Lara Lee came all the way to Toronto from Korea for a vacation and was very happy when she discovered a weekend salsa festival.
“I can’t believe how everyone is dancing so perfectly, the music gives some special vibe to your body and you just feel like you want to dance too, even though I never salsa danced before,” she said.
Lee said the rhythm of the music encouraged festival goers to have fun, get loose, and even start salsa dancing with strangers.
“Trust me, the moment you join the fiesta, you will not stop dancing,” she said.
Lee’s trip halfway around the world landed her in the middle of the 15th annual Salsa on St. Clair Street Festival, which brought the rhythm of South America to Toronto this past weekend.
With more than 130 vendors, the festival on July 6 and 7 provided free cultural expression and entertainment.
Attendees participated in dance lessons, a festival parade, art exhibitions, salsa dance parties and, of course, a lot of food.
By Saturday evening, around 225,000 people passed through, enjoying one of the largest Latin-themed cultural festivals in Canada.
“We are expecting at least 300,000 people to come to the festival until Sunday night, which is definitely going to make us hit the record,” said Adrian DiStefano, Digital Media and Marketing Coordinator at Salsa in Toronto.
He said people from all parts of South America came here to perform at the festival.
“When I just see the smiles on people’s faces the moment they come and the way they feel acknowledged and accepted with their own culture, it just makes my day and it makes me feel like we did a great job,” DiStefano said.
Vanessa Catanzaro, TD Salsa organizer and merchandise leader, said they began preparing for this festival for four months.
“It means a lot to us that they are here with us today,” Catanzaro said. “We have a great team and this is a huge organization and a big effort is needed to make this all happen.”
She said the stretch of St. Clair Avenue West is transformed into Canada’s biggest salsa party with non-stop dancing, Latin music and entertainment for the entire family.
“It means a lot that they are here with us today,” Catanzaro said. “We have a great team and this is a huge organization and a big effort is needed to make this all happen.”
Since 2005, the festival attracted many salsa lovers from near and far as well as people who saw it for the first time and fell in love with the special atmosphere that salsa and the Latin culture provides.