The fancy footwork at Salsa Con Todo in Wallingford is pure fun. But it's the expressions on the student's faces that really seem to light up the space.
"I had someone comment to me the other day - you just seem to smile throughout the whole class," said dancer Erin Staadacker. "I walk out and I have to massage my face because I find myself smiling for two and a half hours straight!"
Student like Erin come here to learn the how-to's of social dancing.
"I grew up dancing as a little girl and this was the best way for me to come back to dance as an adult," Erin recalled.
But it's much more than that.
"I was born in Seattle I lived till I was about 5 I moved away for 18," she explained. "So I’ve been back in Seattle for eight years, and I’ve been trying to create a new life - be an adult make friends, find a social group. And it was just last September that I started taking classes here."
She had heard about the famous 'Seattle Freeze.'
"Having a hard time connecting with people on a real level playing a lot of lip service let’s hang out let’s be friends and not really following through is kind of the Seattle culture now."
But that Seattle stereotype was shattered as Erin busted some moves at Salsa Con Todo.
"Just having so much fun dancing with new people, surprising myself with what I can do," she beamed. "And also it’s a place that’s kind of intimate (in a safe way) to be with other people and touch other people and something that we’re all learning together," she said.
One of the reasons why students at Salsa Con Todo are so in step - because of amazing instructors like Vassili. He also happens to be one of the founders of this place.
Erin explained what makes him so special. "He has a teaching style that makes you feel that everything you ask is brilliant and everything you do even if you do it badly is all part of your growth as a dancer. There something about him as a teacher you can tell his hearts in it so is his passion."
He's been performing professionally since he was a teen.
"I grew up on the island of Paros in Greece, and I moved to the United States permanently when I was 18. I lived in Los Angeles for 4 years and worked in movies there. I was on the movie set of Hook for two months with Steven Spielberg and Robin Williams."
He recalled that time as pure fun.
"I was a pirate ... you can see me in occasional shots and that was super fun. About two hours of makeup every morning and that was my real hair in pictures!"
Vassili had a lot of other great gigs during his time in Hollywood.
"When I was 18, 19 - I worked on the set of 'Wonder Years' off and on – class rowdy, and throwing paper paper at the teacher. I worked on the set of 'Point Break' as a lighting double for Keanu Reeves."
Then, a change in scenery that changed his life.
"I moved to Seattle in my mid 20s and that’s where I discovered salsa dancing. We started that out of my living room in Wallingford just picked up the rugs and found some mirrors we found from Craigslist on the wall and Salsa Con Todo born."
Since then, Salsa Con Todo has swayed, twirled and whirled it's way into offering instruction for many different types of dance.
"At Salsa Con Todo we teach Salsa of course," exlained Vassili. " We also specialize in Brazilian Zouk - an art form. We teach Argentine Tango, Lindy Hop, Balboa West Coast Swing, Bachata, Kizomba, and Urban Kiz."
These dances have a lot in common.
"Partner dancing really brings really develops community," said Vassili. "Because by nature you’re holding someone else’s hand you’re rotating dancing with lots of people and it’s a great way to kind of overcome the Seattle Freeze!"
The great news - anyone can join in the fun. Vassili says you can swing your way into starting up any time.
"We have people at the school that range in age from 14 all the way up to 78. We work with people who have disabilities, we work with people who have every kind of body type imaginable."
He may have started as an actor, but teaching is extremely rewarding for this pro performer.
"I love teaching because I can empower people to feel better about themselves, and feel more confident."
For folks like Erin, learning to dance at Salsa Con Todo is like taking a leap towards creating a community. "Just come to connect with other people have a good time move your body learning to dance is just kind of a bonus!"
At this time during the current health climate with Covid-19, Salsa Con Todo is offering:
Complimentary online tutorial videos on the Salsa Con Todo Studio Facebook page.
Drop in classes for $10 a dancer starting March 23rd, with a focus on beginner salsa, bachata, zouk, lindy hop & more. These classes will be taught online in small groups.
Private lessons for couples and singles.
Salsa Con Todo is Seattle's partner dance hub for Salsa, Swing, Bachata, Zouk, Tango, and Kizomba. They offer group classes, private lessons, and drop-in classes, and host regular socials and workshops with artists from around the world.