Combine the rhythm that is Bachata with, 24 workshops, 19 national and international instructors, 90+ performers, 600 (per night) party go-ers, a tonne of fun, buckets of sweat, lots of excitement, hundreds of “Bachata Me” t-shirts and of course, 4 boys from Miami with amazing voices and you have the perfect recipe for a successful 2009 Sydney International Bachata Festival.

With this event debuting in 2008, the Bachata community have spent 364 days eagerly awaiting to see what the Bachata Festival Team had install for them this year, and i think it is safe to say that this year’s event exceeded all expectations and left wanting more once the event was over because of its success.

This year the festival was held at Manning Bar at the Sydney University. The size of the venue was an improvement on last year’s festival. There was a great mixture of workshops over the whole weekend. Jorge and Lesley from the United States had tongues wagging with their amazing “Bachata Caliente, LA Style” workshop which involved a move which literally swept the ladies of their feet, Carlos and Eli’s “Bachata Showtime” workshop also had Bachateros on a high and Carlos Cinta from the USA definitely had the smooth moves when it came to his “Smooth Bachata Moves” workshop. Even though the event is called the “Bachata Festival” there were lots of workshops in Zouk, Kizomba, Latin Hip-Hop and Cha Cha to keep the attendees on their toes. All workshops were jammed packed so it’s possible that the organisers may need to look for a bigger venue next year.

After hours of workshops during the day, you would think that people would be too tired to party – that was definitely not the case at this festival. I’m not sure if it was the awesome sounds that DJ’s such as DJ Mambonito, DJ Amit and DJ Dante (and many more of the 12 DJs in total) were pumping out every night or if it was the Bachata fever that everyone had caught, but these Bachateros did not want the parties to end. The ugly lights would come on and they would be begging the DJ to play just one more song! There were a lot of people who thought there would just be bachata music playing at this festival, which was obviously not the case. There was a great selection of Salsa, Zouk, Cha Cha and of course Bachata being pumped through the speakers.

The performances were entertaining and you can tell that all the schools went through a lot of effort to put together some great shows for us this year. The stand-out shows were of course on sunday night where you had Moro & Gaby dazzle us with their energetic Dominican Style, Juan and Samantha mesmerise us with their Moderna Style (or was that the effect of the gold hot pants?), Becky & Fernando performing their reggaeton and Carlos and Eli, as always, blew us away with those showmoves.

Then there was the finale – the concert that we have heard so much about, however didn’t really know what to expect – 4 boys from the United States of America with angel like voices and backstreet boy moves make up the band known as 4-Ever! Inoel, Eidan, Luis and Delvis sang all their songs from their album “The Movement” and you could tell that the audience didn’t know whether to dance to the music or to stand and watch the boys in action. This is the first concert of its kind that the Latin dancing community here in Australia have witnessed and I think it’s fair to say that every single person thoroughly enjoyed it. Before the concert people were saying that they thought the tickets were too expensive but then at the end of the night they left saying that it was worth every cent. The boys won lots of hearts here in Australia and due to their amazing talents and very friendly personalities, they are more than welcome to come back down under! (read an exclusive inteview with 4Ever)

The organisers of the event include Juan Ruiz, Nestor Manuelian, Lidia McMahon and Sky Blue. I’m sure there is alot blood, sweat and tears when organising an event such as this one however, I take my hat off to these guys. Not only was the event a success but they stepped outside the square, took a risk and did something different which I think the dance scene needs alot more of. Congrats guys!

Overall, the 2009 Sydney International Bachata Festival was a fun and entertaining event. Next year the organisers may need to consider a bigger venue and also a better system to hand out the performer passes. But for now, we have to wait another 365 days to see how the organisers are going to exceed our expectations once again!

See you at the Sydney International Bachata Festival, 2010!

Written by Samantha Cilia. Samantha is the Artistic Principal of Bachateros. You can find her all over Australia teaching and dancing Bachata.