NewsCovering Kern County


La Familia Studio gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate Hispanic heritage through dance

Posted at 8:20 PM, Sep 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-26 13:16:38-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — It is undeniable that music and dance are a big part of Hispanic and Latinx culture. Bakersfield business owner Juan Carlos Llamas turned his passion for those traditions into a way for everyone to participate.

Llamas has been dancing professionally since he was 15 years old. He performed salsa, merengue, cumbia, and many other dances at hotels in Mexico and the Bahamas.

“I started doing whatever I could to bring money to the table to feed my grandma and my brother, so dancing was a way for me to make some money,” said Llamas. “Thanks to dancing, I started providing for my family and I fell in love with it. I was able to provide and have fun at the same time.”

Llamas decided to take his passion to the next level when he opened La Familia Dance Studio in 2021 right here in Bakersfield. Llamas said he wanted to share his experience with his son and make a difference in the city’s Hispanic community.

La Familia Dance Studio flyer

“I noticed here in Bakersfield the Hispanic community is really big, but there’s not a lot of places that teach Latin dance or things that we provide in our location,” said Llamas. “So whenever I started doing things like that, I was like; you know what? Bakersfield is huge for the Hispanic community. We need to do something.”

That something includes things like helping teens like Jaylem Vaquerano feel confident enough to dance at her quinceañera.

“My parents, they love dancing. I don't know how I didn't like dancing. They have carne asadas, like, every weekend, and they blast music and start dancing, everything like that,” Vaquerano said about her family while thinking about the impact La Familia Dance Studio has had on her. “I think now I dance with them a little bit now that I’ve been dancing here. It’s brought my confidence up. I don’t know if it boosted me a lot.”

Vaquerano’s dance instructor Billy Chenoweth said that anyone can learn how to dance as long as they practice the basics.

“Absolutely 100 percent of the people can learn how to do it,” said Chenoweth. “Some people learn on the first day. Some people learn the first year. It doesn’t matter. Once you can do it, you can do it.”

Beginner and experienced dancers alike can celebrate Hispanic culture and make some new friends along the way by taking a dance class at La Familia.

“I think the biggest thing for beginners is to have fun. Like, you gotta enjoy it,” said Llamas. “If you enjoy it, you forget when you’re messing up or not. You’re just having fun, and eventually you get good at it.”

If you’d like to sign up for a dance class at La Familia Dance Studio, information about dates and rates is available on La Familia’s Facebook page.