Salsa and Wine in Salem
The salsa and bachata community in the Salem area has steadily grown over the years as more and more people have gravitated to Latin dances.
Julian Rios has lived in the Salem area for over 20 years. Originally from Mexico, he grew up dancing and enjoyed salsa and bachata, His goal was to have it become more prevalent in the Salem and Portland area.
This love of music had him begin his career as DJ Dosis Latino.
“I was interested in learning and became involved with the scene here in town,” Rios said. “I bought stuff and learned how to mix music and play it. I began to get involved and help places that were dancing already so I got to meet the community.”
At the time, there were classes to dance salsa, bachata, merengue y cumbia at 1859 Cider Company as the community began to grow.
“I met Erik Caballero who was involved in the dance scene as a DJ and professional dancer with his wife,” Rios said. “We met and had lots of ideas for salsa dancing and began to talk. He already knew a lot of the Willamette Valley vineyards and he invited me to start a business with Salsa and Wine.”
Rios and Caballero wanted to create an ongoing opportunity where they’d host events for people to drink wine and dance salsa at a winery and named the project Salsa and Wine Willamette Valley.
“We wanted to create events where people can drink wine and dance salsa,” Rios said. We started in Dundee and created events in 2019. People responded and enjoyed the idea and came out to dance. Once the pandemic hit, we had to stop and put the idea on the back burner.”
As restrictions eased during the pandemic, Latin dancing was revived at Silver Spur Tuesday nights. The community came out to support as novice dancers were given lessons and then given an opportunity to practice their skills with more experienced dancers afterward.
“In Portland, there are several locations with dancers, studios, salons, and places to dance,” Rios said. “A lot of dancers from Salem go to the Portland area so we wanted to create something strong here in the Salem area.”
Salsa and Wine are currently booking locations with several different wineries. The goal is to also have a weekly dancing opportunity in a restaurant/bar in Salem on Saturdays once per month.
“We are still waiting to figure out the best date for the wineries and are working on it,” Rios said. Admission will include a 30-minute beginner class and the fee will be $15 per person, which will include a glass of wine and dancing for 4-5 hours of social dancing.”
Latin dance will continue providing an outlet for the community of dancers in the Salem area. Once Salsa and Wine takes off, there will be another opportunity for people to enjoy practicing their skills and/or learning something new.