I'm Michael Yip

With 20+ years in the video and photography industry, I've been engaged to cover quite a number of historical events that happened across the Asian region in the recent years. From the 1st Formula 1 race in Malaysia to the SEA Games in Laos and Olympics in Australia. Since 2010, based out of Kuala Lumpur, my team and I have been engaged to cover a number of corporate clients and notable individuals as well as festivals in the Asian region. To get in touch with us to use our service, Just head over to the contact section and drop me a message.

Through ABOOD PLT., my team and I also provides Event Production as well as Procurement services. Our core team has a combined 30+ years of experience in the event industry organizing festivals and corporate functions as well as corporate training services. We also have a team that has a strong network in the business world that enabled us to provide procurement services to various businesses looking for specific items or services. To reach out to us, you can drop me a message via the floating button at the bottom right or write in to us at info@mikeyip.com or aboodmediamy@gmail.com

If you are stumped by the photo, yes, I dance as well, mainly Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, West Coast Swing and Argentine Tango. I have since stopped performing due to injuries but if you are looking for performers for corporate events/functions/parties/festivals. Do drop me a message as well as I manages some of the dance teams that is currently making the rounds performing for various clients.

Kolej Bandar Utama/Central St. Martin

Diploma in Arts and Design

Kolej Damansara Utama

Diploma in Telecommunication Engineering

SMK Damansara Utama


Photographer/Video Producer


Abood PLT

Procurement Services and Event Management

Digital Marketing Solutions

Abood Media Sdn Bhd

My Skills
Photography and Video Production
Brand Management and Solutions
Public Relations
Digital Marketing Solutions


Confirmed Bookings for 2018


Confirmed Destinations for 2018


Confirmed Dance Festivals for 2018


Talks Confirmed for 2018


Photography and Video Production

As our core business, this is what we are good at, capturing visuals that brings out the best for your brand.

Procurement Services and Event Management

Through Abood PLT, we specializes in helping brands in 2 big ways, providing a customized procurement solutions for their business needs. We also tailor make events for organizations from corporate training to roadshows and tournaments.

Social Media Marketing

Abood Media Sdn Bhd's core strenght in Digital Marketing Services focuses on Social Media Management and promotions.

Web Design

We also design and revamp websites as part of Abood Media Sdn Bhd's services.

Live Event Streaming Production

As part of a new offering from MIKE YIP STUDIO and partners, we also provides Live Streaming services for Events through dedicated sites or onto social media platforms.


We pride ourselves at being good and efficient in what we do and we always try our best to deliver services that exceeds our client's expectations.

I also blogs
Showing posts with label Dance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dance. Show all posts

Performance Videos : ALFA : Afro-Latin Fest Asia 2017

The performance videos are up! Do take note that these are not the official videos as these are recorded off my little camera. The performances are from Saturday and Sunday night for your enjoyment. If you are looking for the photos, it's here.

1. Ronie, Stefanie, Hannah & Florian Urban Kizz Demo.

2. Zoukeros Prime aka JXT Zouk Team.

3. KL Son Project.



6. Alex Bryan & Karen Lacey.

That's all the videos from Saturday night. Below are the videos from Sunday night.

1. Jaxen Tan & Sara Lim.

2. Cuban Salsa Indonesia.

3. Alex Bryan & Karen Lacey.

4. Hannah Melder.

5. Helio Santos.

Hope you like all the performances that was featured and we'll see you at the next festival.

Photos : ALFA : Afro-Latin Fest Asia 2017

For friends that's been waiting for the photos from ALFA. Wait no more, you can check out the galleries below. The 3 days 4 nights of dancing doesn't seem sufficient as there's just so much to learn and I didn't want the instructors to stop teaching. But all good things must come to an end so until the next one, we'll just have to hold the urge back or pursue the education elsewhere until the next festival comes around.

Workshops (Day 1 - Day 3)

Party Day 1 : White Denim Night

Party Day 2 : 50 Shades Darker Night

Party Day 3 : Corsets & Suspenders Night

Party Day 4 : Red & White

That's all the party we've experienced over the past 3 days and 4 nights. I'm disappointed because it isn't a longer festival but then we won't be able to look forward to ALFA 2.0 in 2018! Yup, save the date now ALFA is going to be back next year!

For Festival organizers, if you would like me to cover your event like what I did for ALFA, do drop me a mail at info @ mikeyip.com or via Facebook Message.

Simple Kizomba Social Dance

Just a simple Kizomba social dance (not choreographed at all) at a 36 hours Kizz Social that started from 31st December 2016 and ended on the 2nd of January 2017.

Photos and more videos from the event will be posted up at the usual channels soon.

2017 Dance Events & Festivals in Malaysia

For friends visiting Malaysia and planning to participate in dance festivals or events happening in the country, this list is for you. This might not be a complete list as I can only update it based on the events that my friends in the dance community is promoting and might missed out on those outside of the circile of friends I'm involved with.

If you would like to have your event list in here, do email me at zique76 [at] hotmail.com with the relevant information and I'll update this list. This list DOES NOT INCLUDE Workshops as there's just too many being organized and a lot of them are announced within weeks of the workshop itself.


