The PhillySalsa Fest 2014 Fri, Oct 24, 2014. A last minute decision to attend the Philly SalsaFest by a few DC Salseros and suddenly, we are on the road with a mission to get some dances with some pros and any of the hidden, heretofore unknown good dancers who may lay in wait. Listening to some Spotify random station playing anything but Salsa in the background, we spent the entire time talking about nothing BUT Salsa. Nothing but a bunch of hardcore Mambo Nuts in the car talking sh*t- I love it!
Road trips depend on the good will and humor of the collective group and when successful, the group bonds together based on the experience and develops new friendships. I’ve actually attended prior Philly Salsa Fests on separate occasions with two in our group- Brandon and Valerie- and each experience bonded me with them forever. I had never really hung out with David or Jorge although we have had good dance connections on the dance floor. During this trip, I’m pleased to say that our crew definitely bonded and now I have 2 new friends to KiKi with about Salsa- David and Jorge!
We arrive just in time for the shows and secure our seats to watch the performances with the main goal of seeing what dancers to target for our social dancing ambitions later in the evening. The shows were not terminally long thankfully and included a mix of salsa, bachata, modern dance funk, and one zouk number. Since its Friday night, there are alot of the local philly acts on the ticket with 2 featured internationally known pros closing out the show. Overall, I would give the shows a B to B-. Honestly, no performance really jumped out at me but nothing made me want to commit Hirakiri either so I guess you say it was pleasant viewing experience.
The social dancing included two Ballrooms– one mostly Salsa focused and the other mainly Bachata. While most of my time was spent in the Salsa Ballroom, I did check out the Bachata Ballroom twice, it was busy, packed and people were jamming out. The Salsa Ballroom had an ebb and flow. Sometimes it was happening, other times, it decidedly wasn’t happening. People in Philly love their Bachata so I suspect that many of the Salseros also wanted to get in their Bachata time and that is why the Salsa Ballroom would occasionally empty out at times. The Floor was medium speed.
The music was decent to good, especially when the DJs played. Some of the songs were of the 5 Alarm Fire speed variety but enough flava bangers was spun in between the musical car chases that I was mollified. My boy, DC Renzo, was part of the DJ lineup and he definitely did his part to deliver the discriminating quality music I favor. The Band actually played reasonable length songs, a plus. But I wasn’t pleased with the song selections. Although the songs were well-played and had a good sound AND a good singer, the selections were very pedestrian and commercial with 4 Bachatas and, SHUDDER- a Merengue. Disappointing.
The main targets on my crew’s desirable dance card were the Pros and high level performers and they were out pretty early and appeared in a pleasant mood amenable for dancing with anybody. In other words, they weren’t huddle en masse in Pro Mob Groups impenetrable and intimidating- just the way I like them! Me and my crew definitely tried to take advantage of this and fanned out aggressively to get our trophy dances with the stars. Most of my dances were pretty good- challenging coupled with a good connection. I got a dance with my Salsa Crush, Rasove from Yamulee. It was GLORIOUS! I judge that he gave me a medium level challenging dance- not simple stuff reserved for beginner types but also he didn’t wail on me like he was confidant I could take a real beating. He also actually SMILED AT ME a couple times during the dance- I creamed in my pants! Definitely a nice guy and it was my best dance of the night and I won’t ever NEVER forget it!. The one Pro I missed out on 2 great opportunities to get a dance with was Junior from LA. He looked to be in good dancing spirits and was right within my scope and reach. Unfortunately, the 2 songs played when I could have gotten him were around 130bpms- NO BUENO. Although I observed him to not be too CRAZY with his signature moves or multiple spins with the regular dancers he danced with, he still had WAY too much energy for this Kid (ME). So I lost out. Next time, Junior, Next time.
The rest of my dances were mainly with some of performers I stalked and of course, my Philly, Richmond, and DC dance friends in the house. I also danced with a few beginner types and those were pleasant enough since they did at least keep the beat, which is a minimum requirement for me to enjoy a dance. After conferring with my trip mates about the night, the general assessment was that Philly Salsa Fest was well worth the trip since we all got a good amount of GOOD dances with good DANCERS.
The only OFF NOTE of the night was after we left the PhillyFest in search of food before driving back at 4am. We went to Dennys across the street to fill our Bellies. But unfortunately, we got the waitress from Hell. Either she was a newbie to the job of waitress or she was just woefully incompetent. As she was fumbling about taking our order, someone from another table gestured to her to get doggy bags when she was done with us. This heifer broke her order taking from us to DEAL WITH THEM, telling us that we needed to wait because that was a Big Table over there. WHAT, CRACKHEAD?! This was the first bad sign and we should have walked out right then and there. When she finally came back to finish taking our order, we relaxed and begun KiKi-ing about our night. 20 minutes later, we realize that we hadn’t yet received the drinks for our table, not to mention any food. We convey our annoyance to our waitress and ask for an ETA on our Food and insist on our drinks NOW. 10 minutes later, we get our drinks and still no food. I began to suggest to the group that we walk out and go somewhere else but no one wants to leave at this point because we are hungry and we are hopeful that our time invested at that table SO FAR will yield food SOON. 30 MORE minutes later, still no food. We finally agree to walk out. I go to the register to tell the cashier we are severely dissatisfied with the customer service and the NOT SO SMALL FACT that we still haven’t received our food after waiting an hour. We demand our bill so can pay for our drinks and leave. A patron at another table hears me and yells out, “We should have left too”. The cashier area is right in front of the open kitchen area and we can see our SUB PAR waitress in all of her sloven glory chilling by a stove with NO FOOD COOKING ON IT. When the cashier throws a questioning look at the waitress and she doesn’t respond, the cashier tell us that the drinks are on the house.
Leaving angry in a huff and still hungry, we jump on the highway and find the nearest 24hr McDonalds. We go through the drive thru and place our order without incident. While waiting for our order at the 2nd window for more than 10 minutes (NOT AGAIN), the trucker behind us starts honking the horn AT US as if WE ARE THE REASON FOR THE DELAY?! We are patiently waiting for our food and I guess he thinks we are at fault for WAITING PATIENTLY FOR THE FOOD WE ORDERED. Based on our previous experience, maybe he was RIGHT because We just aren’t having ANY LUCK with purchasing food in a timely manner tonight. The trucker is so enraged that he gets out of the line and drives around to the front of the McDonalds to park and walk in to complain. We see him through the window gesticulating angrily at US as if WE are the reason we aren’t receiving our Food that WE ALREADY PAID FOR?! But you know what? Because that old Trucker Coot put in his complaint, our food magically appeared suddenly. Old Crazy man actually assisted in getting us fed- MUCH RESPECT even though he was still being a major Arse.
All in all, a memorable Good Night with Good Friends and Good Dancers at a Good Salsa Event.