Last Saturday, after five hours of continuous dancing, my friend Richard said it best: ?This is Dancer?s Paradise!?
And so it was!
We were at the Hollywood Park Casino?s Amphitheater in Inglewood, California, supporting ?El Festival Tropical de las Estrellas 2002?, with performances by Carlos Guerrero, Monchi and Alexandra, Gilberto Santarosa, Wilfrido Vargas and the in-between DJing sets of Pedro El Sabroso.
The outdoor set-up was fantastic. Perfect weather, excellent sound, affordable drink prices, a dance floor the size of a house, good attendance. Yet plenty of dancing room, good friends and good dancers. What else can Paradise offer?
I got there around 6:30 p.m., cautiously optimistic of seeing Monchi and Alexandra, who were scheduled to perform at 7 p.m. The last time I tried to see them, they never made it to the stage.
But they got up there this time, and what a fantastic first-show-in-Los-Angeles they gave us! I am so fortunate to have had my friends Richard and Manuel there to ?bachata? with me. Although bachata is not (yet) very popular with the Los Angeles salsa crowd, a large percentage of this concert?s attendees were Dominican friends who shared my enthusiasm. The requinto player was awesome, and there was some serious ?plucking? done on those guitars. Monchi and Alexandra?s music reminded me of my last visit to New York, so I blissfully danced to the melancholic sounds of ?Hoja en Blanco? and ?Te quiero igual que ayer?. The bachateros went on for about 45 minutes and left us in the best of moods to receive what the night had next to offer?
...which was Gilberto Santarosa! Talk about a non-drug induced high! The promoter yelled ?Give it up for Gilberto Santarosa!!!?, and as the band started playing ?Que manera de quererte? the expectation to see him built up so incredibly that I had chills going down my spine. For a minute we didn?t know whether to dance or simply stand there in sheer amazement. Gilberto came out all decked out in a sharp blue suit and singing so perfectly that it left me wondering how this man manages to sounds so good live just as fantasticly well as he sounds on a CD. By the time he sang ?Me libere? and ?Que alguien me diga? I was virtually ready to cry. That was one incredible hour of great music and dancing.
I was exhausted by now, and the night was still young. Wilfrido Vargas burst out on stage with ?El Africano?. Talk about flashbacks! I remember dancing to that song when I was about 17 years old (yikes?not that long ago? really).
The gorgeous girl with the beautiful voice singing with the group was later introduced as Wilfrido?s own daughter Alina. That got him all sorts of ?ooohhhs? and ?aaahhhs? from the crowd.
And the Merengue went on...
The event promised to go on until 3 a.m. I went home way before that, to avoid falling down dead from exhaustion. Paradise can be very hard on you! The Festival Tropical de las Estrellas had been a great success!!