10th Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival 2017
Date: March 9th - March 12th
Venue: Kuala Lumpur Dancer's Association
Details: http://tangomalaysiafestival.com/pages/registration.html


ALFA : Afro-Latin Fest Asia 2017
Date: April 28th - May 1st
Venue: Kuala Lumpur Dancer's Association
Contact: https://www.facebook.com/events/1169169643148931/
Details: http://alfa-asia.net/


Zouk SEA 2017
Date: July 20th - 24th
Venue: Pacific Regency Hotel Suites, KL
Contact: jaxen@rhythm-id.com
Details: www.zouksea.weebly.com

ALIA : Afro-Latin Invasion Asia 2017
Date: July 27th - 31sh
Venue: Beringgis Beach Resort, Kota Kinabalu
Contact: info@aliafestival.com
Details: aliafestival.com


Outcast Dance Show 2017
Date: August 12th
Venue: KL Performing Arts Center (KLPAC)
Contact: https://www.facebook.com/events/1154134324712358/
Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1154134324712358/

Sibu International Dance Festival 2017
Date: August 28th - September 2nd
Venue: Sibu, Sarawak
Contact: info@sidfestival.com
Details: http://sidfestival.com/


Salsa-Lah 2017
Date: September 15th - 17th
Venue: The Royale Bintang @ The Curve, Mutiara Damansara
Contact: https://www.facebook.com/events/241303083005543/
Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/241303083005543/


World Bachata Festival 2017
Date: November 10th - 12th
Venue: Bentley Auditorium, Mutiara Damansara
Contact: Liitha Krishnan - 0162203237
Details: https://www.facebook.com/BachataMalaysia/

2017 World Open Championship - Professional Latin
Date: November 25th
Venue: Spic Convention Center, Penang
Contact: http://www.mda.com.my
Details: http://www.mda.com.my

Festivals around Asia.

Hanoi International Latin Festival ( Hanoi Vietnam)
31st March - 2nd April 2017

Thailand International Latin Festival (Bangkok Thailand)
7 - 9 April 2017

Singapore Bachata Weekend (Singapore)
19 - 21 May 2017

Colors of Latin Dance : Latin Dance Congress Bangkok 2017 (Bangkok)
21 - 25 June 2017

Salsa Jeju Island (South Korea)
14 - 16 July 2017

Singapore Latin Extravaganza (Singapore)
24 - 27 August 2017

Latin Dance Madras (Chennai India)
22 - 24 Sept 2017

Osaka Latin Dance Festival (Osaka Japan)
22 - 25 Sept 2017

Salsa Bangkok (Bangkok Thailand)
3 - 5 Nov 2017

I hope this list do come in useful for you and if organizer(s) would like to engage me to cover your event(s), do drop me an email at info@mikeyip.com and we can work out some arrangement.

The 2018 Listing is open so organizers in Malaysia, if you wish to have your event included in the list, please drop me an email. For dance photography, 2018 calendar is ready for booking as well.

West Coast Swing and Lindy Social Venues in Korea - updated December 2016

A friend of mine asked me to help compile this list as a reference for Westies traveling to Korea. As West Coast Swing is growing and gaining a foothold in Asian countries, more and more venues are beginning to open up for social dance and Korea is no different. In fact, if you know of any venues that is also having Lindy socials as well, do let me know and I'll update this list.

If there's any changes that I do not know about, do let me know by dropping a comment below as I'm not a Korean based in Korea, I can only rely on fellow travelers help in making sure this list is up to date.


WesTurn Swing
162-5 Donggyo-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
Time: 9pm onwards


Hong BarB1 Unbok B/D 52, World Cup Buk-Ro 1-gil, Mapo-Gu, Seoul, Korea
Time: 9pm onwards

*I heard that there is a social here on Tuesdays but need verification. Its all in Korean!


WesTurn Swing
162-5 Donggyo-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
Time: 9pm onwards

Westie Korea
43 Teheran-ro 10-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
Time: 9pm Onwards


Sky Weko WCS
43 Teheran-ro 10-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea

*Need help to confirm as it's all in korean


All Star WCS
49, World Cup buk-ro 6-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Time: 9pm onwards


Westie Korea
43 Teheran-ro 10-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
Time: 7:30pm Onwards


Westie Korea
43 Teheran-ro 10-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
Time: 7:30pm Onwards

Again, if I missed out on any of the venues or if there's more venues to check out in Korea, do let me know and I'll update the list accordingly, especially for venues outside of Seoul.

Some people you can get confirmation with before your trip to Korea (Seoul) are:

1. All Star West Coast Swing Korea (Richard & Nam-lim)
2. Westie Korea (Sungjae Byun & Heejung Jung)
3. WesTurn Swing (JungEun Youn)
4. Swing Land
5. Sky Weko WCS

Have fun, have a safe trip and keep dancing.


It's been a week since the Masquerade Ball was done, for those who missed the Rhythm Identity's 10th Anniversary Celebration and wish to watch the show, here's the complete playlist with all the 13 routines + play.

