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Salsa Instructor








Cover Story: Al & Niya LaVoz goes inside with Atlanta’s hottest salsa duo to discuss their rapid rise as salsa instructors and performers! by Johnny Johnson


Featured Promoter: Ade Kongi Atlanta’s Premiere Salsa Promoter chats with LaVoz about the Hotlanta Congress! by Johnny Johnson



Featured Instructor Yadira Navarro-Potter “Epitomizes Dance” by Ursula Fitzpatrick


Surrounding Areas “Southern Salsa” with John Morey by Ursula Fitzpatrick




The Salsa Calendar Find out where the hottest events are!


On The Come Up Checkout the scene’s rising stars!


The Party Scene Pics of ATL Salsa Celebs!



Mambo Profiles Ju Ha of Proyecto Barrio & Travis Duggins of Revolu Dance Company




Congress Reviews Windy City National Steppers Congress & The Houston Salsa Congress 2011

A Note from the Publisher Being a part of the salsa culture for nearly 10 years has taught me a thing or two and I’d like to share a few of these lessons as a part of my editorial.

FALL 2011 Publisher Johnny Johnson Art Director Fang Liao Senior Writer Ursula Fitzpatrick

1. People are people… so set your expectations accordingly. 2. The term “friend” can be overused and undervalued. 3. If you don’t love the art, you will never survive the drama. 4. There is no such thing as accomplishment without struggle. You may be wondering how these lessons apply to the salsa world. Well, if you remain involved in the culture for an extended time, I am certain you will experience at least one, if not all, of these lessons.

Contributing Artists Travis Duggins

More importantly, I believe if we accepted our positive and negative experiences on the salsa scene as life’s lessons, we might be willing to stick around a little bit longer than the next person.

Contributing Writers Sue Rushford Adriana Aparicio

There is no such thing as accomplishment without struggle

Ten years on the salsa scene has provided me with a journey filled with numerous trials and tribulations. The great times have allowed me to express my love for this dance through numerous avenues, such as releasing my own magazine, despite have absolutely no schooling or work experience to do so. Additionally, some of my most important lessons have come directly from my experiences with various salsa based projects. I believe all of my past lessons have better prepared me for this moment and this relaunch project. I can most certainly say that I know how to lose a lot of money producing magazines. I also know how to select the wrong cover story for a magazine project. Lastly, I am very familiar with over committing to the unforeseeable future as it pertains to producing magazines. As a result of these experiences, I honestly believe that I am a wiser magazine publisher, better equipped for success! I believe we should all examine situations in our life that we consider to be failures. Extract life’s valuable lessons from them, while we continue to push towards our goals. With that said, I hope you enjoy reading this relaunch issue as much I enjoyed publishing it! Sincerely, Johnny R. Johnson LaVoz Mag - Publisher

There are no failures, only lessons to be learned -Oprah Winfrey Johnny Johnson (center) with students after teaching salsa workshops in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Photo courtesy of Dance For Life


Yadira Navarro-Potter Epitomizes Dance

Written by Ursula Fitzpatrick

With grace, style, knowledge and passion, Yadira is making quite a splash on the Atlanta Salsa scene! Yadira was immersed in the Salsa culture as a child in Miami, FL but didn’t actually partake in the ‘forbidden dance’ until she was older. Though the seed was planted, she didn’t begin to nurture it until her college years where she began taking L.A. style salsa classes from the Corazon Dancers. Her admiration for the dance intensified as she auditioned for a spot in the Corazon Dancers troupe. She was accepted and earned the coveted opportunity to perform in the LA Salsa Congress. Yadira currently holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and an Associate’s degree in Musical Theatre, where her musicality took root. She describes musicality as “what separates a dancer that just does turn patterns from a dancer who listens and enjoys the music, while incorporating that feeling into their dancing.” Yadira’s list of credits range from taking jazz, ballet, tap and contemporary classes during her time at FSU to learning West Coast Swing, Shag, Lindy Hop and Argentine Tango while living in North Carolina. With a body of work this vast, becoming a Salsa instructor was imminent. Photo courtesy of Knuckle Prints

“I love teaching because it is very rewarding to see the happiness it brings to people and the results of all their hard work” 4 LaVoz Fall 2011

Photo courtesy of Knuckle Prints

However, Yadira didn’t take becoming an instructor lightly. She patiently honed her craft and increased her confidence prior to undertaking the teaching of others. She believes there are certain character traits a student must possess to be a successful Salsa dancer. Of those traits, patience, dedication and perseverance rank highest on the list, with passion for the dance and music closely following.

