Salsa Chocolate: Provo’s best-kept social secret

The art of dance is often described as an escape from reality, a tool for individual expression and even the window to one’s soul. But to this man, it’s more than just business and pleasure.

 

Arieh Alexander Steinlauf is the current owner of the historic Southworth Hall in downtown Provo.  He was born in Los Angeles and has lived in Park City, Logan, Salt Lake City and various parts of Utah County.

 

Arieh first got involved with dancing when he was a student at Utah State University.  He auditioned for the ballroom dance team because he was looking for an opportunity to build more than an acquaintance relationship with others. He made the team, marking the beginning of his career as a dancer.

 

Arieh was part of a show in Orem with Louis Van Amstel, called Latin Revolutions, which allowed him to work with artists such as Alex Mazo, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, and Edyta Sliwinska from Dancing with the Stars.

 

“I was able to be exposed to such high caliber artists that were not just talented but also unbelievably disciplined. That really got me where I needed to be as an artist to open up,” said Arieh.

 

As a natural dancer, he picked up different rhythm and steps quickly and decided to try transitioning into salsa dancing.

 

“Salsa [dancing] to me is personal because it represents something so joyous and happy, and when you learn more about not just dancing but the culture, you realize it’s a lifestyle of socializing, cross gender interactions, cross age gaps and interactions that can be physical and socially acceptable,” said Arieh.

 

While Arieh has traveled to places such as India and Puerto Rico for dance matters, he believes and stresses the value of “keeping it local” when it comes to a person or even a business.

 

For years, Arieh has been involved with the dance venue Salsa Chocolate, which takes place every Thursday at Southworth Hall in the heart of Provo’s Center Street.  When it comes to Salsa Chocolate, whether as the instructor, janitor, promoter and now manager, Arieh has worked in every position.

 

Arieh credits his involvement with Salsa Chocolate to Victor Mosqueda who was the dance instructor at the time.

 

“His words: ‘I was saving this for you,’ and I was so honored,” said Arieh on how Mosqueda got him involved with Salsa Chocolate.

 

Arieh describes Salsa Chocolate as a continuation of the dance company SalsaSouls he and his partner, Marcelina Zamora, started a few years ago. He explains that Salsa Chocolate started as something small that regularly hosted 30 to 40 people.  Now, it hosts an average of 150 on a regular basis every Thursday.

 

Arieh credits the success of Salsa Chocolate and the many relationships he’s built to moving around a lot.

 

“[Moving] was very helpful in my life, to not make me so inhibited, to try new things and go other places. At the same time it also challenged me to build long term relationships since that wasn’t something I had,” said Arieh, “Being out here in Provo with what I do with Salsa Chocolate, it really helps me grow on a personal level to make long term relationships with customers, who become friends, who become family.”

 

By Yvette Cruz

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