Skip to content

Arts & Culture: Latin dancing heats up the North

Zoi Monroy came to Canada from Venezuela and succeeded in building a successful business around her love of dance

You know how the song goes. "What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play ..." 

The music is Latin and the crowd is dancing the salsa at Nickel City Hotel on the last Friday night of each month.

"As many as 50 to 70 people come out to dance," said organizer Zoi Monroy, who has been teaching salsa and another Latin dance, bachata, in the city for several years.

Many of the dancers are her students, but the city also has a growing Latino population, she said. 

Monroy was dance champion at the 2017 Dancing with the Easter Seals Stars event, which raised more than $80,000 for the charity. Her dance partner, disc jockey Richie Rich, began to work together combining their talents to  organize the monthly dancing parties.

A special Latin dance night is planned for Friday, June 30 at the La Casa Mexicana restaurant downtown at Elm and Elgin streets. Monroy hopes the weather is nice enough to dance outside on the patio area near the McEwen School of Architecture.

Originally from Venezuela, Monroy "grew up dancing … no structure, we just get up and do it at parties. It is in my blood."

She immigrated to Canada 17 years ago after meeting her future husband in Edmonton while she was on vacation. She moved to Canada permanently, married, and eventually settled in Sudbury. 

Although the couple split up, Monroy had fallen in love with Canada and this city. Her mother now lives with her.

Monroy studied marketing and business in Venezuela's capital city, Caracas, but found working 9-to-5 unfulfilling. 

Now she does what makes her happy: teaching Latin dancing. 

The roots of salsa music and dance is Latin American, but the music was first popularized in the United States in the 1960s in New York City by Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants. The dance is mixture of Cuban dances, such as mambo and rumba, as well as American dances swing and tap. 

There are several styles of salsa, including New York, Los Angeles and Cuban.

"They all have eight steps, but the way you do it is a little different," Monroy said.

She teaches two classes Thursday nights at the Church of the Ascension on Barrydowne Road. She also offers private lessons.

To improve her own dancing and teaching skills, Monroy attended Latin dance congress events in Toronto. These events are so popular in large cities around the world that she decided to start one in Sudbury.

The Northern Latin Dancing Congress, an all-day dance event at the Northbury Hotel, was first held in 2018. It was cancelled in 2020, but returned in 2021 and 2022.

This 2023 event will be held Nov. 11. There are numerous Latin dancing workshops throughout the day, followed by a performance showcase and a dance party until 1 a.m.

Monroy also performs with Northern Latin Flavour dance group, and is preparing for a performance Canada Day at Sudbury Arena and other cultural festivals. The high energy business owner also plans to have a food booth to introduce the city to Venezuelan cuisine.

Dancing crosses age, gender and cultural backgrounds and is a great way to express yourself, Monroy said. 

"It is also great exercise. Dancing for me is getting out of one's comfort zone … it is fun."

You can learn more on her website,

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer. Arts & Culture is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.