Eleven years ago, CPSalsa was little more than an idea floating around inside the heads of a couple of guys. Back then, they may not have known that CPSalsa would still be here now, but to them, all that mattered was that they needed to dance Salsa, and they wanted more people to get into it like they were. This little story is about how those two guys gave rise to our favorite little club.
It starts with two guys named Jeff and Ed…
In 2000, Jeff Berkman was a new resident of San Luis Obispo, a new hire at CalTrans, and a recent graduate of U.C. Irvine. He was in the midst of a dance addiction, having learned swing first, then Salsa from a student club while in Irvine. To feed his addiction, Jeff sought a new place to dance, eventually coming upon lessons taught by Ike and Nancy Lara on Sundays at a place called the Grange Hall. While at the lessons, Jeff met a student named Ed Rodriguez.
An Aerospace Engineering junior at Cal Poly, Ed was one of the few students taking the Salsa lessons. Unlike Jeff, Ed was fairly new to Salsa at the time, but he too had fallen into the dancing addiction many of you might be familiar with.
Younger than the other dancers, Jeff and Ed naturally gravitated towards each other and began talking about the lack of younger dancers to dance with. By Spring of 2000 Jeff started talking to Ed about the possibilities of starting up a student club. After all, how Jeff started was with a student club, which he enjoyed immensely, so why not replicate it?
Idea to reality
Jeff and Ed’s first move was to approach the ballroom club about teaching Salsa. The ballroom club agreed and they quickly began teaching lessons on Thursdays during the Summer months. Not content to simply be part of the ballroom club (they wanted a night of their own where they could play mostly Salsa music), Jeff and Ed began the process of becoming a student club with Cal Poly. By September, CPSalsa had become official.
CPSalsa began hosting weekly lessons every Tuesday accompanied by a dance. Slowly they began to amass a following of students (and non-students) wanting to learn Salsa as well as a core group of people interested in running the club. Eventually, the list of officers grew to include the likes of Liliana Graham, Nate Nocon, Sonia Balcazar, Amber Ousterling, Ana Ruvalcalba, Rogelio Hernandez, Melanie Mueller, Sieno Castillo and more.
On to bigger and better things
Over the years, the club moved on and grew. Tuesday nights became Friday nights. Measly little CD players and speakers gave way to a full DJ setup. Rope lights snaked their way onto the walls as CPSalsa traded the few dinky DJ lights it had to a full array of advanced DJ lights. Salsa cruises in Morro Bay became a yearly tradition along with guest instructors, dance events, live bands, and lest we forget, lots of fun parties. Of course, a fair share of officers and volunteers made CPSalsa their own, each contributing a little of themselves to keep CPSalsa going.
All of this because two guys wanted a better place to dance Salsa.
Thanks to Jeff and Ed, we’ve had eleven years of CPSalsa. Here’s to eleven more!