Have time of your life at salsa fes­ti­val

Sen­sual dance unites peo­ple of all back­grounds

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JA­NIS KIN­N­EAR

IF YOU’VE ever imag­ined your­self heat­ing up the dance floor with sul­try salsa moves like a scene out of Dirty Danc­ing, then there’s still a chance to learn from lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional ex­perts at the Mzansi Cape Town Salsa Fes­ti­val.

Hosted at the River Club con­fer­ence cen­tre, the four-day dance fest, the first in­ter­na­tional salsa fest for Cape Town, started on Thurs­day.

Also the coun­try’s first na­tional salsa con­ven­tion, the fes­ti­val was ini­ti­ated as part of the an­nual In­ter­na­tional Salsa Congress held in dif­fer­ent cities across the globe.

The salsa fes­ti­val is hosted as a celebration of the dance bring­ing to­gether peo­ple of all ages and back­grounds.

“Salsa is a so­cial, fun, sexy and pas­sion­ate dance that peo­ple from all walks of life can en­joy at any time, any­where in the world,” said fes­ti­val or­gan­iser Theo “Teddy” Mseka.

Ticket hold­ers have ac­cess to more than 40 work­shops, cater­ing to the needs of dif­fer­ent lev­els of dancers, whether an am­a­teur dancer hop­ing to learn more in­tri­cate tech­niques, or a first-timer seek­ing a salsa crash course. Classes are open to the pub­lic for a fee, and run un­til 6 tonight. Work­shops will con­tinue tomorrow from 10am un­til 5pm.

“No mat­ter your life­style, pro­fes­sion, or fit­ness level, salsa is for you. It’s easy to learn, too. Es­pe­cially for those who have never danced be­fore, there’s a be­gin­ner’s boot camp, with eight hours of spe­cial work­shops to get every­body danc­ing by the end of the fes­ti­val,” Mseka promised.

He said it was an op­por­tu­nity for lo­cal and mu­sic lovers to not only train with, but also watch per­for­mances by some of the world’s best salsa dancers.

Lessons in­cluded dif­fer­ent styles of salsa, such as Cuban, Bachata and Samba, and even a dose of Cape Jazz – a pop­u­lar style on the lo­cal dance scene. Two Cape Town in­struc­tors, Ge­orge Daniels and Marchant Birch, were thrilled to be in­vited to par­tic­i­pate.

Orig­i­nally from Som­er­set West, Daniels, 37, said: “It’s re­ally good to give back and use my ex­pe­ri­ence to teach and bet­ter other dancers’ salsa skills.”

Teach­ing his spe­cial­ity, Bachata, Daniels said he now teaches var­i­ous salsa styles in Nor­way and Europe.

Af­ter danc­ing Cape Jazz, he was in­tro­duced to salsa by a friend about 12 years ago. He then started danc­ing so­cially at pop­u­lar Latin Amer­i­can city club Bossa Nova. He went on to teach salsa at the venue be­fore leav­ing the coun­try.

“I just fell in love with the mu­sic. It’s a very so­cial dance and great way of meet­ing peo­ple and break­ing away and just for­get­ting the stresses of life,” he said.

While salsa has proved a big hit abroad, he said the con­ti­nent as a whole lagged be­hind. He be­lieved the fes­ti­val pro­vided a huge plat­form to ex­pose salsa as a dance form.

“Be­sides meet­ing new peo­ple, in Europe salsa is also pop­u­larly used as a form of ex­er­cise and los­ing weight,” he added.

A workshop pass can be pur­chased for those only wish­ing to grab some ba­sic steps.

But with a full day or party pass, en­try is as­sured to var­i­ous themed par­ties each night. Thurs­day night saw party-go­ers don scary cos­tumes and makeup for the Hal­loween party. Tonight’s theme is Mzansi Sum­mer Chic, while an All White dress code is the theme for tomorrow’s clos­ing party.

Celebrity ac­tress and pre­sen­ter Natalie Becker, who learnt to salsa in just a few weeks, will per­form tonight.

“I love its vi­brancy and strong rhythms, as well as its grace and sen­su­al­ity, and the con­nec­tion with other peo­ple through this won­der­ful form of ex­pres­sion,” said Becker.

About 15 young­sters from Khayelit­sha dance group Shik­ila are also set to per­form. Dance in­struc­tor Bheki Ndlovu said the fes­ti­val pro­vided much­needed ex­po­sure to the dancers.

Dur­ing a prac­tice ses­sion in a leak­ing shack, which serves as a Mak­haza church, Ndlovu said dance kept them out of trou­ble, while in­spir­ing other chil­dren to fol­low their dreams.

● For more fes­ti­val in­for­ma­tion visit: www.all­out­salsa.com.

ja­nis.kin­n­ear@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: THOMAS HOLDER

ZEAL­OUS: Cape Town group Shik­ila will also per­form at the fes­ti­val.

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