Monday. First evening. Everyone’s arrived and they’re warming up. But what a warming up. Exotic music and song that speaks of sun-drenched, soft-sand island beaches. Shapely, sensuous, swaying, seductive bodies. Sparkling smiles signifying the sheer joy of dance. Quivering gyrations that make one’s mouth and eyes water. As if seeing an oasis after being in the desert for days without a drop of liquid of any kind to quench one’s thirst. Or, desperate for a sugar hit, seeing a bowl of delicious melting chocolate chunky chip ice-cream. A true communion of like-minded people, some of the finest, best specimens our supremely imperfect race of mere mortals may ever produce. In short, it’s ‘sauvage’ made ‘sophisticated.’
I penned these observations above while watching the opening night of the 15th edition of Romania’s flamboyant annual Salsa Week. And what a vibrant spectacle it continues to be, with more excitement to come this weekend, including Sunday.
Organized by the Romania Dance Association, Epika Booking Agency and Wilmark Events Agency, hundreds of people hungry for fast moves flock to the dance-floor, the raised stage and multiple pathways around the outdoor swimming pool – pretty much every space available at the elegant Club D’Or in Vama Veche on the Black Sea coast – to strut their stuff.
Under the catchphrase ‘Friends Love Party,’ the week-long program is comprehensive and diverse -‘7 Latin days, 60 workshops, 6 pool parties, 5 thematic parties, 3 bootcamps, 2 dance rooms, live concerts, best DJs, top international performers and best Romanian Latin Dance Schools’ as the colorful festival brochure points out.
Enthusiastic participants wholeheartedly agree.
“Two years ago, I went to a party organized by one of the salsa schools and I was fascinated by their dance, so I decided to enroll,” said Jeghen Stefania from Suceava. “I have great admiration for the professionals, who are not only extremely talented, but word extremely hard to reach such level of perfection. Now I can enjoy the dancing, even though I have so much to learn, but I can also enjoy being part of this special universe of music and dance. A festival like Salsa Week is more than a dance club, it’s a congress with hours of study, workshops, talks, as well as fascinating demonstrations by some of the best dancers in Europe and a place to meet friends and make new ones. I believe that music and dance are pure emotions, so one can say that this is a festival of emotions and beautiful people, here in Vama Veche, a perfect setting by the sun and the sea.”
Added Florin-Calin Paun, a Paris-based innovation expert, “Vama Veche has many musical offerings – a rockers ‘corner,’ folk, bikers and bluegrass but unfortunately it does not have Latino. Luckily, the week-long Salsa Week provides this, I just wish it was longer. If you want to see smiling faces, this is the place. In comparison to other kinds of music, Latino music is pure joy, a positive force provided by multiculturalism.”
The festival’s late-night shindigs are quite a sight – ‘A Moveable Feast’ as Ernest Hemingway might describe it: a mass movement of people, all dancing in pairs but all as if in unison, all linked to the same vital energy-giving force – the pulsing rhythms of salsa, bachata and tango.
And to make the scene even more exhilarating, these special nights are fashionably themed – ‘boho-chic,’ ‘rock star’ and ‘all-white’ to name but three.
Such is the sheer popularity of this festival – which started 14 years ago as a weekend event before becoming a week-long one ten years ago – you might even see a few celebrities on the dance-floor. I spotted one lovely lady, the perfect image of Demi Moore, the sexy, sultry actress famous for her sizzling ‘pottery shaping’ role in the romantic, heart-breaking movie, ‘Ghost’ with Patrick Swayze. And making the hairs rise on my arm with amazement, I spied her just as lively band, Grupo Extra, started performing the movie’s haunting theme song, ‘Unchained Melody,’ a tune special to my heart as it was to the wonderful sound of it that I first entered this world, my pregnant mother adoring the then early vinyl versions by singers Todd Duncan and Al Hibbler.
Among the salsa festival’s collaborators and sponsors are OneLife, El Torito Mexican Grill, priainfo, WTV Business Television, AV Detailing, Gasca Productions, Delta Force Constanta, Bestevent, Directia Sport Tineret Bucuresti and 3 Bear Productions.
So dear reader, if you fancy a special celebration this weekend, slip on your dancing shoes and rush to Club D’Or, Vama Veche, Black Sea coast, Romania. You’ll not regret it. You might even meet the love of your life there.