16th – 19th of July, 2009

After months of planning and endless hours of promotion not only in America but also internationally, the long awaited San Francisco Bachata Festival was here. The event brought together bachateros from all over the United Stated (Florida, Illinois, Washington, Portland, California and even Hawaii) as well as international representatives from Australia, Vietnam, Belgium, the UK, Lithuania, to name a few.

The event was organized by two popular Bachata figures in the industry: Rodney Aquino from Rodchata and Jorge Elizondo from Bachata Fusion. These guys know their stuff when it comes to organising major events as they are also responsible for organising the Reno Bachata Convention. This time, Camile Yannantuono was appointed the event manager to ensure that the event ran smoothly.

Not only  did this event celebrate Bachata and its music, it also consisted of workshops in salsa (on1 and on2), Zouk and Kizomba. Zouk and Kizomba are two popular styles already danced worldwide but  they have not found their way in to the US market yet, therefore Rodney and Jorge saw this event as a great opportunity to introduce these styles to create a bigger following in the US.

Australia was well represented by Juan Ruiz and Josie Cote from Bachateros teaching the Bachata Moderna style including the “crosses” fundamentals . Nestor Manuelian and Katrina Quintal from Modus Vivendi where there teaching their sexy moves including the famous kangaroo dip! Also from Australia we had Duncan Stark and Donna Wild teaching sensual zouk workshops.

There were 3 rooms for workshops, and two rooms for the parties. Yes, the organizers ensured that there was a salsa room available so all the salsa addicts can get their salsa fix from dancing too much Bachata. The main room played a good combination of Bachata Moderna and Bachata Dominican music. It was great to see people mixing both Bachata styles in one song by doing interesting turn patterns, sexy moves and Dominican footwork, making the dancing a lot more exciting.

It was great to see the amount of Bachata talent in America. We have to take our hats off to the Chicago All-Stars Bachata team, lead by Zeke, for showcasing not only one, but two team choreographies full of energy, strong dancing and high entertainment factor. Vince, the Bachata Prince, with his Bachata Urbana team and the Phunk Nasty team also entertained the audience with their performances. This event also saw the debut of the Bachata Caliente team led by Jorge and Leslie.

On Saturday night, SalsaGang, a popular latin promotions team awarded the international instructors for their contributions to the Bachata scene, this included Tony Lara and Daniela (two of the pioneers of Bachata from I love Bachata), Vesa Parkkari (Finland Bachata Festival), Geidre and Saruna (Lithuania Bachata Festival), Gregory and Nanda (Belgium Bachata Festival), Anup Thomas (Salsa Vacation Thailand) and the final receivers of the award were Juan Ruiz and Nestor Manuelian from Australia for organizing the first ever Bachata Festival in the world, the Sydney International Bachata Festival. All these names are now part of the SalsaGang Museum.

Sunday night was the farewell party and the Master Jack-and-Jill competition (since it is a Latin event, I suggest to call it the Jose-y-Maria competition J ). All the attendees on Sunday night were ready to give it all and were pumped for one more night before saying good bye, and that was clearly displayed in the Master Jack-and-Jill. WOW! I have never seen some instructors move they way they moved that night! I can’t wait to see the footage.

The San Francisco Bachata Festival was the second event of its kind in America. Having attended the first event Reno Bachata Convention, I can clearly see that the concept of Bachata Festival (including other dance styles) is becoming a familiar concept in America after Salsa Congresses. Only in the US we have the Reno Bachata Convention, San Francisco Bachata Festival, California Bachata Festival, Washington DC Bachata & Dance Festival and Los Angeles Bachata Festival. Probably at the time of this writing there will be another festival being organized.

It was a pleasure to be part of such a prestigious event, as an event promoter (Sydney International Bachata Festival) and Bachata instructor, seeing other successful Bachata events motivates me to continue on my own journey to push Bachata more and more in the dancing community. Rodney and Jorge, thank you for the invitation to participate in this event. I definitively give you both two thumbs-ups for this event and your hospitality. Already counting the days for next year’s event, look out San Francisco Bachata Festival, 2010 – the Aussies will be back!