Tough Economic Times for San Diego Salsa and Latin Dancers?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The economy

The economy has been the front and center topic these last few weeks as we hear about the collapse on Wall Street.  All of us are affected to some degree and this also includes those of us that are part of the San Diego dance community.

One message I saw circulating on the internet mentioned that salsa dancing is a great way to work through the financial stress that we are all experiencing.  Indeed, I think its important to keep doing the things that keep us strong emotionally during this time and for many salsa, tango, and other forms of latin dance are such activities.  Although salsa and latin dancing may cost some money in terms of club cover or dance lessons, many times the ocassional expense is worth the huge benefits you can receive from the dance.

E.K. Clothing

We all know too that small businesses have been hit hard by these tough economic times. The salsa and latin dance community as a whole can help support those businesses that help to create the dance experience we all enjoy.  E.K. Clothing, a small business I interviewed recently, is one such business that could benefit from our patronage.  The company has extended free standard shipping of any purchases of $50.00 or more if you use the special promo code “RITMOBELLO” (it ends 12/31/2008).   If you are not familiar with E.K. Clothing, you can check out their great assortment of salsa dance wear and shoes on their website.

Feel free to leave comments if you have other ways to keep positive and support the dance community during these economic times.  

Ritmo Bello Interviews Salsa Dance Clothier e.K. Clothing

Friday, August 29, 2008


e.K. Clothing salsa skirt

As most of you know, I’ve been dancing street salsa for many years both locally here in San Diego and around the world.   Over those years I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy the dance and the positive changes that it has brought to my life.  From time to time I reflect on these changes and it occurred to me that my salsa dancing has affected me in a way I never would have imagined.

When I opened up my closet recently I noticed that I have not one but two separate parts to my wardrobe.  Indeed, on one side I had all my regular clothing and on the other I had what I call my “salsa wardrobe.”  Any of you out there that have been dancing salsa for a while understand immediately what I mean by this simple revelation.   The clothing worn by a dancer can define that person just as much as their dance style and my separate salsa wardrobe reflects that to the core.

This got me thinking about an often overlooked part of our dance world, the people that provide the wonderful range of clothing and shoe options for us to wear.  One organization in particular, e.K. Clothing caught my attention in the Latin dance community and I recently sat down for an interview with the company’s owner,  Nicole Shahian,  to talk about outfitting the Latin dance world.


e.K. Clothing Logo




Ritmo Bello: Nicole, let’s go ahead and begin.  Many people that are new to salsa dancing here in San Diego are not sure what type of options are out there for footwear and dance clothing.  What makes e.K. Clothing a good option for them to consider?


e.K. Clothing: Our prices are pretty reasonable and usually if orders are received Monday – Saturday by about 1pm or so, they’re shipped the same day. Returns are easy and most of our styles are great for Salsa and other types of Latin dancing.


Ritmo Bello: How did e.K. Clothing get started?


e.K. Clothing: Well, just like the song – Todo Empezo…Bailando! About 4-5 years ago, I was out dancing almost every night and was always looking for new Salsa clothes, because you know how it is…Salseros usually have a semi-separate Salsa wardrobe, right? I made a couple of purchases from several major online retailers and was disappointed in the price vs. quality. So I figured maybe I could offer dancers a better option…


Ritmo Bello: I know that salsa and mambo dresses are one of the things you specialize in providing to the dance community.  Can you provide some helpful tips on what somebody might look for and consider when shopping for a salsa or mambo dress at your store?


e.K. Clothing: Any clothing that has ruffles, flounces, slits and cascades will extend or accent your movement and actually make you *look* like a better dancer. Halter straps (as opposed to tank straps) are nice because they don’t slip off the shoulders. Mid length skirts with zig zag bottoms spin beautifully. Also, blends of Polyester, Nylon and/or Spandex are the best kind of fabric blends for dancers because they stretch nicely, wash easily and dry quickly.


Ritmo Bello: Are there different options available for ladies interested in specialized dresses for ballroom or Argentine Tango?


e.K. Clothing: Some of our ready to wear items are popular with Tango dancers – usually the more elegant, sharper styles or those with some sort of lace detail. For Ballroom dancers, a lot of our skirts are great for practice wear. At this time we don’t offer custom Ballroom dresses, though.