Ana Masacote. The training she’s received in West Coast Swing and Argentine Tango also taught her a lot about dance technique and has influenced her salsa dancing tremendously.

Specific to salsa dancing, Yadira believes a student must learn proper lead/follow technique as well as a good spin technique in order to become a great dancer.

Although Jimmy Rumba, Mike Arana, Al Germaine, David Troesch, Dan Wilson, Travis Duggins, Vince Emanuele, and Ruben Gonzalez are just a few of Yadira’s favorite salsa leads; you may catch Yadira admiring some of her favorite local follows from the sideline. These follows include: Randi Pearson, Elizabeth Oswald, Marissa Kessler, Katalina Figueroa, Joby Brava, and Niya Patel.

Although she teaches L.A Style Salsa On1, Yadira also has an affinity for New York Style Salsa On2. “I think what I enjoy most about it is that I feel like I have more time to feel the music. I feel that it is a bit slower than LA Style salsa so I can move my body to the music more.”

“I really enjoy dancing with my students because it is great to see them practice what they’ve been learning.”

Yadira credits her salsa influence to several instructors such as Darlin Garcia, Magna Gopal, Jimmy Rumba, Melissa Rosado, and Joel & 5


John “Salseroblanko” Morey of Huntsville, AL

Southern Salsa When you think of Salsa Dancing, Alabama is not usually the first place that comes to mind. That is, until John Morey introduced his southern city of Huntsville to the spicy, Latin dance craze.

LaVoz Magazine caught up with Mr. Morey, the founder of SALSALABAMA to discuss how he merged his growing passion of Salsa Dancing to a town known more for its Southern Hospitality than a Caliente’ nightlife. Mr. Morey’s salsa adventure can be traced back to a nightclub in Addison, TX where a dance routine prompted him to take his first lesson in March of 2000. At the encouragement of his friends, he decided to become an instructor and has been guiding the swaying hips of Salsa novices ever since. John’s instruction has left an impact on

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bY Ursula Fitzpatrick

several U.S. cities. He began teaching in Rockford, IL and has since taught in South Carolina, Atlanta, and of course, Huntsville, AL. One of his proudest achievements has been initiating the Salsa scene in Greensville, SC which is still functional to date. Another awe inspiring accolade came in 2004 in the form of performing at the West Coast Salsa Congress in Los Angeles. Prior to his moving to Huntsville, AL in August of 2007, Salsa sets were limited at best. Aside from The University of Alabama’s Salsa group, there were no popular dance venues within miles. Many would travel to neighboring cities of Nashville or Atlanta to satisfy their Salsa cravings. It was out of this necessity that John Morey created a Salsa scene in Huntsville. He describes the initial experience of creating a Salsa base as extremely difficult

and requiring tons of patience. “Unlike other much bigger cities, Huntsville has a small pool of people to draw from which makes creating a salsa scene a bit more challenging. Every small town is different so the challenges are different, but the common factor is the availability of people. The larger the population, the greater your chances are of having students available to help create a salsa scene for all to enjoy,” he professes. Nevertheless, Huntsville has three major hurdles: •

There are military people and government workers that travel frequently, thus creating a void during Salsa nights. Huntsville is a very family oriented town, which means there aren’t as many singles as you may find in other cities. There are not enough Salsa addicts!

John recruited famed Salsa experts, Juan Calderon and Christina Piedra from Cultural Explosion in New Jersey as the highlighted Salsa Professionals for 2010’s SALSALABAMA JAM. There were approximately 200 people in attendance from not only Huntsville, but Nashville, Birmingham, Florida, Jacksonville, Mississippi and other surrounding areas.

