Jorge Pablos and America Soto, a couple officially opening the Latin Fire Dance Company studio in downtown Sarnia as part of First Friday events this week, are from Mexico but met in Canada.
It happened while they were both in Toronto on a month-long English language scholarship.
They lived eight hours apart in different cities in Mexico.
As fate would have it, it was Soto’s third try at the scholarship program. Had one of her earlier applications been accepted, they might never have met, Pablos said.
They returned to Canada in 2022 when Soto enrolled in a post-graduate program at Lambton College and they began teaching dance in Sarnia a year ago using space at existing dance and Zumba studios.
“We were struggling at the beginning,” Pablos said. “We were about to give up.”
Then his dance teacher in Mexico visited Sarnia and led a drop-in session. “That was basically our last shot,” Pablos said. “It worked out.”
They also had better luck attracting students once they learned and adjusted to Sarnia’s social media habits, he said.
Now they’ve taught at least 80 students salsa and bachata Latin dance in Sarnia, and have about 40 students taking classes, Pablos said.
They’re ventured out on their own, opening a studio at 190 Christina St. N., across the street from the Norman and Judith Alix Art Gallery.
“We decided to just give it a shot,” Pablos said.
He’s been dancing for six years, teaching and being involved in competition and show teams in Mexico. Soto’s been dancing since she was young.
They have connected with a dance team in London, taken part in dance events and made other connections with dance companies there, Soto said.
They also have gone to dance events in Cambridge and Toronto, and London dance friends have come to Sarnia for events like a dance cruise on the Duc de Orleans, Pablos said.
They hope to help bring more dance events to Sarnia, he added.
Latin Fire Dance Company took part in the New Year’s Eve Festival of Cultures in Sarnia’s Centennial Park, with a performance by students and a salsa class for festival visitors.
“We believe in Sarnia,” where they’re creating a dance “family” and looking forward to growing interest in Latin dance, Pablos said.
“We’ve created this program for people who have never taken any classes before,” a group that makes up about 90 per cent of their students, he said.
“Dance is for everyone,” he said. “The more you do it . . . the easier it gets.”
They plan weekly social dance events at the studio and have led monthly Latin dance nights at Sarnia’s Crown Café Bar and Grill.
Contact information for the Latin Fire Dance Company can be found on its Facebook page. The studio’s official opening Friday is 7 to 10 p.m.
First Friday is held on the first Friday of the month, offering entertainment and special events at galleries and businesses in downtown Sarnia. This Friday’s events also include:
- Live music and dancing with The Casuals at Sarnia Legion Branch 62, 286 Front St, N., 7 to 11 p.m.
- Live Music with Jeff Black at Grind kitchen + bar, 265 Front St. N, rear entrance, 8 to 11 p.m.
- Live Music with Cailey & The Giant at Ups N’ Downs, 226 Front St. N, 8 to 11 p.m.
- Live Music with Forced Epiphany acoustic duo at Greens, 196 Christina St. N., 6:30 p.m.
- Paint & Pour with Seventh Rayn Design Co. at Coldwell Banker Southwest Realty, 169 Christina St. N., 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets required.
- Live painting and art auction with Taryn Elizabeth, Downtown Market, 140 Christina St. N., 5 to 8 p.m, and art by Julie Amlin, Sam Chilvers, Jessica Brown and acoustic music by Dan Tye and Shawn Knight, 6 to 8 p.m.
- Art Wall Display at Refined Fool, 137 Davis St.
- Sarnia Library is showing the film Megamind, 2 to 4 p.m., and offering a Make of the Month, sew a felt glasses case, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
- The Lawrence House Centre for the Arts, 127 Christina St. S., hosts the Floyd Gibson Members’ Show opening 6 to 9 p.m. with awards presented at 7 p.m., and music by pianist Doug Hacking.