Courtesy of Jeff Hudson

Rumberos and Baila Con Gusto, founded in 2005 and 2017, respectively, have created hubs for dance and Latine culture in the New Haven community.

The two studios, which offer bachata, salsa, kizomba, tango and other Afro Caribbean dances have provided lessons to thousands of New Haven locals and hope to continue their steady growth through the end of this calendar year. Jason Ramos, Baila Con Gusto’s founder and one of its current dance instructors, highlighted the significance of having these spaces.

“In the lens of Connecticut, it creates a safe space for people to exchange culturally and socially,” Ramos said. “You are able to play in that environment and receive a sense of information and representation. You are also able to connect to a different community that might feel out of reach.” 

In addition to teaching dance, Baila Con Gusto explores the more nuanced histories of Latine rhythm, music and dance, which have African roots. 

Jeff Hudson, the owner of Rumberos, echoed the role these studios play in cultural awareness and exposure. 

“The studio provides an organic form of access,” he said. “Sometimes people are timid to explore other cultures or they may not feel like they have access to people of that culture. It really provides an opportunity for exploration.”

Hung Pham, who was born and raised in Vietnam and works at the School of Medicine, has been going to Rumberos since 2021 to “broaden” his understanding of dance. 

According to Pham, it was love at first dance. 

“It’s one of those things where everyone no matter the age, no matter where they come from, once they hear the Latine beat, everyone is on the floor enjoying themselves,” Pham said. “I’ve been meeting new people both Yale-affiliated and locals, and I really have been able to make meaningful connections.”

Dani D’Oliveira, who resides in East Haven and has also been taking classes at Rumberos, appreciates the fact that it offers an escape from work and an opportunity to “get in our bodies.” 

D’Oliveria said that in our growingly tech-heavy world, these spaces offer a healthy reprieve. 

The studios have also attracted experienced dancers, such as Amanda Duvall, who is a student-instructor at Baila Con Gusto. 

After graduating from college, Duvall began working with Ramos and joined the team after the pandemic. 

“Coming from a dance background, it’s really great because he had a couple of different instructors come, and it’s really nice to have people learn from each other,” Duvall said. “And I have been able to continue being a student, which is so important to me.” 

As an instructor, Duvall has been able to infuse her experiences learning dance in Barcelona with the teachings of guest instructors, who run workshops and trainings throughout the year. 

For Duvall, Latine dance is a “celebration of life,” and there is nothing more special than being able to perform and teach “in front of the community.” 

Both Baila Con Gusto and Rumberos plan on hosting weekly workshops and training sessions for the remainder of the year. 

Baila Con Gusto and Rumberos are located at 57 Olive St. and 216 State St. respectively.

Nati Tesfaye is a sophomore in Branford College from East Haven, Connecticut. He covers business, workers and unions in the city of New Haven. Last year, he covered housing and homelessness for the News.