Put on your dancing shoes for Bahrain's biggest salsa party
Time Out Bahrain staff
If you like your music Latin and your moves fast and furious, then you need to know about the Bahrain Salsa Bootcamp – two days of dance performances, workshops and some serious partying taking place at Al Bander at the end of the month.
Being staged by the guys at Salsa de Bahrein under the umbrella of Modern Age, chief organiser Ali Madan explained: “Nothing like this has been done in Bahain before, though people have been talking about it for years, it’s quite a risk to take.
“We’ve hired out Al Bander and we have international performers coming from all over the world and across the Gulf so there’ll be lots of dance demonstrations as well as workshops for every level from the complete beginner to the advanced dancer.”
In fact the boot camp runs from Thursday evening, August 29, and for two full days on August 30 and 31. There are three classes per hour, one for every level, running throughout the Friday and the Saturday is a day-long party!
And it’s not just aimed at Bahrain’s own salseros and salseras – though Ali says that in the last decade the number of people getting down Latin-style on the island has grown from a handful to more than 200 attending regular salsa nights, and that’s not taking into account those who are going to classes – dancers are also expected from across the region with Al Bander’s rooms already 60 per cent filled as we went to press.
The weekender kicks on Thursday evening with registration followed by demonstrations from the visiting experts and a massive dance party running through till 5am.
After the classes and workshops on the Friday, there’s a second all-night party, the first at a GCC salsa festival to have live music provided by Bahrain’s own Havaneros.
Then on the Saturday it’s an all-day beach and pool dance party following by a, yet to be announced, closing event.
Ali added: “We want it to be the ultimate fun and learning experience both for the people who are already involved in salsa and for anyone who wants to give it a go. And we’re happy for people to just come along for the parties if they don’t want to attend the workshops.
“There’ll be just about every type of Latin dance you can think of from salsa and cha cha to merengue and more – in fact one of the visiting performers/instructors, Moe Flex, actually teaches 16 different types of dance – so anyone who wants to come along will find something to suit them.”
And we particularly like the sound of Ali’s Facebook post which reads: ‘Ladies and gentlemen. May I have your attention please. Please note that the Bahrain salsa boot camp 2013 has declared new rules: 1) The boot camp is for wild people and party animals only. So If you have weak health, this is not the place for you.
2) The sleep timing is only five hours for the entire weekend. So if you’re planning to sleep more this not a good place for you.
3) If you have issues in dealing with crazy people, this is not a good place for you.
4) The parties are until last man standing! He adds that attendees can expect a weekend of learning from some of the very best dancers in the world, including current world champions Jhon and Milady, continuity and progression through the workshops, social and practical dance sessions and time for socialising in Al Bander’s gorgeous surroundings. For more information call (39 755 503) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ali Bacana & Cinta (Dubai) Aziz & Samar (Kuwait) Bader Duwaisan (Kuwait) Chris Cross (Dubai) Moe Flex (UK) Fadi Fusion (Spain) Hamad (Kuwait) Jhon and Milady (Columbia - Fuji) Katanga (UK) Manal (Kuwait) Miguel (UK) Melody and Saif (Qatar) Sultan Mohammed Ahmed Salsa (Dubai) Lieb J Salsahop (Italy) Samira (Tunisia) Thuwaini (Oman) Ethan Wagner (USA)
The Bahrain contingent
Ahmed Darray (Bahrain) Ali Madan (Bahrain) Jaff Salsa (Bahrain) Talal Salsa (Bahrain) Mohammed Sami (Bahrain) Raluca Zahaira (Bahrain - Romania)
What’s all the fuss about?
Salsa is a dance form with origins from the Cuban Son (circa 1920s) and Afro-Cuban dance (specifically Afro-Cuban rumba).
In many styles of salsa dancing, as a dancer changes weight by stepping, the upper body remains level and nearly unaffected by the weight changes. Weight shifts cause the hips to move. Arm and shoulder movements are also incorporated. The Cuban Casino style of salsa dancing involves significant movement above the waist, with up-and-down shoulder movements and shifting of the ribcage.
The arms are used by the “lead” dancer to communicate or signal the “follower”, either in and “open” or “closed” position.
Taking to the dancefloor
Just some of the big-names who’ll be performing and teaching:
Ali Bacana (AUE) – Coming from a background of street dancing and hip-hop, Ali only started dancing salsa in 2010 so he’s a great example of what can be achieved with hard work. He mixes different styles including salsa, kizomba and zouk and gave his first public salsa performance at the 2011 Abu Dhabi Salsa Festival. Since then he’s progressed to teaching and has also recently joined slapstick dance group the Moe Brothers performing as Moe Mwaten.
