Dance academy

All About Salsa Fever On2: A Dance Academy in Jersey City

Salsa music is not something you just listen to. The conga, trumpet and guiro sequences can be felt throughout your body and without even thinking about it, your feet, hips and shoulders begin to move in unison with the beat of the island music. Salsa is a Latin dance that has its roots in Africa and quickly became popular throughout the Caribbean, especially in Cuba and Puerto Rico. In the 1920s, it was popularized and all the islands added their own touch. Like the salsa we dip our fries in, it’s tangy, spicy, and made from a blend of ingredients. Mario Gonzaelz, the mastermind behind Salsa Fever On2, was inspired by his Puerto Rican and Cuban roots and felt an overwhelming responsibility to keep his legacy alive by teaching the art of “on 2” style salsa dancing. . This is how Salsa Fever On2 was born.

About Salsa Fever On2

{Photo credit: @sfon2}

Salsa Fever On2 is a salsa dance academy that was founded in 2000 and offers Latin dance lessons to Hudson County residents with a structured curriculum that caters to all dance levels. “On 2” is a salsa dance style and means the dance starts at beat number 2. Located at 83 Franklin Street in the upper reaches of Jersey City, Salsa Fever On2 offers the opportunity to take your dance skills and dance education to the next level.

Growing up in Hoboken

Mario was born and raised in Hoboken, then moved to Jersey City with his wife Yvelisse. “Hoboken is so small but so authentic and communal. Particularly in the days of sports, when so much talent was coming out of a small town. Being part of this community means a lot to me,” says Mario hoboken girl. His love for Jersey City is just as strong. “Its diversity of people and cultures is what makes it so special.

Mario’s first experience with salsa dancing was seeing his parents dancing in the living room. “We were so poor that my family only released two cassettes, El Gran Combo and Juan Luis Guerra. They weren’t dancing professionally. My mother worked in Hoboken and my father was a policeman in Puerto Rico and a baseball coach in Cuba,” he explains. “I was always the shy kid in the room and felt uncomfortable coming from two Latin countries known for music, because my dad was Cuban and my mom was Puerto Rican.” Despite her shyness, as she grew older her fascination with dancing also grew. Early on, Mario’s curiosity for his parents’ indigenous dance turned into a career.

Read more: Best places for a night of dancing in Hoboken + Jersey City

From learning to teaching

{Photo credit: @sfon2}

“When I started dancing in the 90s, I was much heavier and I wasn’t welcomed by the dance community because it was a stereotypical era at the time. You had to watch and dancing in a certain way. On top of that, I definitely don’t look Latino, so I didn’t exactly fit in,” he adds. Despite the obstacles, Mario refused to let them get in the way. her passion.

Mario’s journey to discover the true history and technique of salsa began the hard way. “With a notepad and a pen, I used to go to the old Latin quarters and do my own research observing how the dancers reacted to the group. Eventually I started to crack the code and understand the relationship between dancers and music.

He started taking salsa lessons which were taught in people’s apartments, but it wasn’t what he expected. “At the time, there were no professional establishments that taught salsa. You walk in, they quickly ask for the money and he says “give me ten minutes to think about what I’m going to show you today”. There was no hospitality or structure,” Mario explains.

Mario attended the first “Latin Night” at The Planet in Hoboken, and soon after began teaching salsa lessons there. “People were asking me if I had a studio and that’s when the light bulb went on. After a year I started renting out the Hoboken Boys & Girls Club and the classes quickly started to grow. I went from one class a week to three classes a week and they were always packed. Eventually I started renting a room at the Monroe Center in 2000, and soon after found my current studio,” he says.

The birth of Salsa Fever On2

Salsa Fever On2 would be Mario’s first experience as a business owner, and without a college degree, he felt a little intimidated by the prospect. He confessed, “I was just passionate about teaching and spreading the message. I remember walking around Hoboken at 3am, sticking a flyer in everyone’s windshield announcing my new location.

