The Juneau Montessori School will host its eighth annual fundraising gala, "Hot Salsa Cool Ballroom," from 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday at Centennial Hall.
Salsa Borealis and the Thunder Mountain Big Band will provide live dance music, and dance performances will be followed by brief salsa instruction and open dance. The event also includes live and silent auctions and a no-host bar.
Last year's event drew about 500 salsa and dance fans. Organizers of this year's mid-winter fest expect another strong turnout thanks to Juneau's interest in Latin dance. Salsa includes a range of styles including rueda, mambo, merengue and rumba.
"It is music that celebrates life, an elixir that warms your blood and makes you feel alive," said Lupita Alvarez, director of Juneau Montessori School and an organizer of this year's event. "And it's not hard to learn. If you can walk, you are going to get it right. There's almost no wrong way to salsa."
The word "salsa" describes a range of African- and jazz-influenced musical styles. Some musicologists say it began centuries ago in the islands of the Spanish Caribbean. Others believe the sound started in Cuban dance halls in the 1940s. One thing is certain: Salsa has blossomed beyond its Latin American cradle to worldwide popularity. Fans gather to dance to the drum-driven sound on every continent.
This year's auction includes a delectable dessert auction, 10 pounds of caribou steaks, 15 pounds of king crab, a gourmet Peruvian dinner, a sailing charter and more.
General tickets cost $17.50 in advance and $20 at the door. Students and seniors are $12.50 or $15 at the door. Childcare is available on-site: $10 for the first child and $5 for each additional sibling. Tickets are available at Hearthside Books, from any Juneau Montessori parent or by calling 364-3535.