zouk congress

What's considered a good Bachata Festival? by Kyle Mikami

I believe there are many factors needed to create a good Bachata Festival.  As a dancer, former performer, and now videographer - I have been to many festivals both good and bad.  I will give you my opinion as to what constitutes a good Bachata Festival.

First and foremost, a festival must invest in a good production - whether it be big or small.  This means they need to have a suitable location, sound system, floors to dance on, stage, lighting, photo/video coverage, and a TEAM.  Having a really loud speaker does not mean it's a good sound system.  Having a number of speakers that are balanced well with the bass and that you can feel while dancing is the more important.

The most successful festivals I've been to have a team of individuals that are all vested in the congress and have specific duties or roles.  They oversee and manage different operations of the festival.  The delegate jobs and deal with problems throughout the weekend.  If a festival is done right, you should see the promoter(s) relaxing and enjoying the event as it unfolds since they have planned for months in advance.

With so many different styles of bachata in today's world- it makes sense to cater to different styles.  These styles include dominican, urban, and sensual.  I'm not a purist and don't like getting in heated debates about the different "styles" or labels of bachata.  Let's just say there are different styles which means the promoter needs to cater to those dancers that dance those styles.

This means, the promoter needs to book DJs and artists that dance these different styles.  Organizers need to look outside of their state or country for these styles.  Going to a local festival only to see everyone that you already know and danced with last Friday night is not fun.  You want a dominican-style bachatero? Book someone from the Dominican Republic who has that style, or perhaps someone that was born there but now lives elsewhere.  Want bachata sensual?  Sure, just look at the long list of dancers from Spain. 

In order to have a good bachata congress, I believe you need to have a good location, great music, and awesome artists.  These three things along with a team of well-liked organizers will attract a variety of dancers from all over.  This in turn will create a great setting for social dancing, shows, and workshops.  I would like to emphasize the DJs.  I believe having good music is truly the most important.  Even if the location sucks but the music is on point- I can still enjoy myself.  Viceversa- no way.

Bachata is alive and strong in California.  Let's keep it going by bringing in top talent and creating an environment that fosters celebration and growth of bachata.  If you're a dancer or performer, be aware of how festivals are run,  pay attention to details, and don't spend money on a festival that doesn't invest in a good production.

This is my most recent edit of a bachata congress in the Los Angeles area - the 2016 LA BKS Festival hosted by DJ Kenny.