Starting a Latin social dancing community brought Alejandra happiness and culture

Home Arts Starting a Latin social dancing community brought Alejandra happiness and culture
Starting a Latin social dancing community brought Alejandra happiness and culture

Alejandra Nunn grew up salsa dancing.

The beats, the movement, the instruments — they were part of her identity and a part of her Colombian heritage.

But when she came to Australia a decade ago she got married and relocated to Gladstone in central Queensland and had no-one to dance with.

A woman stands in a dance studio smiling
Alejandra Nunn launched her salsa studio and community as she had no-one to dance with.(ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

“My husband was always pushing me to do something outside of the house,” Ms Nunn said.

“I wasn’t really into going to the gym or anything … Dancing was my thing.

“So I said ‘Okay, why not bring [salsa] here to Gladstone?’

“I spoke to many dancers in Australia … they [said] to me ‘Just do it, don’t die wondering.'”

A group of people dancing in a park
Alejandra Nunn regularly leads community salsa dances in parks and at the beach.(ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

A salsa community

From humble beginnings in her garage studio, to now hosting community dance gatherings at the nearby Tannum Sands Beach with dozens of people, Ms Nunn has grown a new salsa community.

“Once I started dancing again I [felt] happy … I was doing something that I loved,” she said.

“To be able to share that with the community, to be able to share it with my students, is just beyond everything that I imagined.”

Two women dance in a park, with the beach in the background
Vicki McArthur (right) enjoys seeing people from all walks of life at the salsa classes.(ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

Vicki McArthur used to instruct Ms Nunn in fitness dance classes and jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the new community.

She said the dancing has helped her after a back injury.

“I had to have back surgery … I didn’t even know if I’d be able to dance anymore or do any sort of fitness,” Ms McArthur said.

“But I was really surprised that Latin dancing has actually helped me.

“It means the world that I’m up and I’m around and I’m physically fit and I’ve got so many friends.”

Four women dance in a studio
Alejandra Nunn’s home garage has been turned into a dance studio.(ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

For Ms Nunn, she really enjoys sharing Colombian, and other Latin American cultures, as part of the project.

“It’s about how the instruments go with the story — with the history, with the country,” she said.

“Everything plays a game, every instrument … they tell stories and the dancers interpret that.”

Connecting cultures

A man smiles at the camera
Lenin Germosen loves connecting with his culture’s traditional dances.(ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

Lenin Germosen grew up in New York City but his family originally hailed from the Dominican Republic.

A dancing style known as bachata originated in the Dominican Republic. It is also highly popular in Colombia.

“Normally what we do is that when people learn to dance [as children], they learn it from the family gatherings … they have the parties, the music plays,” Mr Germosen said.

“Because of my family being in New York, we didn’t have those opportunities for the large family gatherings.

“So I was one of those kids that just didn’t learn it and it’s something that has always been sort of nagging me — that there’s a big part of my culture that I just wasn’t really attached to, that I wasn’t connected with.”

A group of about 20 people dance in a park at sunset
The community salsa sessions have connected people from various backgrounds.(ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

Mr Germosen said he met Ms Nunn at a cultural festival and got involved as she also danced bachata.

He said dancing allowed him to develop a connection to his culture.

“It’s a big self-confidence boost,” Mr Germosen said.

“I have now [connection] in this little rural town in Gladstone, that I probably wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.”

A woman smiles while doing a salsa pose
Amanda Evans says dancing with the group has been the most fun she’s ever had.(ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

Amanda Evans started taking lessons with Ms Nunn when her studio opened last year.

“Apprehensively I came along to my first class basically with two left feet,” she said.

“It has been a rollercoaster, but it is the best fun I have had in my life.”

What the future holds

Two women dance in a park
Alejandra Nunn says salsa is about bringing the community together.(ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

Ms Nunn wants to grow the community to be even larger.

“I want to see big parties like Sydney, like Brisbane, like the Gold Coast,” she said.

“I want to see people coming to Gladstone, people come in as tourists and dancing with us.

“I want to see people dancing on the beach, like big crowds of people — kids, families — all together dancing.”

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