It’s a dance party like no other. As Walter Perez cranks the music, these dancers show off their moves. In 2013, Perez started the nonprofit organization “Friends of Argentine Tango.”
What You Need To Know
- Walter Perez discovered a love of salsa music 30 years ago and knows how much joy it can bring into people's lives
- He started an organization to help seniors have a place to build community, stay active, and enjoy music they might know from their childhood
- All are invited to participate, even those who might not know the steps or have a background in dance
It's a passion the Buenos Aires native discovered nearly 30 years ago. He says it helped him get through one of the most difficult times of his life: the death of his mother.
“Music is magical,” Perez said with a smile.
Since then, he has performed and taught dance all around the world. He continues to share that passion right here at the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood, where he gives an audience of older adults an opportunity to socialize, stay fit and enjoy the music from their past.
“Music activates something in the brain and I can see that they get happier,” Perez said.
Perez leads the party, demonstrating the steps, but everyone is free to bust their own signature moves. Branching out from salsa, the class also enjoys cha-cha, merengue, bachata, and everything in between.
“They exhaust me, they always want more,” Perez said.
Perez holds classes in all five boroughs and everyone is invited to participate — whether you grew up dancing or are just now learning the steps.
“Latin rhythms appeal to everybody,” Perez said.
No matter how many people attend, Perez is thrilled to create a space for neighborhood seniors who just want to shake it.
“At the end of the day, we are all a big family. We want to dance. We want to socialize. And we want to feel alive,” Perez said.
For putting a swish in these seniors hips, Walter Perez is our New Yorker of the Week.