The cruise ship left the bustling Port of Miami on a week-long cruise through the sparkling waters of Miami Beach and into the Atlantic Ocean and throughout the Eastern Caribbean. With a glorious sun setting behind us we sailed through Government Cut with the passengers in total amazement to see the beautiful homes and apartments that appeared from the port and starboard sides of the ship revealing just some of the treasures of Miami Beach.
There was excitement among the passengers – young and old – new and seasoned travelers – an adventure was about to happen. Little did I know that this ship would hold an experience for me and my family that would be unforgettable for years to come. After a delightful dinner it was time to see what activities the ship had in store for me. That is when I heard the compelling music that made my heart race and my feet start to move…right toward the outside dance floor. There I found myself among the most amazing Salsa music and dancers that I had ever seen.
Mind you, I love to dance, but the rhythm of the Salsa was not a step that I had mastered so you can imagine my awe struck look when I saw some of the most magnificent dancers twirling around the dance floor. That made me want to know more …. and that is how the International Salsa Festival came to Miami Beach. This was in 2000. I met with Rene Gueits, Albert Torres and Edie better known as “The Salsa Freak” and opened the door to a “deal they could not refuse” – if they qualified, seed money to create a venue in Miami Beach during the summer months to help facilitate a Miami Beach Salsa event. Working with the amazing Executive Staff of the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA), an application was filed and the rest is history. We now have a world class annual Miami Salsa Congress on Miami Beach during the month of August.
The Congress started with an idea and has grown to one of the largest Salsa Congress’ in the United States and internationally with participants coming to Miami Beach from around the world. It had a humble beginning with only a weekend of local and some international dancers. Now the event takes place over five “dance filled” days attracting participants and viewers from around the world – places like France, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, Italy, Finland, Australia, Canada, Peru, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, not to mention all those who come from our own United States – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, to name a few. Participants and viewers “dance” away talking not only about the event, but looking forward to returning to Miami Beach the next year to dance and partake in all that our wonderful city holds and offers. National and international press cover the event and so Miami Beach is highlighted throughout the world, reaching millions of viewers who can see how much our wonderful city has to offer.
This is truly an example of the MBVCA’s marvelous accomplishments – helping venues like the Miami Salsa Congress on Miami Beach, as well as the many other grant applicants, succeed and bring world class events to our sandy shores.
I am proud to be a part of this wonderful Board and look forward to another successful year of fun-filled and exciting events brought to Miami Beach, the Sun and Fun Capital of the World, through the dedicated work of our members and staff.
I wish you all a very Healthy and Happy New Year.