Antigua & Barbuda hosts inaugural Salsa Festival

Just under 50 people turned out for the Saturday afternoon salsa workshop at the Multipurpose Centre. The activity, which attracted more experienced dancers and novices was a rare opportunity to learn bachata and salsa moves from some of the masters.

They’re here for Antigua & Barbuda’s first ever Salsa Festival which runs to May 10 and includes nightly performances and parties. Mark Haworth, one of the organisers, said they, Salsa Kingdom, run these events regularly in England where he’s from. They’ve also staged events in Argentina and Puerto Rico since beginning four years ago.

Partner, Will Robinson, who’s been coming to Antigua for over 15 years, thought Antigua would be ideal for what he describes as a salsa vacation. He seems to be right as the first time activity saw a group of 60 fly in for the May 4 to 10 opportunity to dance in the sunshine.

This includes, of course, the experts. Tito Y Tamara who tutored workshop participants in salsa Saturday are from Puerto Rico and Argentina, respectively, are known for their dance cameos in films like American Gangstar, El Cantante, and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.

Others scheduled to appear on festival nights are former world champions Billy and Kate, UK based DJ and salsa instructor Mauricio Reyes, and others – a veritable who’s who from the world of Latin dance. Asked how he was able to attract such top talent Haworth said within the community, it’s become well known that they put on quality events.

Saturday’s dance workshop, meanwhile, was an opportunity to stir local interest. Haworth said it was “specifically requested by Culture to get people interested in dance.” And was, he said, “a thank you from us to the lovely people here.” He was enthusiastic as well about cabaret performances staged at Sugar Ridge and Rex Halcyon over the weekend. It was, he said, an “amazing way to show people what can be done with dance.”

Describing the event as a wonderful idea in a great setting, he indicated that the inaugural Antigua Salsa Festival would not be the last.

“It would be lovely to do (it) annually,” he noted, “The reaction we’ve had from everyone shows there’s definite interest.”

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