Spin, Sweat & Connect with Mambo Exquisite Dance Company
(Featured Photo: Mambo Exquisite Dance Co.)
By Carla León Celaya
You park your car, turn off the engine, and before you even think about opening the door – the music has already filled your personal space. Where can the music be this loud on a Tuesday night? It’s called social dancing hosted by the Mambo Exquisite Dance Company (M.E.) where a diverse crowd of people meet up to communicate through movement.
“The Phoenix scene is a very tight knit community. I am always impressed with how well we all work together for the better of the whole,” says Lawrence Garcia, director of M.E. “We have been very fortunate over the last few years that there has been a goal to reach a place where dancers, dance companies, and promoters support each other and work towards each others’ success.”
Lawrence Garcia was drawn into dance because he wanted to impress his girlfriend (now wife).
“I was doing pop-culture dances at the time and you rarely danced a whole song, and if it was with another person it was typically a degrading form of ‘grinding’ on each other for minutes at a time,” says Garcia. “Salsa was different, there [are] neat turns, tricks and footwork; I was and am hooked!”
He started his dance company 3 years ago and Garcia explains that the name of his group captures his personal style of dancing – an attempt to synthesize mambo and salsa with a sense of elegance and style.
“Salsa social dancing is unique because of its ability to bring together older generations of music and people,” says Garcia. “It’s not uncommon to dance with people of all ages to songs that are older than thirty years on any given night, in a context where we all find a common bond in a particular genre.”
Garcia emphasizes social dancing because it lets people express their culture and allows the dancers to establish a connection.
“For me, dance must reach deeper than mere ‘fun’ (though it is); it must form a web of human relationships in a context where people find fulfillment, accomplishments, support, expression, self-discovery, and release,” says Garcia. “Dance is a powerful avenue to accomplish all of this.”
This sub-culture can be undervalued or misunderstood because the outsider looking in is most likely uninformed, or hasn’t had enough exposure.
“While we are consigned typically to night clubs, we aren’t clubbing-types per se, it is not uncommon to see ministers, businessmen, artists, Mormons, Muslims, and everyone in between out enjoying the art we all love,” says Garcia.
He also mentions that his favorite part about interacting with the dance community is the relationships he has established.
“I have had, [and still do], the great gift of enriching the lives of others and having mine enriched in return,” says Garcia.
Dance class, musical lecture and social dancing are all fused together on Tuesday nights. And you can be sure that you will be drenched in sweat and personal fulfillment.
“Mambo Exquisite is likewise a vehicle to bring together the wider dance community of Phoenix,” says Garcia. “We and a few others are determined to be a means to something bigger: a community of reciprocity where everyone flourishes.”