Salsa dancing changed the life of this Colorado Springs woman, so she passes the gift on | Way of life
When Latisha Hardy needed to find herself, she found dancing.
It happened, as she says, so fast. She was at the college library and two cute boys came up to her.
“Are you dancing salsa?” they asked. No, she replied. They still invited her to go salsa dancing. She said yes.
Because saying yes is what Hardy decided to do at the time.
“I was in this phase of just saying yes to anything and everything,” she said. “I needed to find out who I was again.”
It was in 2009, when she had just come out of an abusive five-year relationship. She was tired of the screams, the occasional physical abuse, and the daily name-calling.
“He probably put me down every day,” she says now. “And then I believed him. I didn’t have the confidence not to believe what he said about me.
After moving here from Las Vegas to study at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Hardy broke up and separated. And began to pull himself together.
It meant going to Denver for a night of salsa dancing.
She remembers it was the coolest thing she’s done in a while. She remembers feeling like Baby, the star of “Dirty Dancing”. She remembers thinking, “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Hardy danced every day for the next year. She took classes and drove to Denver as much as she could for salsa nights. Soon she was good enough to be considered a professional salsa dancer.
“It healed me and brought me back to life,” Hardy said. “I knew I wanted to give this to other people.”
She wanted to do this in Colorado Springs, in part because she was tired of driving all the way to Denver.
“There was no salsa scene in Colorado Springs,” she said. “I built this.”
She started out by hosting social salsa parties all over town, drawing crowds of 20 who turned into 200. She has also taught workshops and pop-up classes which turned into the owner of her own studio, Latisha Hardy Dance & Co.
In September, Hardy moved into a 3,500 square foot studio on South Tejon Street. A busy schedule offers classes, open to adults only, for salsa, mambo, and bachata. Additionally, Hardy leads a team of dancers, called The Boss Ladies, which performs nationwide.
And yes, Hardy kept his promise. To give back.
She hears women say they would have moved without her studio. They tell her that they always wanted to dance, but life got in the way. They tell him it’s their second chance. They tell each other everything.
“It’s a family,” Hardy said. “It’s warm, fun and inviting. We’re just in it together.
For many in her community, the studio – and dance in general – is an escape from the struggles big and small of life.
“It’s a place where you can talk about it, but you don’t have to talk about it,” she said. “Dancing is what we always come back to.”
For Hardy, dancing continues to heal. On Instagram, where she has 16,000 followers, she often shares how it changed her life. And she shares quotes like “You are the creator of your own world” and “Confidence looks good on you, boo. “
These are the kinds of words Hardy’s old self really needed to hear. Now she barely recognizes this girl.
“I want to inspire and empower people,” she said. “I am so grateful that I have achieved something wonderful in my life and I want to give it back.”