Think of this as Dancing With the Stars Cuban style …

The Cuba Tourism Board held a salsa dancing contest during a July 3 Latin America festival in Toronto, inviting people to try that particularly Cuban cultural expression, with 2 all-inclusive Varadero stays offered to the 2 who were judged to have the best footwork.

Audience applause was used to judge the winners.

The competition had an international flair, said Lessner Gomez, who oversees the tourism board’s Toronto office and noted the many countries contest entrants were from.

“We’re all the world here,” he told the crowd.

Dancers were assisted by Toronto-based Cuban dancer and choreographer Jose Carret, who honed his salsa skills working in Varadero resorts and oversees the Toronto-area Carret Dance Conservatory.

One of the eventual winners was from England, while the other was from Colombia, where salsa is hugely popular.

All entrants got the thumbs up from Carret. “I think the dancers were really good.”

Gomez — sporting a Cuban baseball cap and Cuban baseball shirt for the event — noted salsa now has a worldwide following and added salsa enthusiasts in this country can improve their salsa skills by vacationing in Cuba, home to salsa schools and resorts that offer guests salsa classes.

Meanwhile, Jorge Castellanos Orta, Cuba’s consul-general in Toronto, said those who have limited or no salsa proficiency shouldn’t be nervous about hitting a dance floor.

“Salsa is for enjoyment,” he said. “You don’t have to be a professional.”


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