Bali’s ONLY International Salsa Fiesta
Sun, pools and salsa mixed into one tropical experience.
It’s late March so not many tourists around as I fly into Denpasar (Ngurah Rai Airport), but it another sweltering hot day (I think there is a trend here to have festivals in the hot summer period to get us to wear less clothes). I didn’t see any public transport options at the airport, they have a flat rate to Kuta for 50,000 RP. If you walk out of the airport grounds to the main way you can get a metered taxi which should be slightly cheaper.
The home of the festival was the Grand Istana Rama hotel in Kuta, here is where you will find all the workshops and parties that are part of the festival apart from Sunday where the festival moves to Ubud, more on that later.
In the future I would not purchase the package of accommodation and festival, we had major issues with this venue. That being that the room was a twin share accommodation yet we were supplied with only 1 key to the room, which required extra organisation to ensure people could get in and out of our own rooms. Rooms them selves were nothing spectacular considering the price.
Talking on price the festival ticket was a combo ticket for $580 AUD pp twin share, the rooms for the Grand Istana Rama were listed at $100/night twin share so $50per person. Which to me leaves a big discrepancy on the costs, which goes along with being told by locals they had a different price to us.
This festival was significantly smaller than most other festivals I’ve attended, and registration was a smooth and quick process due to lack of overwhelming crowds, supplied with a wristband that was kept on for the weekend, hotel checkin was also your standard fare.
Workshops was a reasonable mix of international stars and local talent, there were 2 rooms hosting workshops for the weekend and neither was overly well cooled and considering the hot weather outside it made the rooms a little sauna’ish at times, good thing there was a pool just outside to jump into. Wee Tze Yi and of course the Australian contingent of Elysia, Christian, James and Sonia from Spin Dance made for some great workshops but unfortunately not alot of variety available.
From both a performers and spectators perspective this was run extremely badly, first the stage they put for us to perform on was rickety and had nails and splinters sticking out of it to the point that most people performed down on the dance floor, and the floor quality changed dramatically between tech and final performances, during tech it was a bit sticky, when it came time to perform the floor had been glossed over or similar and was now extremely slippery.
When watching the show most of the room was in almost complete darkness with a big yellow spot light running over the dancers, illuminating different sections of the floor, this worked ok with solo performances and individual couples, but it didn’t work at all with any of the team shows.
Social dancing at the parties ran from the end of the performances till around 3am, they had a extra party on the Friday night where people went clubbing in the city which I didn’t attend but from all accounts was a fun night.
Given the smaller crowd at the festival you began to get to know your dancers a bit more as the weekend progressed which is great for the social side of dancing as it allows you get familiar after dancing together a few times.
Room was the same as used in the workshops and the evening didn’t help cool it down at all, with social dancing happening it was well and truly and sauna, sweat dripping from the moment you entered the dance floor. It was a single room encompassing Salsa, Bachata, Zouk, Cha Cha with a good mix by the DJ’s playing a lot of our regular favourites.
The pre party was hosted at the bar outside the hotel which initially worked well, but the floor couldn’t of been much bigger than 10 * 10m so alot of knocks and bumps were in the giving and taking.
Sunday was an odd day all round, and something I don’t full understand hence I’m assigning its own section. At 11am we boarded buses for Ubud which is where we were to stay on Sunday night, travel time should of taken an hour, but between loading busses and a 2 hour lunch stop we didn’t arrive at Ubud till almost 3pm where we had a few hours free time prior to dinner and social dancing.
Accommodation here was my in opinion was yet another step down from the Grand Istana Rama in Kuta, having stayed in Ubud prior to the festival I know there are a lot of cheap and quality places to stay. So unsure why we were located so far outside Ubud that we needed a taxi to get to the town itself, which made it even harder to spend the little free time available. I spent it getting a massage in Ubud and it was then straight back to the hotel to get ready for the evenings dinner.
I can’t really recommend this festival, the social dancing was good but you would get the same in any major city 100-200 people in attendance, the issue with the pricing of the festival considering they appear to have separate pricing for internationals and locals and lack of anything resembling cooling for something running in the summer months.