For those looking for the entire 34min video of the musical play, look no further as it's finally up. Sorry if the video quality is not up to par as we uses various devices to record, from mobile phones to cheap video cameras to dSLR. So there is bound to be a variety of video quality. If you'd like to see better quality videos in the next performance and want to sponsor some cameras to me, just drop me an email at zique76 [at] hotmail.com. (Worth a try, right?)

Enjoy and do share the post so others could watch it too.

Photos : Masquerade Ball - 10th Anniversary Concerto

The last 1 month has been hectic as everyone was performing and doing their own shows elsewhere and only managed to get together for a mad 3 weeks rehearsal before putting on the big show to celebrate Rhythm Identity's 10th Anniversary concert. Themed as the Masquerade Ball - 10th Anniversary Concerto, the concert went on with great success and aside from the performance videos, I've also captured some photos from the event. 

Will try to get the videos out as soon as I could, so do check back to this site more often as I don't have a fix time when I post up the next post due to my schedule.

Videos: World Bachata Festival 2016

The World Bachata Festival is over, you've seen the photos, here's the videos I've recorded over the course of the festival. I'll update this post over the course of the days as I upload the videos bit by bit. For a start, here's a highlight of the event. Just a simple video, didn't do any color correction and all, just simple compilation.

For those looking for performance videos, will be uploading those and I'll update this post accordingly.

Photos : World Bachata Festival 2016

The World Bachata Festival 2016 has come and gone, an intense 4 nights of performances and social dance and 2 days of intense workshops by international instructors. Below are the albums to all the photos for all the parties and the workshops.

Made a lot of new friends, renew friendship with the old ones and danced til my shoes need to be replaced. I guess for a dancer, that's a good enough proof that we danced hard through the night when the shoes finally need to be replaced.

The workshops was also fantastic, with each workshops filling to the brim as participants made full use of their time at the festival to absorb as much as they can from all the instructors. Even helping out at some of the workshops helped me grow as a dancer, whether I can remember the moves I executed at the festival is another matter. Anyway, I'm sure you'd prefer to see photos more than reading me talk about my time at the festival. Here's the photos from the Pre-Party all the way to the Mexicana night.

Pre-Party Night

Workshops (Both Day 1 and 2 are in 1 album)

Dressy Casual Night

Black & Red Night

Mexicana Night

That's all for the photos, the next post is the videos of the performances and a little montage from the whole event. If you'd like me to cover your dance festival, drop me a message.

Photos: MURFEST2016

The MURFEST 2016 has come and gone, over 3 days of activities of Yoga, Fitness, Music and Dance roll into 1 venue, I would say has helped me reset myself. I didn't go for any of the yoga activities (too slow and peaceful for me), but just the fact that I can catch up with some friends, reconnect with some of the activities (didn't expect to do a lot of dancing which I did by the end of the event) and finding myself again by talking to some of the attendees. It was quite... enlightening.

When Azzy asked me to check out the event, that was the last thing that I really thought of, in my head, aside from the dance bits, I thought that I'd be bored by the end of the 1st hour after I get there but I have to say, I was wrong and glad that I'm wrong about it. I didn't snap as much photos as some friends expected but these are what I've captured at the event.

Amar Singh of Dance Blaze Academy also did a few workshops at the event and since I was there, recorded the practice videos to share so here they are.

Thanks to some of the people I met there, the good hours of chats that is pretty fantastic, some pretty frank discussion about what's happening around us and what we can do or isn't doing enough to reset the energy to make our life better. There's no judgement and no ridiculing but a lot of great acceptance. Next one? Maybe? We'll see how it goes...

10 Tips for Newbies in Dancing

Over the years, growing as a social dancer in the local salsa scene in Malaysia, I see the same thing happening on a regular basis with beginners. Maybe when I started dancing all those years back, I was a bit more gung-ho and charge head on into the dance community that I don't realize it myself but in recent years, by sitting back and watching people dance, it's a different scene.

Beginners are just not coming out to dance enough and those that does, just huddle together like lost sheep hiding in a corner, watching others dance. So maybe this 10 tips can help the beginners grow as dancers. At the end of the day, fellow dancers on the dance floors can only guide you so far, to grow, it's all on you.

1. Dance more - There's plenty of social nights to attend on a weekly basis in Malaysia. I've even compiled a list so you know where to go. No excuse to say you don't know where to go to dance. There's also a list for events you can attend, what better way to dance more and know more people from the region. For a person to grow as a dancer, you need to come out and dance more, the more you dance, the more you can practice what you learn at the studio.

2. Dance often - Coming out to social parties is one thing, putting on your dance shoes and dance is another, dance as much as you can. Don't shy away when invited to dance. After all, practice makes perfect. Worry that the partner might perform moves you have not learn? Let the partner know what you have learn. There's nothing to be shy about by saying you've only had 1 lesson or 2. By knowing what level you are at, the partner would then know not to do certain moves you don't know.

