In step

Latin Unity Dance & Show

Heidi Armas’s bachata class practices the basics at The Reno Empire dance studio.

Heidi Armas’s bachata class practices the basics at The Reno Empire dance studio.


Tickets and additional information about the Latin Unity Dance are available at

If you were wondering when and where to go in Reno for an evening of Latin dancing, Elsie Jimenez would be an excellent person to ask.

“Through the Motion dance studio by Irene Robles has socials on Thursdays, and she has classes all the time,” Jimenez said during a recent phone interview. “BB and KiKi have their classes on Wednesdays, and they have their dance social. And they do the EDGE at Peppermill every Friday. And then Gerzon [Chaves]… he’s done salsa and bachata music on Wednesday nights at the Little Wal. And I think Monique [Manzo] at her dance studio, [the Reno Empire], now, has Heidi Armas, who’s teaching classes there.”

In fact, she said, “There’s dancing pretty much every day of the week.”

Jimenez only wishes more people knew. “It’s usually the same crowd that goes,” she said. “But if we had more people come, it would grow. It would be big.”

Growing the city’s Latin dance scene was an aim for Jimenez and her husband, Edgar Vazquez, when they planned their Latin Unity Dance & Show. But there were other goals, too. Jimenez, a nurse who spent six years working in a pediatric ICU, said she was keen to see the event benefit the community. To that end, a portion of ticket and alcohol sales will go to Give Hope Northern Nevada—a nonprofit that provides assistance to families of children with life threatening illnesses.

According to Jimenez, another goal of the event—as the name suggests—is to bring unity to the dance community, which is comprised of people from different local studios and dance teams.

“We thought it would be a really good idea just to unite everybody—because they tend to create little silos between them,” she said. “The other reason why we call it the Latin Unity Dance is also to unite the community, especially right now. I feel like with everything that’s going on nationally with our Latin and Hispanic communities, this is just another way to unite. The Latino community does give back to the community.”

The event will kick off at 2 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the National Bowling Stadium with a series of one-hour workshops led by instructors from as far away as Tijuana and Venezuela. They’ll teach lessons on salsa, bachata and dance tricks. After that, there will be performances by dance teams and musician Antonio Bliss—who applied saxophone to bachata music in the mid-2000s and has been credited with the creation of a new fusion genre, “Saxchata.” At 9 p.m., the dance social begins, with music from Bliss and 102.9’s DJ Boogie. The party goes till 2 a.m.

Jimenez said she’s pleased with the talent that will be there, but she doesn’t want novices to get the wrong idea and think it’s geared toward more experienced dancers.

“The people teaching the workshops will see who comes in,” she said. “If most of them are performers, then they’re going to teach a more intermediate-advanced level. But if there’s a lot of beginners there, they’re going to teach a beginners’ workshop. And that’s what we want, because we want more people to learn.”

It’s also a family event—another aspect that’s important to Jimenez.

“I mean, bachata and dancing and music, it’s not just for 21 and over,” Jimenez said. “My son loves to dance. There are a lot of people in the community who take their kids to their workshops. And because it’s for the Give Hope Foundation, it’s for families.”