Feedback from the event gave glowing reviews of the organization, timeliness, and courteous staff members. Mr. Morey is eagerly anticipating the SALSALABAMA JAM for this year (October 22-23, 2011) citing, “The SALSALABAMA JAM 2011 is going to be bigger and better this year! We are moving to the Von Braun

Center which is the premier venue for large scale events in Huntsville! We are very excited about the growth of our event.” For more information on this phenomenal event and to read more about John Morey, visit Written by Ursula Fitzpatrick, 2011



Hosted by Proyecto Barrio Dance Company 2620 Buford Highway Atlanta, Ga Free Salsa Lesson from 8:30-9:30 p.m 9:30 p.m. - Party Starts

$3 Beers $4 Mixed Drinks General Admission: $15 Student Admission: $10

3rd Saturday


Hosted by Jimmy Rumba DAZA DANCE 721 Miami Circle Atlanta, GA 30324

Free Salsa Lesson from 8:30-9:30p General Admission: $12

2nd Friday

Salseros Night Out Muse For Life 205 Hilderbrand Drive Atlanta, GA Hosted by Proyecto Barrio Dance Company and Dan Wilson

FREE NY Style Salsa Classes from 8:30pm - 9:30pm $10 General Admission $7 Student Admission

3rd Friday

Fernbank Museum 767 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 Hosted by Salsambo Latin Dance & Entertainment FROM 6:30pm to 12:00am

Cost $7 (includes 8pm lesson) Food & drinks available for purchase 7



Salsa Performer

Salsa Photographer

Salsa Performer




Salsa Instructor

Salsa Performer

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Full Name: Katalina Isabel Age: 28 Favorite Teacher: Gordon Neil Favorite Social: Ritmos Del Barrio


Full Name: Jessica Sheridan Age: 25 Favorite Teacher: Joby Brava Favorite Social: Ritmos Del Barrio


Full Name: Andre Mitchell Age: 47 Favorite Teacher: Danella Dutton Favorite Social: The Jam


Full Name: Marissa Kessler Age: 26 Favorite Teacher: Sekou McMiller Favorite Social: The Jam


Full Name: Connie Lee Age: 29 Favorite Teacher: Jose Maldonado Favorite Social: Jimmy Anton Social




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Photos courtesy of Andre Mitchell 11


Age: 31 Ethnicity: Korean Hometown: Atlanta, GA Performing with: Proyecto Barrio Dance Company Most Influential: Ahtoy (BailaSociety) & Karel (Yamulee) Years Dancing: 6 Occupation: Senior Financial Analyst Claim to fame: Reliability – If I say I’ll do something, I’ll get it done even if it kills me. Favorite Quote: “Live today like it’s your second chance.” Social Network Link:

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Photo courtesy of Knuckle Prints


Age: 28 ETHNICITY: mexican/african-american Hometown: Norfolk, VA Performing with: Revolu Dance Theater Company Most Influential: Gordon Neil & Trina Marie Bordere Years Dancing: 3 Occupation: Graphic Designer & Illustrator Claim to fame: Good music!

Favorite Quote: “Who said fruit cup?....Pick it up!”


