Dr. Monica Dabos, an educator by trade and a dancer by heart, is the founder of Yes Dance!, a non-profit organization now located at 705 Paseo Nuevo, on State Street in Santa Barbara. A turbulent upbringing in Argentina and unconventional life choices have instilled in her a deep desire for fostering social inclusion at all levels. Bringing the community together whether teaching statistics or salsa is a passion for Monica and Yes Dance! is a manifestation of that passion. Located among Santa Barbara’s most infinite bar scene, Monica is introducing a new concept to the Santa Barbara community: fun downtown without alcohol....
Dance is not a competition, it’s a community!
Welcome to Yes Dance!
Our goal in the community is to provide an alcohol-free, healthy and fun mainstream environment experience to the local Santa Barbara community through Latin and other dance. Dancing is not only a healthy outlet, but also a fun activity, helpful in personal development as well as developing social skills. By its social and non-competitive nature, dancing is particularly adapted to encourage interactions, to develop respect and help people find their place within a community. Anyone can dance, so everyone is welcome! The organization, originated from a student organized alternative dance activity, provides classes adapted to all levels, without restriction of age, gender or origin, offering to all a friendly and encouraging environment to learn and practice. To make sure everybody can benefit from the classes, without budget becoming an issue, the cover is kept to a minimum and remains adaptive for people with lower income or students. Enthusiasts rendezvous each week for a beginner’s level class followed by an intermediate class, capped off by some open dancing to practice those new moves.
HISTORY AND MOTIVATION
From “Yes You Can Dance Salsa”
I started this project in January 2013 inspired primarily by Melissa Zaragoza.
Melissa was a student at UCSB when she became the leader of the salsa event at Hillel that was student run for several years before she took it over. This was great because in Isla Vista it was one of the few events, which was alcohol free. That salsa event took place every Monday and about 100 to 150 students participated every week dancing from 9 pm to midnight. It was so amazing to watch!
However, when she went to her geology camp for her degree during the summer time, the event stopped. When she returned from her field trip, a few things had changed including a much larger cost for the facility and it was not possible to continue as it was for the prior 5 years. I saw it disappear in front of my eyes. That broke my heart, really! I could not believe that such a friendly, healthy fun event would stop for lack of monetary support.
When Melissa graduated, she came to my house and handed me $500 that they had collected during her time at the salsa event at Hillel and she entrusted me with it. That touched my heart dearly as she was a graduate student who had not had a job for a few months after graduation; she had no obligation to save that money and less to entrust me with it. In fact no body even knew she had collected that money. The fees were only $1 for the classes and open dance.
After I finished my PhD dissertation at UCSB, I decided to put energy into honoring her work, dedication, and honesty. I want to replicate that atmosphere were 150 young people dancing for three hours without a drop of alcohol.
Then the amazing people from the Ayni Gallery open the door to my dreams. Now it has been five years since we started the program and it has grown tremendously.
Our goal in the community is to provide an alcohol free, healthy and fun mainstream environment experience to the local Santa Barbara community through Latin dancing. Dancing is not only a healthy outlet, but also a fun activity, helpful in personal development as well as developing social skills. By its social and non-competitive nature, dancing is particularly adapted to encourage interactions, to develop respect and help people find their place within a community. Anyone can dance, so everyone is welcome! The organization, originated from a student organized alternative dance activity, provides classes adapted to all levels, without restriction of age, gender or origin, offering to all a friendly and encouraging environment to learn and practice. To make sure everybody can benefit from the classes, without budget becoming an issue, the cover is kept to a minimum and remains adaptive for people with lower income or students. Enthusiasts rendezvous each week for a beginner’s level class followed by an intermediate class, capped off by some open dancing to practice those new moves.
The organization has now existed for 5 years and with its increasing success came the question: how can we build from the existing organization, largely based on volunteering, and expand what we have to offer to the community? A first potential direction we see is to reach a larger part of the community. We plan to expand the classes offered by the organization to additional locations in order to accommodate people for whom transportation or working schedules can be problematic. A second direction we see is to give people within the community some possibility of growth. Part of the organization’s success is due to the volunteering teachers who originally learned from the Santa Barbara dancing community. We plan to offer training sessions for interested people to become teachers themselves. The goal is to make sure that the teachers we train are fully aware of the potential difficulties of the beginning dancer, are good listeners and particularly receptive to the values we try to convey in general. Additionally, it gives people the valuable opportunity to develop, share and give back to their community.
Victor Contreras is the AMAZING 5 Year Volunteer teacher who has transformed those who fear to dance to amazing dancers.
Victors has never failed to teach the salsa classes. Since the first day, Victor has given the tools and encouragement and dedication to all salsa learners that has no parallel. He does this without getting paid a penny. He volunteers all his time and dedication. He should get the Volunteer of the Year award in Santa Barbara.