3. Don't be shy - Seriously, don't be shy, if no one is asking you to dance, do it yourself. By shying away, you will end up not getting any dance for the night. Doesn't matter if all you know is just the basic mambo, social dancing is to enjoy yourself through the music. Dance more and you will start to grow. I know that's how I grow, I started attending socials from the 1st week of class and grab as many dance as I could even though I only know the basic steps and cross body leads.

4. Dance with as many people as you can - Try to make it a point each time you go social to dance with as many people as you can. One good thing about social dances is there are plenty of leads and followers around with all skill level. Why not dance with them so you can experience the different level and style that each dancers have? Scared? Start small then, make it a point to dance with at least 10 different partners and grow the number from there.

5. Apply what you learn - In class, instructors teaches you combinations, from the first day of class, you would have already started to pick up the basic combinations. Not sure what to do on the dance floor at social? Use what you learn in class. Even if it's just Basic x 2 - CBL - Left Turn - Right Turn. That's good enough to last you through the songs. It is not how many tricks you know, but how much you enjoy the song and dance that will affect how your partner feels.

6. Talk to fellow dancers - It's a social night. When you're taking a break from dancing, talk to other dancers that is also resting as well. The community is small, what better way to make friends and learn than to talk to one another. If you see a dancer pulling off a trick or move you like, talk to the dancer and find out how it is done. I still do that even now, we never stop learning and the dance community loves to share to help one another grow. You don't ask, you won't receive. It's as simple as that.

7. Communicate, don't complain! - It's a common whispers I hear on the dance floor, dancers complain because they don't enjoy dancing with this person or that person. Why not turn that around, stop complaining and start communicating. Even seasoned dancers want to improve, I know I do. Dance is a never ending lesson, we learn new things each time we hit the dance floor. A lead's move is confusing? Don't know what to do when you are guided into a particular move? Ask and you shall receive. I've learn over the years which dancers prefer to do shines, who loves combinations and tricks, and who prefers a firm lead or soft lead. And this can only be conveyed across when there's communication. After all, we are here to grow together as a community, not alienate one another because you don't like the way a person dance.

8. Listen to the music - It's not easy to hear latin songs in our local airwaves since it's not part of the language we uses. It's also hard to find any songs at the Record stores too but don't let that stop you, ask your friends in the community, get some songs from them, listen and let yourself immerse into the music. Spotify has an extensive list as well, not sure where to start? Here's my salsa playlist. Listen to the rhythm of the dance and you will start to enjoy the breaks and the nounces in the music.

9. Don't Stare at your Feet! - Your dance partner is in front of you, not at your feet. Beginners start to make mistakes when dancing by staring at the feet. Look  up, look at the partner, have a conversation and before you know it, you are dancing and completing the song without much errors. You experience the dance by feeling it, not looking. It's also a great way to build your confidence in trusting yourself and your partner.

10. Relax and HAVE FUN! - The most important thing to remember. It's a social, not a competition. Dancing is meant to be fun, not something to get worked up about. Dancing is meant to help lower your blood pressure, not raise it, so don’t stress! Smile, enjoy the dance and be happy!

Well, that's what I personally learnt as a dancer even though I'm still a long way from being good. But that doesn't stop me from enjoying myself and have fun. If you think there's more tips that new dancers can learn from, add on to the list by commenting below and I'll add them in.

MURFEST 2016 Press Launch

Attended the Press Launch of the MURFEST 2016 at MATIC in Jalan Ampang yesterday to support my friends that'll be conducting workshops during the event on the 4th to the 6th of November at MATIC itself. This is the 3rd annual event that was held with an amazing line-up of world class instructors, market place and performers. 30+ instructors, 80 workshops and 100 exhibitions over 3 days. That's pretty impressive and as a dance event organizer, I can tell you that it is not easy as well to coordinate all these things together for the Malaysian Urban Retreat Festival.

From what I gather at the launch, the festivals ticket options are:

  • 1 Day Escape Pass - RM160
  • 2 Day Explore Pass (Saturday & Sunday) - RM275
  • Full Experience (3 Days) - RM35

For the yogis out there, there will also be a Yoga certification course by senior instructors from USA and Australia but the price is separate. Will update this when I gather more info on it.

There'll also be a GLO KL Dance Fitness Party with Master Trainers from Cuba and local favorites. Yup, it's going to be a fitness dance party with plenty of Zumba and Salsation throughout the night. Grab the pass now as it's RM50 and I think the price will go up when you buy at the door.

Some of the other highlights include Wellness Workshops with Yoga activities including the crowd favorite FlyYoga and an interesting one for the mothers out there as Ninie Ahmad is going to teach some movements for those who still want to practice yoga while pregnant and after delivery. Yup, I'm as surprised as the person next to me when she told me that.

Those who is interested to learn how to dance, There'll be a workshop on Cuban Rumba as well as Zumba and the upcoming favorite, Salsation, all these conducted by some friends of mine so if I'm not in Bangkok for the Salsa festival, you will find me mostly at this workshops. Mishie Hoop is also back with some hoopography which is pretty interesting, she tried to teach some of us after the Press Launch and I have to say, it looks easy but it isn't, especially, well, for me at least. Pimbal and Lilica will also be teaching Capoeira for those of you who's into dance/martial art combinations.

