Salsa instructor brings New York style to northern Las Vegas

As salsa music blared from a small dance studio in the north valley, dancers repeated an unorthodox count: “1-2-3 … 5-6-7.”

Jose Velez of Summerlin learned the “On two” method of salsa-dance counting during his younger years in Brooklyn, New York. Velez, who moved to Las Vegas five months ago, said he aims to bring “New York-style dance with a Vegas attitude” via the salsa class he started in April at Family Zum Fitness.

He said he has been teaching salsa and other Latin America-inspired ballroom dances for more than 20 years.

When Velez moved to Las Vegas, he had no plans to teach at a studio again. He closed his “Feel the Music” school in Queens nearly three years ago and had only been offering private lessons. But when he went out dancing in Las Vegas, he said, spectators were interested in learning his dance style, which is less familiar on the West Coast.

“A lot of people have been asking what kind of dance style is this because they’ve never seen it before,” said Velez, 45. “A lot of people were interested in learning it.”

About a month ago, Velez found a space in which to teach his class.

“I was going to get a haircut next door and I heard Latin music,” he said.

When he peered into the facility, he saw a Zumba instructor teaching a class. Family Zum Fitness offers Zumba, jazz, ballet and folklore lessons.

“He’s the best,” said studio owner Danny Yemaya, who is from Nicaragua. “(I think people) will like his class.”

Velez teaches salsa at 8:15 p.m. Mondays and Fridays. He taught his first class April 17.

Velez, who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was raised around music; his father, Jose Sr., played the keyboard for Latin musician Tito Puente. He said he became passionate about dancing because of the way people engaged with the music.

“Very rarely do you see someone dancing with a gloomy face,” he said. “It was just a way of escaping from the reality of the world. I felt like a superhero flying.”

Velez raised money to take classes at New York dance schools partly by doing chores for neighbors. He learned from dance instructors Eddie Torres and Howie Lorenz and taught classes at Lorenz’s studio before opening three of his own.

Salsa is a call-and-response dance, in which dancers respond to what musicians are doing with their instruments, Velez said.

“Latin music has a lot more to do than correct turns; it’s more of a feeling,” he said. “If you just want to learn steps, then take Zumba classes, but if you want to learn Latin dance, there’s more to it than just steps.”

On a recent Monday evening, Velez led a demonstration during one of Yemaya’s classes, and a group of women stayed to take Velez’s course. He taught the lesson in both English and Spanish.

Norma Valle, who regularly takes Yemaya’s Zumba class, said she stayed for Velez’s class and enjoyed it.

Velez has attracted a couple of loyal students.

“I learned of it through,” Marleni Wohlschlagel of the north valley said, adding that she’d never done ballroom dancing.

Velez said he hopes to hire instructors he has taught.

“When I see someone who not only has potential and skill but, more importantly, they have discipline, then I invite them to be part of my teaching curriculum,” he said. “I like to groom my own instructors.”

Contact Kailyn Brown at or 702-387-5233. Follow @kailynhype on Twitter.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Driver dies in single-vehicle crash
One person is dead after an early Wednesday morning crash in the northwest valley. The single-vehicle crash was called in about 1:35 a.m. on Jones Boulevard just north of Deer Springs Way, according to Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Robert Stauffer. The driver, who was the only person inside the vehicle, died at the scene.
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services On Thursday, Uber launched its Uber Health platform for healthcare providers. Medical facilities, rehab centers, clinics and hospitals can book rides for patients from a centralized dashboard – no app required. According to Techcrunch, Uber Health general manager Chris Weber noted some 3.6 million Americans miss appointments due to lack access to reliable transportation. Uber’s endeavors into health care trace back to 2014, when Uber first offered on-demand flu shots in large markets across the U.S. Since then there have been similar efforts throughout the world, from diabetes and thyroid testing in India, to subsidized rides for breast cancer screening in the U.S., to many more. Last summer, over 100 healthcare organizations joined the platform during a private beta. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas firefighters put out blaze along Bonanza Road
Las Vegas firefighters put out a blaze that burned for about 15 minutes Feb. 20, 2018, along Bonanza Road, across from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. (Jeff Mosier/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cabana Market Shooting -- Persons of Interest
On February 3, 2018 at approximately 1:57 p.m., patrol officers were dispatched to a parking lot located in the 3900 block of East Owens Avenue to investigate a report that a man had been shot. Responding officers located an unresponsive adult male suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim was pronounced deceased at the scene. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like