ON THE COVER Niya Patel Allen Germaine 14 LaVoz Fall 2011

14 LaVoz Fall 2011

Photos courtesy of Jessica Sheridan

An Interview with Al and Niya! By Johnny Johnson

Al and Niya are known throughout Atlanta as some of the most prominent Salsa performers, instructors and promoters on the scene. They are an integral part of why Atlanta is quickly developing a Salsa scene to be reckoned with. Although I have been exposed to their dance talent for some time, it was not until I watched a recent performance by their student team that I was 100% sure that they were my cover story for this project. I was extremely impressed with their ability to turn good Salsa dancers into great Salsa performers! After all, it’s one thing to be a great dancer; it’s another to be able to bring greatness out of someone else. LaVoz: For people who may be unfamiliar with you, can you talk about how you got into Salsa? Al. I was a club dancer when I was in college, so around 2003 I started hanging out in Latin clubs but I did not find out about the Salsa social scene until about 2007 when I took Niya on a date to a social. At the time, I thought it was a friend’s birthday party (which it was) but it was also Sheila’s salsa social. Niya was already trained Classically in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical and African dance but she liked salsa and wanted to get better at it. Guys were doing a bunch of shines and turn patterns that I had never been exposed to. I had only seen a basic cross body lead and some basic turns. So that was when we decided that we would come up together. The first 8 months we took some classes and watched a lot of YouTube clips before we began training seriously. After we won a competition in 2008 at La Rumba, we started taking privates with Gordon Neil. LaVoz: So when did you make your debut performance? Al. We were performing at different festivals around the city in January 2009 and we performed a hip-hop salsa routine at Shelia’s social with another couple. LaVoz: I believe I saw you guys for the first time in 2009. You were already pretty good despite having such little training time. What do you credit this too? Al. At the time, our training with Gordon had a lot to do with it as well as having a background in dance to reference. We were playing to our strength which was Hip-Hop and we were performing choreographies that were within our ability. Also, Niya’s background in Classical really helped her Salsa technique develop really fast.

Niya. In the summer of 2009 we performed our “My Favorite Things “ choreography which consisted of all of our favorite things, namely; Salsa, Jazz, Hip-Hop and Latin. I think Al stepped out of his box for this routine. Then in January 2010 we performed “Mayeya” which was our most difficult routine at the time. I think this routine really pushed us because it contained a lot of difficult material. LaVoz: Niya, what advice would you offer to ladies trying to learn Salsa? Niya. Well I think it is very important to find a good instructor and a good person to look up to, since that person will have an influence on your style. Although we took privates with Gordon, I took privates with Randi and that really stepped my Salsa technique up. She didn’t show me any styling, she just spoke to me and that really opened up my mind. For my personal development, this experience helped me a lot. As far as general advice, I think it is important to find the right person to study with and look up to before developing your own style. LaVoz: I believe you guys made a statement that you are here with your performance to Clara’s Lament by Gilberto Colon. This is definitely my favorite routine right now. Can you talk about the growth of your style from “My Favorite Things” to “Clara’s Lament?” Al: We try to make every routine different. In 2009, we would not have been capable of performing that piece, let alone choreographing it. With every routine we want to be innovative. With Clara’s Lament we wanted to make a statement that “we are here.” We wanted a piece with a ridiculous amount of spins, crazy turn patterns, performed to a crazy fast song. We wanted to show off our sharpness and bring our group to the forefront and I believe we accomplished that. 15

Niya: As far as the influence for that piece, we would watch a lot of Yamulee and Santo Rico videos before Al and I would go into the studio to put together choreography; so there was definitely an influence by those companies. LaVoz: Well I believe what sets you apart on the scene is the imprint you are having through your dancers. Your influence can only be so big when it’s just you and your partner, but when you can teach and influence others, you can create a scene. Ironically your influence exceeds ATL, can you talk about the things you’ll are doing in Columbus, GA? Al: I went to middle school and high school in Columbus, so I wanted to give back. There are three places that have a Salsa night so I thought it would be cool to teach people how to do Salsa. Columbus is a Military city, so there are a lot of people there who are used to dancing. We used to travel there every Monday and do classes and a party. We wouldn’t leave Columbus until 1am in the morning to come back to Atlanta. It was killing me because I had to be back at work in Atlanta at 8am. So we had to switch to a bi-monthly workshop schedule. Niya. We still get a lot of great feedback from our students out

there and a lot of them travel to Atlanta regularly for socials. LaVoz: I am always intrigued by instructors that can push a dancer to another level. In a short time you have developed some great performers. Can you talk about that process? Al: Well, the first thing that I would like to point out is that we are not done training. Every time we bring someone to Atlanta, we train. Every time we travel to a Congress, we train. So we are still learning and by no means do we think we have mastered the craft of dancing salsa. We still take classes and privates with a lot of our idols and we try to pass that knowledge onto our dancers. Another thing that contributes to our performers is the fact that we take privates using our choreography with world renowned performers and we pass that feedback onto our dancers as well. A lot of our dancers are with us three days a week, so they put a lot of work in. No one joins our company thinking it’s going to be an easy ride. Niya: Also, we spend a lot of time training our dancers and making ourselves and our studio available to them. We offer a different private rate for our dancers so that they can spend more time training at an affordable rate.

