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DESCARGA SFA
A view from the dance floor 

THE SETTING

On the evening Sunday, July 30, we ushered in yet another event on the salsa scene. In addition to the annual pro-am competitions at Alberto's (Mountain View) and Jillian's (San Francisco), we now have the first annual  DescargaSF competition, a new event to round out the venues for up-and-coming dancers who want to showcase their talents. This first installment of the event was not only packaged as a dancer showdown, it was also a great opportunity to attend a styling workshop conducted by Los Angeles' own Edie Lewis (aka, the Salsafreak.)  The location for that evening's venue was Club NV (formerly known as Club Ibiza; where Garry and Isabelle used to teach on Friday nights.)

After paying your $15 at the entrance, I was immediately struck by the slick, modern design and dim, strategically-placed lighting, giving it a certain ambience not found in many Bay Area salsa clubs (very "clubby", for lack of a better word.) The floor was large enough to accommodate a moderately-sized group of dancers, although, at times, it did get a little packed. However, with some resourcefulness, you can squeeze in a dance or two on the edges of the wooden floor or right on the marble. I tried dancing on both floors, and they worked equally well. The two-story complex was
lined with deep velour couches which were perfect for those who wanted to rest their feet.  The couches were also great for those who simply wanted to kick back and take in the dancing.

THE DANCERS

As the night wore on, I started to wonder whether I had read the right information on the DescargaSF website. The promised 8:00 p.m.starting time became 8:50 p.m., with lots of salseros/as braving the chill wind outside the doors (as to why nobody was let in ahead when the line started getting longer, who knows?) No doubt many
were disappointed that the promised workshop never happened. The dancers had to be content with Edie and Al Espinoza (her partner and husband) conducting a 15-minute flashy L.A.-style salsa lesson (with some cool body rolls and wave demonstrations done by the two instructors, however.) On the upper floor, Luis Alba--in his trademark "pachuco" attire--and Rachel were conducting an impromptu salsa lesson geared towards beginners, which substituted for the previously advertised styling workshop.

AAfter Edie and Al's mini-lesson, the social dancing began in short order, to the sounds of DJ Frank at the booth and Julio Bravo providing the live music. (And kudos to Frank for making it an almost merengue-less evening!) The qualifying round for the competition did not get under way until around 11:00 p.m, with the finals starting around 30 minutes later.

THE COMPETITION


Four couples made it to the competition finals. Starting off this final round were Mika baya and Norman Yon with a routine danced on the "3", accenting the fast music with some unexpected dips and tricks.  They were followed a few minutes later by Ellie Argilla and Felipe Martinez with a tango-inspired choreography with New York-style moves which was, unfortunately, cut off prematurely by the DJ, much to everyone's disappointment! Rounding off the roster were Amber Higgins and Ed Rodriguez, with some great styling from Amber, and William Shindeller and Nadia Quinonez, who strung together some very fast patterns.

WWe were fortunate to have been entertained by two performances on this evening: Edie and Al in their very theatrical and hip-hop inspired "Quicksilver" routine and our own John and Liz's Salsamania, in which the men dressed all in black and the women in some cool-looking blue tuxedos and white hats.

THE WRAP-UP

In short, the whole escargaSF experience could have been even more enjoyable if several things had been done.  1.The event needed to be more organized and 2. The scheduled dancework needed to take place as advertised.  The women's styling workshop was the big draw but it never took place. In addition, the organizers should have exercised a little more tact before cutting off acouple's routine in the middle (especially since the other contestants were given a much more time.) The dance floor isn't the biggest--it's comparable to Down Low Lounge in Berkeley--but the quality is quite good. Edie and Al's stylish demonstrations of technique and their great sense of humor were also a great plus. The club can accommodate so many people that it was possible to be afforded a decent view of the floor from almost any location--and if you wanted a more unencumbered view, you can get one from the balcony! For those of you who arrive by car, come early for the closest parking spots, although, on Sunday, it won't be too hard to find one less than two blocks away. As an alternative, there is all-night parking for $7 a block away on the corner of Mission and Second Street.

We hope that this event was a dry run and can expect an even greater venue for the 2nd Annual
DescargaSF competition. DescargaSF has a lot of untapped potential. And they even picked  a classy place, to boot!

For more information on the competition, visit
www.descargasf.com. For more information on Edie and
Al, go to
www.dancefreak.com. This is one person's roving opinion, and you are welcome to send in your own!

Please send your feedback to our SalsaCrazy reporter to:
aauthorfeedback@salsacrazy.com













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