The Latin Dance Club for Teachers and Parish Associates at Saints Peter & Paul School has been one of the school's best-kept secrets for nearly 20 years. The LDC, as it is known, had its beginnings in 1995, when Rectory accountant Ramon San Gabriel and Pre-K Director Barbara Simons inadvertently discovered their shared passion for the island-influenced rhythms of the mid-century Miami nightclub beat over breakfast after Mass. One part music appreciation, one part dance party, and one part cultural history lesson, the LDC has met on the stage during the Friday lunch hour for two decades, earning the enthusiastic (if clandestine) participation of many of the faculty, Boys’ & Girls’ Club staff, and Church community.
Mrs. Simons and Mr. San Gabriel came at their Latin dance training from very different routes: the self-taught Mrs. Simons honed her skills listening to Desi Arnaz Orchestra records in her Connecticut garage growing up (where she displayed her natural teacher’s nature by occasionally inviting one of her 9 (!) siblings to learn a new routine); the Philippines born Ramon, in contrast, came to the art form much later, when he ventured into a Latin dance class as a Valentine's Day gift to his wife shortly after their marriage at Saints Peter & Paul Church. Possessed of natural rhythm and the kind of talent "you just can't teach,” according to Mrs. Simons, Ramon and his wife Lani later would go dancing at every opportunity, even staying up late dancing in the living room if they couldn't get a sitter for their two daughters.
With demanding jobs and full family routines which precluded them from devoting their lives to dance, both Mrs. Simons and Ramon had conceded that this passion would remain an occasional hobby. Imagine their shared joy when each one noticed the other's foot tapping to some background beats that fateful Sunday morning. Through the LDC, these two unexpected dance powerhouses have infused the Saints Peter & Paul community with a love of Cuban music, food, and Latin dance that rivals (dare we say it?) their more well-known fervor for Italian culture. Only when Dr. Lisa Harris, herself, entreated them to shine a light on their skills in Dancing with the Stars did they agree to perform for you on this very special occasion.