“With Clara’s Lament we wanted to make a statement that we are here!”

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CONGRESS REVIEWS The 1st Annual Windy City National Steppers By Sue Rushford

The 1st Annual Windy City National Steppers Congress, which also included Salsa, Bop, Line Dancing, and other related dances, was held on Thursday, June 30 through Monday, July 3 at the University of Illinois Forum on Roosevelt & Halsted. Jerome Montgomery Jr, CEO of Collaborative Dance Entertainment went ‘no holds barred’ in producing this event. Modeled after a Salsa Congress, it was extremely well organized. The venue was absolutely perfect. The main room, which hosted the evening concerts, the dance performances, and the main Steppin ballroom, did not require changing of chairs. The three upstairs workshop rooms transformed into a House music room with some big name local DJs at night. And the three ground floor workshop rooms became one Salsa room with our top local DJs and guest DJ Renzo (Lorenzo Haire) from DC.


Jerome spared nothing with top-notch talent in both the entertainment and instruction. There were live performances by Chante Moore, The Stylistics, Ray, Goodman & Brown, Anthony David, Terisa Griffin, Larry Harlow, Menique, Angel Melendez y Tributo a la voz. Sam Chapman, well-known in the Chicago Steppers scene, emceed a few of the nights. There were some diverse and amazing performances including a solo House dance by Boogie McClarin, and performances by many of the instructors. There was a VIP room with hot dinners

& drinks for the instructors, performers, volunteers, and VIP ticket-holders and a shuttle to bring people from the Crown Plaza to the U of I Forum. There were several vendors including Burju shoes. Proceeds from the event went to the Coalition for the Homeless, where, as Jerome pointed out to us each night, the average age is nine and disproportionally over 90% African American.


Salsa, Bachata, and Pachanga instructors included Sekou McMiller, Candy Mena, Gordon Neil & Julissa Cruz, Joel & Ana Masacote, Carlos Cinta, and Adrian Tenorio. Nino DiGiulio of “May I Have this Dance” taught Hustle and West Coast Swing. And there were Zumba, Beachbody, and other fitness instructors to help us get our workout on. Steppin, Bop, Walking, and Line Dancing instructors were Dre Blackwell, Lady Margaret, Kenny Amorio, Lou, Tina Melendrez, DJ Snoop, Dave Maxx, Tyk man, Annet Austin, Willie Casper Perry, Vinson Williams, the Detroit Boppers, and the Cultural Bop Society of St. Louis.

Parties on the Steppers scene on Saturday that may have contributed to the lack of participation. Additionally, many dancers may not have been interested in a mixed dance style event. However, Jerome is optimistic and already has dates set for next year. I really wish him the best because it was a fabulous event and promises only to be better next year.

Modeled after a Salsa Congress, it was extremely well organized. The venue was absolutely perfect.


Everything was in place - all that was missing were more people! The positive vibe truly made up for the dismal turnout. There was lots of speculation on how Jerome could improve marketing for next year. A lot of people did not have the information or the funds. There was a local dance studio that held a Salsa social on Friday and three White 17

Houston Salsa Congress 2011... The Aftermath On January 13-16, 2011, Houston, Texas became the city of choice for many Salseros.  Some just drove a few miles to the Sheraton Houston Brookhollow Hotel, while many others hopped on a plane and experienced Houston for the first time.  Houston Salsa Dancers (HSD), Inc., the non-profit organization that hosts this yearly event was ready to prove that salsa music and dancing has become a way of life for many in Texas.  In collaboration with Albert Torres, this event has grown and keeps growing every year since its inception in the year 2000. 