Ritmo Bello: I also understand that you offer skirts and pant options to women dancers.  What are some of the advantages of choosing an option like this compared to a full dress?


e.K. Clothing: Dresses and skirts typically have a lot more movement and can be much more eye catching. Pants are quick and easy and you never have to worry about them flying or inching up as you’re dancing. Pants and skirts are a nice option for those who like to mix and match and sometimes are better for women who may need a different size up top than what they wear on bottom.

e.K. Clothing


Ritmo Bello: How does a dancer find the right sizing for a dress, skirt, or pant when considering some of your clothing?


e.K. Clothing: It is always important to consider your body type. There are certain styles that are more flattering to different figures and it is just a matter of finding what cut/style suits you best. Everyone has their favorite pieces of clothing that they tend to wear over and over again. If you can figure out what it is that you like about your favorite outfits and look for those qualities when clothes shopping, you’re more likely to be happy with your new purchases. Also, knowing your measurements (these can be taken with a tailor’s tape measure) is always helpful. Every clothing manufacturer is different, so ALWAYS take a look at the size chart if you’re shopping online!


Ritmo Bello: In terms of footwear, what are some things you recommend to somebody looking for good salsa, mambo, or even tango dance shoes?  What characteristics make for a really good dance shoe?

e.K. Clothing: Dance shoes should be flexible, have a non grip bottom that has just enough traction for spins and should always STAY PUT on your feet, especially around your heels. For women, wearing dance shoes (instead of regular street shoes) absolutely makes a difference. Although dancing shoes might be a little more expensive, usually they are made with quality materials and last a long time. For suede bottom shoes, almost any cobbler can replace the suede when it wears out, so don’t worry too much about preserving the suede – just dance!


Ritmo Bello: In your opinion what is the best heel height for dancing?


e.K. Clothing: The best heel height is what you’re most comfortable in–for women, if you’re not used to wearing high heels, dancing in them will take a while getting used to. I’d suggest a thicker heel if comfort is the main concern, because the more area that weight is distributed across, the better. However, the most common heel for women’s Latin dance shoes is 2.5 inch slim heel. Padded soles or inserts help with getting used to higher heels.


For men, usually a 1 inch heel is the standard. Some men who dance a lot or compete prefer the 1.5 inch heels, but I’ve been told those take some getting used to as well.

e.K. Clothing Men's shoes

Ritmo Bello: Do you offer customized shoe making options for dancers?  If somebody had an idea for creating a custom shoe with e.K. Clothing what is that process like?


e.K. Clothing: We do! We have many, many custom colors available for all shoe styles. Custom designs can even have 2 or more chosen colors/materials. Customers specify the style, color/material(s) and heel height and in 3-5 weeks the shoes will be finished.


Ritmo Bello: I’ve talked to a number of professional dancers that have mentioned your store as a great place to find group dance or performance style dresses.  What kind of options do you offer to those dance groups looking to outfit their whole team?


e.K. Clothing: Group discounts start at 10% for purchases of 3 or more of the same item, regardless of color or size. We also carry sizes S-3X and often have a larger selection of colors in stock, which varies by season. Also, depending on the style, we can accommodate custom sizes and colors with a fairly quick turn around.


Ritmo Bello: Although most of your offerings are geared towards women, do you offer anything for men visiting your store?


e.K. Clothing: Currently we have men’s shoes. Hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll have some clothing for men as well…we’ve been told they’re feeling a little left out…


Ritmo Bello: Is there any chance we’ll see you in San Diego wearing some of the items you sell at e.K. Clothing?


e.K. Clothing: Right now, probably not John …I’m pretty much glued to our retail store in Lomita, CA 6 days a week.

ek clothing gallery page


Ritmo Bello: How can the Ritmo Bello audience reach you if they want to find out more information about e.K. Clothing?


e.K. Clothing: We can be reached at the e.k. Clothing website , 888-831-0925 or

Ritmo Bello: Nicole, on behalf of the Ritmo Bello audience and the San Diego dance community thanks so much for providing quality clothing options for dancers…


e.K. Clothing: Thank you!  Maybe one day I’ll see you on the dance floor!








John F. Bello

Meet John ;-)

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