June 2003 Sizzing Salsa Weekend in Laughlin, Nevada by DanceFun
I could rave about this past weekend as much as others did about last
year’s Sizzlin’ Salsa weekend. But you don’t know how fantastic it was
unless you were there. I danced til my feet hurt. I laughed til my
sides ached. I cheered til my voice ran hoarse. I admired and was so
inspired by others that I started to move like never before. Hands down,
for the price, it was the best all-round salsa dancing event I attended
Event: 3 days and 3 nights of salsa and sun.
Place: Laughlin, NV (90 miles away from Las Vegas)
First Arrivals: Thursday night
Departures: Sunday afternoon
What made it so fantastic?
Attention to detail and organization!
The chartered buses
If you didn’t drive to Laughlin on your own, DanceFun had chartered
buses with scheduled departures from San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las
Vegas. Get this, the buses had complimentary drinks and movies. I heard
nothing about what movies were shown. But I did hear about buses that
had ‘Salseros Gone WILD’ action. Oh dear...
Francisco Martinez said, “Bus leaders really set the atmosphere for each
bus. I heard that on one bus, people were doing body shots off each
other. Another busload of salseros got so hot and heavy they had the
driver sweatin’.” I wouldn’t know anything about that. The bus my
Seattle friends were on, everyone fell asleep during the entire trip.
Many of us arrived that Thursday night. Four of us rented a car at Vegas
and jammed over to Laughlin. It was dark. You know you’re out in the
middle of nowhere when the moon hangs low and glows orange and the only
things blocking the view are not skyscrapers, but big rigs with those
red and orange lights.
The welcome bag
Hotel check-in was easy. Four of the five rooms of my Seattle Salvaje
crew were on the same floor, which made it convenient to bang on each
other’s door in the mornings. Inside each of our rooms, the Dancefun
staff left us a little welcome-to-the-party-goodie bag, complete with
schedule, snacks, water, and chocolate. What a sweet and intimate touch!
Intimacy and convenience
Even though my carload of peeps arrived in Laughlin at 1am, I wasn’t
tired enough to fall asleep yet. I headed down to the ballroom to see if
anyone was still dancing. Never underestimate salseros in the middle of
a desert. DJ JZ and crew spun the salsa while sleepless salseros worked
off their energy until past 3am. There were some chairs along a couple
of the walls, and lots of dance space on the beautiful wooden floor.
Salseros danced, salseros watched, salseros sat, and salseros smiled.
People were dressed in sweats, slacks, shorts, and jammies (“My friend
told me to get out of bed and come dance,” explained Carlos Smith of
LA). It felt as if we were dancing at home with a huge group of people
who got invited for a salsa slumber party. As long as there were
dancers, the DJ kept spinning.
And that’s what it was like for the whole weekend. It felt like one huge
houseparty, just for us!
By Carolin Dhaens’ estimate, there were about 600 of us there. I just
knew there were enough people to feel like an event, but not so many
people so that I felt lost. And by the third day, you got to dance with
nearly everyone you had on your list of must-have-dances.
It was just so convenient. Wanted to eat? Hit floor 2. Wanted to dance?
Head to floor 1. Needed a nap? Go up to your room. Outdoor pool and
Jacuzzi? You got it. Gambling or jet skiis? Blammo. Ta Da.
About the only thing they didn’t have was cheap internet access. So,
leave your laptop at home folks. You’ll clear airport security faster
You can check the Dancefun website to see who all the instructors were.
As Jo Kavanaugh put it, “The classes seemed better than at another
congress because 1. you could see the instructors (unlike in huge
congress classes where it can be near-impossible to see what’s being
taught) 2. the instructors seemed more interested in how much the
students learned.” Dancefun made sure the instructors could teach on
raised platforms and provided wireless headsets for the instructors.
(For the instructors, didn't it feel like a family reunion, except it
was fun and drama-free?)
The shows took place in an air-conditioned tented area. Performers had
plenty of floor space to perform on. There were also hundreds of seats
surrounding the dance floor space, though maybe about 100 people had to
stand to watch the shows. Both Friday and Saturday nights had about 1.5
hours of shows. Just about right for our short attention span. Each
show was very different from the last. Props to the creativity and hard
work of ALL the performers, some of whom pulled together their
choreographies the day of the show. The performers overcame all sorts
of challenges: Music stopped for one routine. Slippery floor kept a
couple of dancers on their toes (no falls, though!) Troy Anthony’s $400
glasses snapped during rehearsal and he had to perform and dance the
last night without 20/20 vision. My dance shoe strap broke in the middle
of our performance. . . But to keep it all flowing was the one and only
hilarious Rudy Zalez of LA. Albert Torres, you’ve got competition! Heh
After the shows were over, the floor opened up for dancing while Son
Mayor of LA played until about midnight. With everyone so energized to
dance, that floor was a tight squeeze. However, after the band finished,
we migrated from the tented area to the ballroom in the hotel. At that
point, at least a good third of the people pooped out for the night.
Lucky us. There was enough floorspace for everyone else who hung in
there til 4am Friday and Saturday nights. The wooden floors may have
seemed a little sticky to people in sneakers, but seemed fine for those
of us in salsa heels. Am very happy that the floors held up for all 3
nights of dancing. Another bonus is that there was plenty of ice-cold
water for everyone to gulp throughout the night (except for Thursday
night, if I recall correctly.)