There's also some workshops for healthy eating and movement meditation from quite a few well known speakers along with Jojo Struys. For those into music, there'll be workshops by musicians from USA, Iran as well as Malaysia. One to look out for is the Gong Therapy session by Reiki master, Anne Fong Braillard.

There's quite a long list to go on and there's also the market place. Presenters and various organizations will have their booth step up throughout the 3 days presenting some interesting products for sale. This area's open to public throughout the festival so unlike the workshops and GLO KL, this is FREE!

Can't recall much aside from these from the Press Launch as I spending more time catching up with friends that I've not met up with in months during the launch. You can check out http://www.murfest.com for more info.  Especially since I know I left out a lot of information.

World Bachata Festival 2010

This is sort of a throwback album to the very 1st World Bachata Festival held in Kuala Lumpur. At that time, the festival was held at La Bomba in Bukit Bintang. Here's the album for you to browse through.

Album at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.708476265958403&type=1&l=6c66d47299

Improvised Argentine Tango Performance

Bad screen capture, click the video below for the actual video.
Did this routine some time back, improvising an Argentine Tango performance for a small group of students at Rhythm Identity with Sylvia Yeoh. The music is one of my favorite Bajofondo's tune: Zitarossa

The History of Kizomba

One of the dances I recently picked up is Kizomba, an interesting Angolan dance that has some element of Tango in it. Unlike semba, kizomba music is characterized by a slower and usually very romantic rhythm.

Kizomba music was born in late-1970s Africa. On this basis, kizomba music emerged as a more modern music genre with a sensual touch mixed with African rhythm. Unlike Semba, Kizomba music is characterised by a slower and usually very romantic rhythm. Most kizomba songs are sung in Portuguese.

Today, Cape Verdean singers and producers have gained a wide popularity with many famous kizomba compilations, including singers such as Suzanna Lubrano, Kaysha, Atim, Nilton Ramalho,Johnny Ramos, Nelson Freitas, Mika Mendes, Cedric Cavaco, Elji, Looney Johnson, Klazzik, Mark G, To Semedo, Klaudio Ramos, M&N Pro, Gilson, and one of the greats in the Cape Verdean culture Gil. Original influential music styles from Cape Verde are funana, morna, coladeira and batuque.

Thanks to the French Antilles compas music and the strong influence of semba (from Angola), Cape Verdean singers have developed significantly Kizomba and zouk (mixing it with coladeira) known as cabo love or cola-dance. Moreover, every lusophone country has developed its own Kizomba music flavour.

Kizomba is an evolution of the traditional dances of Angola semba and Cape Verde Passada however, it is evident that kizomba dance as we know it today evolved after the vogue of kizomba music. Since the 1950s, Angolan people used to dance semba. In the 1990s, when the actual kizomba music got more and more popular, Angolan semba dancers started to adapt their semba steps according to the tempo and flavour of the Kizomba beats.

Some of the Festivals in which Kizomba plays a big part include Afrofever, Africadancar, Budapest Kizomba Connection, Batuke!, Estonia Tallinn Salsa Congress, Austria Vienna Sexy & Sensual Latin Festival, France, Germany, Bournemouth, Afro Cuban Salsa Festival Norfolk and Renaissance London.

In the Asian region, Kizomba has started to gain traction and popularity in recent years as more and more dancers begin to enjoy the slow romantic dance. Especially when the social night involves Soul Zouk tunes that can be interpreted with kizomba steps and styling. In Malaysia, the past 2 years since a huge growth of dancers, where there was once less than 10 dancers that does it in 2013, it has grown to a respective number where social nights had to include kizomba into their playlist to keep the kizomba dancers happy.

The History of Bachata

Another dance that is frequently danced at Social nights around the globe along with Salsa is Bachata. A much more easier dance to pick up as compared to Salsa, most newcomers stepping into the social dance scene that wants to learn to dance could easily start doing the basic steps in Bachata as compared to Salsa. But have you ever wondered where it is from?

Bachata is a dance from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean islands. Both the music and the dance have been influenced by Cuban Bolero, the Merengue (also of Dominican Republic origin), Salsa and Cumbia.

Bachata music has four beats per measure. In Bachata dancing, the dancer takes three steps to four beats of music. As with Salsa, the step timing is three steps and then a one-beat pause. The knees are flexed on the steps. Given its humble origins, the steps are flat footed.

The chasse basic is three steps in one direction (side-close-side-tap or touch) and the same pattern in the other direction. Nightclub dancers add a lift or hip motion on the tap/touch step. Bachata can be danced in open, semi-closed or closed position. Dance moves or step variety strongly depend on the music (such as the rhythms played by the different instruments), setting, mood, and interpretation. Unlike salsa, bachata dance does not usually include many turn patterns.

