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    Photo by Mickie Winters

    Halter dresses, sparkly shoes, a spritz of cologne. It’s a Thursday evening at SkyBar, the second level of Saints in St. Matthews, and dozens of patrons have assembled on the dance floor to learn how to salsa. Instructor Chelsey Owen’s ballerina-like body is perched atop high heels and in skintight jeans and a crop top. “DJ Frank, if you could put a song on for us,” she says through her headset microphone. “Five, six, seven and a one.” She moves at what feels like a pace only millipedes could follow. This is just the solo footwork. After several counts of trying to master the basic steps, we match up with partners. I clasp hands with my husband Jeff. We look like two buoys side by side in a choppy sea. “Switch,” Owen commands after several counts. We slide over to new, more skilled partners and now I’m gliding through the moves with the confidence of a dog-show champion.  

    Saints hosts salsa dancing every Thursday, starting at 8 p.m. for intermediate dancers, followed at 8:45 by bachata, a Caribbean dance style similar to salsa, for all skill levels. Salsa for beginners (read: my husband and me) begins at 9:30. From 10 p.m.-2 a.m., DJ Frank and the Kentucky Salsa Allstars — a nine-piece band that includes two trombones, a saxophone and a trumpet — take turns playing urban Latin hits and jazzed-up pop covers, such as Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” (Owen also teaches at HopCat, which hosts Sensual Sundays.)

    Once instruction is over, we’re free to get back with our partners and apply what we’ve learned. The more experienced crew heats up the LED-lit floor, showing off moves that weren’t part of the beginner session. Having too much fun to bother with accuracy, Jeff and I loosely follow the steps and go heavy on the freestyling.

    This originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find your very own copy of Louisville Magazineclick here. 

    Mary Chellis Nelson's picture

    About Mary Chellis Nelson

    Mary Chellis Nelson is the managing editor of Louisville Magazine.

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