After several years of training & dancing salsa in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, as well as overseas in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Australia, Dubai and Europe, I realized something important was missing from the salsa scene of the country’s Capital: a weekly social event that could bring people of many walks of life together; to socialize; to have fun; and, to feel a sense of relief from their everyday life.
To achieve this, I decided to experiment with a Salsa social event on Sunday evenings at Amigos Sports Club on Merivale road. While my “mini project” lasted only for a few months, it provided me with a unique opportunity to experience and learn about the inevitable joys and challenges of planning for and organizing social events. Meanwhile, I became aware, through a friend of mine, that St. John's Parish Hall on Elgin Street had been recently renovated and available for social events. With a concrete proposal to present, I made my first contact with the Church’s facility manager, which then led to securing the necessary approvals by the Father and the Bishop. And yes, this was the beginning of my journey to the world of social salsa. Next with the help of a few of my friends, who shared my passion for salsa and community work, I officially started the first Rahim’s Salsa Friday on October 12, 2007.
It has been over 14 years since that very first event in 2007, and not only has this event slowed down, but it has evolved into what is now much bigger and better than what I had originally imagined, with the hundreds of new faces joining the event weekly to meet, to dance and to share their joy and remarkable moments with the rest of us. So far, over 600 Salsa parties have been held, with over 100,000 people from Ottawa and other part of the world joining the party in these past years.
I have been undertaking this challenge as an evening hobby after I finish a full of day of work in my day job. And yes, it has not been easy, but what has been my most important driver to continue has been the role that this and other similar events play in ensuring the health & well-being of our community and city. To this end, I am very pleased to see that Rahim’s Salsa Friday has become a true community effort, with an annual charity event devoted to local organizations such as Ottawa Food Bank & CHEO .