The dance originated from the Dominican Republic where the music also was born. The original, slow style in the '60s was danced only closed, like the bolero, often in a close embrace. The bachata basic steps moving within a small square (side, side, forward and side, side, back) are inspired from the bolero steps but is an evolved version of those including a tap and also syncopation (steps in between the beats) depending on the dynamics of the music being played. The hand placement will vary with the dancers position which can be very close to semi close to open.

The authentic dance is today danced in the Caribbean and all over the world, nowadays also faster in accordance to faster music, adding more footwork, simple turns and rhythmic free style moves and with alternate between close (romantic) and open position (more playful adding footwork, simple turns, rhythmic torso etc.). This dance is danced with soft hip movements and a tap or syncopation (1, 2, 3, tap/syncopation). It can be danced with or without bounce also (moving the body up on the beats and down again in between the beats by springs the legs a little).

Authentic bachata was created by the Dominican social dancers over decades (from around the beginning of the 1960s) for social dancing and is still evolving to this day. Notice that what is called authentic/Dominican bachata in the West is just called bachata in the Dominican Republic and by most Dominican immigrants. Authentic bachata is the original dance and therefore by some also called the traditional dance. Because of this, the name "traditional bachata" for the first not very old Western fusion dance is wrong and misleading, but still commonly used in the west.

At some point in the late 1990s, dancers and dance-schools in the western world began using a made-up basic step going side to side pattern instead of the box-steps, maybe as they considered it too complicated or due to a misunderstanding of the authentic steps. The basic steps of this pattern move side to side, changing direction after every tap. Characteristics of this "early" dance school dance is the close connection between partners, soft hip movements, tap with a small "pop" of the hip on the 4th step (1, 2, 3, tap/hip) and does not include many turns/figures. Most of the styling in this dance is from ballroom dance and show moves like dips are commonly used in the dance. This was the first new dance to bachata music that was popularized by dance schools outside the Dominican Republic.

 So there you have it,  Bachata and how it all begin all those years ago (not very long ago actually) and how it has grown over the years. In Malaysia, most Salsa social nights will also include Bachata in between salsa tunes as a sort of break to slow the pace down or to allow the dancers to have a change of style instead of repeating the same routines over and over again over salsa music.

The History of Salsa

Salsa @ a Dance Festival
 There's been many different take on Salsa (the dance and music) and how it has captured the hearts of dancers from across the globe. How did it start? How did the LA style or the NY style come about? It's an unending debate that even my friends and I talked about a lot whenever we touch on the topic of history.

So what's the best way to find and learn more on the history of the dance we have grown to love? Thanks to the internet, searching for the answer is easier than traveling to the heart of Cuba to learn about the dance. But with so many 'facts' out there, which one hits closer to home?

That's where a lot of reading through all the various websites and digging through books comes into play to find that one common ground regarding this genre.

Here's what I've learn through all these 'research'.

The Salsa dance that we know across the globe started its roots in America, so in essence, it's very much an American dance as it is a Latin American dance. During the 1940s and 50s, Cuban musicians had a huge influence on the New York music scene. But once Fidel came to power, diplomatic relations fell apart between Cuba and the US. Cuban musicians could no longer travel to the United States and Cuban recordings received no air play time. So the Puerto Rican and NuYorican (New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent) musicians took on The Big Apple single handed.

These days New York salsa has a distinctly Puerto Rican sound ‚ smooth, polished, classic salsa. It tends to follow the jazz structure, incorporating lengthy instrumental breaks to showcase the ability of particular musicians.

Leading musicians that helped grew the Salsa music in New York:
  • Celia Cruz
  • Willie Colon
  • Eddie Palmeiri
  • The Spanish Harlem Orchestra
  • Jimmy Bosch
 The name salsa (mixture) has been described as a dance since the mid-1970s. The use of the term for the dance started in New York. It evolved from earlier Cuban dance forms such as Son, Son Montuno, Cha cha cha and Mambo which were popular in the Caribbean, Latin America and the Latino communities in New York since the 1940s. Salsa, like most music genres has gone through a lot of variation through the years and incorporated elements of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean dances such as Guaguanco and Pachanga. Different countries of the Caribbean and Latin America have distinct salsa styles of their own, such as Cuban, Colombian, Puerto Rican, L.A. and New York styles.

There is some controversy surrounding the origins of the word salsa. Some claim that it was based on a cry shouted by musicians while they were playing their music. Others believe that the term was created by record labels to better market their music, who chose the word "salsa" because of its spicy and hot connotations. Still others believe the term came about because salsa dancing and music is a mixture of different styles, just like salsa or "sauce" in Latin American countries is a mixture of different ingredients.

Now, how did this Salsa movement come about? We must give credit to Cuba for the origin and ancestry of creation. It is here where Contra-Danze (Country Dance) of England/France, later called Danzón, which was brought by the French who fled from Haiti, begins to mix itself with Rumbas of African origin (Guaguanco, Colombia, Yambú). Add Són of the Cuban people, which was a mixture of the Spanish troubadour (sonero) and the African drumbeats and flavora and a partner dance flowered to the beat of the clave.

