Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Cebu SBKZ International Fest dancers hope to elevate social dancing scene

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — From April 19 to 21, the Solea Mactan Resort will be filled with over 200 guests from the Philippines and 21 other countries who will attend the Cebu SBKZ Festival where beginners and intermediates gather to socialize and dance through Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, and Zouk.

Organized by the Cebu Salsa Club founded by Mandaue City-based dancers Jilly Enriquez and John Monteith, it was originally known as the Cebu Beach Fiesta in 2015 with a slight name change to Cebu Beach Festival in 2018.

“We are happy that there are so many people interested, especially since the festival has been on a four-year hiatus [due to the pandemic]. It’s heartwarming since a lot of professional dancers are with us [this weekend],” Enriquez told The FREEMAN at yesterday's press conference at Pacific Cebu Resort.

In attendance are some international professional dancers such as Alyx Ty from New Zealand and Alex Alberola from Spain specializing in specific types of bachata, and Meyer Stansberry from the USA in kizomba. Also in the event will be international DJs such as DJ Mosti, Praveen, and DJ Sohel from Germany, India, and Australia respectively.

With activities consisting of social dancing workshops and parties, Cebu SBKZ is open to all kinds of dancers whether they only started to participate in social dancing at the event itself, or have participated for many years.

“We made sure our workshops are beginner-friendly, but still insightful for experienced dancers. Anyone regardless of their skill level can join the workshops and get something out of it,” event organizer Kevin Sato said as he is also one of the festival’s bachata dancers.

“One of the things that we teach in [Cebu Salsa Club] classes is to always go beyond your skill level, whether you are a beginner or have been dancing for 40 years. You are not only encouraging people who started social dancing, but you also get to meet other people in a way that the two of you could always adapt and learn from each other,” Sato added.

“Most people’s fear [in joining social dancing] is they don’t want to embarrass themselves. Get over that fear and don’t feel embarrassed because it’s normal,” Stansberry remarked.

“We encourage everyone that even if they don’t fully understand what the artists are teaching, you listen to them. As you continue your journey, it starts to make sense. That’s how it was for me, so I was taking a lot of these lessons and one week later, I got them now. Any skill takes time for your body to process. It goes to your mind first, and then to the rest of your body,” Enriquez added.

The organizers hope that Cebu SBKZ will help put Cebu on the map as having a thriving social dancing scene while also emphasizing tourism as one of their selling points -- which is not typically seen in other social dancing festivals worldwide.

“When we started to organize our festival, we only focused on the dancing part. But this year, we made changes for people to come and experience Cebu. In our experience of going to other festivals, we just go there, dance, and leave. We didn’t get to socialize with the locals, so we are changing that. We want people to come for the dancing, but stay for the view of Cebu,” Enriquez said.

Alberola, who participated in the first festival, said it’s an honor to return to Cebu to share his insights in sensual bachata.

“It was inspiring to come back here to put my knowledge to the community and come back and see the scene growing, so that’s what I respect about this festival, that they are helping the community and it keeps getting better and better,” Alberola said.

“I love dancing with the locals and the beginners, so I hope we can continue to grow and improve with each other. Teaching is the key to making this community grow,” Praveen added.

Most importantly, they want the delegates to feel better by driving away whatever stress they have through social dancing and building a network of enthusiasts in Cebu.

“When I walk into a salsa club, I feel at home because all of the dancers dress similarly, dance the same way, our views in life are similar. Why? It’s because we enjoy the same thing, which is music and dance,” DJ Sohel said.

“If there are politicians coming here, I would teach all of them how to dance. Why? The world is going to be a better place because dancing is food for your soul. We eat food to survive, and we dance to feed our souls and happiness. It gives me pleasure being able to meet new people and dance with them,” Sohel said, adding that social dancing made him feel young and energetic.

Interested delegates may purchase their Cebu SBKZ International Festival passes at Cebu Salsa Club’s website (https://www.cebusalsaclub.com/) where workshop and party passes are sold separately, or packaged altogether.

The FREEMAN readers are entitled to a 5 percent discount to attend the event’s gala night dinner on Saturday, April 20, by messaging the Facebook page “Cebu SBKZ International Festival” (https://web.facebook.com/CebuSBKZFestival) with the code “THE FREEMAN”. — (FREEMAN)

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