The Houston Salsa Congress, a four day event, in conjunction with the Texas Salsa Open, began Thursday night at the Melody Club.  All of the headliners were there to enjoy the company of dancers, relax and get settled into our city.  Even the musicians of The New Swing Sextet were there to meet and greet the fans they would be playing for the following night.  Troy Anthony emceed and got the crowd to relax and laugh throughout the night.  The preliminaries for the Texas Salsa Open were held Thursday night as well as our local groups taking the stage in between the competition and results. The rest of the night was dedicated to dancing and mingling with the newly arrived super stars.  The excitement was left on the dance floor as many danced to the tunes hand-picked by the DJ’s that know their Salsa music.  Our very own, DJ Edwin “Gonzo” Gonzalez along with DJ Corwin from Utah, DJ Lobo from Los Angeles and DJ Hector from Houston took turns all weekend to keep us all moving to the rhythms of Salsa, Cha Cha and Bachata.


Friday night was simply magical.  All the “Stars” aligned just right on this night. The performance line up was full of mixed dance genres from Salsa/Mambo to Cabaret, Samba, and Hustle.  These couples/groups came from all parts of the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada to entertain and engage us with their talent and intricate choreographies.  The HSD Inc. Board also took the time to recognize three individuals that have impacted the

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Houston Salsa community by giving back to the dance community, especially our youth, and by helping promote Houston as a growing salsa entity.  Those recognized were Andy Cruz from Chicago as Honorary Community Dancer, Michael Gonzales as Community Dancer and Marco Ruiz as Community Leader/Texas Salsa Ambassador.


After the shows and award recognitions, the time had come.  The highly anticipated, Grammy nominated The New Swing Sextet was scheduled to play many of our favorite tunes.  One by one, each musician was introduced by Albert Torres.  Each reached their instrument and started playing until the full band was on stage giving the crowd the gift of music.  We all fell in love all over again with The NSS, and as it turns out, they also fell in love with Houston.  I couldn’t decide whether to dance or just watch them.  It was so beautiful to see Joel Masacote at some point take over the piano and start playing with the band.  Later on Victor and Burju, Ana Masacote, Alejandro De Armas and others lead footwork as the band played. The dancing continued and we did not want it to end but it was past 3am and there was still Saturday and Sunday to come.


Saturday started with workshops that went from 9am to 4pm. Each hour, three different instructors filled the rooms with many followers with cameras in hand ready to learn.  Vendors were also available throughout the day and night for those that wanted to shop for shoes, make-up, T-shirts and more. At any Congress, Saturday night’s line ups are the most energizing, intricate, jaw-dropping performances of the weekend.  This night was no different.  The most memorable for me were Alma Latina Dance Co. from San Diego, BMB from New York, David Zepeda & Paulina Posadas from Mexico, Hacha y Machete from Boston, Majesty in Motion from San Diego, Masacote from Boston, Saltimambo from Canada, Sin City Salseros from Las Vegas and United Salsa “Xango”

Dance Co.  These were just a few of the 30 performances scheduled that night. Of course everyone has their favorites, and there was something for everybody to enjoy. This night is also a special one for HSD Inc. as this is the night the scholarships are awarded to students enrolled in a higher education institution.  Three highly deserving students were recognized for their academic achievements as well as their commitment to community service.  The deadline each year is November 1st, and all information can be found on


The last day had come with a bit of sadness.  But there was not much time to think about the end because there was still a full schedule of workshops, Texas Salsa Open Competition Finals, Sunday night performances AND last but not least....the beloved social dancing ahead.  Again, many groups and couples left their talent imprinted on many of our memories.  Many of us can only wish to dance like them and respect their dedication and hard work that is brought to the stage.  The party was supposed to end at 3am but we could not get enough and ended up shutting down at 4am instead. 