Similar blends of music and dance style also occurred in smaller degrees and with variations in other countries like the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Puerto Rico, among others. Bands of these countries took their music to Mexico City in the era of the famous films of that country. From there, Latin American heading into America brought along the music and dance into the States, predominantly to New York.

New York created the term "Salsa", but it did not create the dance. The term became popular as nickname to refer to a variety of different music, from several countries of Hispanic influence: Rhumba, Són Montuno, Guaracha, Mambo, Cha cha cha, Danzón, Són, Guguanco, Cubop, Guajira, Charanga, Cumbia, Plena, Bomba, Festejo, Merengue, among others. Many of these have maintained their individuality and many were mixed creating "Salsa".

If you are listening to today's Salsa, you are going to find the base of són, and you are going to hear Cumbia, and you are going to hear Guaracha. You will also hear some old Merengue, built-in the rhythm of different songs. You will hear many of the old styles somewhere within the modern beats. Salsa varies from site to site. In New York, for example, new instrumentalization and extra percussion were added to some Colombian songs so that New Yorkers - that dance mambo "on the two" - can feel comfortable dancing to the rhythm and beat of the song, because the original arrangement is not one they easily recognize.

This is called "finishing", to enter the local market. This "finish" does not occur because the Colombian does not play Salsa, but it does not play to the rhythm of the Puerto Rican/Post-Cuban Salsa. I say Post-Cuban, because the music of Cuba has evolved towards another new and equally flavorful sound.

Then, as a tree, Salsa has many roots and many branches, but one trunk that unites us all. The important thing is that Salsa is played throughout the Hispanic world and has received influences of many places within it. It is of all of us and it is a sample of our flexibility and evolution. If you think that a single place can take the credit for the existence of Salsa, you are wrong. And if you think that one style of dance is better, imagine that the best dancer of a style, without his partner, goes to dance with whomever he can find, in a club where a different style predominates. He wouldn't look as good as the locals. Each dancer is accustomed to dance his/her own style. None is better, only different.

Now, what about the variation of styles that is danced by dancers? In Malaysia, the more popular variants are the LA style, NY style and Cuban/Rueda with Són starting to grow in the country. So what is what and how did it all come about?

Colombian Style

Cali-Style or Colombian Salsa, is based on geographical location of the Colombian City of Cali. Cali is also known as the "Capital de la Salsa" (Salsa's Capital); due to salsa music being the main genre in parties, nightclubs and festivals in the 21st century. The elements of Cali-Style Salsa were strongly influenced by dances to Caribbean rhythms which preceded salsa, such as Pachanga and Boogaloo.
The central feature is the footwork which has quick rapid steps and skipping motions. Colombian style does not execute Cross-body Leads or the "Dile Que No" as seen in other styles, but rather step in place and displace in closed position. Their footwork is intricate and precise, helping several Colombian Style dancers win major world championships. Cali hosts many annual salsa events such as the World Salsa Cali Festival and the Encuentro de Melomanos y Coleccionistas.

Leading musicians playing Colombian Salsa:
  • Fruko Y Sus Tesos
  • Joe Arroyo Y La Verdad
  • Sonora Carruseles
  • Latin Brothers
  • Group Niche

Los Angeles style

The Los Angeles dance style (LA style) is danced strictly on 1, in a slot/line, using elements of various North American and stage dances. It is strongly influenced by the Latin Hustle, Swing, Argentine Tango and Latin Ballroom dancing styles. LA style places strong emphasis on sensuousness, theatricality and acrobatics.[citation needed] The lifts, stunts and aerial works of today's salsa shows are derived mostly from LA style forms with origins in Latin Ballroom and Ballet lifts.

The two essential elements of this dance are the forward–backward basic step and the cross-body lead. In this pattern, the leader steps forward on 1, steps to the right on 2-3 while turning 90 degrees counter-clockwise (facing to the left), leaving the slot open. The follower then steps straight forward on 5-6 and turns on 7-8, while the leader makes another 90 degrees counter-clockwise and slightly forward, coming back into the slot. After these 8 counts, the leader and follower have exchanged their positions.

Albert Torres, Laura Canellias, Joe Cassini and Francisco Vazquez are credited for the early development and growth of LA Style. Later, such dancers as Alex Da Silva, Edie Lewis, Joby Martinez, Josie Neglia, Johnny and Janette Valenzuela are often credited with developing the LA style of dancing as we know it today.

New York style

New York style is danced in an ellipse or a "flat figure 8" on the floor, with the partners facing each other most of the time. Unlike other styles of salsa, New York style is danced on the second beat of the music ("on 2"), and the follower steps forward on the first measure of the music, not the leader. The etiquette of New York Style is strict about remaining in the close dance space, and avoiding traveling dancing in a sandbox area with a lot of spins, turns and styling. There is greater emphasis on performing "shines" in which dancers separate themselves and dance solo with intricate footwork and styling for a time—suspected origins from Swing and New York Tap.

Though he did not create New York style salsa, Eddie Torres is credited with popularizing it, and for having the follower step forward on the second beat of the first measure.

