Tuesday, 08 November 2011 22:38

The History of the 1st Bachata Festival in the USA

Written by 
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Note: This article was written on February 2009 and posted on www.rodchata.com and travelingbachatero.com. The purpose was to put in written record the making of the very 1st Bachata Festival in the USA. It was written by Rodney Aquino, the brainchild of the first bachata festival in United States, after celebrating the festivals success.


reno bachata festival


Dear Diary,

It’s been a while that I had the most fun dancing and partying in a dance congress, but last weekend at the Reno Bachata Festival (Reno Bachata Convention), I was reborn. It was not a congress, mind you, it was just a bachata festiva…I mean whodathought, right? Let me tell you how I created an event called Reno Bachata Festival…

Oh trust me, dear diary, there were some doubters there floating around. Come to think of it, they have been doubting Thomases since I started promoting bachata dance 9 years ago anyways. It is such a simple dance with lots of twings and twangs of the guitar. Yeah, I know, it’s not that alluring to hardcore salseros that love xylophones and all, but it has evolved and fast evolving.

But past is PAST, and moving forward is always the wise choice…burning bridges is not my cup of tea anymore, after all, I know that sooner or later I’ll be crossing lots of bridges. So yeah, my motto; don’t mess with bridges because it more important to be nice than being important.

I have to admit, Reno Bachata Festival wasn’t really part of the plan. The real plan was jus just to organize the 1st bachata festival in the USA - San Francisco Bachata Festival. Of course, realistically, all things didn’t exactly go perfectly according to my plan.

November of 2008, I got a Facebook message from Juan I. Ruiz, one of the founding fathers of successful Sydney Bachata Festival, saying,
“Hey Rodney, I’ll be vacationing in Chicago and I’d like to drop by San Francisco to hang out, bachata and then some, will you be in town?”

You see, Sydney Bachata Festival was pretty much the event that made me “international” - you could say that I was baptized there as an international dance teacher. And I will never forget the hospitality of Australian bachateros. Their attitude and friendship is still immensely felt here in my heart a year later- little good things that done to me will be appreciated and never be forgotten. Sydney was where I got inspired to start a bachata festival in United States.

“Juan, let me see what I can do, brotha. Bay Area ain’t that really fanatic for bachata compared to Sydney, but let me ponder and think of something.”

And so I pondered, indeed…
Hmmm, I thought of hosting a bootcamp…
Or, maybe, a series of workshops in SF, San Jose and Sacramento…

I called Jorge Elizondo, “Bro, Juan is coming to SF and he wants to hang out, you in? I mean, I’ll still do it without you, if you can’t do it”
“Tell me more, when and what do you have in mind…” Jorge was curious

Jorge loves SF, and everytime he was here, he stayed at my place. I have sponsored him several times doing bootcamps in the Bay Area. So yes, he owed me and I’m sure he won’t say no. We develop a friendship over the years because of bachata. I love bachata instructors that love the dance and promote it at the same time. I could care less which bachata style they teach or dance as long they have passion and really believe in what they’re doing. I dislike haters who are up to no good and just talk shit about each other, it’s a lose-lose situation and they sound like losers.

So I had to make sure he knew my intention and reaffirmed my vision. So I said, “Bro, I’m thinking of bachata bootcamp with you, Juan and Camille in San Francisco. Juan treated me well when I was in Sydney, so let’s give him a good time here in SF. Are you in or out?”

Like I said, he couldn’t say no, Jorge was in…

Last time I hosted a bootcamp here in the Bay Area, although well attended, I didn’t like it, and it didn’t feel like an accomplishment for me. I was secretly disappointed that it didn’t make a dent in my vision – for bachata to be respected and recognized, not only by salsa dancers but salsa Djs as well as Latin dance enthusiasts.

Last question in my mind was, “Do I continue hosting little workshops here and there or do something really big before the San Francisco Bachata Festival?”

