The Byron Latin Fiesta was founded in 2006. It grew out of a passion for Latin American music, dance, and culture, together with a love for the Byron Shire with its stunning environment and unique attributes.
When the fiesta was born, the main focus was to bring the local Latin dance community together and to give the national industry within Australia a platform to showcase their talents. It was also intended to educate and excite newcomers. As the event has evolved and grown it has become an international, national and local event, and yet it still strives to keep a rather grassroots approach and to stay connected to its humble beginnings. Sky Blue is the festival director. She spoke with The Echo about this very exciting weekend feast of latin music and dance.
Sky, tell me what you have in store for this year’s Latin Fiesta.
The 2017 event will feature more than 40 dance workshops for beginners to experienced dancers. The most in-demand styles this year are Bachata and Kizomba, which will be taught by our international artists along with some of the most prominent latin dance instructors from around Australia. There are also more than 40 dance performances spread across the three nights ranging from student teams to professional couples. Live bands never seen before at the event are the highlight of Friday and Saturday nights. We are also excited to announce that this year the event is expanding to include a talk series with motivational speakers.
How do you approach programming each year?
Programming is always a delicate balancing act. For the dance workshops we take into consideration the different styles the instructors have experience with and are mindful to cater to what’s in demand with the attendees. We strive to offer a diverse variety of styles and levels so that there is something for everyone! During the days there are always four workshops at any one time to choose from. With the night-time events, our program includes dance performances plus social dancing to live bands and latin DJs. Again, with the parties, we like to offer variety. Careful planning goes into creating a nice vibe at the venues with comfortable, attractive setups, good light and sound and a program with great music that is exciting for the dancers and their friends.
Why do you think people love Latin music and dancing so much?
Latin music is very happy and upbeat. It has a great energy about it that people find infectious. It can be a lot of fun and is an excellent healthy social activity.
Is it hard to learn if you are a beginner?
Everyone can learn to dance; if you can walk, you can dance! My motto has always been ‘There is no such thing as two left feet!’ If you have the desire and you have good teachers it is easy to learn.
How do you cater for different levels of dancers?
With our workshops we cater to four levels: beginners, open, intermediate and advanced. There is also the option of taking private lessons if you prefer more individualised learning or, if you want to gain skills that a standard workshop wouldn’t provide, there are some masterclasses in the program.
The secret to your success do you think with this event is?
I have an undying passion for Latin music and dance, a great love for the Byron Shire, and I don’t give up easily when faced with the challenges of event management. The secret lies in believing in the event and sticking with it no matter what. Having a great business partner and a very supportive network in the local community also helps a lot. The other thing is that I am a detailed person and the difference is always in the detail!
3–5 November 2017. For tickets and program go to byronlatinfiesta.com.au.