There are two distinct developments of New York salsa as a music and dance genre:
  1. Primary evolution from Mambo era was introduced to New York due to influx of migrating dissidents from all the Caribbean and other Latin migrants during Pre/Post Cuban Revolution in the 1950s and 1960s This era is known as the "Palladium Era". At this time, the music and dance was called "Mambo".
  2. The most famous dancer during this era was Puerto-Rican descendant Pedro "Cuban Pete" Aguilar, also known "The King of Latin Beat".

  3. Secondary evolution during the late 1970s, Latin Puerto Ricans migrants, contributed a lot to the New York salsa development during the "NuYorican" era of Héctor Lavoe which greatly popularized salsa and modern Latin music throughout the world. Puerto Rican salsa superstars were the most important musicians during the era, such as Ray Baretto ("The Godfather") and many others. There are also salsa artists that transcend both periods, notably the legendary Puerto Rican Tito Puente ("The Mambo King").
These two developments create a fusion of a new salsa music and dance genre, different from its Latin American and Caribbean counterparts.

New York style salsa emphasizes harmony with the percussive instruments in salsa music, such as the congas, timbales, and clave, since many or all of those instruments often mark the second beat in the music.

Rueda de Casino at a friend's wedding reception

Cuban Style / Salsa Cubana

In Cuba, a popular dance known as Casino was marketed abroad as Cuban-style salsa or Salsa Cubana to distinguish it from other salsa styles when the name was popularized in the 1970s. Dancing Casino is an expression of popular social culture; Many Cubans consider casino a part of their social and cultural activities centering on their popular music.

The origins of the name Casino are casinos deportivos, the dance halls where a lot of social dancing was done among the better off, white Cubans during the mid-20th century and onward.

Historically, Casino traces its origin as a partner dance from Cuban Son, fused with partner figures and turns adopted from the Cuban Mambo, Cuban Cha Cha Cha, Rumba Guaguancó and North American Jive. As with Son, Danzón and Cha Cha Cha, it is traditionally, though less often today, danced a contratiempo. This means that, distinct from subsequent forms of salsa, no step is taken on the first and fifth beats in each clave pattern and the fourth and eighth beat are emphasised. In this way, rather than following a beat, the dancers themselves contribute in their movement, to the polyrythmic pattern of the music.

What gives the dance its life, however, is not its mechanical technique, but understanding and spontaneous use of the rich Afro-Cuban dance vocabulary within a Casino dance. In the same way that a sonero (lead singer in Son and Salsa bands) may "quote" other, older songs in their own, a Casino dancer frequently improvises references to other dances, integrating movements, gestures and extended passages from the folkloric and popular heritage. This is particularly true of African descended Cubans. Such improvisations might include extracts of rumba, dances for African deities, the older popular dances such as Cha Cha Cha and Danzón as well as anything the dancer may feel.

Casino is danced in three points which makes up a circular motion as partners face each other in intricate patterns of arms and body movement. This is distinctive from the North American Salsa styles which is danced in a slot (two points) and linear positions as taught by the North American and European dance studios.

Casino has a strong basic step known as guapea (lit. "Chill Out" by Afro-Cuban Community), also known as pausa, in which the male lead puts his left foot behind on the break, which is a contrast to the most common basic Salsa step, in which the lead places his left foot forward.

Casino styling includes men being "macho" and women being femininely sexy, with major body and muscle isolations, through the influence of Rumba dancing. During the dance, dancers often break from each other during percussion solos and perform the despelote, an advanced form of styling in which the male and female partner get physically close and tease each other without touching through the gyrating of hips and shoulders while performing muscle isolations.

The major distinction of Cuban Salsa Styling is that male partners have tendencies to show off (following Afro-Cuban Guaguancó influence), under the cultural guise of males having to attract attention and tease females. This is the major point of differences between Casino and Northern American forms of Salsa, which ascribe to the ballroom adage of "men are the picture frame while women are the picture."

Leading musicians playing Cuban Timba:
  • Los Van Van
  • Pupy Y Los Que Son Son
  • Maraca
  • Charanga Habanera
  • NG La Banda

In Malaysia, the birth of salsa came about roughly about 20 years ago as a small group of dancers got together and started taking lessons and through a lot of hard work, gave birth to the scene by opening their own schools in popular housing estates to provide easy access to dancers to learn. Most of us know about it through word-of-mouth and attending tester classes to see what the hype is all about. We even have local instructors and performers that has ventured out and perform in other countries and bringing the Malaysian name to the world. In recent years, we have also seen a steady growth of performers being invited to perform and teach at international convention. Looking back at how we started and where it has reached so far is definitely amazing.

In the Asian region, the growth of the salsa scene has also helped grow the number of venues that welcomes dancers into their premise to dance. For the list of places to dance in Malaysia, you can click here. And for places to dance in Thailand, you can click here. For now, these are the only list I've compiled as I personally dances in Malaysia and had visited the venues in Thailand. And as there's not one definite list online for me to find out where to dance, I compiled my own and is updated whenever the venue changes.

Next, will touch on Bachata. So do drop by and stay tune.

Viva la variedad, Viva la Salsa!

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