“I received a call from the JCPD that I had a big hole in my store window. When I arrived it turned out to be a bowling ball that someone threw in my studio with a note that said ‘welcome to the neighborhood.’ I knew I was going to fight, but I went after it anyway and here we are 16 years later.’ he shares proudly.

Mario could have opened his studio in New York, where the salsa scene is more prominent, but he felt the city was “too saturated” and he wanted to “stay true to my roots and represent my home and my people. “. I wanted to show everyone that as dancers we are just as important as New York, and earn that respect for us as a community.

Everything you need to know about the dance school

{Photo credit: @sfon2}

Mario’s main intentions for the dance studio were and still are to educate students, give them a good knowledge of history, and preserve the authenticity of salsa dancing. “For example, we hear a lot from Marc Anthony or Victor Manuel, and we don’t hear from those pioneers and architects who paved the way to be able to listen to new artists,” he explains.

Mario personally teaches most of the courses, especially the fundamental courses like

pre-beginner, beginner, advanced beginner and intermediate. There are other instructors who run the specialty classes like Mambo, Tango, Hustle, Bachata, Ladies Styling Workshops, Spins and Bends Workshops, Musicality of Timing and more.

What stands out about Salsa Fever On2 is its program. Mario notes that he “wanted a good experience for my students. A big part of my homework was thinking about how I could do better and remove this stereotype that Latinos can’t be professional. We were the first “on 2” dance school to set up a program.

Unlike other dance schools that allow students to enroll in any class, Salsa Fever On2 requires new students to start with the pre-beginner class, regardless of your skill level. He explains: “It’s to be able to assess their skills and ensure that they progress at their own pace, like an educational adviser in a university.

salsa fever on 2

It’s more than just a dance school, Mario goes the extra mile for his students. “We host practice nights and socials for our students to make them feel welcome and know everything they can about each dance so they can decide what is best for them . Once a month we host a documentary night where students have the opportunity to hang out, eat free popcorn, drink soda and learn the history of the dances from the pioneers themselves,” he shares. -he.

Mario dedicates his life to ensuring that anyone who passes by his studio leaves with more knowledge than when they arrived. He explains that “learning the music, the instruments, the pioneers, the origins, the struggle is just as important as learning the dance. The more information I learn, the more information I pass on, so they can appreciate everything on a deeper level. I want our students to feel that their money and their time are valued here.

See more: Local fitness companies offering online classes + streaming options

beyond dance school

salsa fever on 2

Mario has been widely recognized as a pioneer in the salsa community and has been invited to share his knowledge by universities and festivals across the country. “I have been invited to give lectures on the history of dance at different universities in the country and to host prestigious Latin dance events. One of the universities where I have taught is Arizona State University. I feel humbled and blessed because they could have contacted any instructor in the world and they chose me,” he shares.

“When it comes to salsa events, I host eight conventions and festivals across the country, with the New York Salsa Convention being the biggest. I also organize the Atlanta Bachata Festival, Alaska Bachata Festival, Connecticut Salsa Festival, New Orleans Salsa Festival, and more. I host, DJ and teach at the same time. You get the trifecta,” says Mario.

For those of you who are interested in taking Latin dance lessons, but are intimidated, Mario has a tip. “It’s been almost 25 years and I’m still learning new things. Don’t be intimidated, anything is possible. For me, it was more of a challenge because of my ignorance thinking I knew how to dance just because I’m Latino, but it was actually more difficult because I was convinced I knew what I was doing,” he shares. “I tell my students before each lesson that we need transparency and prefer to work with a blank canvas. The more of a blank canvas you are, the more creative we can be.

Our parents always said, if you choose to do something, you do it well. In Mario’s case, his parents’ roots inspired him in ways he couldn’t see at first, but soon he felt compelled to learn all there is to know. on the origins of salsa and the history of Latin dances and pass it on to as many people as possible. Mario admits: “I am here to share the awareness that is not taught in school because it is not politically correct or deemed not important enough. It lacks in school programs, a lot of time, and I am able to help that.