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The Scarlet & Black

Salsa House Dances Its Way to Park Street

Salsa House members take a controlled dip on the stairs. Photo by Tela Ebersole.

What used to be a porch decorated with drapery is now home to a different kind of art, the art of dance. The performers of the Salsa dance group Isaac Chadri ’15, Alfredo Colina ’18, Lizzie Eason ’17, Charlotte Gbomina ’17, Terrell James ’15, Sarah Mehanna ’16, Laurie Polisky ’15 and Channel Turbides ’17 all now live at 1023 Park Street, Salsa House.

Previously, the Salsa group on campus only met sporadically and the instructor did not even always show up. House Coordinator Chadri was asked to step in, as he had the most experience with the dance group on campus. After he organized the club by creating regular meeting times, Chadri asked a few regulars to dance in their first showcase, which he now admits, “was a disaster.”

But the group improved and was given the opportunity to perform at NSO for the class of 2017, which is how they recruited new members. The dancers bonded and when project house applications came out, they agreed that having an official Salsa house would be best way to keep on dancing.

But living together off campus has at times proven more difficult than learning the moves. Many of the residents were not on campus last year, meaning that preparatory house meetings at the beginning of last year were frequently done via Skype.

Salsa House members take a controlled dip on the stairs. Photo by Tela Ebersole.
Salsa House members take a controlled dip on the stairs. Photo by Tela Ebersole.

“One of my fears was that we were all different people,” said Colina, who attended house meetings via Skype last year. Despite fears, all worked out for the best. “Even though a lot of us are really different, we all get together to do homework and cook meals,” he said.

The house has become so close that they are looking forward to making use of their family-sized dining table. “Isaac sits at one head of the table and Laurie sits at the other. It’s like they’re our mom and dad,” Colina said. “They even cook for us.”

Their love of cooking may also just reflect some ulterior motives within the house.

“I really just want to get a big bowl of salsa, and we can all sit in it and take pictures,” Eason said. “Then we’ll really be Salsa house.”

For the family meals and salsa snacking, they use cookware left behind from Art House, the group that occupied the house last year. Other remnants of Art House include a Christmas tree made of beer cans and a nude drawing of a woman that hung above the stairs.

This past summer, everyone in the house got an email about the drawing and had to decide whether or not to keep it. Like all house decisions, two had extreme opinions and everyone else was too afraid to vote.

“I thought it was a wonderful commentary about social expectations of women,“ Polisky said.

“Everything was just hanging out, and I do not need to see that every morning,” Turbides said.

In the end, neutral residents didn’t want to offend others, so the house decided to get rid of the drawing.

When trying to get rid of the leftovers from Art House, the group discovered the basement, a long underground tunnel beneath the house that leads from one end to the other.

”At first I thought, ‘This is great, we’ll get some strobe lights in here and have some parties,’” Turbides said. “But then we saw the bat and I just wanted to figure out how to get out as fast as possible.”

Animals aside, living together off campus has also brought new sounds into the house. Every morning, a light thump wakes up everyone in the house as Gbomina and Colina do their morning Insanity workout.

“Sometimes I wake up before my alarm and I just here a light ‘thump thump’ from upstairs,” Chadri said.

Gbomina and Colina are both proud of the results, though.

“Just the other day, I was looking in the mirror and I saw the muscles they were talking about,” Colina said.

In the spirit of Salsa, Chadri is currently competing for a Watson scholarship, which would grant him money to travel to South America and Europe to continue learning about Salsa—both the food and the dance.

“I just think this culture has so much to offer,” Chadri said. “I’ll be really excited to just keep learning about the dancing and the cooking.”

When Chadri and Polisky graduate next year, the house residents agree that they hope to still have a project house.

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