Salsa Sunday on the Promenade
Salsa Sunday on the Promenade

According to 35-year dancing veteran Genina Dimalanta, there’s no better way to kick off a Monday than by doing Salsa on a Sunday.

Dimalanta is part of a dedicated crowd of local dancers who have been gathering for 21 years on the Promenade to bring Salseros and Salseras together from every part of Los Angeles.

“People should come to Salsa Sundays because it’s a highly sociable event,” said organizer Philip Cohen, founder of Salsa Familia. “It’s a lot of fun to let go of everything that bothers you and just dance.”

Each week, salsa dancers of all levels and styles gather on the 1200 block beginning at 6 p.m. The crowd peaks around 8 p.m. but some kicked off their shoes till around 10 p.m. They are a casual and loosely structured group that model themselves after the street salsa gatherings you would find in places like Puerto Rico, Cuba and New York. Not only do they have Salseras and Salseros but friends, families and others who are interested in dance, Salsa music, and photography gather to spectate, listen and talk.

Cohen said he started the tradition after seeing other kinds of public dance.

“There were other dance clubs. Tango and swing. I was always asking why there isn’t salsa and someone responded by asking me, “Why don’t you do it?”

When looking for a venue to be home to Salsa Sundays he said that, “Third Street just seemed like the right venue, it’s very diverse.”

All are welcome.

“Salsa Familia is a great community,” said Babe Estabon. “You see familiar faces here that you catch up with, but you also meet new dancers.”

Estabon believes ​​the positive interactions keep him coming back and said the music that ranges from bachata to chacha attracts the many styles of salsa.

Estabon adds that “Coming here is better than going to the club because most of the people come into dance. If you’re a beginner, many people and instructors will help you out.”

Cohen said there are always volunteers available who can give some friendly pointers on specific styles or the basics, depending on your needs.

“We welcome all levels, from beginner to intermediate, ” said Raul Pavia. “Salsa Sundays are free and it’s a unique way to work out and meet people.”

SMDP Intern Arabella Joaquin is a co-author of this story.