Review: Reno Latin Dance Festival

Picture by © Owaki - Kulla/CORBIS
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The Biggest Little City in the world has also one of the biggest and most anticipated Latin Dance Festivals in the US. Coming-up on January 7-10, 2016.


Picture courtesy of the Reno Gazette Journal

Picture this… a Latin dance festival with salsa, bachata and kizomba, inside a luxurious Nevada casino-complex with 24-hour coffee shops, and bars where “last-call” doesn’t exist, in the heart of a town surrounded by beautiful snowy mountains and clear blue skies. That’s the Reno Latin Dance Festival.Reno Latin dance festival Poster

This week The Festival returns for its 2016 edition. For the past days I’ve been reading a lot of posts about it on Facebook. People are already organizing room parties, reunions, get-togethers, celebrations. To me, this seems more like a mega party than a festival. Being at the Reno festival has a feeling that I don’t get at other dance events, the people’s vibe is high, there’s always a sense of great positive energy. Everyone is friendly and open. I guess people are friendlier when they’re in a good mood.  I’ve attended this event since 2010, even helped out from the 2011 thru the 2014 editions.  Still, what makes this festival so special? Why do I and many others have so much fun? Feeling a little clueless, I asked the organizers, BB and Kiki.

“We strive for organization,” said BB. “We feel that if we are organized, our attendees will be relaxed and have fun. [however] It’s very challenging to pin point the difference between Reno and other festivals. On one hand, we deliver some very similar features as other festivals, such as daytime dance workshops, dance showcases and evening dance parties. On the other hand, our location is the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in downtown Reno


Location location location… The words that real estate agents live by. It’s true, the location of this festival is elegant and awesome. Hotel rooms are nice and inexpensive. Parking is free, and they offer free rides to the airport for those who travel by plane.

Even the dance shows get the recognition they deserve. Dancers perform on a big stage, with great lighting and sound, silver-legacy-resort

There’s plenty of food options inside the casino, including one diner that never closes. But even across Virginia Street, right in front of the casino, one can find a McDonald’s, tacos, Pho, pizza and a liquor store. It’s a good idea to eat well if you want to party all night. “All of our dance parties go ’til 6:00AM,” said BB. “We add an additional ballroom we call the ‘Mixed Music Room,’ [where] the DJs are allowed to play pretty much any genre of music from Hip Hop to Banda.”  And he’s right, anything goes at the Mixed Music Room. My favorite part of this is to watch some really cool “dance-offs” by talented dancers. “One bit of advice,” adds BB.  “I would give is to make sure you rest-up before the festival. On Friday and Saturday night there will be 600 people still dancing at 6:00AM. It’s crazy. I don’t know how people do it but they do. “

Reno Latin Dance Festival Stage

Picture by Troy Anthony

He’s not lying. I remember one year I danced from about 1:00 AM ’till about 4:30 AM. I left the Bachata room and people were still dancing. I ended up having a celebratory drink with some pals from Los Angeles at the Main Bar in the casino. I’m pretty sure it’s been the only time I toasted that early. ‘It’s five o’ clock somewhere,” we said, “Oh’ wait… it’s five o’ clock right here, right now.” And by the time we all went to bed it was already 6:46 AM.

And the room parties…. dear GOD. There has to be one on every floor. I’ve partied and caught-up with friends, made many new ones, and danced. All without someone calling hotel security or knocking on the door to complain about the loud noise.

Reno room party

Picture by Jose, JAS, Santamaria

I guess this is what makes the Reno festival special. Other than the great dance workshops and performances, and the long social dance parties people have a lot of fun partying with everyone else. And it’s not too late to join the fun this week. Tickets and passes are still available for sale on their website, This is one big insane party, and I, for one, am ready to party like a rockstar.


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