked. I never thought that in 10 years, I’d be doing the same thing, let alone teaching people to dance.

Flash forward a decade, and here I am, in my third year of teaching at Sizzling Salsa, Bozeman’s first Latin dance club. When I first started teaching at Sizzling Salsa, which was founded by local Zach Edmisten in 2008, I didn’t realize what running this club would mean to me.

Being a dance teacher has allowed me to grow not only as a dancer, but also as a person. I’ve met hundreds of people, and I give them props because it takes courage to walk into a dance class that many might find intimidating.

Once you try salsa dancing, you’ll find it’s not intimidating at all. Instead, it’s exciting, a good workout and a great way to meet people.

While teaching, I always keep in mind this quote: “The only dancer you should compare yourself to is the one you used to be.”

It makes me happy to know I’ve been able to teach people who’ve never danced before how to Salsa.

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Sizzling Salsa dance lessons
Location: The Montana Movement Arts Center (MAC), 1871 S. 22nd St., Ste. 2, Bozeman
When: Every Wednesday, except the first week of the month

Beginners Lesson – 8-8:45 p.m. No partner needed!

Open Dance – 8:45-10:30pm
Cost: $3/person

Find more info at sizzlingsalsamt.com.