David and Lyliana Beltran – Photo by Dena Burroughs
For lovers of Salsa, that contagious music with its roots in Africa and the Caribbean, Memorial weekend became also a big dancing celebration in downtown Los Angeles.
The La Salsa Fest was held from Friday through Sunday at the Bonaventure Hotel, where during the day dancers participated in workshops and dance parties around the pool, and in the evening enjoyed dance performances and social dancing to three outstanding bands – two from New York and one from Colombia.
As if that wasn’t enough, a Salsa party was organized at Grand Park on Memorial Day, during which local band “Ricardo Lemvo y Makina Loca” and New York’s “The Spanish Harlem Orchestra” performed.
In this hot (temperature and otherwise) and spirited downtown party, El Monte was well represented by the MG Dance Team, which practices in its studio located on Valley Boulevard in the City of El Monte.
In their sparkling turquoise dresses and black suits, the youngsters performed intricate dance steps and arm combinations to “El Carbonero,” a song by famous singer La Lupe. The team performed the same routine that they put together to participate last December in the World Latin Cup in Miami, where they won first place in the Salsa amateurs division.
“When we went to Miami nobody knew who we were, or where El Monte was, or what we could do,” says Alessandra Beltran, the team’s director. “Nobody cheered for us when we first went on stage. The kids said: ‘Nobody likes us.’ I told them: ‘Dont worry, dance with your heart and win them over.’ By finals these kids had all the people from different parts of the world cheering and standing up for them. That is why I’m so proud of them. They dance with their hearts and win people’s hearts over.”
And win hearts they did at Grand Park as well this Memorial Day, where reportedly 3,500 people gathered to move to the infectious sound of Salsa.
“From the City of El Monte, right here in Los Angeles… the MG Dance Team!” announced Albert Torres, one of the event organizers. “The applause the kids received when they finished the routine was the most amazing feeling in the world,” adds Beltran.
Learn more about MG Dance at www.mgdancestudio.com