Salsa Pittsburgh was created in October 2000 by Jeff & Colleen Shirey. They have been teaching and promoting salsa events since 1999. Jeff was the Pittsburgh Cityguides Correspondent for salsaweb.com from 1999 to 2008, then established salsapittsburgh.com in 2008 as a way to provide salsa dancing related information to the local salsa dance community. Their website is a guide that focuses primarily on salsa activities in the Pittsburgh, PA area.
Colleen and I fell in love with salsa in the Spring of 1995, when we first heard a Latin band from Youngstown, OH (Sabor Latino) play at Rosebud in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. It was almost as if the music had cast a spell on us…we had never really listened to Latin music before, but as the band played, we couldn’t stop tapping our toes and fingers. We didn’t know how to dance salsa so we tried to swing dance to it….didn’t quite work. Later that summer we saw Tito Puente play at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, and then vacationed in Miami where we became immersed in the music. As we drove through Miami we listened to El Nuevo Zol 95.7 FM constantly….It was then, that we became hooked on the music and wanted desperately to learn how to dance after visiting some Miami clubs and just watching.
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Six months later in Pittsburgh, we enrolled in a salsa dance class taught by Miguel Sague, his wife Lenny, and son, “Cha” of the local band, Guaracha. We practiced at home but struggled with the basic steps. Miguel, of Cuban descent, and a pioneer of Latin music in Pittsburgh, really helped ground us in the fundamentals and history of the dance. Eventually our steps clicked and we were eager to learn more. Being high school teachers, we had the summers free to explore other salsa dancing styles, and we began traveling to Los Angeles, CA, where we met Edie the Salsa Freak (co-founder of SalsaWeb and one of the most remarkable icons in the salsa industry).
Los Angeles seemed like our second home, as we spent one month each summer for seven years learning to dance from many of the original creators of “LA Style” salsa. We took group and private classes with Edie, Luis & Joby Vazquez, Francisco Vazquez, Josie Neglia, Al “Liquid Silver”, and many others. We traveled hundreds of miles each summer in our rental car crisscrossing the freeways of LA taking lessons, hitting the salsa clubs, and chatting with many of our dancer friends in the coffee shops after a night of dancing.
It is hard to believe that our journey with salsa music and dance began over 20 years ago. We never dreamed that we would eventually run a website, teach, dee jay, and organize workshops and events…all dedicated to sharing our love and passion for salsa music and dance. We really must credit Edie for making much of this happen, because she is the one that inspired and encouraged us to do all that we are doing now.
It has been, and continues to be, a labor of love. We are thankful for all the support we have received from the salsa community going all the way back to our first group dance classes and events in 1999. We hope that our website will serve as a valuable resource to those of you that are either beginning or continuing your journey with salsa music and dance.
Jeff & Colleen Shirey