Spirits and Salsa: An Evening of Dancing at Striped Pig Distillery

A glimpse behind the scenes

La Quinn MIms at Striped Pig Distillery


I’m good at turning just about anywhere into a dance floor. There’s an empty aisle at the grocery store? I’m dancing down it. We’re in the parking lot and you’re playing great music out of your car speakers? I’m dancing to it. Someone has portable speakers at the beach? I’m dancing on the sand. Indoors, outdoors, with someone’s iPhone, live music, a state-of-the-art sound system, my laptop. To me, there are few places in the world that are not dance floors.


So naturally, the first time that I visited Striped Pig Distillery in North Charleston, I immediately thought, “This would be a great place to have a Salsa party.” That was last summer, and now my plan is coming to fruition. On May 7, my dance company, Baila ConmiGA, will partner with Striped Pig Distillery, the Gino Castillo Quartet, and special guests from Dancefx, Daft Concept, Buen Ache, and others to bring you Spirits and Salsa: An evening of dancing at Striped Pig Distillery. It’s going to be a private craft-liquor tasting and tour at the distillery, followed by a free beginner’s Salsa lesson, live music from the Gino Castillo Quartet, social dancing, and professional performances.


Me at Striped Pig Distillery


I’ve worked on and for events before, but planning and hosting an event myself is a new experience. Johnny Pieper, master distiller at Striped Pig, and Juliana Harless, marketing director at Striped Pig, have been excited about the event since I first brought the idea to them last fall. I’m a huge fan of Striped Pig— I’ve never encountered vodka that you could drink with no mixer until I tried Striped Pig’s craft vodka, and a tour from Johnny is both educational (he seems to know the entire history of alcohol) and hilarious (and he mixes it with what is essentially a stand-up comedy routine).


Bad Girls Club from Dancefx


I approached my friends in the Gino Castillo Quartet about the event, and they were in. The challenge was finding a date that worked with everyone’s schedule—musicians and distillers are a busy bunch. My dance partner, La Quinn Mims, and I both have May birthdays, so we decided it was only natural to have the event also be where we could celebrate. 


Buen Ache Afro-Latino dance company


The Charleston dance community is so supportive, and I’m honored to be part of it—professionals from Daft Concept, Dancefx Charleston, and Buen Ache Afro-Latino Dance Company agreed to perform at the event, and now all that’s left to do is to fill the house. 


It’s exciting and nerve-wracking to be planning an event. Marketing and promoting is a daily grind (as I’m sure anyone who has put on an event can attest to), and I’m starting to have stress dreams that nobody shows up. But at the end of the day, if no one shows up besides me, La Quinn, the band, and the performers, we will still have an absolute blast. Because really it’s just a celebration of all of my favorite things—music, dancing, Charleston, local businesses, and a little dash of good spirits.