Thank you to the performers, musicians, DJs, locals and those from out of town that came to our Congress and blessed us with your talent.  Thank you to all that came to support our Congress as it simply keeps getting BIGGER and BETTER!  We hope to see you all on January 12-15, 2012. Written by Adriana Aparicio aka TXSalsera

Hotlanta Salsa Promoter Ade Kongi Although his journey with Salsa dancing started in London, Salsa Promoter Ade Kongi is quickly making his mark in the US as an up and coming promoter and business owner. LaVoz Magazine recently sat down with Ade Kongi to talk about his journey in promotions, business and dance. by Johnny Johnson 19


Q. Can you talk about your introduction to the Salsa dance scene? Ade. When I lived in London, I followed my brother to a Salsa club and I danced to a couple of Merengue songs. However, after watching some Salsa dancers, I really wanted to learn. My brother started me out and I eventually began taking classes with Super Mario and Leon Rose. Q. So what brought you to the Atlanta area from London? Ade. I moved from London to the States because I received a job opportunity with a consulting firm. I spent some time in Minnesota before moving to Atlanta but I didn’t really do any salsa while I lived in Minnesota. Q. You are known for being out and about on the Atlanta club scene. Where are some of your favorite Salsa clubs? Ade. Although I hang out on the club scene, I do enjoy Salsa socials as well, but I don’t hang out at socials as much as I used to. As far as clubs, I like Tongue and Groove because it’s been around for some time and I’m used to it. I also like Fernbank because you get such a diverse crowd there.

Q. Last year you stepped out as the promoter of the Hotlanta Salsa Congress. What prompted this move? Ade. I thought about producing a Salsa event for a long time but I left it alone because Shelia and Gordon were already producing events in Atlanta. However, when I started my shoeline, Salsa Footsie, I started doing a lot of Congresses and at that time there wasn’t anything going on in Atlanta, so I decided to revisit those initial thoughts. I began talking to Choco, promoter of the NYC Salsa Congress, who I met through my brother. I eventually approached Choco about partnering with me on the event. I didn’t know a lot about doing Congresses, but I knew Choco knew his way around. So we agreed to go for it. Q. Based on my experience at the 1st Annual Hotlanta Salsa Congress, it appeared to be a success. How would you rate it? Ade. For the first event, I was very pleased with the attendance and the way things turned out. We received a lot of great feedback so I would rate it a success! Q. In hindsight what do you believe were the keys to the success of your first Congress? Ade. I think preparation and partnering with someone that had a lot of experience producing a successful Congress had a lot to do with the success of that event. Truthfully, I had no idea how much work was necessary to produce a Congress. It’s a ton of work! But I had a really good team behind me and we put all the pieces together. Lastly, you have to be prepared to promote your event relentlessly, which is what we did year round. I can’t say enough about the importance of

promoting. Q. What was the most challenging or interesting moment you experienced producing the Congress? Ade. Well for me, the uncertainty of not knowing the outcome was interesting. Not knowing if people were going to come out was a tough feeling to deal with. We had a few glitches but I didn’t expect everything to go perfectly. We had issues with the lighting in the main room and the sound system in our second room. We had to get a back-up system from one of the local DJs at the last minute. So there were definitely some interesting experiences but nothing too serious. Q. You briefly mentioned your shoeline, “Salsa Footsie” can you talk about how you got into the business of selling ladies dance shoes? Ade. Well many people don’t know that I had a dance school for nearly 5 years and most of my students were women. Many of them would ask me where they could purchase dance shoes. I generally sent them searching online but after a while I decided this could be a good niche market for me to get into. So I did my research on the industry, made some important contacts and got into the business of selling ladies dance shoes. Salsa Footsie has been around for about 3 years now and we have a really good customer base. Currently we are revamping the line a bit and we will be introducing some new designs soon.

“I was very pleased with the attendance and the way things turned out. We received a lot of great feedback so I would rate it a success!”

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Featured Artwork by Travis Duggins

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LaVoz Atlanta  

lavoz magazine is the underground voice of the salsa mambo dance community. This issue showcases the ATL salsa scene.