USS Boxer (LHD 4) – There are many hobbies Sailors or Marines may pick up during deployment. It may be reading, writing, learning a new language or, aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), dancing.
Sailors and Marines started the new hobby where they not only learn new dance moves. They also get physically fit.
The dance class gives students basic tips on how to dance a range of Latin and American dances including salsa, bachata, merengue, cumbia and country line three times a week.
“Students mainly learn the basic steps but may also learn intermediate and advanced dance moves on Wednesdays and Fridays so that they can use what they learned on Sundays,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class (AW/SW) Jazmin Alarcon, an instructor of the class. “We use Sundays as a day to dance any style of the dances taught as a way to practice them more.”
Alarcon, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, danced to many forms of Spanish music at family celebrations since she was a young girl and began ballet when she was in high school.
Another goal of the class is to provide Sailors and Marines an environment where they can get to know their shipmates.
Staff Sgt. Carlos Quintana, another class instructor, attached to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), agrees with setting a comfortable environment.
Quintana has danced salsa and merengue in front of several live audiences before and during his military career. His favorite type of dance is merengue.
“We want to diversify the class and have everyone from all ranks participate,” said Quintana, a native of Chicago. “The way things are going right now, we definitely have more people attending the class than expected of all ranks from E-1 to 0-6.”
When Quintana checked into Boxer earlier this year, the first person he met was Alarcon.
“I asked Alarcon what Boxer did to boost morale during off hours and she said she was thinking of starting a dance class because she had wanted to last deployment on Boxer but didn’t get to because not enough people were willing to help her,” said Quintana. “So, since I love to dance too, I kept that in consideration. We gradually started holding lessons in the foc’sle and a lot of people started showing up.”
More than 40 people attend every class held after dinner either in the ships foc’sle or classroom.
Boxer’s Executive Officer (XO), Capt. Wayne Brown, has attended several classes and says he believes the class helps Sailors and Marines stay fit and relieve stress.
“I sweat more in the dance class in an hour than I sweat when running four miles on the treadmill,” said Brown. “I am very comfortable in the class and know that no one is judging my limited skills. This is just fun for me and a small break away from the XO world.”
Alarcon said confidence is key to learning new dance moves and progressing in the class.
“If we see anyone having trouble with certain dance moves, one of the instructors will bring them to the side to further assist their needs,” said Alarcon. “It’s very important to not give up because that’s how you learn to never make those same mistakes again.”
The class has four experienced instructors who each bring a combined 40 years of experience in dancing or performing various styles before their military careers.
“I think that the classes have been very professionally managed and taught by our Navy and Marine Corps dance instructors. These lessons would cost hundreds of dollars in a private dance school, but we are getting the service for free,” said Brown. “The benefits obtained from this class are priceless.”
The instructors are planning a performance, which will be performed by students later in deployment.