The rhythm of Latin music pulsating throughout the Glendale Galleria Tuesday night not only stopped shoppers in their tracks, but prompted a handful to drop their bags and learn some dance moves.
Glendale Arts kicked off another “Pop Up!” series, but this time with a twist — a dance twist — featuring instructor Sergio Leal at the helm. The series formerly featured musical performers, but every Tuesday for the next eight weeks, Leal will teach salsa, bachata, cumbia and merengue on the second level of the Bloomingdale’s wing in the mall.
Leal, who has taught dancing for 14 years, called the series a perfect chance to teach the community salsa and said he has met people who know Latin music when they hear it, but may not know the dances.
“I want to help distinguish between each dance and that they all have their own unique style,” said Leal, who manages and teaches at Latin Dance Pro, which has a location in Glendale. “I have a passion for dance.”
Leal began the two-hour event with a salsa lesson for roughly 15 people, his students included. He paired the “quick-quick-slow” moves with the song “La Comay” by the band Sonora Carruseles.
Glendale resident Kitty Shannon and her 6-year-old daughter, Maggie, looked at each other, chuckling, as Leal cued the dancers to lean forward and shimmy.
Maggie is an avid viewer of the competition TV show “So You Think You Can Dance?” and fond of Latin dance routines. Shannon said she would attend future lessons, but only with her daughter.
“I think it’s great, awesome that they’re getting people out to the mall,” Shannon said of the revamped series. “Also, Maggie’s been wanting to take dance lessons.”
Within an hour, shoppers visiting the food court peered below to see Leal’s class swell to about 30 dancers. They concentrated to perfect turns of the cumbia, and kept their balance while dancing low doing the merengue.
Marcus Southall, 25, grabbed a tissue to dab the sweat droplets around his brow. Two friends joined Southall, who works at Silver Jeans Co. inside the Galleria, for the free lessons.
Southall said he plans to attend the lessons every week, fitting the two-hour classes into his work schedule.
“It’s definitely a workout,” said Southall as he took deep breaths. “It’s exciting, doing this in front of everyone. My friends and I talk about going to Latin dance clubs.”
Now, they can.
The weekly classes are from 6 to 8 p.m. and will combine solo and couple dancing for all ages. The last day of the series, Sept. 23, will culminate with a performance by salsa singer Bobby Rivas.
For more information, visit www.glendalearts.org.