Salsa in the Park event celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Salsa music could be heard bursting from Farquhar Park as pairs got together to sway to the music Sunday afternoon. 

Salsa in the Park, hosted by Avenues York, brought together York County community members at Farquhar Park on Sunday, Sept. 29, for an afternoon of learning about Hispanic culture. 

Alyssa Zidanic, the social chair for Avenues York, said she wanted to create an event to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

"I just really like seeing everyone out and having a good time and learning something new," Zidanic said. "This is a success to me."

Alyssa Zidanic, right of York, spins Emily Smith, Wrightsville during Salsa in the Park at Farquhar Park, Sunday, September 29, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

In addition to free salsa lessons, the event also featured performances from students at the Edgar Fahs Smith STEAM Academy and included several vendors within the York Hispanic community.

Loida Esbri, the teacher who guided Sunday's salsa sessions, said the key to perfecting the Cuban-born dance is to feel and internalize the music. 

"Once they get into it, they have fun," Esbri said. "Salsa is just feeling the music and consequentially expressing it."

Though Esbri said at first students were nervous about learning the dance, curiosity and passion for learning kept the class going. 

Two classes were offered during the event. In between, other performances entertained attendees. 

Lyla Bowser, a music teacher at the STEAM Academy, guided her students through a few performances with music and instruments. 

Bowser's students sang "Un Poco Loco," from the Pixar movie "Coco," and "De Colores," a popular Spanish folk song.

In addition to singing, students used buckets for drumming, egg shakers, maracas and the traditional Latin-American percussion instrument güiro to create the music.

Loida Esbri of Lancaster gives a free basic salsa dance lesson during Salsa in the Park at Farquhar Park, Sunday, September 29, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

After Bowser found out she was invited to perform at Salsa in the Park, she said she incorporated Hispanic culture into music education with her students. 

She said many of her students were excited to explore Hispanic music as they themselves have Hispanic roots. One student even told Bowser that the song "De Colores" was a familiar tune that the student's mother heard often as a child.

"We just want to get people together and really just share that community feel," said Zidanic. 

— Reach Tina Locurto at or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.