Recap: 3rd Annual Colombia Salsa Festival

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colombia salsa festival
Dance floor in VIP area
Action on the dance floor in the VIP area.

In 2009, on my last weekend in Medellin, I spent two nights dancing at the 1st Colombian Salsa Festival.

As luck would have it, I ran into Yamile, one of my dance teachers, at the door. I had a way better time as a result of her company than had she not attended.

Therefore, it was only fitting that I attended this year’s festival with her, the Venezuelan partner with whom she opened her new dance studio, and a bunch of friends and fellow dance students.

Son de Cali perform
Son de Cali perform

This year’s festival was held at the gymnasium of UPB.  The space felt smaller than the gym at Universidad de Medellin, and the space given for a dance floor was absolutely miniscule in comparison to what I remember from 2009.

Two years ago, the majority of the floor was dedicated to two temporary dance floors, with tables and chairs placed around the perimeter. This year, the VIP area was on the floor, and in the middle of it was a tiny little dance floor.

Everyone else was relegated to the bleachers, and dancing wherever they could find the space.  And trust me, Colombians always manage to find space to dance!

I think it’s just us Westerners that want expect lots of room.

Salsa dancing
The dance floor in the VIP area was much, much smaller than in 2009.

Son de Cali performed first, and while I didn’t recognize any of their songs, I enjoyed their music.

Unfortunately, the acoustics in the gym were terrible. Considering it’s made of concrete, including the bleachers, it’s not surprising that the music sounded like a wall of noise. Yamile told me there weren’t any good venues in Medellin for this kind of event.

Sure, there are theaters where you’ll get better acoustics, but there won’t be any room to dance. There is the bull fighting stadium, which is used for big concerts, but I imagine the salsa festival doesn’t bring in enough people to warrant a space that large. For better or worse, the event continues to be held in university gyms.

On the plus side, it definitely felt like there was a bigger crowd in 2011 than 2009, though we didn’t have the chance to mingle and dance with world-class salsa dancers like in 2009.

Andy Montanez
The Puerto Rican singer, Andy Montanez, was a big hit with the crowd. The two other singers are his sons.

Andy Montanez was the headlining performer of the night, and he was certainly a crowd favorite. The Puerto Rican singer had his two sons on stage singing with him as well. He looked very much the part of a grandpa, but a grandpa with groupies!

Throughout the evening, vendors walked the floor selling everything from Aguardiente and rum, to fresh lime juice (my drink of choice for the night), potato chips, and lasagna (for those who forgot to eat dinner).

I had a wonderful time dancing with Yamile, and several other women at our table, and would highly recommend the event, though VIP tickets are definitely not required to have a good time.

Below is a clip I took of Yamile, along with her business partner, Hernan.

For information on lessons, visit http://www.aprendersalsa.c​om

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