Sault’s Latin-Hispanic community and friends enjoy ‘dancing in the park’ at Roberta Bondar Pavilion
After three COVID-19 lockdowns, the Sault’s Roberta Bondar Pavilion hasn’t seen this much excitement and enthusiasm in a long time.
Members of the Northern Ontario Latin-Hispanic Association (NOLHA) and those wanting to sample some Latin-Hispanic culture and dance off some of the COVID blues clearly enjoyed NOLHA’s Salsa al Parque (Dancing in the Park) cultural gathering and celebration at the Pavilion early Saturday afternoon.
It didn’t take long for at least 100 members of the general public to join in the fun and break into dance after NOLHA dancers took to the Pavilion’s stage to display their Latin-Hispanic dancing skills.
“My partner, Jay Case (a well known Sault musician and NOLHA supporter), speaks Spanish fluently and I learned how to speak Spanish so we could travel together, I had private Spanish lessons from Sandra Mongui (of NOLHA), and then I’ve become a fan of all things Latin,” said Sheri Tuck, NOLHA executive secretary, speaking to SooToday.
“I would say that I’m fascinated with all different cultures. I don’t have a lot of experience with travel, but I’m learning from a lot of the cultures that are coming to Sault Ste. Marie. NOLHA does a lot of other projects with other community groups. Also, I find that it’s important to learn how to speak in someone else’s language as they’re learning to speak in our language. The look on their faces, the relief, when they know you understand what they’re saying if they get stuck on words, so I think it’s very important to embrace the diverse community and get involved.”
“I love the food, I love the energy of the Latin-Hispanic culture. I love their music. There are over 20 Spanish speaking countries and they all have different cultures but I’m learning slowly,” Tuck smiled.
NOLHA, a Sault-based, registered not-for-profit group, is dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of Latin-American and Brazilian culture and heritage in the Sault and across northern Ontario.
Saturday’s NOLHA’s Salsa al Parque event was free and open to all ages.
“NOLHA started in 2011 in a very informal way, with Latino friends from Chile, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil. We wanted to enjoy a bit of culture so we started with an informal event, the first event being at Docks, which is now Montana’s,” said NOLHA’s Sandra Mongui, a native of Colombia and now a Sault resident, in an earlier interview with SooToday.
NOLHA started up in a formal manner in 2013 and now has about 60 official members, but Mongui said the group has attracted approximately 850 Sault and northern Ontario followers and supporters who have attended NOLHA events over the past few years.