Orquesta Mayor

Orquesta Mayor

CLEMSON — One, two, three… five, six, seven. That’s the eight-count beat many instructors use to teach beginners a hot and very popular dance move. The four and eight count are a given and you can find out why Saturday at sunset when Clemson University students, faculty, staff and surrounding communities unleash the “rhythm of the night” at the amphitheater for “Salsa at Sunset.”

Billed as the hottest summer night in South Carolina, the family-friendly event will feature food, drinks, live music by Orquesta Mayor and salsa lessons by the Pura Alegria Dance Company.

“Salsa at Sunset” is one of several planned Clemson events that celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Pura Alegria Dance Company

Pura Alegria Dance Company

“I want people to come out and celebrate a piece of our rich history through the art of dancing with salsa music, embracing a piece of our culture in hopes that we can come together in unity at the end of the day,” said Clemson senior Selena Valdizon. “Gozar la vida (enjoy life)!”

Valdizon is president of Latinos Unidos and the Latin Dance Club. She and her fellow dancers will join Pura Alegria Saturday to help the not-so-skilled salsa dancer cha-cha-cha, mambo, bomba and plena.

“I want everyone and anyone to come through,” Valdizon said. “Bring out your amigos, your amigos’ amigos, their amigos, kids, families, anyone wanting to come out and have a great time.”

Announcements will be made throughout the event urging participants to give to the charity of their choice to help survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose.

Latinos Unidos members Rigo Hernandez (left), Jonnathan Giraldo, Kiana Vazquez, Selena Valdizon, Aylin Alvarez, Heidin Espinal, Montse Molas and Samantha Shumpert

Latinos Unidos members Rigo Hernandez (left), Jonnathan Giraldo, Kiana Vazquez, Selena Valdizon, Aylin Alvarez, Heidin Espinal, Montse Molas and Samantha Shumpert
Image Credit: Taylor Wilson

“This also is an opportunity to come together as one voice in support of survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose,” said Julio Hernandez, associate director of Hispanic outreach for Clemson’s Office of Inclusion and Equity. “Many of the hardest-hit areas were in the Caribbean and Virgin Islands, where salsa dancing is part of the culture.”

Historians say salsa dancing came about in the mid-1800s and evolved from Cuban dance forms. The dance is most popular in Caribbean, Latin American and Latino communities from Los Angeles to New York. It incorporates elements of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean dances like Guaguancó and Pachanga.

“’Salsa at Sunset’ is more than people coming together to dance. It’s the sharing of cultural experiences with people of all races and backgrounds, something Clemson University embraces and promotes,” Hernandez said.

“Salsa at Sunset” is free and open to the public.

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