NOLA Salsa and Bachata fest
By Angie Hernandez
Click aqui para español->NOLA Salsa and Bachata fest
The New Orleans Salsa-Bachata Festival is back for its second year this coming August. What started as a small festival held in an Uptown dance studio has quickly turned into the largest dance event in the state of Louisiana. However, this wasn't an overnight process for the festival's founder and president, Rubia Garcia. Garcia began dancing in 2003. At the time, Garcia found herself between homes. It was through a friend's cousin that she discovered salsa dancing.
After her classes, Garcia would crash on her friend's couch. A journey which started by merely finding a place to stay quickly turned into a lifelong passion. Since then, Garcia has trained in the Dominican Republic, has become a dance instructor, and has traveled and performed at major dance festivals across the country. Not only was her dance career thriving, but the dance community in New Orleans was thriving as well. In 2005 all that came to halt because of Hurricane Katrina. "Everything I knew and loved about our community changed literally overnight.
There were no more classes. There were no more socials. No more performances and training. No dancers, period. Everything and everyone was gone," said Garcia.
During the aftermath of Katrina, Garcia discovered a new love and passion for New Orleans. "When I moved back from the Dominican Republic, I knew I wanted to become a teacher, to work with the youth of my community, and play a role in the rebirth of our dance community. I knew then, one day, this festival would happen."
Twelve years later, Garcia was finally able to produce the first major Latin dance festival in New Orleans. The three-day festival will take place at Le Meridien Hotel from August 3rd to August 6th. Over 10,000 square feet of ballroom space will be dedicated to salsa, bachata, and kizomba for over 20 hours of nightly social dancing throughout the weekend.
The festival will also provide for a learning experience by bringing international dance instructors who will be teaching over 60 hours of workshops, private instruction, and many fun challenges. Festival goers can choose different workshops such as salsa on 1 or on 2, Cha-cha, Bachata, Kizomba, Zouk, Samba, Ladies Styling and Latin fusion, among others.
As far as skill level, Garcia encourages everyone to attend! Most workshops will be offered in a variety of skill levels from beginner's basics to advanced performance-based workshops. Garcia adds, "my advice to first-time festival goers is to be as open, as flexible, and as fearless as possible."
Although New Orleans may fall behind in terms of a well-established Latin dance scenes when compared to cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, Garcia is committed to putting New Orleans on the map. Garcia exclaims, "There are plenty of places that host these types of dance festivals. You can go to any major city in the world and find one. But in all the world, there is no place like New Orleans!"