Hot Salsa On The Dance Floor

Charlie Castro

Charlie Castro. Photo courtesy Salsa No Ka Oi

Eleven years ago Charlie Castro injured his ankle while playing basketball and has since rebounded through a passion for salsa dancing.

“After I got injured, my mom saw salsa lessons in the newspaper and told me I should get into my heritage,” recalls Castro, who is Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and German. “Because of my injury, I was looking for a low-impact exercise to stay in shape, so I signed up, went to my first class and loved it.

“It’s fun and you get to meet a lot of people from all walks of life.”

The 1989 Saint Louis School graduate, who works as a mail carrier, spends much of his time off dancing, and even teaches it as president of Salsa No Ka Oi.

Castro, who was born and raised in Kapahulu, says those who knew him when he was younger would probably be surprised to see him as a dance instructor.

“I was a typical local boy who played sports and went to the beach,” explains Castro. “And I was pretty shy.”

Now he’s teaching others how to move their bodies, with students, male and female, ranging in age from their teens to their 70s.

“We teach salsa and bachata on a weekly basis,” notes Castro, 41. “But we also do other types of Latin dances throughout the year, such as cha cha, meringue and mambo. I’m constantly learning. I’ll go to the Mainland or fly instructors in for workshops.

“I believe anybody can do it. My teaching theory is if you can walk, you can dance.”

And with the return of the popular TV show Dancing with the Stars on ABC, Castro says there usually is a spike in interest for dancing.

“Classes do fill up a lot more when something like that is going on,” he says. “But I think people are not just looking to dance, but for something fun to do.”

Castro created Salsa No Ka Oi seven years ago after his instructor moved to the Mainland.

Classes are held Sundays at 6 p.m. (beginner and intermediate) and 7 p.m. (advanced), and from 8 to 10 p.m. is a dance social. There’s also a bachata class Thursdays at 8 p.m.

Cost is $12 for a single class, $40 for a four-class card and $80 for a 10-class card.

Salsa No Ka Oi meets at the Dream to Dance Studio located off Ala Moana Boulevard at 661 Auahi St.