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May 16, 2021

Interview with Byron Latin Fiesta Director, Sky Blue

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Byron Latin Fiesta starts on Thursday

14th Byron Latin Fiesta

Thursday 31 Oct – Sunday, 3 Nov

For the past 14 years, the Byron Latin Fiesta has brought the Latin Love to town. And it’s happening again – celebrating our vibrant Latin loving community – with invited teachers and dancers and people who just can’t stop moving! Festival Director, Sky Blue, spoke with The Echo.

What are the highlights for this year’s Latin Fiesta?

International artists, Kim & Geo, are coming all the way from Canada to teach and perform Bachata and Mambo. Two fantastic live bands: Bachatame, Australia’s only 100% Bachata band, playing on the Friday night; and El Timbon, a 12-piece Cuban Salsa and Timba band, playing on the Saturday night. The addition of lots of Brazilian Zouk due to local interest and popular demand and, for the first time ever at the event a Tango Milonga on the Sunday evening.

How has the program changed and grown since your first year?

It has changed and grown a lot and will keep growing and changing. When the event started back in 2006 we hosted local and national artists only, after a few years we added the international element and increased our reach with national artists, bands and DJs. It started as a three night and two day event, and then we added a pre-party to make it a four night event, plus after-parties to cater to everyone’s hunger for social dancing. The number of dance workshops has doubled, and the event now has 40 workshops over the weekend, plus master classes, and an immersion workshop. We added a beginners’ hub to entice more first-timers, or those new to dance to attend. And, for this year we have added a Tropical Pool Party and a Tango Milonga!

Tell me about the Latin community here…

In the Byron Shire the main Latin groups are Sassy Salsa, run by Daniela, the Latin Dance Collective run by Leyla & Robert, Wild Things Zouk run by Joe. There are also some Cuban groups on in Mullum and Lismore, Salsa Caliente, and north coast Casinero’s and there is a Tango community. Additionally, there is a new lady, Mina, teaching Caribbean dance. There are also pockets of Latinos who run socials. It’s quite vibrant. Some long-term teachers, and a bit of new blood. It’s relaxed, it’s fun and it’s welcoming.

What is it about Latin dance that draws people in?

There is a great energy with Latin music and dance, you have fun and meet new people. I believe the rhythms capture you and take your soul on a journey; they can help to take your troubles away when you get lost in the dance moment, and it’s also good for fitness. Latin music such as Salsa and Reggaeton is upbeat and energetic, while Bachata or Kizomba for example is a bit more mellow and sensual. So people can be drawn to the energy, the connection and more.

Who is attracted to Latin dance? Can anyone come along? Do you have to know the dance styles already?

People from every different culture you can think of, and all age groups. Dance is universal and anyone can be attracted to it. Everyone can learn to dance. If you have not had dance in your culture or upbringing you can still learn, you just need the desire and the will. At festivals like the Byron Latin Fiesta it’s a good idea to try out some beginner dance workshops if you are new to dancing, you might be surprised where it takes you.

Can you tell me about some of the classes?

At the Byron Latin Fiesta we have dance workshops for beginners through to experienced dancers, in many different styles. There is Cuban Salsa, Mambo, Bachata, Kizomba, Zouk, Tango, Reggaeton, Afro and more. The Workshops run for one hour each and there are 40 on offer throughout the event. You can get a Full Event Pass and dance to your heart’s content, or try as few as three workshops in a day to test your skills.

What should we expect for the Latin Fiesta?

An opportunity to indulge your Latin passion with four nights and two days jam-packed full with Latin dance workshops and parties. Great energy and good fun.

The event is run at the Byron Theatre & Community Centre plus feeder venues throughout Byron from 31 Oct – 3 Nov. Tickets available online, or at the event until sold out: byronlatinfiesta.com.au/tickets

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