I guess I am all recovered now from the 2012 festival. I think each year gets a little harder as I grow older. My body doesn't bounce back as quickly and I feel as if I need more sleep. This doesn't work well when trying to dance all weekend.
Each year the festival seems to grow in size and attract more people. This is a very positive thing as it means little by little salsa casino is growing in the United States. It also seems to be attracting more people from other countries as well. I remember the first year that there was one couple from Venezuela and one couple from Mexico. This year we had dancers from Mexico, Venezulea, Peru, France, and more. They represent how salsa casino is danced in their home country and share their moves, styles, and personalities and it only helps to enhance the event.
I was very surprised when my friend Christina texted me and said, "Hey! You're teaching!" I had no clue and when Nick (the organizer) confirm it, I was very happy. With my busy life I don't get a chance to teach as much anymore. I saw that I would be leading the "Beginners Review" class. That made me happy as I love teaching beginners and being able to review with them at the end of the weekend would mean seeing a whole new group of people excited about salsa rueda.
I went into the festival frustrated about our situation here in Washington DC. The lack of Cuban music, my lack of time to actually dance, and how little by little the community that was once forming seems to now be breaking apart. There were times when I thought I should just cancel and not go. During the weekend I took some time for myself, walked the streets of San Francisco, and really tried to just let go of all that negativity that had been building up inside of me. I had dinner with my friend, Jason, one evening and we talked about the community, the dance, and DC. His enthusiasm and excitement to see things change in DC was encouraging. Perhaps all was not lost and as bleak as I once thought.
One of the themes from this year's festival seemed to be "I didn't get a chance to even talk to you!" With so many people at the festival, especially with how crowded the ballroom was in the evenings, it was difficult to track people down. You might seem them across the floor but by the time you would cross it, they would be gone or have left. I realize that Nick and Serena have researched San Francisco and tried to find a location that may be bigger. I appreciate the fact that they attempt to keep costs down and that the Hotel Whitcomb gives them this option. Moving to a new location could mean double the hotel costs & perhaps a raise in the festival costs.
Performances. Wow. I think everyone felt that the performances were great this year. There have always been outstanding performances in the past but this year felt different. Groups picked great music. They included different styles and put some of their hometown flavor in their routines (I think back to the Salsa Belles of Atlanta who showed their ATL flavor). I couldn't say that I sat there bored each night. I know many people skip the performances but I've always made a point of watching them. Dancers work hard at choreography & many are nervous or performing for the first time. I like supporting them. The downside were performances that stretched 15 minutes or more. I appreciated them for the first 4-5 minutes but more than that and they lose their impact.
I think I was able to come away from the weekend with some more energy for our community here in DC. It is still a long, uphill battle to grow the Cuban dance community. We are small but dedicated dancers willing to learn, grow, and share our love with others.
Upcoming Events in the United States for Cuban Dance:
- March 18th - Timba Tribute at the Salsa Room (Arlignton, VA)
- June 1-3 - SALSAtlanta 3-Day Cuban Party