Public Option for Salsa: Baila Miami

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On March 1, the first Sunday of this month, at 5:00 pm, I was one of a handful of happy people in Maurice Ferré Park next to the Perez Museum taking a salsa lesson taught by Andres Fernandez, the Executive Vice President at Salsa Kings, one of Miami’s fine salsa schools. As the cruise ships were turning toward sea, Andres was on the mic, telling dance devotees to walk 1, 2, 3, pause – 5, 6, 7, pause. And with this, Miami’s most gorgeous public salsa option began. I asked Andres to send me some info on how this all began, and he led me this way.

Baila Miami is a non-profit organization meant to provide free dance classes and socials to the people of Miami to promote and enhance interpersonal relationships through the music we love most! The founder, Miguel Quintero, has a vision of uniting all of the Miami Latin dance academies to work together to help spread the love and awareness of the overwhelming joy dance brings to us all.

Starting with free salsa classes at the Tina Hills pavilion in Bayfront Park over a year ago, it has since moved to the Palm Tree Terrace waterfront location in Maurice A. Ferré Park known as BayWalk. It has also become an amazing outdoor social that the Miami Latin dance community has quickly fallen in love with! Truth. It will get bigger.

Public dancing is a beautiful thing. Lincoln Road runs Open Air Tango #onLincoln every 4th Wednesday. The rest of the world has done it for a while. Here are some examples:

A few years ago, in Vancouver, British Columbia, my daughter introduced me to Sunday Afternoon Salsa at Robson Square, an annual series of FREE outdoor salsa dances held in downtown Vancouver since 2006 during the summer months of July and August. The Summer 2019 season runs for eight Sundays and has been organized by Jennifer and Stephen Dancey of D2 Dance Studio, whose thoughtful rules have been adopted and modified by the good people at SalsaCraze at UM.

In Berlin, where I have family, public dancing is a nightly thing. In front of the backdrop of Museum Island in Monbijoupark, the amphitheatre of Strandbad Mitte regularly organizes open air dancing evenings. Tango takes place on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The remaining evening sees the crowd dancing ChaCha, Waltz, Salsa or Swing, depending of course, on the weather.

Last year, my wife and I flew from Miami to Dallas, then to Sydney, and on to Brisbane in the longest flight time of my young life. We left on Wednesday, arrived Friday morning, walked around all day and then went to Latin Friday Nights Brisbane where Rafael Agudelo presides over big crowds every Friday evening at 7:30. It’s a beautiful thing, y’all, seeing salsa dancers from Fiji and New Caledonia.

As the sun set on Bayside’s waterfront, more and more people from the Miami Latin dance academies that Miguel Quintero mentioned came, including some SalsaCraze crazies, Salsa Kings people, Salsa-Fina folks, Salsa Obsession members, Casino D’Primera dancers, and many others with whom I’m unfamiliar. It would be nice if all the dance clans spoke the same language and people from different schools would dance with one another, and maybe this will facilitate some of that; this is what I think Miguel Quintero and Andres Fernandez would like to see.

Anyone can stay up to date with the happenings of BayWalk by following on social media (@BailaMiami) or subscribing to their text list simply by sending the word BAILA to 69922.

Expect an afternoon/evening of learning and dance as the sun sets over our beautiful city all while meeting new people and having fun! BAILA MIAMI!!!


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