Get this party started

Last week was all that I predicted and more. It was horrendous and almost like a Tim Burton movie brought to life. Complete with a cast of pale characters whose moods swung from moderately normal to screaming banshee as the minutes crawled.

On Saturday, I decided that I should make my annual foray to the
Singapore International Salsa Festival (SiSF) at Downtown East. Held from October 24 – 26, the festival brings in the top global salsa instructors, regional performers, a renowned salsa band and top DJs. Maybe it’s the economy, the sheer distance to bloody Downtown East or just plain ol’ salsa fatigue or just me being tired but somehow, this year’s festival seemed lacking. Usually the night parties are totally rocking with many instructors and dancers just cutting loose and enjoying themselves but this time, there was a general sense of something missing.

I was speaking to two French girls who was coming to the festival for the first time and their grouse, was similar to mine. That is, local salseros were generally too shy to approach strangers to dance. Instead, they waste lots of time by standing around or dancing with their friends most of the time. Little does she know that this annoying thing happens all year round and at all salsa parties. This year, I didn’t manage to dance with many of the instructors and didn’t catch any of the performances but that’s ok. It’s been too tiring a week. I do have some other grouses that I hope the organizers will take note of:

  1. Venue. How about a change of venue next year? Pasir Ris is way too far for people living in the West and even tourists who would love to pop by to enjoy the night festivities …how about looking at Sentosa or the East Coast and have a beach party instead?
  2. Tickets. Please standardize those ticket prices…year one and two’s Sat night party cost $45 at the door and this year it’s $60? Hello, organizers…
  3. Short workshops. How about having one or two instructors do a short workshop at the night parties? The crowds are so much bigger and there is potential to teach more fun dances like reggeton, basic cha cha or even merengue. At this year’s party, I noticed that lots of people were hardly able to cha cha but, doing it en masse to the band was great fun
  4. Rueda. I think organizers should re-introduce rueda to the night parties – this is the fastest way of getting to know other dancers and of having the most fun on the dance floor with everybody participating.

The one big thing that the organizers got right was the band. I am a big fan of live music and I thoroughly enjoyed The Bronx Horns. Fronted by Mitch Frohman, the band played a tribute to Hector Lavoe for their first set and later on, came back with salsa classics from the likes of Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto and Tito Puente the really got the crowd up on their feet. We saw the return of sonero, Frankie Vazquez whose English is much improved since we last saw him a year ago.

Hey, if the tired SiSF gets a fresh breath of air, me and other salseros would be signing up for full-day passes instead of just dropping by for the night party. C’mon, organizers revamp the festival and you will definitely draw in bigger and better crowds. And we won’t have to sign that petition again…

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Ever prodded a sleeping dragon, only to have it whip up and bite you in the ass? Well, neither have I. But I advocate that you should try everything...once ;P
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