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Singled Out: Friday Salsa Party at El Palomar

This week, meet Oscar Rosalez, a dancer and musician who believes that love comes to you when you are not looking for it.

If you’re single in Santa Cruz, you may be perfectly happy as is. Or you could be yearning for that special someone to spend the weekends with, sharing sunsets, heart to hearts, and—rent. If the latter is true, you will have to get creative.

Even if your neighborhood dive bar is full of prospective hopefuls, (and I would like to know about this bar) it has come to my attention that beaus you meet at the bar have a shorter shelf life than, say, beaus you meet at the library.

But enough of this rant. The point is, Patch’s secret agents have a new piece of advice for its lonely single readers: Get out there and learn something new. No one wants to wine and dine a recluse, and, hey, you might actually find yourself having fun and forgetting that you are looking for love—all this while enriching your life and making yourself a more interesting (read: dateable) person.

Have you considered learning to dance salsa? Every Friday night around 9 p.m., the dance floor at the Palomar Ballroom comes alive with the swirling, twirling bodies of salsa enthusiasts. The atmosphere is friendly, and anyone is welcome—from the salsa-curious to the experts.

If you aren’t yet familiar with the basic salsa steps, drop in for a lesson before the dance party begins. An intermediate lesson is taught at 7:30 p.m., and a beginner’s lesson is at 8:15 p.m. Then the night opens into a salsa dancing free-for-all until 11:30 p.m., with DJ Omambo. You can attend both lessons and the party for $10, or just the party for $5.

Patch dropped in on the salsa party to check out the singles scene and found a happy pool of men and women ranging in age from about 20-60, dressed casual-sharp, all smiling, all glistening with a sheen of sweat.

The Man: Oscar Rosalez, 50, has lived in Santa Cruz for about 30 years and frequents the Palomar salsa parties about once a month.

Santa Cruz Patch: How long have you been dancing salsa? 

Oscar Rosalez: I was born in Venezuela, and Venezuela is a salsa country. I was dancing salsa in the womb of my mom. I came here when I was 20, and then I got a degree at  UCSC in performance art. I teach private salsa and singing of all kinds. 

Patch: So you are a musician?

Rosalez: I learned music playing with a Latin band, and now that I'm more experienced, I’m singing with the band Broken English. I sing salsa in Italian, French and Portuguese. We’re playing at the Crow's Nest on Cinco de Mayo.

Patch: Do you think the Palomar is a good place to dance? 

Rosalez: Yes, and no, because people who don’t know how to dance think that the body is everything, and dance has nothing to do with the body. It’s everything to do with the rhythm and with the soul. And they copy one another, so they don’t have personality. Salsa is very powerful, because the beats are syncopated and it’s easy to improvize—a great opportunity to be yourself. 

Patch: The man can improvise a lot, but what about the woman who must follow?

Rosalez: Yes, the woman has to surrender—which is the highest form of expression. It’s bigger than love. It’s a surrender of all preconceived ideas about being female or male. The woman dances through her being-ness. 

Patch: What are you looking for in a woman? 

Rosalez: I never look. Because I believe in divine providence. I’m not into making things happen or looking for things, because I believe they will appear. I let them happen on their own accord.

Patch: What do you do in your free time?

Rosalez: I am teaching myself how to play piano. And I take ballet, jazz and modern dance classes at UCSC. I have a scholarship there, which lets me take any classes I want to take. 

Patch: And what do you have to say about love? 

Rosalez: I believe love is everything that is. 

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