salsa dancing with salsacrazy... learn to salsa dance!
SalsaCrazy Mailing list:
Please enter your Email:
We want your articles and publications! We DO publish. Do you want to write a review? Do you want to write a commentary?
You name it, we'll publish it! Submit your articles, or ask for our writing guidelines,

SalsaLand: 2004 West Coast Salsa Congress


By Maya, Return to SalsaCrazy.Com Features


Disneyland for kids, Universal Studios for movie buffs, how ‘bout a Salsaland for us (or Salsa’R Us)? Wait a minute! We already got one! The West Coast Salsa Congress. Too bad it’s opened only one long weekend per year. Wouldn’t it be great to have a permanent Salsaland with humongous (and even) wooden dance floor, workshops and lessons areas, a film theater showing old and new salsa clips, a music lounge playing hits in all salsa styles and even “Flash-trash Corners” for show-offs and “Cliques Quarters” for snobs. One can dream, no?

Anyway, this year’s congress was almost there: we had it all under huge tents built specifically for that purpose. Responses from seasoned congress goers were overwhelmingly positive. But what about newcomers to the scene? What do you think the most famous judges from American Idol Simon, Paula and Randy would say? Let’s imagine...

“Paula – Wow, I was a dancer and even I didn’t know salsa was so popular! There were thousands of people at this event.

Randy – Yeah, dawg! Albert Torres Productions had to build tents to accommodate everybody. That’s it, now that I’ve lost weight; I’m taking salsa lessons. What d’you say, Simon? We can practice together like some of these guys who dance with each other ignoring gorgeous women around them.

Simon – Randy, if you can transform yourself to look and dance like Maya Torres I’m your man. Before that, I’d rather watch those peacocks on the dance floor.

P – Oh, come on, Simon! They are just good dancers proud of their success. What’s wrong if they want to display it?

S – That’s what the shows are for, Paula. We watched so many groups in so little time it’s impossible to absorb it all. We even missed a few due to the unpredictable bussing schedules. However, I was impressed by some performances, especially couples. Don’t forget though, it’s much harder to achieve a flawless group presentation.

R – Nevertheless, groups like Tropical Jam from Italy (simply wow!), Swing Latino from Colombia (dude, these guys’ footwork was so intricate and effortless you’d think they came out dancing out of their mothers’ wombs), Bones on 1 from Liquid Silver Productions, Salsa Dance Squad from Netherlands (showpiece), Salsa Brava that performed for the last time, Alex da Silva group from LA (smoooooooth daaaaaawg) and a few others are top notch. Mainstream producers should start paying attention to these dancers and give them a chance to perform at national mainstream events.

S – It’s a shame that in America even Latin entertainment shows like Latin Grammys and others never have salsa dancers on stage, even with salsa music. Salsa congresses attracting thousands of people all over the world still remain under the American entertainment radar. Just watch that idiotic movie Havana Nights – what kind of dancing is that?

P – At least, we agree on something, Simon. I’d like to mention these incredible duos as well: a couple from Tropical Jam blew the audience away. Their technique and precision are unmatched. These dancers practice 3 hours every day and they’ve been performing professionally for 8 years. No wonder. Other star performances included Al and Edie, Jhesus Aponte & Marielys Molina, Rodrigo and Essenia, Olivia &Hector, Omar Hidalgo & Olaya Muentes to name just a few.

R – One particular performance touched me more than others: Ana & Joel Mazacote from Boston danced salsa to a jazz classic Take 5 written decades ago by Paul Desmond and made immortal by the legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck. They did not even choose a Latin arrangement of this tune. They stuck to the original composition written in 5/4 beats – uneven number theoretically impossible to dance to, especially salsa that needs 4 beats. But they did it!

S – I must say that I was getting bored watching so many performances with many similar moves and tricks. I wanted someone to do something different for a change, something that can stand out in this sea of arm-twisting patterns, multiple spins and senseless themes that have no connection to the music. Wild West Mambo started with a scene reminiscent of Crucifixion accompanied by solemn music. One would expect something interesting to come out of that one. But then you hear happy tunes and Roman soldiers (?) dancing salsa. Well, I guess they were the original Latinos.

I started noting only the very best performances that stood out in any way. Ana & Joel are certainly on that list not because of their dance originality, but because of their music choice. Another 3 dancers got on top of my list: Brazilian Alex Lima who lives in Paris, Edwin and Tony from LA who showed in their routines amazing originality and connection to the music. Alex’ solo is nothing less than a musical piece played by his body; Edwin first played congas and than reflected those rhythms in his choreography; Edwin and Tony (the kid who brought the house down last year at the SF Salsa Congress with his imitations of famous salseros) danced to an old Tito Puente arrangement where even their props reflected the music beats. Superb!

R – There were other interesting ideas as well. Clavekazi Dance Company from Washington created an unusual routine based on martial arts moves. One can only imagine the work involved in that choreography. One group (didn’t get their name) used puppets, Duo Tap from San Francisco tapped to salsa music; Salsa Passion (?) from Vancouver presented a routine with commercials; Latin Dance Australia used magic tricks with the help of twin dancers; Tropical Jam couple mentioned similarity between American plantation slaves and Puerto-Rican peasants and then danced to an amazing arrangement of Summertime by Cheo Feliciano incorporating blues and bolero. Now that makes sense!

P – I was also impressed by the general high level of Japanese and South Korean salseros. However, my personal favorites are San Francisco, Bay Area dancers. After all they are my homies...Salsamania, PB&G, Ricasalsa, Evolution Latina, Latin Symbolics, Los Matanceros and salsagangers – a toast to you all guys, you did great! If I know anything about salsa, it’s thanks to you all!

