Skip to content

Salsa nights heat up: From New West pier to Vancouver dance floors

You are invited to this outdoor salsa party at the New West pier. Bring a plus-one or don't.

Attention park goers and dance enthusiasts: New West's Westminster Pier Park has been doubling up as a hot dance floor every Friday night this summer.

The award-winning park with a generous view of the Fraser river has also become the go-to venue for Latin dancing in the city.

The event is reflective of a dance trend that goes beyond New West to neighbourhoods of Vancouver — Kitsilano, Hastings Street and Granville Street. But if we were to trace the roots of this salsa movement, we would discover that it all began at the New West pub Georgie's Local Kitchen + Bar last year.

What led to the small dance party’s big growth, ironically, was a certain hitch soon after it was launched, said DJ Nick Guerna, organizer of the salsa nights at the pier.

The pub, where it was initially organized, decided to use its space for other summer activities and Guerna was forced to move his salsa meetups elsewhere. 

Instead of looking for another indoor option, he decided to take the party outside. 

Salsa dancing under the stars

“People love the outdoors in the summertime, they love to be by the water. And there's always a cool breeze coming in …” he said.

The Westminster Pier Park, he thought, would make an ideal dance floor. The positive turnout only confirmed it.

The free event sees about 25 to 60 people per session spinning, turning and dipping with their partners on Friday nights.  

“It’s for anybody really. Whether they know or don't know how to dance is irrelevant, as long as they have fun and they enjoy themselves. That's basically the idea,” said Guerna. 

And if someone is eager to do the cha cha but doesn't know how, Guerna, who has been dancing since 2003, will be at the pier to give them a demo. 

“I will definitely take my time and teach them how to dance at least the basics so that they can have some fun and know what steps to take and what turns to do. It's a very basic initial class; nothing complicated. They can learn to dance in a matter of a couple of minutes,” he said.

Besides New West, Guerna organizes the casual dancing sessions at the Kitsilano Showboat on Tuesday nights and at the Tiki Bar at East Vancouver’s Waldorf Hotel on Saturday nights. In September, he will be bringing the event to the Let's Dance Studio on Granville Street. 

Guerna plans to expand the event to more outdoor spaces during summer and to more indoor spots when the temperatures dip. 

But in the meantime, he hopes to see more people gather to groove to his Latin beats at the pier — starting at 7:30 p.m. and continuing all the way till 10 p.m. 

“Sometimes people have squeezed my arm to go a little bit later," he said.

"And I do. Because I just want to make people happy.”

Free salsa nights start at 7:30 p.m. at the Westminster Pier Park every Friday through summer.