On a recent trip back to the homeland I decided to go out a bit in the Salsa scene and remind myself how that looks like through the lens of someone having danced and lived in Europe for so long.
I picked up Salsa Dancing on Curacao in 2009, but only really got into it when I moved to Europe (also 2009). Other than taking classes from my old teacher I never really did much else.
So I finally decided to go out and enjoy a bit of the scene and here’s what I found.
History of Salsa on Curacao
Curacao is a strong LA style community; I was lucky to meet Luis Vazquez at a festival once and told him where I was from. He told me that he’s been to Curacao and was there helping develop the island’s Salsa in the 90s.
Prominent at the time were Burton/Rudsel(salsation)/heinrich(salseros con clase) came alive from under the wing of Stephen Walroud (salsipuedes) who is considered the grandfather for LA style salsa on cur.
I personally learnt Salsa from a fellow called Burton, our version of the "million moves man" that is Super Mario. Being one of LA Salsa pioneers of the 90s has the reputation of never repeating a move during a song. Many of today's dancers and teachers have passed through the classes of the dream-team mentioned above.
Curacao has a strong history of artists visiting, we’ve had Oscar D'Leon in the early years of his career, see concert from 2018 here and also having had LuisEnrique with an exceptional performance of his hit "Yo No Sé Mañana" together with the Salsa Giants at the Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival. More recently Juan Luis Guerra, Havana D’primera and Aymee Nuviola were at the 2019 edition of the festival.
Drink & Dance
Curacao’s dance scene can be described as simple and cheerful, most people really feel the music and have a strong musicality and enjoy the party as you’d enjoy any party really.
Technique is necessarily on the top of the list, the strong technique driven dancers have all done their stints in Europe and “structured” their dance.
What could lack in technique is made up for in the drink and dance vibe where a Salsa party is simply just a party and enjoyed as you’d enjoy any club of any other genre.
The reason I mention the “drink and dance” topic is because in the countries I’ve danced in (UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany) the salsa scene (while still a social gathering) is focused on technique and a sport lifestyle where a drink during dancing is almost a taboo.
For Salsa dancing check-out the Facebook group CuraVrijDancing
Other things to do on the island
Considering the distance to Curacao is quite lengthy for just Salsa, I want to leave you with a wider view of the island (in the hope you visit!).
The island has one of the Best beaches in the world, intimate beaches and the definition of relaxation can be found here.
The old town consisting of Punda and Otrobanda is a UNESCO World Heritage site, connected by one of the only working pontoon bridges in the world. It’s a great old town to soak up.
If you’re looking to soak up some history and knowledge, I suggest booking a Free Walking Tour with www.freewalkingtourscuracao.com, A great compact way to get an overview of the island’s history, economy, political landscape, buildings and some personal stories. See their reviews on Tripadvisor.
Nightlife and venues for drinks are every changing, but Wet & Wild beach club is always consistent on Sundays and then there’s Punda Vibes on Thursdays with live music, late shopping and simply a great environment