The Venue: this year it was at the Four Points Sheraton off of Aero Drive. Overall, there was plenty of room to dance, convenient enough to be one story (with not having to wait for elevators, go up/down stairs), and cooling off was just a step outside (no corridors to have to walk through). I really liked that they had tables and chairs for everyone outside, where the bar was, so people could just hang out to cool off. That wasn't the case at the other two congresses that I've attended. Also, plenty of free water and Rumba, the official energy drink of the San Diego Salsa Festival, hahaha.
The People: Social dancing was pretty good, a mix of on1/on2 dancers. There weren't as many LA attendees as I had thought there would be (maybe for the SD on2 repertoire?). But I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by a handful of Mambo Inc. dancers, and of course the old school San Diegans. A couple of "known" salseros I danced with included Victor Perez (of Hacha Y Machete), and Iran Castillo (a local San Diego instructor of Son Y Pasos). I was also honored by a dance with Karlos, which you will probably see on nuevotec.com, soon since Allan was following us around with his bright camera light. I danced with Also had the opportunity to lead Anthony in Bachata, you can ask him about that one. Joshua of Joshua & Amaris from Vegas was a very nice lead as well. There weren't as many people as there could have been, but with such a well-organized and great event put on by Angel and Tulane Rivera, I don't doubt that next year will be even better. Hopefully, more people will discover how great San Diego is, and want to attend next year. Also, with it being a little smaller this year, there were more opportunities to dance with the greats.
The Performances: Some highlights (in no particular order) were Jayson Molina & Emily, Victor & Burju, Tito & Tamara, Jr and Emily, Joby & Paco, Josie & Hector, Majesty & Motion of San Diego, Al and Karla, Mambo Inc. of LA, and the Alma Latina Kids, who always deliver standing ovations each time. Jayson was supposed to dance with Griselle Ponce, but something came up with her, so he had to borrow Emily real quick and teach her a routine in about 40 min--amazing! Of course, Tito and Tamara had their ChaChas, wonderfully performed and well-danced. I absolutely love how into their dancing they get--they just look like they're having the time of their lives. With couples like that, the chemistry they have is really apparent on stage. I was told by a source that it was because they're Puerto Rican, haha. And well, I'd have to give it to Vic & Burju for my favorite performance of the weekend. That choreography looks amazing on video, but to see it in person, it's breathtaking and reviving. Wow, they really love each other and their entire bodies move when they dance. If you've seen them in person, you know what I mean. They got a standing ovation as well. Performers came from Vegas, Utah, Wisconsin, LA, Orange County, Mexico, Puerto Rico, etc.
The Workshops: I wish I could tell you about more of the workshops, but with everything that happened, I attended only 2 and helped to teach one. Iran Castillo's very advanced on2 class on Sunday was one, Vic and Burju's Body Movement class was another, and then helped to teach an afternoon Bachata class with Carlos Hammond. Burju's body movement class was A-MAZING. Absolutely AMAZING. I loved it--she's a very sweet and funny person (we got to interview her and Joby), and her and Vic play off each other really well. You can tell they have a lot of fun! And Iran's class, of course, was very challenging! I've heard people say that there should have been more variety in instructors, which I can support. But its also good because if you can't attend one of their classes on one day, you can always attend the other one. As it is the first one, I think its a little harder to get a lot of instructors, as well as have funds for them.
Overall, it was well-organized, well-scheduled, and pretty good! Obviously, the promoters can definitely use this as a learning tool for next years. It was definitely a good start, and there weren't any major complaints from me. Others may beg to differ. It is also up to the dancer to make the most of the opportunities available. Met some dancers that will also be attending SF congress, so it'll be nice to look forward to some familiar faces in November. That's why I love congresses--social networking! For those of you that came, I hope that you can spread the word about the event so that we can make San Diego a landmark for Congress, as it has great potential. And for those of you who weren't able to attend, it'd be a great disservice to yourself not to come join us. Until the clave beats again...
Flare (aka Pauline)