Edward Trueheart’s passion for salsa dancing began after he would visit social venues that played a mix of different music genres. He got tired of waiting until the salsa music was over to dance hip-hop and decided to dedicate time to learning salsa.
Trueheart, who grew up in Waterbury, also had some family members and friends who knew the salsa.
As he continued to learn, Trueheart was approached by others curious about salsa. It inspired him to become a dance instructor.
“Initially, it was fun. Being of African American descent, there was a lot of ridicule from those of my own race, but it was something I became very passionate about. I wanted to be the best dancer I could be,” he said.
Trueheart, a full time correctional officer for 14 years, is a part-time dance instructor at the New Britain-Berlin YMCA, a partner of the Meriden Y. He uses dancing as an outlet to relieve stress.
His most popular class is salsa and bachata. Two levels are offered — beginner and intermediate. Classes are taught at the New Britain location, 50 High St.
“I like to tell people of Hispanic descent, what you know, is not what you will learn in my class,” he said. “I always tell them to have a lot of patience since there is an expectation they will learn quickly.”
Darwin Barba is from Ecuador and currently lives in Newington. He started salsa classes in December of last year.
“This has been the best thing that has happened to me. When I came in, I thought I knew how to dance, but I did not know the technicals, and here is where I learned everything,” he said.
Trueheart remembered starting with different professional instructors and putting his skill to use over time.
“A lot of people walk into class thinking after one or two classes they will be ready, but this is a process,” he said.
Once Trueheart started to learn where salsa originated from, he felt more connected to it.
“The music itself all originates from the slave trails of Africa,” he said. “Landing in Cuba and Miami, salsa itself has been popular since the 70s, landing in New York and growing.”