The Latin Dance Secret in St. VincentShana Jones October 11, 2016
What´s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says ¨St. Vincent¨? Sparkling (black sand) beaches, deliciously refreshing water sipped out of coconuts with the tops cut off, maybe even views of colourful houses dotting rising terrain in the countryside? How about tasty local dishes and bustling markets teeming with brightly hued fruits, vegetables, and flowers? Clearly.
You probably didn’t think of salsa music, or even bachata. I bet the spicy moves to the dances of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, etc. didn’t even cross your mind. Well, prepare to be surprised! St. Vincent does, in fact, have a growing Latin dance scene, and at the heart of it sits Latin Passion SVG, the island´s only established Latin dance school. What or who exactly is Latin Passion SVG, you ask?
Latin Passion SVG (LPSVG) is a non-profit dance school rooted in the collective vision of nine Latin dance enthusiasts who came together in 2013 with the desire to promote Latin dance in St. Vincent & and the Grenadines. Initially, they simply practiced together and attended local parties, but when chief instructor Anton Jardine returned from a regional conference in Trinidad with ¨…a vengeance…to elevate the standard of dancing¨ in St. Vincent, the passion was truly ignited. LPSVG started offering salsa classes to the public and then added to its program bachata and kizomba, a slower dance of African origin.
Fast forward to 3 years later, when LPSVG´s membership now exceeds 50 members who attend weekly classes organized around two levels (beginner and intermediate) and who practice not only salsa, bachata, and kizomba, but also merengue, the hustle (quick step), and (soon to be) the tango. Of course members need the chance to put these lessons into practice, and they get plenty of it at weekly Latin night parties! These parties are further spiced up by a faithful following of Cuban and Venezuelan natives who present their own unique version of these dances.
While partying on its own is enjoyable enough, LPSVG also offers members opportunities to develop as dancers and engage with Vincentian society. As a form of community outreach, the school provides workshops and 6-week sessions to businesses onsite and participates in events such as the 2015 Super J IGA and Save-a-Lot Carnival Burnout, where members of the public joined a free outdoor salsa class. Performances at the island´s annual Christmas Nine Mornings´ Festival and the school´s anniversary celebrations train members to dance for an audience, while this year’s first annual bachata competition pushed them to explore styles and moves beyond what is taught. The highlights of the event year, however, are conferences and weekend programs that expose members to foreign, more experienced dancers and international dance instructors. Salsa Fiesta in Trinidad & Tobago features an action-packed weekend full of workshops on various dances (plus parties of course!!) and recently, LPSVG hosted its Trinidad-based sister school, Latin Passion Trinidad & Tobago (LPTT), for a similar weekend of events, including sessions and performances by international dance instructors Frederic Phillipy and Christine Mongin of Martinique.
Are you surprised yet? I certainly was! Learning to dance salsa was near the top of my bucket list, so joining the LPSVG family was a no-brainer for me. I’ve definitely gotten way more out of it than I bargained for! So, here is my invitation to all who are looking to learn to dance, join a great group of dancers, or simply get your Latin fix while passing through St. Vincent on vacation: come check us out! Come shake a leg with us and be swept away in the irresistible rhythms of Latin music!