Century Ballroom websiteWhen I was in Seattle, I had to check out the local salsa scene. Thanks to a tip from fluvial, I learned that the Century Ballroom is the best place to go on Saturday nights. A description of the place said it was more elegant. I was a bit worried because all I had for dancing attire was jeans and a cute top. Luckily, the definition of “elegant” in the Pacific Northwest is exactly what I had packed!

There’s always the fear when you go out alone to an unknown place in a new city that the scene will be cliquish or there will not be enough partners. Not to worry. Before I even had a chance to finish buckling up the Salma Hayeks, I was in business. There’s nothing like saying to the world “I bring special shoes to dance my salsa in,” to communicate that you are a serious dancer.

A big thank-you to the salseros of Seattle, because I hardly made it off the dance floor the whole night!

I was trying to get a feel for the local style and after a couple dances it was clear to me that Seattle salseros are big on connection. I have never had so many strong, immediate dance connections with so many different partners in one night. There was one very notable exception– a tall guy, er, prick in a striped button-down shirt who looked everywhere but at me for the entire song and seemed incredibly bored– possibly the worst connection ever in the history of my life and not for my lack of trying. But I digress…

Pretty much every other guy that I danced with, regardless of their level or technical ability, seemed really into trying to be the best leader he could be. I’m guessing that whomever is teaching most of the dancers in Seattle emphasizes connection, and to that teacher I say, “well done!” It was incredibly refreshing. There were few dancers who did fancy turn patters or inventive moves or whatnot (or dance on 2– only one person I danced with knew how to dance on 2), but who cares when you have a good connection.

As for the venue, the Century Ballroom is gorgeous. It is an old-style ballroom in a historic building with beautiful, perfect-for-dancing-on wood floors, a balcony around three sides of the room, tables and chairs lining the edge of the large dance floor and a small stage in front. The size was perfect, not overwhelming. The lighting was good, and the cover and drinks quite reasonably priced. Just as I was thinking how lucky Seattle is to have a venue like the Century Ballroom, the owner made an announcement that the building had been bought and their future is up in the air. She said they may be forced out or they may have to pay much higher rent, which would of course affect the prices at the door and the bar. It is such a pity because that same building houses other dance and arts organizations, such as the Velocity dance center where I took a modern dance class the following day.

The night I was there, there were two performances of companies who were about to go to the San Francisco Salsa Congress. The names of the groups escape me, but I enjoyed their performances. I thought they were sharp, very much in-synch, and technically talented. You may know how I feel about club performances– a pesky interruption to social dancing, which is why I came– but the interruption was brief, I enjoyed the performances and I actually welcomed the rest.

Related: Pictures from my Seattle Trip

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