Too bad we can’t mention all of the deserving dancers in a short revue. The public often does not realize how much work is required to learn salsa and to prepare even a short routine. These salseros rehearse for months and most of them have other jobs. Thanks to congresses like this one they have a chance to perform in front of their peers and exchange ideas.

R – Yeah, Albert Torres deserves a medal for organizing these events and popularizing salsa all over the globe, especially in the US where he must overcome many obstacles. Most folks are not aware of what it takes to get a congress like this off the ground.

S – Some things need to be ironed out, however. Events, workshops and shows are scheduled almost back-to-back, but the bussing problem caused many to miss their planned activities. People like having all under one roof, maybe a different hotel is in order, or, at least, daytime workshops and performances can be held at the hotel. Most importantly, sloping linoleum dance floors should be avoided at all costs. Not all salseros are skillful enough to dance even on sand. Signs over the workshops areas (A, B, C etc.) wouldn’t hurt either.

P – You know, Albert Torres Productions has a great slogan: Creating Unity Through Salsa. Many salseros need to pay attention to this. I was warned beforehand, - and it’s true to some extent, - many dancers from different towns remain isolated on the dance floor dancing primarily with partners they know. What is it, shyness, fear of rejection, self-deprecation? All of the above?

R – Well, you know these salseros, Paula, especially dudes. They’re afraid to look bad. It’s one of the reasons why so many perfect their technique, but are afraid to improvise, respond to the music. Maybe we can suggest a few ideas to help them mix and mingle.

P – How about those birthday dances popular among swing devotees. Birthday guys and gals dance with rotating partners and for the next tune everybody on the dance floor must pick out a partner from the audience when the master of ceremonies says “switch partners” It’s repeated several times until everybody is dancing. That way you avoid asking and you get to know fellow salseros from outside of your immediate circle. What do you think, Simon?

S - ???? Leave me out of this, Paula!

R – Another idea might be to wear nametags with your city printed on it for people who would not refuse an invitation. They can be of different colors designating your dance level: for example, blue for advanced and professionals (blue bloods), red for intermediates and green for beginners. That way you know what you’re facing, avoid embarrassment and help socializing and creating ties.

S – OK, in the same vein, a square tag meaning “beware: I’ll step on you and won’t apologize”. What if I don’t want to wear a tag?

P & R – Then you’re on your own, Simon. Besides, who would want to dance with you? You could join the snots in the Cliques’ Quarters. Oh, we forgot – you can’t dance!

S – I’d rather listen to the music. This year the band selection was beyond any salsero’s wildest dreams: Spanish Harlem, Orquesta de la Luz, Africando, El Gran Combo and others. However, at this congress one could detect increase in popularity of classic mambo. Thursday night in particular mambo ruled with Johnny Pacheco band and that DJ that played one classic mambo hit after another between sets.

P – Even the popular Mexican couple Victor & Gaby danced on 2.

R – A few groups like Salsational Dancers and others used swing music and routines. Los Rumberos used even zuit suits from the swing era. Duke Ellington’s Caravan was the chosen accompaniment for 3 performances – all of them different arrangements, but all brilliant.

S – What’s still missing though is improvisation in social salsa dancing. I watched many sensational and technically perfect dancers who ignored the music completely. Only Al and Edie are actually introducing responses to music accents on the dance floor. They organize events with swing dancers who have a long-standing tradition of playing with music. Hopefully it’ll eventually catch on with other salseros.

P – I’ve talked to many congress attendees who had an overwhelmingly positive experience. How can they last for 4 days with such intense schedules and only a few hours of sleep? Nevertheless, you see those dazed smiles on their faces...People fly from all over the world to be here. That’s what I call addiction.

S – I must say, this congress opened my eyes to the exciting world I might have never known. Simply put it – superb!”

There you have it – couldn’t have said it better myself.

Maya Salsaloca




Return to SalsaCrazy Featured Dance Articles

|   Contact/Support    |   Write a Review   |   About SalsaCrazy   |   Private Policy    |

Dance San Francisco    |    Salsa Dance Clubs & Events   |   DanceSF Salsa Classes    |   Salsa Cruise & Dance Travel

SalsaCrazy's VIP
Salsa Newsletter
Just Enter Your Email:

We respect your email privacy

BE A VIP! Always know what's going on: The hottest salsa dancing news and events!

Salsa Crazy Salsa Ranking
Get your Site Salsa Dance Site
Salsa Ranked!

SalsaCrazy's Local
SF Facebook Group

salsacrazy's salsa san francisco facebook group

SalsaCrazy's Global
Facebook Group

salsacrazy's worldwide salsa dance facebook network

San Francisco Salsa Classes  SalsaCrazy Returns in 2012
salsa classes san francisco with DanceSF!

SalsaCrazy on AMAZON

salsacrazy's salsa dance videos on amazon

Salsa Dance San Francisco

dance san francisco news and events

Your Online Salsa School

how to dance, learn to dance, how to dance salsa, learn salsa, salsa lesson, salsa class, salsa, salsa dance, salsa dancing

Ballroom + Latin
Dance Video Store!

dance videos from dance crazy - learn to dance!

Salsa Dance Ranking of Websites
Salsa Dance Videos
salsa dance dvds and dance videos store

wedding dancing instrucion - learn to wedding dance

bachata dance videos from bachatacrazy
Copyright (c) 2009 SalsaCrazy, Inc. - No reproduction without prior written consent.