Samira Benjebali (Tunisia) – Fitness trainer, dancer, choreographer who’s worked on TV shows, in theatre and at music festivals.
Moe Flex (UK) – Moe Flex is one of the most exciting, inspiring and entertaining choreographers on the international Latin dance scene today! With the biggest smile in salsa, his boundless enthusiasm for dance is impossible to ignore and he has gained his reputation through sheer determination and talent.
As a leading authority in the field of dance, rhythm and body movement, Moe’s unique style of teaching is now recognised internationally and he takes his workshops and shows to congresses and events all over the world.
He’s worked with the likes of Rolldeep, Tim Westwood, 50 Cent, Blu Cantrell, Craig David, Guy Ritchie and Madonna. He teaches 16 different kinds of dance from Cuban salsa to merengue and from reggaeton to hip-hop.
Fadi Fusion (Spain) – The director of Fadi Fusion Dance Company based in Malaga, he dances various different styles from hip-hop and Afro-rumba to belly dancing and combining them with salsa has created his own unique style. As well as running his own dance company, he teaches and performs at salsa congresses around the world.
Hamad (Kuwait) – Artist, performer and choreographer with a martial arts background. He’s known for his unique style which focuses on body movement and, as well as salsa, he dances mambo, cha cha and various other Latin forms. A teacher for eight years, he’s participated in events all over the world.
John & Milady (Colombia) – Now Dubai-based, this couple are hugely popular on the salsa scene and are the current world champions. They’ve also performed alongside Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony and their live performances are said to be amazing.
Katanga (UK) – Originally from the Comoros islands, Katanga moved to the UK in 2000 and has been teaching salsa there and around the world for the last ten years. He’s the founder of Salsa Katanga, a wide ranging teaching and competition organisation.
Miguel Angel Plaza (UK) – A DJ and salsa teacher for more than 12 years – he even appeared on UK TV soap Eastenders, as a salsa teacher. He’ll be both teaching and DJing over the weekend.
Cinta Rodriguez (Spain) – A dancer, instructor and choreographer, Cinta specialises in New York-style salsa and kizomba. She started her salsa career in the Canary Islands and won various accolades before starting her own dance company in 2007. She’s now living in Abu Dhabi and has a mission to get the UAE dancing kizomba before she leaves.
Ethan Wagner (USA) – A dancer and instructor from New York, Ethan Wagner is known for his fun and interactive style that combines rueda de casino and Cuban salsa with the informal, creative movements of street dancing. He is the founder and director of Rueda at the Park, which offers free outdoor salsa lessons to New Yorkers, and serves as the founder and director of the performance group Ruedame! He has directed Columbia University’s salsa programme for the last two years and taught and performed from New York to Puerto Rico to Qatar and the UAE.
Salsa fast facts
• Salsa dance has nothing to do with the food salsa, in fact the dance was actually invented in 1930 by dance teacher Frankie Salsa.
• Though Latin inspired, salsa originated in New York whereas mambo has its roots in Cuba. Mambo came to New York with the invention of the radio and the Cuban revolution brought many mambo musicians to the city.
• Colombian salsa is also known as cumbia.
• Cuban salsa is also known as casino.
• Group salsa dancing is called rueda.
• Kizomba is one of the most popular genres of dance and music originating in Angola. It’s a mix of traditional Angolan semba with kilapanda and merengue sung generally in Portuguese.
Salsa in the movies
• Dance With Me • Along Came Polly • Shall We Dance • Dirty Dancing Havana Nights • Miami Vice
The music makers
Havaneros – Eight local Bahrainis whose sound is so authentically Latin you could be forgiven for thinking you’re listening to a group of Cuban musicians playing live in downtown Havana. One woman said they actually gave her goosebumps! The guys are Jasim, Hasan Mike, Mohamed Rashid, Hasan Alkhatal, Khalid Mohamed, Mohamed Sami, Ahmed A. Aziz and Waleed Mohamed.
On the DJ front the visiting internationals are DJ Crazy Joe (Abu Dhabi), DJ Ahmedo (Qatar ), DJ Flex (UK), DJ Miguel (UK) and DJ Dimitri (Dubai). Alongside them will be home-grown talents DJ Talal, DJ Osama and DJ Ali.