The Dutch Afro Latin Dance Championship: What an experience!

This year I was given the opportunity to host the first virtual Dutch Afro Latin Dance Championship, the DALDC. It all started when I became the Dutch Salsa dance champion in the category ‘Master on1’ back in 2017. The next year I was MC-ing the Dutch Salsa Dance Championships together with Annetje Riel, who is the organizer of that event. In 2019 I’ve co-written and also presented the new rules of the competition to the jurors. This year – in 2021 – the international renowned and award winning event producer Eric Lalta of Fantasia Entertainment asked me to host the first DALDC together with Steffie van Kuppevelt, who is one of the CEO’s of Bachata Passion Dance Company, and Annetje Riel who organized the first European Salsa Festivals back in the 90’s. This is a brand-new competition, in which everybody was exploring some new roads because of the Corona Pandemic. Eric and Annetje created this competition so we can all keep dancing, despite the difficult times in this world.

The dancers had the privilege to use the Most Advanced Dance Competition application in the world: Holland is the first country to use this application and to test its success. The application they used made it possible for the dancers to record the video only one time, to give them the feeling of a regular live competition where you also only have one chance to dance. #oneshot

Because the corona rules had recently been eased in the Netherlands, we were fortunately still able to organize a live show for the event. The municipal theater ‘Het Park’ in the city of Hoorn was rented, where all participants got the chance to perform their choreography live in front of a live audience.

Anne Elise Wouters and Sederick ‘Super Salsa’ Short backstage during the first virtual Dutch Afro Latin Dance Chamionships, July 13th, 2021.

Anne Elise Wouters

One of my favorite salsa dancers in the Netherlands, Anne Elise Wouters, also participated at the DALDC, in the Female Salsa Solo Division. I’ve personally seen her growing as a very talented young dancer in Amsterdam. She has lived in New York City for the last 5 years, training and performing with Yamuleé Dance Company, one of the best salsa dance companies in the world. Now she travels the world, performing and teaching all over, to share her passion for salsa dancing with everybody. It is an honor to have had her at this event with us! Want to learn more about her? You can visit her website, her blog and her Instagram page for more info.

What’s Next?

The first DALDC was a fenomenal succes! A great thanks goes to all the participants, the DALDC production crew, the jurors, coaches and all the volunteers who all worked very hard to make this wonderful event possible. Thank you for being the light and hope to all of the Dutch afro latin dance community! At some point we had to stop the amount of viewers wanting to join in on the livestreams. So much poisitive reviews! We’re already busy planning for the next event. And maybe we’ll also come with a pleasant surprise for the international afro latin dance community. Maybe! But in the meantime, I will certainly keep you posted on the latest news. And check the DALDC website of the DALDC once in a while for more recent information.

Que viva la salsa!

THE DEATH OF DOMINICAN BACHATA?

In part 1 I talked about the possibility of the Dominican government banning the Bachata Sensual by means of a lawsuit. You can read that here. https://www.supersalsa.nl/2019/12/13/dominican-bachata-immaterial-cultural-heritage-vs-bachata-sensual/

And now: What interest do the Dominicans have in protecting the popular Dominican way of dancing Bachata? Is there more to this?

DEAD DANCE STYLES

I recently interviewed Francisco Vazquez, the inventor of LA Style Salsa on1. I did this as part of his promotion for the Holland Salsa Bachata Fest 2020. Francisco was totally lyrical about the ‘Curaçao Style Salsa’ that he discovered here in the Netherlands in the early ’00s. He explains that this way of salsa dancing is actually our ‘roots’. And that I shouldn’t forget that. See for yourself from 14.32 minutes:

Intervieuw with Francisco Vazquez promoting the Holland Salsa Bachata Fest 2020

But ‘Curaçao Stijl Salsa’ – what we here in the Netherlands also refer to as ‘Salsa Rechts Voor’ – is virtually extinct in 2019. Anyway, it is no longer the dominant salsa style here in the Netherlands. Not even on Curacao where it originated! After the introduction of the LA Style Salsa on1 and the New York Mambo on2 in the Netherlands (by Annetje Riel and Marlon Castillo from 1998) it went quickly downhill with the Curaçao Style Salsa.

