The first week of January in the USA is the middle of winter, so it was hard to believe that an International Bachata festival could take place at such time. But to everybody’s surprise, the 1st Reno Bachata Convention brought together more than 400 Bachateros under one roof. Although it was the festival’s first edition and the idea was formed only in November – trough a simple email between Australia and the USA – the Bachata convention proved to be a very successful event!
The event was a joint effort between Rodchata, BachataFusion and Salsa Reno, three big names in the Latin/Bachata scene in the USA. Rodney Aquino, from Rodchata, has established himself as one of the best hosts in the Latin scene. His hospitality makes you feel welcome from the moment you arrive. It was then easy to forgive him for getting us lost 3 times on our way to the event – you know what I’m talking about, Rodney! (At the time this review was completed, we got lost 5 times!). BB (or Billy Bob), from Salsa Reno, was the man behind the negociation of such great deals at the hotel.
The convention was hosted at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, a 5 star hotel similar to the hotels you see in famous Las Vegas. There was no need to venture out of the hotel because it had everything you needed and more.
The event started with a pre party at the hotel’s nightclub on Thursday night. What a way to start the convention! As the delegates from all over the USA started to arrive, the excitement of the local dancers was palpable.
The event saw some of the best Bachata and Latin instructors from the world and the USA, with names such as Jorge Elizondo, Rodney Aquino, Juan Ruiz, Ava Apple and Camile Yannantuono, as well as new up and coming Bachata instructors like Alenjandro Rey, Lee “El Gringuito” Smith and Jorge & Leslie, only to name a few. The event held more than 30 workshops, ranging from Bachata, Tango, Salsa and Merengue. People were eager to learn the different styles of Bachata that were offered, such as Bachata Moderna, Traditional Style Bachata, Bachata Tango, Urban Bachata, and of course, Dominican Style Bachata. It was great to see the American dancers learning the traditional and contemporary styles of Bachata, as well as taking great interest in the other dance styles.
Each workshop had a consistent attendance of approximately 60 enthusiastic participants. It was great to witness such involvment, considering that the days were pretty full, as the workshops were scheduled from 10am to 6pm.
At night, various Bachata groups from around the country performed, along with two impromptu demonstrations by Jorge Elizondo & Summer, and Juan Ruiz & Camille. We have to give props to Ava Apple’s dance team for performing a nice Bachata-Cabaret routine (these guys can fly!). Pasos De Oro Dance Studio, led by Alejandro Rey, brought together 30 performers on stage, and Lee “El Gringuito” Smith added a touch of magic and entertainment to his performance.
The event also had a Jack and Jill competition for amateurs, with big prizes such as full passes to the San Francisco Bachata Festival, Sydney Bachata Festival and DC Bachata festival. Also, the event hosted their first Jack and Jill masters’ competition. All the instructors had to step out their comfort zone to please the crowd. We were impressed at how some professionals can shake their body! (We are looking forward to seeing those videos on YouTube!)
What was good:
- The hospitality and generosity of the organizers was one of a kind. We couldn’t ask for more from them.
- The organizers were able to get a massive discount on the hotel’s rate. It will be hard to top that kind of deal in other cities!
- The vibe of the event in general was one of the best! Everybody got along with everybody. You could see a sense of community there.
What could be improved:
- The workshops schedules were done at last minute. On Friday we didn’t have a lunch break. Attendees had to prioritize: Bachata or Food. Tough choice!
- It was felt that the DJs lacked more urban Latin Bachata and Bachata Moderna music. Events like this should introduce new songs and new artists.
The Bachata Reno Convention was the first of its kind in the USA and it won’t be the last. After the success of this event, we look forward for the San Francisco Bachata Festival in July, 09 and other Bachata events now spreading all over the USA. Well done Rodchata, Bachata Fusion and Salsa Reno for promoting Bachata. It was a great weekend!