Yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday post reminded me that the self proclaimed  Salsaworldtraveler hasn’t published a post on Latin dancing in a long time.  So this photo review covers the 2017 Boracay  Latin Dance Festival, which was where I photographed the beautiful sunrise in yesterday’s post.  

Latin Dance Festivals  

A Latin dance festival or congress is a multi-day dance festival featuring workshops, social dancing, performances, and competitions focusing on social Latin dancing.  Social Latin dances include salsa, merengue, rumba, bachata, cha cha cha, kizomba, and many more.

Latin dance is a subset of ballroom dancing.  As I’ve gotten older, I find that dances where there is a connection between partners that enables the communication required in leading and following to be much more enjoyable than the “shake your booty,” “do your own thing” dancing which is typical in most nightclubs.  That type of dancing can be fun too.  Freestyle dancing is much more compatible with having a few alcoholic beverages or more.

Festivals like the one on Boracay draw teachers and students from the local area and around the world.  I have included a couple of videos from the festival that afford a good idea of what goes on.


Boracay is a small island in the Philippines, 7 km long and 1 km wide.  It is located in the Western Visayas approximately 315 km (196 miles) south of Manila and 2 km (1.2 mi) off the northwest tip of Panay Island.  Boracay is one of the world’s top destinations for fun and relaxation.  Although a bit remote, it is a perfect spot for a Latin dance festival.

Boracay is famous for white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and warm sunshine.  Water sports and activities abound.

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The Coast Hotel served as festival headquarters.  Like many Boracy hotels, it is located right on the beach.  Boracay hotels vary in price of course.  However even four-star plus properties on the beach are reasonably priced.  The festival negotiated special room rates that were slightly discounted from the regular rates.

2017 Boracay Dance Festival

The festival was held from February 23 -26.  It was four days of daytime dance instruction and nightly parties.  The cost for the workshops and parties was only $125.  This short video is a good summary.

Somehow the video missed my amazing performances. Ha ha!  Below are some of the photos and videos I took during the festival.


Workshops are 45 minute group classes.  The workshops ran from 9-5 and were devoted to instruction in a short routine or a particular facet of a dance such as footwork or styling.  Two or three workshops are offered at the same time.  Attendees choose which ones they want to attend.  Five or six workshops back to back makes for an exhausting but fun day.

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Instructors create routines based on basic patterns of each dance and their own ideas and embellishments.  The videos below provide a glimpse of some of the routines that were being taught in the workshops.

My favorite dance is salsa.  I enjoy the energetic Afro-Latin beat and it looks impressive when done well.  This is a short intermediate level salsa routine. If the image is off kilter, it will adjust when played.

The following video demonstrates a version of salsa called rueda.  Salsa rueda is danced by several pairs of partners who are grouped in a circle.  A leader calls out the moves in Spanish and the couples follow.  After each move is completed, the woman transfers to the partner on the left or right depending on the move that is called.

This video is from a salsa men’s footwork workshop. Gupson Pierre is the instructor.

The most advanced levels of salsa involve turning, spinning and fast, tricky  movements that require a lot of practice and flexibility.  That was getting hard to do before the pandemic.  I think my dance of the future is kizomba.  That is a lovely dance from Angola.  It also has an appealing beat.  It is slower than salsa and there is no spinning.  The connection with the partner is very important and the footwork can be tricky.

This video is from a kizomba workshop.


The whole point of Latin dance is social dancing.  To dance socially with a variety of partners acquiring the skills to lead and follow is necessary.  The man should be able to dance with any woman and communicate the steps he wants to lead without saying anything and the woman should be able to pickup the cues and follow.  Although a tad sexist perhaps, the system works great.  The man leads, but the woman gets to look good and show off.

After learning new skills and moves in the workshops, attendees put their new knowledge to the test in the nightly parties with performances and dancing in the hotel and on the beach.

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Parties also include a brief short instructional session for those who want to participate.

Instructors and others put on amazing performances.

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Myra Jean Alvarez (center) runs the Manila Kizomba Facebook group that I’m still involved with.
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This samba group, Escola de Samba de Manila, is fantastic. The amount of energy these ladies put into their routines is astounding.

Final Thoughts

Latin dance festivals are great for meeting new people, seeing new places and acquiring new social dancing skills.  The 2017 Boracay Latin Dance Festival was four days of fun in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.  Unfortunately, dance festivals are one of many casualties of the ongoing pandemic.  I remember this festival fondly and look forward to attending another one.  I think we all hope that the time when events like this can be resumed lies in the not too distant future.