From wallflower to salsa, bachata dancer

Nicole Gil leads a Salsa class at Bunker Hill Bar and Grill at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Sunday Night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

A year ago, Desiree Joachim and her husband, Anthony, were looking to find an activity to do as a couple.

“We were looking to break up the monotony of dinner and a movie, and we agreed on dancing,” said Anthony.

The Canyon Country residents decided they would take on something rather new for both of them — salsa and bachata dancing.

“This is literally the only dancing I’ve ever done. I’ve never danced in my life,” said Desiree. “I was always a wallflower, but I decided to give it a year and I really like it. I’ve seen my progress, and I’m definitely better than I used to be.”

Nicole Gil leads a Salsa class at Bunker Hill Bar and Grill at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Sunday Night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

As they began their journey through the dancing community, the Joachims would attend dancing events among hundreds of people at clubs throughout the Los Angeles area.

At first, the couple struggled with following the “compas,” or beat of the music, but they kept practicing.

“During social dance hour, people would ask my wife to dance and I would see how they would dance with her and I said, ‘I have to get my act together,’” said Anthony.

Both began to learn, as his wife also had trouble with step patterns.

“It’s like learning a language that you’re teaching your body and it’s something that’s totally foreign,” said his wife. “There were times where I’d say I’m done because people are so good, but now people look at me and say the same thing.”

The Joachims now enjoy showing off their fancy footwork throughout Los Angeles, and most recently in Santa Clarita.

“We’ve been dancing at Bunker Hill Bar and Grill in Valencia for about two months with the instructor Nicole Gil, but the intention, once we get enough people, is to move to The Canyon or Black and Blue,” said Anthony.

The couple says that dancing salsa and bachata has helped them make new friends with similar interests.

“About 10 of us went on a salsa cruise to Ensenada, and we were able to go sight-seeing,” said Desiree. “The salsa community is a really tight-knit community, because we see each other at different places. It’s like we’re friends on and off the dance floor.”

Anthony says the dance community has also been inviting and supportive.

“For the men, I would say, ‘Don’t be discouraged,’” he added. “It’s a little bit harder because we’re the ones that need to lead, but you have to take the classes and keep learning.”

Being able to share the same hobby has inspired the Joachims to invite others into the world of salsa and bachata dancing.

“There’s really nothing here in Santa Clarita for salsa or bachata dancers and our friends here won’t leave Santa Clarita,” added Desiree. “This is a great opportunity to learn, even if someone isn’t a great dancer.”

Those who would like to attend the classes and don’t have a partner are still encouraged to attend, as partners are constantly rotating during the class.

“I remember the first time I went dancing, I actually went by myself,” said Nicole Gil, a dance instructor. “People really go with the purpose of just dancing and having a good time.”

The couple, along with other Santa Clarita residents, gather on Wednesdays from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. for the beginners class. The intermediate class runs 9-10 p.m., with social dancing following at 10 p.m. until 2 a.m.

On Sundays, dancers can gather for the beginners class from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and the intermediate class from 7:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m. Social dancing begins at 8:30 p.m. until midnight.

There’s a $10 fee for instruction, which covers both classes on the same day, as well as a complimentary drink, according to Gil.

Those who have questions about the dance classes can contact Nicole Gil at 818-681-2781 or [email protected] for more information.

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About the author

Lorena Mejia

Lorena Mejia

Lorena was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She attended California State University Northridge where she double majored in Journalism and Chicano Studies and minored in Spanish Language Journalism. While at CSUN, she worked for the university's television and radio newscast. Through her journalistic work, she earned membership to Kappa Tau Alpha, a national honor society for selected journalists. Her passion for the community has introduced her to new people, ideas, and issues that have helped shape the person she is today. Lorena’s skills include using cameras as a tool to empower people by informing them and creating change in their communities. Some of her hobbies include reading the news, exploring the outdoors, and being an avid animal lover.