WORLD SALSA CHAMPIONSHIPS 2009 DAY 1: Final World Salsa Championships Qualifier of 2009 (WSC 2009 – Part 1)

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By Dakin Ferris, meandering salsero, on assignment for www.SalsaCrazy.com….

It’s just after midnight on day 1 of the World Salsa Championships. Tonight was the last chance to qualify, and though we won’t have the results until maybe late tomorrow—a lot of the details of what is about to happen here have emerged.

This video clip tells the story of our arrival.

Only two teams were practicing at the time. Diamon2 from Spain – a team with a lot of long-legged followers with long blonde hair. I am thinking they did their recruiting in Sweeden, but either way, I hope they make it to the finals.

And then of course, whom else, but the always-on, always-working, ferocious competitors that have been representing the Bay Area and been top-ten in 2 of 3 years of the existence of this event: SalsaMania. (When do they sleep???) It is not possible with these short words to even start listing all of the amazing things that John Navarez and Liz Rojas have accomplished with their teams.

At the afternoon meeting for the competitors (everyone hoping this last chance to qualify for them was a magic one), Albert Torres made a very humble address. This was not the event that he wanted to hold, and to his personal embarrassment, the event this year was at a location without a stage, without dressing rooms, in a room smaller than most of the salsa clubs we all go to weekly around the world.

The Hardrock had cancelled on him after selling only 400 tickets of the potential 5600 tickets, and this was simply the best he could do on such short notice. Albert was resolute about the event however, and optimistic about things to come.

The rest of the day, and the evening competition came off quite well. There was clearly some great talent on-stage and in the audience. Albert filled the short interludes with humor and reflection, and while of course I would prefer Cat Deeley, he was charming if not a little subdued. (It was also nice sitting next to Albert’s mother hearing how as a kid in Puerto Rico, Albert was never where he was supposed to be, but instead always sneaking out in search of salsa! She is quite proud of all he has done in his life.)

I was also impressed by caliber of the judges’ panel and my concerns there faded, even without the Mambo King himself (Eddie Torres) being in the house. L.A.’s DJ Lobo was working out the kinks on the soundboard, and the audience and energy in the room was vocal and supportive. Here are some more details, video and pictures:

BY THE NUMBERS

On1 Couples for the Pre-quals: 8

The on1 Couples Hit the Stage

The on1 Couples Hit the Stage

Number that qualified: (we think 4 or 5)

On2 Couples for the Pre-quals: 2

Number that qualified: at least 1

Teams at the Pre-quals: 2

Number that qualified: probably 2

Cabaret Couples at the Pre-quals: 5

Number that qualified: maybe 3 of 5

Estimated Total Audience for the pre-quals: 250 (impossible to separate out the competitors watching however—which I think was a large percentage)

A modest crowd, but its still the pre-quals!

A modest crowd, but its still the pre-quals!

Judges: Osmar from Yamulee, Tito and Tamara (Puerto Rico), Jennifer O'Coin (Canada Salsa Congress), Burju (Boston), Spin Lee (Korea), Sonya (Montreal), Billy Fajardo.  Katie Marlow was the scrutineer, Victor (Boston) was the runner.

Ladies and Gentleman, your.....JUDGES!

Ladies and Gentleman, your.....JUDGES!

Judges panel table 2

Judges panel table 2

Albert reported the following about the main event starting Thursday (not including those getting in on this last prequel round, which would add to the numbers):

UPDATED FINAL Total on1 Couples at the event: 23

Estimated Total on2 Couples at the event: approx 17

UPDATED FINAL Teams at the event: 14

Estimated Cabaret Couples at the event: 18

STAND-OUT PREQUALIFICATION ROUTINES

I have to start with the Bay Area. To my delight and surprise, John Navarez and Liz Rojas were back in action, once again not just leading their team, but also competing as a couple. Their routine was smmooooooothhhh and confident. No question we will be seeing a lot of them this weekend.

The Colombians were here in force as usual, competing in on1 and cabaret (their teams having already qualified).

The Cabaret couples -- all from Colombia!

The Cabaret couples -- all from Colombia!

And both teams the competed tonight were solid as well.  Here is Diamon2 from Spain!

These three cabaret couples really stole the show however….

Hungry and tired, Kayono and I ended the evening by hooking up with our coach, Luis Aguilar, his stunning partner Anya Katsevman, the Korean judge, “Spin” Lee and Lori, a friend of everyone’s from NYC. If there was any performance I am waiting to see the most this weekend, its from 9 Times World Champions Anya and Luis. Coming on the heals of their decisive win at the New York International Salsa Congress Labor Day weekend, these two are poised for more greatness. And true to their rigorous training regimen, they invited Kayono and I out to a carefully planned highly nutritious meal at the exclusive restaurant named, um, well, Miami Subs.

Fine Ft. Lauderdale Dining

Fine Ft. Lauderdale Dining

Overcoming even the hardest obstacles (like those always complicated drive-through windows), these world champions spared no expense and we dined in style.

Yum.....

Yum.....

Around 11:30 we made it back home, checked out the social dancing, and went up to start writing up our coverage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL9ccUHhMpc

Dakin Ferris has been dancing salsa for 8 years, has competed internationally, and currently dances with Couture Dance Alliance in San Francisco, California.  The opinions expressed herein are completely his own and not those of SalsaCrazy.com or anyone else.  Any matters stated factually should be read as being just his opinion.   And he is frequently wrong.


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  • http://www.SalsawithTomaj.com Tomaj Trenda

    The audience looks about as "big" as the Hawaii Salsa Festival…!

  • Bryce Dechert

    Awesome coverage Dakin thanks bro! As a WSC veteran I'm living it through you this year.

    Yeah it sucks the venue/event isnt nearly as huge as it was previously, expecially since last year it was enormous. I know Albert had a ton of logistical challenges with the event this year so I'm simply grateful enough that he could pull it off.

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