New salsa group Bermuda Latin Vibes will hold first dance event January 5
After the former Sea Breeze Salsa studio closed down two years ago, a group of friends knew they had to do something to keep the Latin culture alive in the local community.
They initially hosted dance socials out of different venues but soon realised there was no central hub for people to go if they wanted to delve deeper into Latin music, dance, entertainment, language and cuisine.
Giovanna Watson and her friends decided to create a new website www.bermudalatinvibes.com. It launches within the next week.
The sites goal is to encourage people who appreciate at least one aspect of the culture and want to explore other aspects.
Each area of Latin culture is equally important and one element cannot live without the other, said Ms Watson.
She said the website would appeal to a cross-section of the community from people who have visited Latin America to schools looking to organise multicultural events.
Its also good for cooks who want to share Latin recipes, couples looking for something new and exciting to do on the weekend or tourists looking to find out about events happening on the Island.
The one thing everyone who visits the site will have in common is a link to Bermuda, Ms Watson said.
Latin music and dance are enjoyed all over the world. Bermuda is a melting pot of many different cultures, the one thing that we have in common is where we reside.
Therefore we needed a team that was just as diverse.
Carlos Santy Moreno, Malik Showers, Chioke Lodge, Catrina Sims, Ximena Marshall and Jamelle Ming helped Ms Watson with the site.
They chose to include a gombey hat in the websites logo, because its a symbol that best represents Bermuda, the place we all call home.
Ms Watson discovered her own love for the Latin culture while a student in North Carolina.
She overheard a Puerto Rican neighbour playing Latin music and asked if she could tag along to the next Latin dance social.
I gravitated towards Latin dance because I didnt speak Spanish at the time, she said. The one universal language was the dances.
When I first got [to the event] I was probably the token new person there.
At first, no one asked me to dance and I sat there and watched for maybe a couple of weeks, but one day an older gentleman asked me to dance and after that I didnt sit down for the rest of the night.
She learned different dance styles from such Latin countries as Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
I was following what [my dance partners] were doing, not recognising that each Latin country has its own distinct way of dancing, Ms Watson explained. So I picked up a lot of the intricacies of the dance.
When I came back to Bermuda for Christmas of 2002, the salsa scene had changed dramatically during that period of time and it was very much more ballroom.
And for me that wasnt what I had learned for the past few years, so from 2002 until 2009 I didnt join any performance groups, I just stayed a social dancer.
She began taking lessons on the Island from instructor Jamelle Ming.
He told her she could keep her personal style but lessons would help to improve her technique so she could dance with anyone from a beginner to more advanced.
She joined the team at the former Sea Breeze Salsa, and hasnt looked back since.
Salsa or just Latin dance, it transcends any boundaries that exist, she said. Anyone can enjoy it, whether they are young or old, married or single.
Its such a fun environment for anyone who is interested and willing to learn.
The other great thing is I have been to Puerto Rico, Cuba, Canada, Spain and Barbados and every place I go for vacation I dance salsa.
Thats the great thing about it, no matter where you go in the world you can find somewhere to dance salsa and you make amazing friends.
She said her life would be very quiet without Latin music and dance.
The website organisers aim to eventually work with the Department of Tourism, Corporation of Hamilton, schools, musicians and dancers to help create and organise Latin events in Bermuda.
It will hold its first Latin dance event on January 5 at Inferno Night Club.
The evening will start with an hour-long dance class for all levels at 8pm followed by social dancing until 1am. Entry for the event will be $10.
Bermuda Latin Vibes want the site to be community based and encourage people interested to e-mail them about new content or services at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Useful website: www.bermudalatinvibes.com.