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2002 West Coast Salsa Congress - SalsaCrazy.Com
See Photos of the West Coast Salsa Congress!
Well, you actually can work at the pool with a laptop
during the West Coast Salsa congress – another burning Congress question
Well, the Congress started yesterday evening, but as in the
past, my first stop was in Santa Monica, for Wednesday’s at Monsoon Café on the
promenade. This night, which has become a typical haunt for me on the night
before the Congress starts, as usual, did not disappoint. While not a die-hard
salsero hang out, I did run into a few people I knew there, including Mike Bello
There were plenty of dancers to dance with, a friendly atmosphere, and overall –
a very enjoyable time. The night was slightly marred by my leather jacket being
stolen from the club (with Cel Phone inside), but the friendly and attentive
management were very helpful in looking for it (including watching the video
surveillance tapes). Anyway, Salsa takes place upstairs, every Wednesday, but by
all means, try out the restaurant – it’s very good. It has live bands every
Wednesday, and has recently started DJ music every Sunday.
This year the Congress changed locations from the Crowne
Plaza, to the Hilton. Now, I was on a high “Hilton Honors” floor, so I’m not
sure this applies to everyone, but the rooms were huge – and the hotel was
definitely a notch up from the Crowne Plaza. 24hr room service, and multiple
restaraunts, including a very good (price reduced) breakfast buffet, was
appreciated. The prices reflected this change in location, costing $120 through
Albert Torres Productions (veruss a $60 advertised rate at the Crowne Plaza for
the same weekend). Many friends chose the Crown Plaza or a neighboring hotel for
a better rate. Check the tips section, at the end of this article, for
invaluable tips in booking rooms and saving money. After checking in, I went to
look around. The hotel was indeed nice,
The evening show opened at 8:20, and did not suffer from
the crowds of the rest of the Congress. This evening was not included in our
Congress package, but only cost $15 for two bands. This was my favorite night –
I loved not having to travel to a different location to dance. Just take the
elevator downstairs and hop into the ballroom – very nice. While the ballroom
would be nowhere near large enough to accommodate the congress itself, it made
me wishful for a day where the congress would be held at the same location, for
all events. From the moment you stepped in, the music was playing – plenty of
people to dance with, and adequate room (at least until about 12 midnight).
Free, ice cold water was placed around the room (a very nice touch for the
dancers). The sound was good, and the dance floor (all the parkay-type,
laid-down flooring) was adequate. These nights before the Congress are always
my favorite evenings – both to dance and to listen to the music. The added
bonus of having the nights actually happen in the hotels we were staying at, was
I feel like I’ve become jaded, which is why SalsaCrazy.Com
will be posting multiple Salsa Congress Reports (reviews, editorial and
commentary). Everyone is welcome to write in to
email@example.com. I’ve been to years of Salsa Congresses, all over the
world now – so in order to present a more complete picture, we’ll be having
several reports and opinions posted on SalsaCrazy, from people who are coming to
the Congress for the first time, to long time visitors, like myself.
San Francisco was well represented at the Congress, with a
large number of dance troupes (whom all deserve a heart congratulations for
their excellent performances), and a fair number of social dancers out to enjoy
the multitudes of dancers and variety of music the Congress offers.
Dancing, once again, took a back seat to the many amazing
dance shows at the Congress. While there was a dance floor, and music, that
continued during the shows, it was totally packed, very hot, and strangely dark
back there. The bands were a great mix with Sonora Carruseles opening the show
(from Columbia), Jose Alberto on the next night, and Oscar De Leon (who played
the longest set, and was great, from Venezuela). Also, Son Mayor and Johny
Polanco were there and playing some great music.
Albert Torres said on stage – introduce yourself to someone
new and dance with them, and for me, that’s what Congressos have always been
about. It’s the sharing of the music and the dance with people from all over the
world. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen for me this time around – in that I
didn’t actually dance with that many people. My fault? Partially – and it was
great that Albert made that announcement on stage, as I think that helped many
people considerably (breaking the ice). At these Congressos, many dancers
choose to stick with their partners, or stay within their troupes and perform on
the dance floor. I would much rather find a couple of dancers from exotic
places and have a great time dancing to the music. Maybe even more social
activities for those that want to participate in it – a round robin dance
The shows were amazing, but it’s strange to come to a
Congress where everyone is sitting around on the floor, rather than constantly
dancing. I think the desire for people to dance was there, but sometimes there
was just no music! I noticed, at times, lots of couples dancing to NO music.
Just packing the floor, and dancing with one another, with no music playing.
No, these weren’t couples practicing; this was people dancing while there was
space. I thought that was an interesting phenomenon.
The DJ room – at the hotel, was a great success! I even
think this idea should be expanded. From the first hour of the Congress to the
last hour of the Congress, their should be a place where you can go dance to
music, non-stop – with whomever you’d like. This was a welcome addition to the
Congress this year, and I hope to see it expand further next year!
The Congress was a huge experience, that’s important as a
way to increase the visibility of the dance. At it’s best, it provides a chance
for thousands of dancers to meet one another and share in their love of the
dance and music – at it’s worst it’s a meeting of thousands of people without
the ability to meet everyone’s needs.
Salsa Congresses are popping up all over the world, and we
(San Francisco) are hosting our own Salsa Congress in November (Join our
WorldWide Update Mailing List), and the next six months has a congress almost
every week, in just about every place in the world you can imagine.
Comments - Feedback? We'd love to hear about your
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EDITORIAL RANTS – The following are a few tips, and couple
of Editorial Rants! Care to comment on them? Email:
An editorial topic – and that’s long songs! A topic that
has been covered in depth in the salsa scene in San Francisco, it was strange to
have big name acts, with huge repertoires of songs, only do four songs in an
hour long period. That made for some very long songs – and some etiquette
social dance issues which I will cover now. Generally speaking, it is ok to bend
over and tell your partner you are getting tired, during an abnormally long
song. It’s fine for 3-5 minutes to grin and bear it, but after 10, you needn’t
push yourself to dehydration or collapse from exhaustion. Generally, it’s best
if the LEADER realizes this, and makes it easier on the follower by suggesting a
break. However, if the leader doesn’t, it’s fine for the follower to do so (but
remember, the male ego is fragile, so you’d best explain the reason if you ever
want to be asked to dance again).
What’s the deal with dancing on the edges of the dance
floor? Let me tell you! It’s not all about being seen – having people stare at
you. It’s about personal safety. It’s far more enjoyable to dance on the edge
of the floor, where you only have to worry about dancers from one direction.
Of course, this is also prime location for those who “Want to be seen”, so it
can create difficulty. As usual, from my perspective, the best dancing was on
the carpet, in some corner or another, as the floors were very crowded.
A salsa congress should have music playing everywhere – in
the hotel, in the lobby, in the restaraunts, in all the ballrooms, you should be
surrounded by the music. It should erupt into spontaneous dancing – by the
pool, in the hallways, in your hotel rooms. Likewise, the dancing to the music
– should take center stage!
HOTEL TIP: My friends whom booked the Hilton in the last
second, were treated to rates far below what I had paid through the Congress
registration, months earlier. Some friends got huge rooms (suites) for $70 a
night, online, just prior to the Congress starting. In addition, some people
got rooms at the Crown Plaza for $60 a night, and the hotel is mere minutes walk
away. However, since the daytime workshops are actually inside the Hilton
hotel, you have to weigh price, against the inconvenience of not being in the
hotel with the actual festivities taking place.
BOOKING TIP: Book early! There’s no reason to pay more than
other people, for the same event. If you’re going to go, plan ahead.
Chairs - enough said . . . there should be some.
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