Melbourne is a big Bachata lover! But this love for Bachata didn’t happen from one day to another. In this interview, I had the opportunity to talk to Leonardo Quiroz, the person responsible for pushing Bachata in Melbourne, and making of Melbourne a strong force in the Bachata scene.
JUAN: Leo, since I met you, you have always been a Bachata passionnista. When did you develop such love for Bachata?
Leo: The first time I saw bachata, almost 4 years ago; it didn’t interest me at all. I had been doing salsa for about 6 months, and that was so much fun, and I saw a couple learning beginner bachata; it looked slow and boring. But then I started dancing it socially, and found that it was so much more than what was being taught in the schools in Melbourne. For my first year and a half of dancing bachata, I never sat out one single bachata song! Now of course I have to sit some out, because we play it so much here!
JUAN: Your brand Bachata Inc has been established for some years now, what made you decide to create Bachata Inc?
Leo: We will be celebrating two years teaching bachata in April this year! The first time I even thought about teaching bachata was at the 2nd Sydney International Bachata Festival, where I performed in a team for the first time. A female dancer from Sydney told me that she liked my style, and that I should teach. When I got home from the festival, some of my salsa friends asked me to teach them my style too. So I enlisted the help of Sky Blue, and she helped me find a venue and gave me some pointers on how to teach bachata to a class. I wanted to only teach what I really loved, and so decided to create a school dedicated only to bachata.
Leo: Well, our initial bachata night at Destino Latin Bar came about because I wanted to teach bachata, but also have a place for my friends and I to dance bachata. There was no place in Melbourne that played more than 5-6 bachata songs per night. So we started a night with classes and social dancing, with 80% bachata song per night. Not only is this a unique feature in Australia, but the venue itself is perfect for bachata. With its dim lighting, candles, chandelier, and the rustic walls covered in Mexican pictures and items, the night is like no other. We run this night on Wednesdays now also, and as of a February, we started a new night by the beach at The Beach Hotel.
JUAN: how do you see Bachata in Australia compared to the rest of the world?
Leo: Bachata in Australia started as Salsa’s little sister, struggling to get a dance on the popular salsa dance floor. I think what really helped bachata here is the work of passionate people, who wanted everyone to see the beauty and potential of bachata. People like yourself, Nestor, Sky and other dancers who really love bachata, and made people aware of it. In other countries, bachata has grown and developed to become as big, if not bigger, than salsa. But she will grow here, and we will help her.
Leo: I do watch performances, but generally only while at festivals. I don’t like to copy or imitate, I try to come up with moves on my own. This is important to me, so I don’t only dance the moves, I actually learn to further understand bachata, and how two people can work together. Not many people know this, but every week for the last 2 years, my dance partner and I have met about 30 minutes before our class, and worked out 2 short choreographies for the classes to learn. For the latest choreographies for Sydney, I choreographed one in my car on the way home from dancing. I suppose my inspiration comes from wanting to show people the beauty of bachata, and so I teach and choreograph. And as such, I admire anyone with the same desire.
JUAN: for those traveling to Melbourne. Where can they find you? where they can take your classes?
Leo: On Sundays and Wednesdays, you can find us dancing at Destino Latin Bar on Chapel St. On Fridays, we are at The Beach Hotel, right by the beach. For class times and locations, you can check out our website, www.bachatainc.com. Or for regular updates on classes, events, performance courses and general sharing of the love of bachata, you can join our Facebook group, just click on the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/116809458330618/