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Review of 2002 Dance Fun’s Labor

Day Weekend Event in Palm Springs


8-15-2002 - By Stephanie Palmieri!


Dance Fun is known for it’s Salsa events like the Sizzlin’ Salsa Weekend in Laughlin, Nevada every June and it’s Salsa Stars Saturday workshops in the Bay Area.  But Dance Fun also caters to dancers of other genre like Country Line dancing and Swing.  This Labor Day, Dance Fun combined two events at the same venue in Palm Springs.  The Boogie & Blues All-Star Swing Weekend and Summer Salsa Weekend with Salsa Brava was the result.  Overall, it was a great event.


The event took place at the Doral Resort in Palm Springs and featured both Swing and Salsa workshops, competitions, shows and open dancing.   The event and hotel were well worth the money.   The entire event pass cost only $89 if you paid over a month in advance.  The hotel offered affordable rooms at only $79 per night with two double beds.  There was a large pool where a “pool party” was held on the last evening of the event and the dance and workshop areas were ample and air-conditioned.  It was so hot out for most of the weekend (our rental car registered 108 degree temperatures) that the only time I ventured out was to go to the pool.  Paying for the event gave you access to both the Swing and Salsa activities.  Even though I’m not much of a Swing dancer, it was fun to watch the Swing events and then watch some of the Swing dancers dancing salsa.  Most of them do it incredibly well.

I attended the event as a performer, because my dance company, Son Bravisimo is a part of Salsa Brava productions and two of our couples were performing on the last night of the event.  My ten-year-old daughter and boyfriend attended with me.  Dance Fun events are always all-ages and so there were quite a few other kids and teens at the event with their families.  Some of the teens I saw were incredible Swing and Salsa dancers.  It’s always great to see the diversity of age at dance events like these.


Joby and Luis Vazquez were the hosts for the Salsa venues.  Other well-known salseros who were there as teachers and/or judges were Laura Canelias, Olivia Dasso, Edgar Mendez of  Los Rumberos, Salomon and Sandra Rivera, Ricardo and Sarah Tellez of RicaSalsa and Joe Cassini.  There were classes scheduled throughout the day and into the evening.  There were usually two Swing and two Salsa classes being taught simultaneously.  I had a great time at most of the classes I attended because there was plenty of room to dance and all of the instructors were great.  I especially enjoyed Joby’s ladies’ styling class and Laura Canelias’ Cardio Salsa class.   Some of the men I talked to raved about both Luis’ and Edgar’s men’s styling classes. 


Unfortunately for the organizers, the event was under attended.  There was another Salsa event scheduled at the resort the following weekend, so I’m sure that was a cause for low attendance.  For the participants, however, having fewer people was better because it was less crowded in the classes and on the dance floor.  I personally had a great time and didn’t at all miss the throngs of people like at the Salsa Congress in L.A.  For financial reasons, I hope the event has more participants next year.  If salseros don’t attend the events that are out there, organizers will not continue to invest in something that brings in no revenue.


By far, the best part of the event was the competitions.  Some of the 12 competitions scheduled were cancelled because of low participation.  Those that were held, however, were fun for observers and participants alike.   At the salsa venue there were both amateur and professional Jack and Jill competitions, an amateur “Strictly Salsa” competition and a “Pro-Am” competition.  For those who don’t know the difference, in a  Jack and Jill, you are assigned a random partner by chance, “Strictly Salsa” is pure free-style dancing with a partner of your choice, and “Pro-Am” is an amateur dancer partnered up with his or her instructor.   I barely talked my boyfriend into entering the amateur Jack and Jill, in which he went on to take first place out of twelve couples.  He also entered the amateur “Strictly Salsa” with my daughter, in which they took 5th place and got a medal.  I didn’t get to watch the “Pro-Am” but I heard it was great seeing the amateurs with their teachers.


I entered the pro Jack and Jill, as did the other members of my company and some other pros and teachers attending the event.  There still weren’t enough participants, so, in order to hold the contest, it was decided that all the pros who were going to be the judges would also enter the contest and the Swing professionals would judge the event.   So Joby and Luis, Laura Canelias, Edgar Mendez, Sandra and Salomon, and Olivia Dasso ended up joining in the fun.  This definitely upped the level of competition and made for a great show for the audience.  In the qualifying round we danced four times, each with a different random partner.  Then ten finalists were chosen and the five men each drew one of the woman finalists’ names out of a hat.  Luis chose Joby’s name, so it was no surprise who won first place, but it was still great to watch.  It was fitting that the hosts were the first place winners.  Ricardo Tellez and Sandra Rivera came in second, followed by Salomon Rivera and Laura Canelias in third, and Edgar Mendez and me in fourth.  Arturo Vazquez and Olivia Dasso rounded out the top five.  Competing with some of the best dancers in the business was definitely the highlight of my trip.


I hope Dance Fun and other organizations continue to organize events like this one.  Having the opportunity to blend vacation, relaxation, entertainment and dancing is a salsa dancer’s dream.  I urge you to support events like this one; it is money well spent.


About the author:  Stephanie Palmeri is the assistant director of Son Bravisimo of Salsa Brava Productions.  Check out the website at  She and her dance partner, Danny Zepeda, have been performing, competing and choreographing together for almost three years.  They currently teach all levels of salsa dancing at the Mexican Heritage Plaza and Club Miami, both in San Jose.  Stephanie is a regular feature contributor for the Salsacrazy website.  You can contact her at (408) 806-0787 or

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