Salsa dancing first hit the Nepali dance scene roughly a decade ago, but this year offered proof that the dance form is more than just a fad. Salsa is here to stay.
The Salsa Dance Academy, a Kathmandu-based dance studio, celebrated the growth of Latin dance in Nepal by hosting the country’s First International Salsa Festival, held November 19-22. “Salsa is now popular in Nepal, but it took a long time,” said Binayek Shrestha, founder and CEO of the Salsa Dance Academy. When the Salsa Dance Academy first opened in Bhatbateni, Kathmandu, in 2004, it comprised a two-person team teaching a handful of students. Shrestha and colleague Katia Verreault hosted salsa parties once every three months at the now-closed Latin Quarter Salsa Bar. Today, the academy employs 10 instructors and hosts a dance party every week at a rotation of Kathmandu-based venues.
The First International Salsa Festival featured four days of dance workshops taught by local and foreign dance instructors, including big names in the Latin dance world, such as Susana Montero from Spain. Nightly dance parties followed the first three days of workshops. The fourth day of the festival was held in Pokhara in an effort to expand dance awareness outside of Kathmandu. Although the festival focused on salsa, the workshops spanned a wide variety of dance forms. Students came to learn hip hop, belly dancing, cha cha, swing, and tango, just to name just few.