Since COVID-19 is spreading in our communities, all the gyms and dance studios have been closed. Cintya, my Zumba teacher, lost all her classes at New U Fitness Dance Studio, Mar Vista Family Center and Community Corporation of Santa Monica. Cintya is a single mom with three daughters who are studious and talented members of the school orchestra and soccer team. Therefore, Gini, one of the owners of the Studio, suggested that all her students support Cintya by attending her Zumba class at Mar Vista Park in West Los Angeles. Cintya has gotten a lot of support from her students during the pandemic.
Mar Vista Park is located at the intersection of Palms and Sawtelle Blvd. It is a huge park with a lot of facilities and programs for the communities. Because the park was closed, we used the parking lot located at Palms Blvd. and Mc Laughlin Ave. to do our classes. The parking lot is a long rectangle with parking spaces for 50 cars. We could occupy it while social distancing. We used masks when we were social in the group. Cintya felt we needed to be strong in order to face Covid 19 and the fact that some of her students had lost jobs. Cintya’s class fees were collected by donation. I saw people give her from $1-$5 or more if they could afford it. You put money in a pink box, and no manager collected the fee for her. Little by little, her class got bigger, and sometimes, she might have 12-20 students.
One Saturday morning, we were getting ready to start the class. There was a young, tall and handsome man dressed in a gray jogging outfit who joined us. After he found out most of our classmates were married women with out-of-shape bodies, he stayed only a few minutes and then left with an unhappy expression on his face.
Lila, who is a daring single grandma and our class manager, would greet all new students each time after the class. She is a big help to Cintya because she puts the students at ease by doing some funny dance steps, acting like a clown in the circus, and making us laugh during the class. She was disappointed when the young man left, so she blew him a lot of kisses, but he disappeared quickly. I felt funny.
We slowly spread along side of the parking lot to reach the entrance. All of a sudden, I heard a woman screaming from the right. I turned around and saw the young man sitting on the grass near the sidewalk, where he had fallen because of damage from tree roots. Several people went to see what happened, and I decided to check it out too. Cintya stopped the class for a few minutes until she saw some of us were helping the young man. Cintya then continued her lessons.
Fernanda is one of my Zumba classmates. She saw the young man fall, and she was the first one to check on his injuries. I think it was her screaming that got us to check out what was happening. We all saw that his palms were bleeding from the fall. Fernanda called out loudly “ Anyone have an emergency kit?” I went back to my car and brought him a bottle of water to clean his wounds. Angie, a young professional girl, ran to her car and brought her emergency kit for Fernanda to treat him. Angie then went back to the Zumba class and continued to dance. Fernanda cleaned the young man ‘s hands with water and put Neosporin and Bandaids on both of his palms. Fernanda told him to call his family to tell them about his fall and ask them to pick him up in case he fainted on the way home. I carried his iPhone so he could talk to his girlfriend. When we found out his girlfriend had no key and could not come to pick him up. Fernanda offered him a ride home because she was worried about him. Another classmate brought him a bottle of water to drink later. We were happy that we could help, and he thanked us.
I went back to Cintya’s class. When I turned around to take a drink from my water bottle, I saw three men standing near their car, which was parked on the other side of road, watching us doing Zumba dancing. This made us feel like we were stars.
Lupe and Sofi, two other students, noticed that some guys were watching another student, Grace, as she danced. Grace is a beautiful lady with a young- looking body. She turned and saw the three fat, short guys watching, and she just stepped on her feet and looked upset. I think Grace only likes tall and handsome men because I had noticed several times that she liked to run after them as a joke as they passed us on the sidewalk. Those three men left immediately, and Grace continued dancing. I felt that it was funny how quickly they communicated with each other.
After the lesson, Angie, Fernanda, Grace and I became friends because we had shared a happy and fun Saturday at Mar Vista Park during a difficult time in our city.
Submitted by Wen Chen, Los Angeles County – Santa Monica.