Dressing for salsa 



Douglas E. Thompkins keeps the Jazz Kitchen’s Latin Dance Nights hot. Having taught dance moves there for almost three years, it’s no wonder the Jazz Kitchen boasts Indianapolis’ best and longest-running Latin Dance Night in town.
-Douglas E. Tompkins at the Jazz Kitchen’s Latin Dance Night.-

“This was it. This was all Indianapolis had,” Thompkins said about Latin Dance Night. He went on to say that while similar efforts at other venues have come and gone, the Jazz Kitchen’s is the best because “the crowd is very diverse. It’s a safe place. Great food.” The Jazz Kitchen celebrated its 10 year anniversary last week.

A Chicago native currently working toward his sociology doctorate from the University of Illinois, Chicago, Thompkins knows how to dress as well as he dances. His overall appearance was classic and tailored with a subtle Latin flavor in his slightly full shirtsleeves. His shirt was crisp. His black pants had a slim fit, so they were very neat and well-suited for dancing. This attire completely complemented his body movements and the elegance of the dances.

On the dance floor, Thompkins advised rows of mostly 20-something men and women to relax. He called, “Relax! Men turn! Ladies turn! Relax!” His words fell in synch with the Latin rhythms DJ Royce Echarry from Venezuela was spinning. A very subtle tie tack kept his cool Greek key motive tie in place as Thompkins turned and gestured. Considered old fashioned, more men should discover this practical accessory and ditch those senseless suspenders. Thompkins’ two-toned alligator skin shoes and tasseled laces worked for the club environment and were actually elegant. What a great way to get people to look at your feet for meringue instruction.

Men dressed as well as Thompkins are few and far between, especially in his generation. Clothes are about attitude and how you carry yourself. Thompkins obviously loves what he does and knows what he looks good in. “Latin music seems to have the power to transcend race, class, gender,” Thompkins said. “It’s the only dance form where people come together … it’s because of the music.”

If you go to Latin Dance Night, you can still be casual, but you better ditch the jeans. You’re dancing Latin. Dress the part! This stuff is sexy! Though the Jazz Kitchen opens at 5 p.m. for dinner, FREE dance lessons with Thompkins (Red Brick Dance Studios) take place at 9 p.m. The evening runs to 1 a.m. $5 cover, ladies get in free before 10 p.m.

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