On Friday afternoon, the DJ set up and played music by the outdoor pool
and Jacuzzi. With the 100+ F weather, everyone stripped down to their
swimsuits and danced or cooled off in the pool. Those who didn’t have
shoes danced on the grass or pavement and got a free foot exfoliation as
a special bonus treat. I’d recommend wearing dance sneakers out there on
the pavement next time.
Throughout the event, the DJ’s played awesome salsa after salsa. You
guys are all the bomb. Saturday night, White-Boy-Wonder-Steve of
Majesty in Motion asked DJ Tony el Tigre to pop in a personal hip-hop
CD. Did the room whoop whoop or what when “Lights, Camera,
Action” came on! There went our own Michael Michaels, C-walking into the
middle of the circle and then going down for the worm before popping
Not a lot of people took advantage of this, but the outdoor Jacuzzi was
a great place to be after a long night of dancing. Watching the sun rise
over the plateau in the warm dawn desert air while soaking aching feet
and joints in the hot tub was pure joy. Be aware that there are
security cameras out in the pool/Jacuzzi area, so no glass bottles or
doing things you wouldn’t want to be caught doing on camera.
Three buffet meals were provided as part of the package. The buffets
were actually better than I expected them to be. Those who were
vegetarians had options, too. For you dessert lovers, there were plenty
of pies, cakes, fruit, and puddings to choose from. After working up a
sweat at 3am, we really dug into the $3.99 buffet breakfasts. In the
casino of the hotel, you also had the option of eating at the Subway
sandwich spot. However, I’d stick with the white or garlic loaves
because the other bread options were stale.
What else could you do?
The hotel where the event was held was on a strip of beach lining the
Colorado River. What a clean green and crisp looking river. You could
rent jet skiis and zip up and down the river if you wanted. A short
stroll along the RiverWalk led you to the next hotel/casino, which had a
Starbucks, if you’re into the urban java stuff. Heh heh. There were also
beautiful huge fish swimming near that hotel, if you’re into the
Worst part of it all:
Unlike in a metropolitan city or in Vegas, there was NOTHING else to do
in Laughlin besides the salsa event.
Best part of it all:
Unlike in a metropolitan city or in Vegas, there was NOTHING else to do
in Laughlin besides the salsa event.
My biased best-of’s:
Funniest MC: Rudy Zalez
Best quote from Olivia Dasso’s ladies’ styling class on how to
walk with attitude, as in right past the new thing dangling on your
ex-boyfriend’s arm in the salsa club, “Girl, that’s a nice skirt you
have on…I had it last year” Strut… strut…One leg at a time, divas.
Best quote from Troy Anthony and Georgette Alcocer’s class:
“Nobody move, nobody get hurt.”
Best quote from Salsa Salvaje’s class: “Stomp, clap, shimmy, I
got it” and “Did you get some booty?”
Eye-catching sexy followers (wish I knew the names of everyone):
Georgette Alcocer was by far the sexiest woman on the floor all nights.
I’d also have to include the diva with the cut body who had her hair up
in a bun for the first two days but let her curly locks loose the last
two nights and wore the white dress with flower print on Saturday night,
Yvette Pinon, Olivia Dasso, Sandra Rivera (does this woman have calves
or what?), Monica Flores, Christina Haggerty and Kirsten of Salsa in the
Mix, and at the risk of being terribly self-promoting, I must include
the ladies of Salsa Salvaje (Coco, Naomi, Sasha, and Nadine)
Eye-catching sexy leads: Carlos Smith, Troy Anthony, Steve and
David the White Boy Wonders of Majesty in Motion, Salomon Amaya, Alex Da
Silva, Marcelo Garces, DJ Tony el Tigre, David of Seaon Stylists, Willie
Nakorn, Drew Alexander, and I gotta add Georgette Alcocer here, too.
Most hilarious lead or follow on 1 or 2: Michael Michaels
Longest, most entertaining dance:
Espie’s birthday dance. How
awesome was that dance?! We got into a huge circle and she had so many
people who wanted to lead her that the DJ had to play 3 songs in a row
at our request to fulfill the birthday dance! Very very cool and totally
entertaining, too. Hey, can my birthday be that weekend, too???
Cutest family: Francisco and Stacey Martinez and Baby Lindsay and
Most lifts in their routine (and boy did they make them look
easy): Ciro and Maryann Martinez
Cutest routine: Troy, Georgette, Willie, and Yvette’s doctor
Most flamboyant: Phoenix Salvaje’s Clown and Tiger routine
Best routine dedicated to dad: Sandra and Solomon Rivera (and
they sure do know how to work the audience)
Smooth as usual routine: Alex da Silva and Monica Flores
Best cut music mixes and choreography to the mix:
Salsa in the
Longest routine with a baby-salsero-to-be-on-stage: Rica Salsa
(you go Sarah!)
Best debut teams: Dance Family Student Team and San Diego
Cool footwork and choreography:
Majesty in Motion
Routine that had to have been fueled by a truckload of energy drinks:
Jeff Larson and Rico Jr of Rumba Brava
Best chair-dancing, hip-hop and salsa routine: Salsa Salvaje
A huge thank you to the staff of DanceFun. You guys know how to put the
F in FUN! Til next June....
We're Sailing to
the Caribbean in January of 2004...
Join us for this amazing Dance Cruise!
and SalsaCrazy.com will all be there! Don't miss it.