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Middletown salsa event was an 'emotional, sensual and romantic' experience

Jason Ramos “Baila con Gusto” teaching salsa to the crowd during Middletown’s first “Salsa Under the Stars” event.
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
Connecticut Public
Jason Ramos “Baila con Gusto” teaching salsa to the crowd during Middletown’s first “Salsa Under the Stars” event.

People were dancing on the sidewalks of Main Street in Middletown on Wednesday, as those passing joined the crowd. They were gathered for Middletown’s first 'Salsa Under the Stars' event.

It was a collaboration between the business district of Middletown, Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet, Salsa con Gusto and DJ Asere.

Jason Ramos is the founder of Baila con Gusto, a Latin rhythms school in New Haven. Ramos is of Ecuadorian origin and was there to teach the crowd how to salsa.

"I enjoy talking to people while they're learning about the history of the music and getting the people involved," said Ramos. "Understanding that Salsa is an Afro-Cuban dance inspired by music and rhythms of Puerto Ricans and then Jazz. Salsa is very much alive and popular, and it's very cool to have it as a third language."

DJ Asere played retro Salsa and Timba beats that evening. He’s originally from Havana, Cuba, and lives in the New Haven area and says the popularity of Salsa is growing.

"What really impressed me the most, and I was really surprised, was when I saw the Americans dancing and coming to the events; wow, that's impressive,” Asere said. “There are a lot of people in the state that like Bachata, like people from Puerto Rico, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Peruvians."

According to the2020 U.S.Census the Hispanic community makes up almost 11% of Middletown’s population.

Sandra Russo is a manager for the business district in Middletown and said the city is trying to diversify community events and opportunities.

"We had the idea of dancing, and what better music to do than Salsa? So we heard about Jason and his school, and so it's beautiful,” Russo said. “I love all the people that turned out here tonight; it's terrific. And hopefully, the next one will be bigger and better."

People walked by and stopped to delight their auditory senses.

"I love it. I danced Salsa, so it's just good," said Shelly Good, who works in Middletown. "I haven't danced for a long time. It's so much fun. And then you get to connect with the community."

Christine from New Haven said, "Latin music is nice and emotional, sensual and romantic."

Ramos, and DJ Asere hope events like “Salsa Under the Stars” get people interested in dance and the history of Latin music.

"Salsa comes from 'son;' it was the main music in Cuba,” Asere said. “But one of the main things I want to do is to bring more Cuban music to Connecticut and play more of the old music, the nostalgic music that our grandparents know, like La Sonora Matancera, Celia Cruz, that type of music."

The free event brought people from all different backgrounds together to learn and have fun.

Russo said that local businesses were also able to benefit from the event.

"When coming to events like this, people come out, they walk, they see, they get hungry, and they want to try all the different places we have here, so that is absolutely beneficial to all the businesses," Russo said.

Russo said the town hopes to make 'Salsa Under the Stars' an annual tradition, bringing even more unity and opportunity to Middletown with each event.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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