Type of business: Dance lessons
Hours: By appointment
Location: By appointment
Contact information: 925-980-5683
History of business:
You bring the drinks, they’ll bring the dancing. That’s what Gabrielle Forrest and Xavier Huerta had in mind when they decided to begin their new partnership, Sips & Salsa.
Similar to a wine and paint night, Sips & Salsa provides a fun and unique way to learn new dance moves.
“People can book us to host their own party at their home, or if they want us to come start the party at their wedding they can do that, too,” said Forrest. “It’s all about getting a group of friends together and taking a dance lesson.”
After having to close her dance studio suddenly last year, Forrest began offering downtown dance lessons at numerous nightlife locations in Turlock, from country swing and two-step at The Udder Place to salsa and bachata at Vintage Lounge & Piano Bar. Without a studio, she also found herself teaching lessons at her clients’ homes. After attending a paint and sip night, Forrest decided to merge the two ideas.
“It kind of combines the new direction of my dance business where I’m travelling to my students with the more relaxed vibe of downtown where people can come in and get a drink,” said Forrest.
A professional dancer since 2009, Forrest is certified to teach 11 different dances. When she began her new endeavor, she knew she needed a partner and reached out to fellow Dancing with the Turlock Stars professional Huerta.
“I knew I would be more successful with it if I had a male counterpart,” said Forrest. “Xavier is well-known within the community and has such a warm personality.”
Together, Forrest and Huerta make up the team of Sips & Salsa, and can be booked for private parties, weddings, birthdays, fundraisers, corporate events, team building parties and other get-togethers. The sure-footed pair provide two hours of time for each event, arriving 30 minutes before the lesson to meet their new students, instructing for an hour and remaining for another 30 minutes afterward to help guests continue to dance.
Sips & Salsa offers two party options: their big party flat rate (20 or more people) goes for $300, or if a client would like to host their own party with a minimum of ten guests, they can do so. Each guest pays $15, and both big parties and individual parties are responsible for supplying their own alcohol.
Clients also have the option to learn either one or two dances. Though salsa dancing is mentioned in the name, Forrest said that nearly any type of dance can be taught at a Sips & Salsa party, including the tango, waltz or rumba.
“If you think about any dance you can do with a partner, I can teach it,” said Forrest.
Sips & Salsa’s launch party will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at The Udder Place. Bloody Marys and Mimosas will be on the bar’s menu, and those in attendance will get a firsthand look at how Forrest and Huerta host a dance lesson, free of charge.
Through Sips & Salsa, Forrest hopes that she and Huerta can provide the Turlock community with a new and exciting way to spend time with each other.
“I’ve never seen anything connect people in the way that dance does,” she said. “Dancing makes you happy, but dancing with your friends would make you even happier.”