My love with Salsa dancing started during summer of my Junior year in high school, the summer of 1999, the summer of the Latin Explosion! Across the Top 40 airwaves you could tune in any day and time to enjoy in heavy rotation 'Living La Vida Loca' by Ricky Martin, 'I Need To Know' by Marc Anthony, the hypnotic guitar riffs of the legendary Carlos Santana in 'Smooth'. These songs were a breath of fresh air on the radio, and I couldn't get enough of them! They all seem to call to me like how the Sirens called to the Argonauts. I found a new genre of music to appreciate but as a gringo (Spanish for a non-Latino) I was miserably uninformed regarding the various kinds of Latino musica and dance, but all that changed one faithful day.

A local celebrity in town hosted his annual benefit dinner and Stevie Wonder was the entertainment for the evening, STEVIE FREAKING WONDER!!! I was so glad I was able to attend this dinner with about twelve other minors and for free at that. You could feel the buzz in the air as Stevie come onto the stage. Women screamed, men clapped and howled in a deep voice STEVIE! Then he began the show, and I must admit it totally caught me by surprise. Stevie and his band put on a Latino musica show! Now I've been listening to this stuff on the radio and I was there privileged to witness a show like this live and person? Dreams do come true.

From the first note of Stevie's piano the crowd was moving! The crowd mind you is the well- to-do-citizens in my home town, dressed up in the slickest tuxedos and the most elegant dresses; but, that didn't stop them from getting down to that Latin beat. I spent the first ten minutes or so just watching the every one dancing up a storm. I am thinking to myself "Who knew there is Latin dance lovers in Toledo?" "Who knew Stevie plays Latin music and well at that?" Little did I know that back in the 1970s Stevie at the height of his popularity was a surprised guest star at a Fania All Stars show, the founders and creators of Salsa music.

Finally I mustered up the courage to step onto the dance floor. Oh my feet were taping for a while but I hadn't venture out there just yet. I haven't taken a single dance lesson just yet, but I only dreamed about dancing like that. I couldn't keep my butt on the seat, from the drums, horns, the clave, bass, piano those instruments pulled me onto my feet. All I remember is that I danced so hard, moving my body as if I had no control of it. I felt like a puppet and the Latino musica by Stevie was the puppeteer! But it wasn't just me friends were all dancing just as hard. We had a blast!

As the minutes turned into hours there were no sign of the party stopping. Stevie kept pumping out that Salsa music and the crowd kept up boogieing as well to it. I watch and attempted to copy the moves by many of those dancing couples; but, of course I didn't measure up, that would be a goal I decided to achieve in the future. One point of the night someone started a Conga line , grooving throughout the convention center like a dancing snake.

Sadly the show came to a close. Every one there gave Stevie and his band a thunderous round of applause thanking him for a fantastic show. My friends and I left the place still on a high from the performance. When I arrived back at home I told my folks what happened and they were just a shocked as I was. This is the beginning of my love affair with Salsa music and I haven't looked back since. Now years later from then as am I teaching dance classes, hosting Latin dancing events via my small business Michal T. Promotions LLC  and competing I find myself reminiscing about this performance by Stevie Wonder and how it solidified my love affair with Salsa musica and dancing.


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Michal Hamilton

Michal Hamilton

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