This past March the Salsa community was buzzing with the news of the first salsa festival in Cairo.

A two day jam packed weekend of workshops and parties with one of the world’s top salsa dancing couples, L’uis Vazquez and Melissa Fernandez who are originally from Los Angeles would be gracing our nation’s capital by coming all the way from Milan where they are currently instructing and residing.

 As the weekend of the 20th of March approached the level of anticipation and excitement could be sensed with in the Salsa Club Egypt Facebook group, messages of reminders and count downs from the creator of the group were sent regularly. Video clips of the star couple were viewed on ‘youtube’ to get an idea of what to expect when the renowned Latin dance performers otherwise known as ‘Mas Salsa Brava” came to share their techniques and moves with our enthusiastic, talented and eager community.

Wael Youssef along with many other active members of Salsa Club Egypt put a tremendous amount of time, effort and organization in to the planning of the event.

 Luis Vazquez started dancing in 1992 along side his brother Francisco. Luis co founded one of the first dance company’s in Los Angeles, which grew to become, one of the most well known dance companies in the world. When the company dissolved in 1994 Luis later partnered up with Melissa Fernandez and formed Mas Salsa Brava.

 Melissa Fernandez began dancing at a very young age. Towards the beginning of 1999 she began taking Salsa lessons. Six months later she auditioned to become a member of the Mas Salsa Brava dance team. Melissa’s years of training and passion for dance has lead her to become one of the most renowned salsa dancers around the globe.

Together this dynamic due who are equally passionate about dance wow crowds world wide with their creativity and dance stunts.

 At 10:30am on a chilly Friday morning in mid March the attendees came in their cars and parked their vehicles overlooking the Nile, to go aboard the Imperial boat in Zamalek for the first day of the Salsafest. Most were sporting comfortable clothes, dance shoes and coffees in hand ready to get started. The enthusiasm and energy could be felt when you got to the top level of the boat as people greeted each other and changed into their dancing shoes.

 At 11am Luis and Melissa took centre stage to kick off the first workshop “Advanced Partner Work”. They were just as excited to be in Cairo as we were to have them with us. “We are so excited and honored to be the first officially invited professionals to come to your amazing country and be to here with you. Said L’uis.

When the first dance combination was performed by the fabulous duo I’m almost certain quite a few people thought ‘Oh boy! What have we gotten ourselves into?’ However, their worries were soon put to rest when the instructors took us through the choreography one step and turn at a time. Their professionalism and sense of humor put everyone at ease and brought out the best in everyone.

 The Latin music that filled the hall got everyone in a dancing mood had them stepping and spinning in no time. Through out the work shop the dance instructors were not only helpful but they maintained a high level of energy and kept a positive attitude and were extremely enthusiastic, encouraging and patient with the attendees. “You being here is going to change Salsa in Egypt forever” Melissa said as she spoke in to the microphone. “What you learn here with us you will pass on to others and your community will grow.”

Along with their dazzling moves and techniques came words of dancing advice. “Ladies, when dancing let the man lead! Let him be the boss! We know that you run everything at home, so don’t back lead.” Was met with nods of approval from the men and giggles from the ladies.

 ‘The ladies Styling’ workshop with Melissa was impressive. Melissa shared her styling tips on turns, head rolls, hand movements, extensions and foot work with us and was adamant to turn us into dancing Diva’s before the session with her was over. The moves that she taught were sassy, savvy with a touch of class all of which added flavor to our moves. “Mama Seta’s, when you roll your shoulders back, really push them back to exaggerate the movement!” Melissa called out. “Ay! You’re all looking great!” While the ladies were being turned into diva’s the gentlemen had a workshop with L’uis who taught them some incredible foot work also known as ‘Pasito’s’. Their reviews of his workshop were nothing less than exceptional. “He is unbelievable” Hisham Naguib commented after his session. “His combinations and free styling are just great.”

 After two hours an hour lunch break was given. Some people welcomed the rest and made their way downstairs to the lower deck to have lunch and some social and mingling time with our guest instructors and other salsero’s and salsera’s while others remained on the top deck practicing the moves that they had learned.

 Following lunch two other workshops followed “Salsa on 2” and “Bachata” both given by Ehab and Laila, both members of Salsa Club Egypt. The language of instruction was in both English and Arabic. Ehab a well known figure in the Egyptian salsa community took the reins for the remainder of the workshops. He and his partner were superb in delivering the techniques and skills needed to learn the dances.

 After 6 hours of practicing the workshops came to an end for the day, but the fun wasn’t over. Later in the evening their would be a salsa night held on the Imperial boat and all were keen on attending to practice their newly learned moves and techniques and to watch Luis and Melissa set the dance floor on fire.

 The night was one to remember, the dance partners mesmerizes their spectators with their stylish moves, spins and stunts. Roars of applause and cheers echoed throughout the boat! Melissa and Luis didn’t stop their, they welcomed the opportunity to dance with their new students and fans, as well as encouraging them to dance with other people who had come to participate in the fun.  

 Saturday morning the dancers arrived exhausted and weary but their enthusiasm was still present. The second day of workshops started with “Salsa Int.1 /Partner work” with instructors Misho and Rasha from Salsa Club Egypt.

The second session was advanced Rueda, with instructor Bashar who flew in from Jordan especially for the event. Those that took part in the workshop said they had a lot of fun and enjoyed it very much and liked learning the new moves and techniques that Bashar had to teach.

 At lunch time some of the attendees reconvened in the restaurant downstairs downloading the videos that they took of the instructors on to their laptops and watched the skills and techniques again. Others introduced themselves and got acquainted with members of the salsa community and exchanged contact information.

 After lunch our international instructors had a some what difficult time trying to get those attending to exert what energy they had left out on to the dance floor. With their encouragement and boundless energy it rubbed off and everyone was in full swing.

As the workshops came to a close the dazzling duo spoke in to the microphone and thanked us for a wonderful time and expressed how much they enjoyed being in our hospitable country and hope to one day return again.

As people began packing their bags, saying their ‘see you later’ and ‘goodbyes’ I asked some of the attendees how they enjoyed their experience. This is what some of them had to share.

 “It was an experience to be able to interact with international instructors. It was very fruitful.” Rami Senady

 “It was very nice but I would have liked more workshops with Luis and Melissa” Mirette added.

 “It reminded me of the old days of Salsa in Cairo, six to seven years ago. We were a big community and we used to go out together during the day and not just at night’ said Mohamed Samir a talented dancer and photographer.

 “It’s a huge deal for these people to come here. As an advanced dancer at some point you reach where you’re dancing inside a box and you don’t have an outside source. So, for these people to come it’s a huge opportunity for us. Thank you Salsa Club Egypt for arranging this and I look forward to more events like this.” Sara (Pinky)

 “As a beginner I found this event very beneficial. I was introduced to new moves, leads and getting closer to the salsa community. It’s very important for us to be in touch with the Salsa community.” Hatem

If you are a veteran or a budding salsero/salsera don’t worry. You may have missed out on this event but there are two up coming events being planned. The first Salsa Congress is scheduled to take off in Cairo this coming October and another one some time in April. Keep you ears alert and your eyes open. Neither of these events should be missed!

 Check out both for Salsa events in Cairo ;