Dunedin Latin Fest 2020 - A Covid success story?

Salsa Club Dunedin's ladies team performing a vibrant and flamboyant Cha Cha routine.
Salsa Club Dunedin's ladies team performing a vibrant and flamboyant Cha Cha routine.
A weekend of fun and frolic is what the annual Latin Congress festival organised by Salsa Club Dunedin was!

Boasting two consecutive nights of social dancing (sorry, not sorry @social distancing) and a weekend loaded with rocking workshops by some of the countries finest dancers, the Fest was one of an ‘oh-what-joy’ for NZ’s south island Latin enthusiasts.

With an air of freedom and hints of an energy-renewed, Dunedin’s ‘Mini’ Latin Fest (‘DLF”) from 18 to 20 September 2020 was an absolute smasher! Despite the many precautions and restrictions in a post-covid world (all of which were followed to the T!!), the Fest was fantastically organised and managed by Emily Armstrong, founder and owner of Salsa Club Dunedin.

A cumulative total of 12 workshops in 8 Latin dance forms run over the course of the weekend were a generous offering, presenting variety even to the pickiest of the lot. Flavours ranged from Cuban Salsa to Rueda de Casino, Salsa on 1, Brazilian Zouk to Samba de Gafieira, Bachata, Reggaeton, and Kizomba - literally translating to “party” - and party is sure as hell what those lucky to attend did!

Owing to restrictions on numbers, the workshops were capped at 45 attendees and the parties to a 100, with pre-registrations to secure a spot on the guest list. The event was a major attraction not only for Dunedin’s Latino Lover’s but also dance communities from Christchurch, Cromwell, Invercargill, Queenstown and Wanaka.

The 4th of its kind in Dunedin, the festival featured group and private lessons by guest artists Becky Crystal and Leonardo Neves from Christchurch, Merwan Minoo from Tauranga, Nico and Gina from Queenstown (and Cromwell!), and Kate LeBrun from Wanaka, and Dunedin’s very own and beloved, Emily Armstrong. Woot woot. Showcasing excellence in their chosen dance forms, this fabulous bunch managed to keep energies at an all-time-high over the two days, with their friendly, humorous and informative teaching approaches encompassing a sound knowledge of musicality, dance technique, style and history.

Saturday night’s party at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery was full of flair, and graced with performances by Salsa Club Dunedin doing the Cha Cha, Latin Fire Youth team doing the Salsa and Becky and Leo (from Chch) performing the Zouk.

Exhilarating and exhausting (but the good kind deserving a good hot soak in the bath!), DLF 2020 was all about good vibes, great people and grand experiences! It truly brought to fore a sense of belonging, Aroha and connection. Kudos to the organisers and all who came.

Sure feels like happy times are here again.

 - Urvi Gadhia

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