Besides that you also had what I affectionately call ‘Zouk Salsa’. This dance style conceived by Claudio Gomes is actually an amalgamation of Cuban/Antillian Style Salsa with dance movements from the Brazilian Lambada and Zouk! See here the 1st Dutch salsa dance instruction video from Zouk Salsa!

Claudio Gomes and the Netherlands’ first Salsa Dance Instructional Video ‘Zouk Salsa’

The following video clip is a short summary of the 1st Open Salsa Dance Competition, held in Zandvoort (1995). In it you can see the various dominant salsa dance styles in the Netherlands: Curaçao Style Salsa and ‘Zouk Salsa’ by Claudio Gomes:

1st Dutch Open Salsa Dance Championships 1995

Besides that you also see a bit of Merengue Showdancing during that contest. Merengue show also slowly died out in the Netherlands in the 90’s. Euro Latinos D.C. – the first semi professional Afro Latin show team of the Netherlands – was one of the last groups to dance Merengue. See here a video with a long show with Salsa Rechts Voor and Merengue Showdansen by Euro Latinos D.C.:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioeZ9ZmN56I.

Why are these dance styles (almost) extinct?

Because most of us (me too!) were completely captured by the newly introduced (Western orientated) dance styles,
because we didn’t pass on the dance to the next generations, and
because these original dance styles were only a small part of the rainbow of dance styles that already existed such as folkloric dances and other Caribbean and Latin American dance forms.

But the Dominican Bachata has been immensely popular in the Dominican Republic and beyond for years. Her popularity continues to grow. So why should the world protect the Dominican Bachata?

UNITE IT WITH DESTRUCTION AS A BY-PRODUCT

In 1997, the 1st World Salsa Congress was held in San Juan Puerto Rico.

That’s when many salsa dancers from all over the world came together for the first time to learn and enjoy each other. One of the most important things the organization has done is to canonize the Puerto Rican style of Salsa dancing – and especially the variant that Eddie Torres recorded (New York Style Mambo on2). This is clearly said in the following video from 0.52 minutes.

1st World Salsa Congress Puerto Rico 1997

This standard was then blindly adopted by all those present. This new style ‘salsa dancing in lines’ was then spread in the countries of origin by these salsa pioneers. Others like the great promoter Albert Torres copied this successful formula of days long dance congresses and festivals with 1 or 2 salsa styles as a theme and applied it to most continents, countries and cities. This has been the beginning of the international Afro Latin dance industry. In the process of globalization of Afro Latin dance, some of the original dance styles were lost.

Have you ever heard of Israeli Style Salsa? Edie The Salsa Freak once told me of its existence during one of her dance workshops in the early ’00s. But I’ve never seen it myself. She explained that they danced on1, but that the followers never stepped backwards on the 1. Always forwards, so to their partners. I can’t find the dance anywhere online…

Since the other Bachata dance styles worldwide are growing faster than the original Dominican Bachata, it is not surprising that the Dominicans think that their dance style is increasingly being supplanted by what they see as an ‘abomination’. And on the other hand, the Dominican Republic also has much to fear from the undiminished popularity of Reggaeton among young people. Especially the woman-unfriendly lyrics and the very explicit way of dancing are attracting more and more young people. As a result, they lose more and more interest in the traditional bachata. The same development can be seen, for example, in Cuba, where the Son is increasingly becoming a dance for the elderly and for the tourist industry on the island. International artists and DJs continue to experiment with Bachata. The bachata remixes of Pop and R&B music are gaining market share. There are now even Bachata Remix parties! See here a list of DJ Tronky’s best bachata remix music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0Ti70q7RUw&list=PLiRjI-m5pJYeSRNBpcWidMK42Fu_LU-ej.

Conclusion: Enough reasons to protect the Dominican way of bachata dancing!

In preparation of this article, some of my friends on Facebook and I had a nice discussion. I would like to thank them for their invaluable contributions: Nadia, Yaya, Remy, Mariska, Mechteld, Roy, Romy, Nucita, Valentino, Pascal, Patrick, Froukje, Robert, Robin, Angelique, Gerald and Gilbert: https://www.facebook.com/sederick.short/posts/10157600050933211?comment_id=10157617262418211&notif_id=1577475104314500&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic.

In my last article of this series I will propose a nice solution which the lovers of the Dominican bachata will hopefully pick up and put into practice 🙂

Thank you in advance for your reactions to this article. Please feel free to join the discussion under the last link.

Y que viva la bachata!!!