City Cast

Meet Houston's Salsa Teacher

Brooke Lewis
Posted on June 16   |   Updated on June 28
Ruby Rivera, Houston salsa dancer and teacher extraordinaire. (Provided by Ruby)

Ruby Rivera, Houston salsa dancer and teacher extraordinaire. (Provided by Ruby)

Ruby Rivera, who’s family hails from Puerto Rico and Guatemala, found her passion for salsa in college. Rivera’s love for dance led her to create the Texas Salsa Congress, which brings salsa events all across Houston. For the rest of June, you’ll want to check out Rivera’s event “Summer of Salsa Y Mas,” which includes salsa lessons, live music, and other performances across Houston.

Q: How did you first fall in love with salsa?

“Growing up, what was inundated in my life was the barbecues, the get togethers, the quinceaneras, and a lot of that had to do with cumbia, norteña music. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I met more individuals from different countries. I went off to the University of Texas and I joined a lot of different organizations. There were so many organization parties, where there was salsa and merengue. I just gravitated to it. I didn’t fall in love with it. It just felt like home.”

Q: What’s an aspect of Salsa y Mas that you’re most excited about?

“I’m excited about our activation again. There was a hiatus. We called it our dance break due to COVID. I personally was someone who was very adamant and an activist of not doing too much, especially in the early part of the pandemic. You do worry about, are people going to wait for you when you come back? Because salsa is such a close contact activity, even if we had it outdoors, it still was going to be an opportunity for it to spread. For me, I feel like this is my way to get activated back in the community.”

Q: Do you have tips for someone who’s new to salsa and it’s their first time on the dance floor?

“I think dancing in general, regardless of genre, it requires you to be vulnerable, especially if you’re learning something new. Come with friends. Invite other people. That could be your safety net. Go to beginner classes. Go to the dance instructor and let them know ‘Hey, I’ve never done this before. This is out of my comfort zone.’ I’ve been in the salsa community for a very long time, so I have the experience to say that I’ve seen some of the best dancers when they were beginners. Maybe you don’t want to be the competition dancer, but we’ve all gotta start from somewhere.”

If you want to meet Rivera and learn how to salsa, she teaches free lessons every Friday night at the Downtown Aquarium.

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