If you could ever envisage a holiday combined with hot weather, great friends and of course a lot of Latin dancing then you definitely need to check out this review! Just imagine the somewhat typically stunning and pictorial township of Byron Bay. A community surrounded with sandy beaches, an unproblematic atmosphere and attitude that is adopted not only by locals but also travellers that bring with them the flowing culture of Latin workshops and never to be missed Latin parties. It’s almost hard to believe that this is only the third year of such an amazing and successful festival!
We were impressed by how the event was organized: maps with venue directions and addresses, instructional print-outs and constant calls from the organizer to make sure the artists and performers knew exactly what was happening and what to expect. Sky Blue, the director of Picante Latin Dance and also the organizer of the event did a fantastic job preparing and arranging this fun filled weekend.
The Friday welcoming party saw the Brisbane and Queensland crew mingling together with the Sydney and NSW crew. We were also delighted to see few faces from Melbourne as well. DJ Willie Sabor (from Sydney) kick started the party with his as usual, great selection of music. We were fortunate enough to watch a fantastic line up of performances ranging from LA Salsa, Cuban Salsa and even Zouk & Kizomba. What a great night!
We didn’t know until we arrived at Friday night’s party that the organizer had had problems with the venues a few weeks before the festival, and therefore had the extremely stressful job of finding new venues in a short space of time. Our hat goes off to her for the dedication, time and effort in making sure we had the best venues with the least amount of hassle. If she hadn’t told us, we wouldn’t have known as all attendees were satisfied and pleased to be dancing the night away in Bryon Bay.
On Saturday and Sunday we had the dance workshops during the day. There was an excellent diversity and assortment of dance styles and instructors to choose from. . The Cuban Rueda workshop got the biggest number of attendees; the guys from Cuban Dance Academy with their high energy and unfailing liveliness did a great job teaching and entertaining their participants. We also have to say that the Bachateros left their mark there!
Saturday night was the most important party. We had performances by a mixture of couples and teams from around Australia, but the highlight was that of Erik Turron, an amazing Cuban Son dancer from Cuba who was in Byron Bay (watch a video of him). Eric and his wife presented us with an impromptu performance. He got the crowd so excited and cheering non-stop, this guy astounded the audience more than a prepared choreography. That’s the beauty of events like this; you don’t know what surprises you might get, and which dancers will stand out and amaze you with their talents.
We weren’t able to be present at the Sunday night party because we had to leave earlier and get back to Sydney, but having attended the previous two parties, we can say with confidence from all the great feedback that the Sunday party was a success as well.
- Everything was in walking distance. The allocated accommodation and the venues were 5 minutes walk from each other.
- The volunteers did an excellent job! They were helpful, attentive and ready to take care of all the attendees.
- The overall organization of the event was well done, everything ran on time without a hitch.
- There was a great variety of dance workshops like Puerto Rican Salsa, Rumba, Bachata, Zouk, Kizomba and so much more.
What could be improved:
- The venue for the workshop became a bit small for the number of the attendees. The Cuban Rueda workshop had attendees from corner to corner.
- The food served to the artists and performers at the Saturday night dinner was not the best quality. This was not the direct responsibility of the organizer; it was more the quality of the food from the restaurant.
After spending the weekend in Byron Bay dancing Salsa, Bachata, Zouk and Kizomba, well…we can’t wait to do it again! The Bachateros had a great time at this event, and we highly recommend this event to everybody.
We hope to see you there next year!