The Rise of Latin Dancing in SVG

14 Mar
The Rise of Latin Dancing in SVG

Like many great things in life, they start with a dream… or they happen purely by accident… or worst case scenario it starts with a hobby, then a passion, then something beyond your wildest dreams.

That pretty much sums up what Latin dancing has evolved into in the tiny multi-island state of St. Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG). Known in many circles as one of the Caribbean’s best kept secret for its undiscovered natural beauty by many. Latin Dancing is its most recent, secret and it’s becoming very hard to keep!

A lot of the current generation of dancers don’t know this, but the seed for Latin dancing was planted about 60 Years ago and it is certainly bearing much fruit today. We are unaware if it started with a dream, but it certainly started with a passion for dancing that runs deep in every Caribbean Citizen.

In the 1950’s a group of Vincentians returned home after working at the Oil refineries in the Netherlands Antilles. During their time over there they got their first taste of Latin Music and the dancing that accompanied it, in particular Merengue. They were amazed by the movements and loved it so much, they brought back home some merengue records to introduce the music to the island.

Live bands loved the sound of the instruments and began playing the Latin Rhythms at parties even remixing popular songs with the Latin background. There were no structured classes at the time, but the pioneers remembered the steps and movement they saw and soon enough everyone could dance merengue.

Over time Mambo and Cha-cha rhythms were introduced and that was the beginning. Eventually, the bands died down and the regular sounds of Latin Music faded away. Many years would pass before there was another boost to Latin dancing and this was led by a Jamaican Duo Richard & Romania Beadle in the early 2000’s.

Richard was a dance instructor & DJ at Salsa Jamaica and the couple restarted the engine by doing free Merengue and Salsa classes each week followed by an after party. It captured the imagination of dozens of Local Vincentians as well as a few Cubans & Venezuelans who were living on the island. These parties / workshops were hosted by Kimya Glasgow who has a passion for Latin Dance.

It wasn’t smooth sailing. Management changes with the venue meant they had to move and restart elsewhere.  Over the next few years, they would continue to search not only for a location, but also for a local cadre of committed dancers – and in 2009, fate would of lead them to conduct a four week workshop with the Leo Club of St. Vincent. It so happens that Cuthbert Tucker and I were members at the time and that’s where I received my first taste of Latin Dancing.

It appears we got bitten by the Latin bug, and after the workshop was closed we were hungry for more. Even though they had to change venue and restart again, we followed them like a loyal puppy even though each venue shift meant restarting from the basics… again… and again…

Latin Parties were rare, perhaps once or twice a year (Yes you read that correctly! Can you imagine the torture?!); but this was considered the norm back in my early days.

It was not until Kimya was invited to host a weekly Latin Night at a popular night club and invited Richard & Romania to host a workshop followed by an after party, that we had our weekly party fix. Unfortunately, the instructors became more heavily involved in church Ministry and had started a family and could no longer continue the workshops. It was then I was thrown into the deep end and took up teaching the workshops.

Over time the venue closed and again the island was without a Latin dance scene. However, Kimya never stopped searching for a home for Latin Dancing. Latin parties were on and off as Kimya restarted weekly Latin nights at different bars around the city.

During that period, seems like fate would have struck me twice as I accidentally met Carol Boissiere who told me about Salsa Fiesta TnT; before Carol, I never really knew what style of Salsa I was teaching… heck, I didn’t even know there were other styles of Salsa. But I figured I’ve been dancing for so long now, I’m sure I will be able to handle myself in the outside world. So in May 2013, I ventured to TnT with another student to see what Carols’ hype was about.

My world of Latin Dancing suddenly became microscopic! After recovering from my initial shock at the quality and standard of Latin dancing in TnT, I staggered back home with a new Passion and energy to lift the Latin Dancing Standard in SVG.

With the current group of dedicated dancers and with the support and encouragement of Cuthbert, Latin Passion SVG (LPSVG) was born on September 5th 2013. The team worked hard in tweaking the techniques they knew with the assistance of Lina Doyle a visiting Dancer from the UK.

Armed with this Passion to improve the quality of Latin Dance here, LPSVG had its first member recruitment in Feb 2014 that shot past our expectations. It was then we discovered the hidden passion Vincentians had for Latin dancing. A Syllabus, dance etiquette enforced, and professional training was the foundation of the group and Vincentians now had structured progressive Latin dance classes to go to.

Today, we are not only capable of dancing Merengue, we can dance Salsa (On 1 and On 2), Bachata, Kizomba and Latin hustle competently on any Latin Dance Floor in the World.

The Latin Parties look closer to what one will expect of a typical Latin Party. Every week there is a guaranteed Latin party with regular overseas dancers visiting and a variety of music on par with any International Latin Party.

Part of the growth has been attributed to LPSVG hosting three (3) other clubs during it’s two (2) year life span for Latin Fiesta weekends. So far we have hosted clubs from St. Lucia and TnT. Latin music was introduced to the island for a reason, perhaps we are all being witnesses to the reason right now. Who knows, but one thing is certain, once we can walk, we are going to dance!

Leave a Reply