Victor’s dedication to salsa and the local community finds expression every Tuesday night when he assumes his alter-ego as an unpaid volunteer dance instructor. Victor has been sharing his love of salsa (for free!) for over two years, and his friendly, supportive and comfortable teaching style has made him the cynosure of the Santa Barbara dance community. Every individual, no matter their skill level, feels empowered by Victor’s teaching style and his support. It has been said that a salsa session with Victor is the equivalent of five sessions with a counselor (probably an understatement).
I feel that we as a society may be giving the wrong message if we don’t put money or value to the most healthy fun alternatives that exist like this salsa events.
Please be part of this healthy transformation, come, participate, donate, share, help it grow.
Yes You Can Dance Salsa and Bachata!!
We will be waiting for you ‘’
Monica Dabos, PhD.
Victor Contreras is an AMAZING teacher who has never failed to teach the salsa classes. Since the first day, Victor has given the tools and encouragement and dedication to all salsa learners that has no parallel. He does this without getting paid a penny. He volunteers all his time and dedication. He should get the Volunteer of the Year award in Santa Barbara. Victor’s dedication to salsa and the local community finds expression every Tuesday night when he assumes his alter-ego as an unpaid volunteer dance instructor. Victor has been sharing his love of salsa (for free!) for over four years, and...
Jayven Colon is one of Yes Dance’s newest dance instructors. Having an Associates degree in Theatre Arts from Santa Monica College, and currently a Third Year Transfer student at UC Santa Barbara working on a BA in Theatre Arts as well as a minor in both Education and Creative writing. Jayven has had 4 years of experience teaching dance and has been dancing for 8 years, teaching dance to all ages working for Lynwood Unified School district and even LA County for a summer program “Summer Night Lights.” Additionally Jayven has worked for other local dance studios in the LA...
Musician and athlete since the age of 5, Steven has found the joy of dance as an amalgamation of his passion for music and movement. Finding dance as a therapy after the death of his father, he joined a hip-hop dance team at college and earned a scholarship to dance for the Fringe Festival and theatre program at Westmont College before graduating with a BS in Kinesiology and having studied in Hip-Hop, Break Dancing, Modern, Jazz, as well as exposure to competitive ballroom and Latin social dancing including Salsa, Bachata, and Merengue. He has also performed in Japan in over...
Since the age of 5, Carla Sandoval has realized she has a great thrive for the performing arts. Carla would create little dance skits to show to her family at a very young age. She also participated in the dance drill team in elementary school. Carla continued dancing throughout her four years of high school. She started taking beginner classes at the SBHS Dance Department her Freshman and Sophomore year. Her Junior year she was apart of the Santa Barbara Donette Dance Team and competed in the “Miss Drill Team USA’’. Later on she was awarded in the National PTA...
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Some comments from Yes Dance regulars!
Very positive and welcoming environment! For most of my life I’ve been intimidated by dancing but my experience here showed me how fun and stress-free learning to dance can be, even for those who are not “naturals”. Jayven really took the time to break everything down for us at just right pace. Another great thing was that my partner, who is a much better dancer than myself, also learned new things about leading. We never imagined that there would be a class that would suit and challenge both of us coming from such different levels of dance backgrounds. Plus, the 5 week Couples workshop gave us a really fun date night and a new hobby we could share together. Would recommend to anyone! 💃🕺 Anastasiya Zheludkova (November 4, 2018)
I had been dancing for about a year before I found out about Yes Dance, and I wish I had heard about it when I first started! It’s such a friendly place, the people are so nice, and the entire atmosphere is incredibly inviting and welcoming. People of all ages and experiences attend the lessons and social dance and there’s always something for everyone. I’ve recommended Yes Dance personally to all my friends and colleagues, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about learning to dance or looking for a fun place to meet people and socialize!
While I consider myself a forever learner, I have been dancing for quite some time now and have had the honor of being a part of several dance clubs/communities. Every one is unique and enjoyable in their own way, but there is something particularly distinct about Yes Dance. YD is a low stake learning environment where all types of people gather not only to learn dance steps but to socialize and interact with a community of people they might not otherwise have engaged with. Most salsa venues I have been to have had some sort of restrictions (for example, many are held at bars and are restricted to 21+ and it is also a very affordable.
Yes Dance has changed my life for the better. I was introduced to salsa dancing by my roommates, and found myself falling in love with the activity and the lifestyle. Yes You Can Dance Salsa has brought me wonderful friends from the class and from being on the All Star Dance Team. Monica Dabos and Victor Contreras make learning salsa dancing easy and enjoyable with their humor and make it a comfortable environment. I definitely recommend!
Deanna CanalesBuilding Manager at CSULA University - Student Union
Yes Dance is a friendly and inviting place to learn and improve your dance skills. You will find an opportunity to social dance as well as a place to make many new lasting friendships. Among the seasoned vetrans who dance regularly, I often see new faces. I think this is because the the the smiling faces of the volunteers and the open invitation in their dance philospy helps set people at ease. It can be intimidating when you feel others know how to dance better than you. But I have never felt that at Yes Dance, even if you are new you will feel welcome. The volunteers and staff are often seen at events around town, tirelessly educating others about the joys of dance. This is their passion and it’s infectious.
Kelsha L AndersonHydrologist at Angela National Forest