Building A Salsa Community | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Building A Salsa Community

Salsa Mississippi instructor Sujan Ghimire gives a private lesson to one of his students, Joel Escude.

Salsa Mississippi instructor Sujan Ghimire gives a private lesson to one of his students, Joel Escude. Photo by Maggie Neff

When Sujan Ghimire and his wife, Sarah, founded Salsa Mississippi two years ago, salsa dancing took a while to catch on. "People were still in ballroom dancing most of the time and little was known about salsa," Sujan Ghimire says. "There wasn't a salsa community or anything."

Jackson's salsa population began to build, however, and the studio started planning local events. Soon, Ghimire began teaching Zumba classes, a Latin dance workout, in local YMCAs, Courthouse gyms and Baptist Healthplexes, which he continues to do today.

"That actually gave an idea to the people how easy it is. Everybody thinks, 'Oh, wow. Salsa is too difficult,' but it's not really," Ghimire says.

Ghimire's vision is "to see Mississippi dancing." The studio not only teaches salsa classes, but also merengue, bachata and cha cha. In an effort to create a salsa community, Ghimire encourages his students to dance outside of his classes. The studio has partnered with Petra Café to offer weekly salsa parties with a brief lesson before hand.

"I want to bring different communities together," he says. Among Salsa Mississippi's group of regular students are people from Brazil, Mexico, India and even Russia. Ghimire says they have built strong bonds with each other.

"Lots of people get married," Ghimire says, laughing.

The Salsa Mississippi studio will see several changes in the next two months. The studio will soon include a small bar, extra dance space, an office, a parking lot and signs to display outside the studio. Open lessons are Monday and Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. for $10 per class. Private classes can vary in price and lesson packages can be negotiated.

"I see the joy in my students. They work all day long; they have families, stress and everything," Ghimire says. "(But) when they come to a class, they go home smiling."

Salsa Mississippi's studio is located at 303 Mitchell Avenue in Fondren. For a class schedule and more info, please visit Salsa Mississippi or call 601-213-6335.

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