So the pondering ended with the question above, on which, I never pondered again, not until I taught a bachata workshop in Reno…

I love Reno people, you know why? Because they love to party and they don’t give a shit whether you are Cuban stylist or Mambo stylists or OutOfTiming stylist. They dance for fun and they learn to dance for fun. I especially love them when they always ask when I’m coming back to Reno after the end of teaching a workshop.

I have been invited by BB of Salsa Reno and Chuck from Reno Dance Sensation (The event that started bachata workshops for the first time in Reno) numerous times there. And everytime I went and taught, the community there loved my workshops.

So for a Halloween night in 2008, I had no plans and really didn’t feel like partying in San Francisco. Yes, I was bored. And dear diary, you and I both know that I am not the most productive or even creative when I’m bored. I was seeking an adrenaline rush, a fix, if you will.

Suddenly, I got a call from BB about teaching in Reno. With fees and little negotiations, I was slated for Halloween at Pearl’s Reno’s Latin Thursday.

And after teaching an enthusiastic crowd of 400 people, I thought to myself, “Hmmm, I think I just found my answer here.”

I drove Back to the Bay Area. I needed to confirm to Juan and Jorge about the proposed SF Bootcamp. I wasn’t 100% about the bootcamp idea. I needed to make a decision fast. There was no time to lose and January was just around the corner.

I went to a Chinese restaurant and ordered my fave; Pan Fried Eggs with oysters. Oysters are filled with zinc and of course eggs are filled with B vitamins, in other words, it keeps your testosterone level high You know what they say, you think faster and smarter when your testosterone levels are high.
In the middle of my meal, I came up with an idea and decided.

I texted BB of Salsa Reno, a text that he couldn’t say no to...“Bro, I am gonna do a bachata festival in Reno, and I would love you to be a part of it.”

I mean whether he was in or not, the idea was so good, I was still gonna do it and was willing to take the risk.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….I counted a few seconds expecting BB to call me right away (there was no way he’d pass up the opportunity).

The phone rang…
“Hello BB…”
And so BB was in…

After talking to BB, I called Jorge,
“Jorge, here’s the change of plan…I'm going to do Reno and I'm gonna do the 1st Bachata event in USA, Reno International Bachata Festival. I think 400 people would suffice. It’s a prelude event for San Francisco”

The rest is history and we sure made history that weekend where people showed coming from all over USA.

So I am personally inviting you to the annual Reno International Bachata Festival on every year of January. Just check the details at www.bachatareno.com

til next time, Diary
- the ambitious bachatero



Names and Witnesses of the People Behind the Making of the 1st Annual Reno Bachata Festival (Where are they now)

Juan I. Ruiz, now founder of Bachateros.com.au and the co-founder of Sydney Bachata Festival, the very 1st Bachata Festival in the world.

Jorge Elizondo, founder of bachatafusion.com, and still traveling the world

Camille Yannantuono, world renown dance artist who now lives in Switzerland

Vania Carter, founder of SalsaVania

Jeison Aguilar aka DJ El Guapo, top USA DJ and Promoter

BB of Salsa Reno - now the promoter of Reno Latin Dance Fest


Artists that Participated:

- Ava Apple and Rodolfo Guzman, still directing Dance teams in San Francisco

- Lee El Gringuito Smith, Founder of DC Bachata Festival, Washington, DC

- Bruce Montoya and Summer Sando, Arizona

- Christian Sola, Florida is now the promoter of Unity Dance Congress

- Seemore Johnson and Cristina Pujol, now lives in Spain

- Jorge Contreras and Leslie Ferreira, is now the promoter Los Angeles Bachata Festival

- Alejandro Rey, popularized Urban Bachata

- Juan Zamora, Bakersfield

- Sarunas and Giedre aka BachataSouls Lithuania, are now teaching kizomba


The 1st World Bachata Festival - READ IT HERE






Read 6051 times Last modified on Friday, 20 January 2017 21:01