My Other Life with Santos Torres, Jr.

PM360 recently spoke to Santos Torres, Jr., Director of Marketing, Allergy/Anti-Infectives/Anti-Virals at Bausch + Lomb, about learning the salsa.

To stay in shape, Santos Torres, Jr. took up salsa, and he plans to learn bachata next.

PM360: How did you get started with salsa dancing?

Santos Torres, Jr.: I started five years ago dancing Salsa On 2. Before then, up until my 40s, I used to play a lot of pickup basketball games to stay fit. I enjoyed the physicality and camaraderie, but I suffered numerous leg injuries and endured three surgeries at different times in my 30s. I hated going to the gym and Spinning was not enough. The idea came about when my wife and I went to a store that sold holiday ornaments and in that same strip mall was a dance studio. So right after Christmas, I established a New Year’s resolution to get back to exercise and I figured that learning salsa would be an alternative to the gym. My wife later joined me, and we have gotten pretty good.

What makes Salsa On 2 different from other styles?

When I first started, I did not know there was a variety of salsa from On 1 – LA Style, Cumbia – Columbian Style, to Rueda – Cuban Style. Salsa On 2 (also known as Mambo) is a New York style of salsa that has maintained a dedicated following since its heyday back in the ’50s and ’60s. A few elements that set this style apart are the body isolations, precise movements, and an undeniable elegance. It is commonly referred to simply as “On 2” because the leaders break forward and back on the second beat. The roots of the dance matches very well with the percussion (clave and tumbao) and has room for improvisation.

What do you enjoy most about taking up salsa?

Dancing forces the male lead to earn trust and build rapport with their female counterpart. There are numerous adjustments in touch, feel, and direction with each female one dances with. There is a sensuality and intimacy that allows one to truly enjoy the time you spend dancing and forget about the challenges of life. After about three years, I learned to have fun and smile—even when I mess up.

What has been the most challenging aspect of learning this style of dance?

To be good at anything, one needs to practice remembering the endless steps and turn patterns. It can be frustrating at first because you must get to know and be comfortable with your body and force it to move. Like any hobby, Salsa On 2, constantly challenges me and forces me to be present and pushes the rest of life out of your mind while I am at class.

Do you have any plans to learn any other styles of dance?

Yes, I would like to learn bachata, which is another type of Caribbean dance which originated in the Dominican Republic. The basics to the dance are three-step with a Cuban hip motion, followed by a tap including a hip movement on the fourth beat. It is vastly different from salsa.


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