Those who were there are still recovering. Those who missed it are kicking themselves. The 2010, 3rd annual Sydney International Bachata Festival was one of the hottest Latin Dance events of the year, and a testament to its organisers Nestor Manuelian, Juan Ruiz and Sky Blue.

The Anzac Day long weekend saw 800+ dancers, 34 instructors (including 6 International instructors), 200+ performers, numerous DJs and of course 2 International Latin singer sensations descend on the University of Sydney’s Manning Bar for what was an inspiring (and exhausting) 4 nights and 3 days of workshops, concerts and parties. The venue featured 2 levels and 3 rooms, an outdoor food court and necessarily long bar (not to mention some very funky installation art) and was located only 10 minutes from the official accommodation, before-party venue Illuminati and Glebe Point Road’s myriad worldly eateries and markets. Eager bachateros filled it to the bream, travelling from all over Australia, as well as from international destinations including New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and the USA to be a part of the fun. SIBF 2010: a recipe for success if ever there was one!

Daylight hours saw dancers from beginner to professional levels taking non-stop workshops in bachata, kizomba, zouk, latin hip-hop, reggaeton and samba d’gafieira. The number of bachata styles offered was a testament to the diversity and popularity of the dance, and bachateros were exposed to new flavours and emerging styles. Australia’s hottest instructors, including (but of course not limited to) Nestor and Katrina, Juan and Samantha, Josie Cote, Allan and Amy, Oliver and Yvonne brought their flair to packed out workshops. International Youtube bachata stars Ataca (Jorge) and La Alemana (Tanja) shared their signature moves, with many dancers who couldn’t fit in their workshops simply sitting back and watching in awe. Jorge and Leslie returned for a second year and again wowed us with their hottest turn patterns and Bachata Caliente sexy styling, and the truly stunning Serena Cuevas got bachateros’ bodies (and eyes) moving in ways they hadn’t before with her body-movement sessions.

The evenings brought together record numbers of dancers and performers who filled the venue and, as if their feet weren’t sore, danced to the best latin DJ’s and new tunes by Mi Tierra band. Each and every show we saw by the internationals, local professionals and students added to what was a vibrant mix of styles and stories. Highlights included a heart-wrenching solo by Larissa Thayane and her wonderful zouk with Kadu, Nestor and Katrina’s hot new funky bachata number, a gorgeous duet by Moro and Fernando and of course not forgetting the stand-out numbers by our internationals Jorge, Leslie and Serena, and the performance of Ataca y La Alamanas 9million-times-viewed-on-Youtube bachata routine Te Extrano. It was clear that bachata is no longer considered the slow dance played only at the end of the night, but has developed into one of the hottest, most diverse and playful dances in Australia’s latin scene.

On the final night we had the pleasure of welcoming two of THE biggest names in bachata music to the Sydney stage.  Prophex and his crew hotted-up the dancefloor with both their most well-known and some new bachata and reggaeton numbers. A host of gorgeous backup dancers (and two water bottles) helped make the Prophex show one to remember! Next up was international bachata superstar Jimmy Bauer. Serenading us with some of our favourite bachata tunes live in concert, Jimmy ended with the ever romantic Por Ti, getting everyone’s hearts a’racing. For one final hoorah, a whopping 800 bachateros broke out (in unison) with the event’s signature routine “freaky, sexy, nasty“.

How to fit all the magic of this year’s Bachata Festival into one short review? Impossible!. When asked of their stand-out moments most attendees replied “everything between Thursday and Monday”. Nestor, Juan and Sky have done a wonderful job in promoting bachata throghout Australia with this action-packed, fun-filled and inspirational weekend. Now to go home, promote the buggery out of bachata and come up with something even hotter to share with Australia at next year’s festival. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in 2011!

Peace, love, bachata x

Written by Kari Bowling. Kari is a die hard Bachatera from Adelaide. She teaches salsa, bachata and zumba at Latin Dance Nation in Adelaide. If you see her, make sure you grab a dance with her.