Welcome to Faces of La Bomba - telling the story of Adelaide dance school, La Bomba, through her people.
We launched this project on the weekend at Bacchus Bar, Henley Beach. I wanted to share with you my speech notes and the pics that are up on display!
What is it?
This project was open to anyone influenced by La Bomba in their life - teachers, students and social dancers.
I surveyed interested people - why they dance, how they feel when they dance, other interests, general personal background. I was very deliberate not to ask about work because I believe occupation shouldn't define a person. Of course, it can if they are passionate about something, but it's not used to describe someone. I wanted more thoughts and feelings that define people.
Common thoughts run throughout…
it’s an unspoken language
I express myself
I gained confidence
I created beautiful friendships…
Clearly, there are more benefits to this dance thing than exercise.
I asked them to co-art direct their shoot because I wanted them to 'own' the photo and have something that felt theirs, not my idea of them. I wanted it to be the way they want to project themselves, rather than how I (or others) see them.
Initially, I thought it would be a project that took 4-5 days of shooting. Haha. I was slightly wrong.
Sept 1 - first shoot
Feb 4 - last shoot
They were all individual sessions - from Second Valley to Barossa, The Mayfair to derelict buildings.
Over 60 hours of photography at least that of editing...
Why this project?
I'm a commercial photographer. Commercial photographers are generally told what to photograph and how to do it. We can get stuck in our way with a technique of photographing and lighting.
I also wanted to do something 'just for fun'.
I wanted it to be something that is part of me, but not me.
My favourite hobbies to nurture my soul - apart from travel... are surf and dance. So it began.
In 2016 - I completed a project called Salty Girls. I photographed surfer girls in the water with their boards. This project was exhibited as part of City of Onkaparinga's Shimmer Festival at Gemtree Wines.
So of course, natural progression. A dance story project should be next.
Why La Bomba?
I wanted the project to have a story instead of just photographing dancers.
I first me Nati many years ago when doing photos for the paper, so it made sense to ask her. But more importantly, I love that her classes have given me a new lease on life. La Bomba has helped me so much, in many ways, especially in the last year.
So why not.
What have I learnt after these 120+ hours on this project?
We are complex people, but everyone needs an out. Dance is one way of 'escaping' daily life and feeling free mentally and soulfully.
#1 reason I have learnt...
Nati, La Bomba and dance have changed peoples lives, even saved some. That's power. Thank you, Nati.
I love people and finding out their stories. I feel very privileged to have photographed 39 awesome people. People that have opened up to me and trusted me to take their portrait. I love what we have created, and I hope they can see it in themselves too.
It is a project of scale I never imagined. Would I do it again? Yes, of course. But not just yet.
But I do have a Cuba one coming!
Finally, a big thank you to Sponsors
Atkins Pro Lab for the fabulous printing
Jose Cuervo for our welcome drinks
La Bomba for letting me harass everyone
Bacchus Bar for having our exhibition
And Sally Hargreaves of Dark Chilli Photography for her photo of me.
Here are their stories...
Abbey Kitt, Australian
"Dance like there’s no one watching."I started latin dancing because of a friend and I’ve been dancing different styles of dance for the past 17 years.
The hardest part of dancing would be the late nights and the sore feet.
I enjoy working with children, which is great because it happens to be my job. In life I dream about travelling the world and seeing its beauty. My favourite place isn’t a physical place, but instead, it’s whatever makes me feel happy.
Kirstyn Goodin, Australian
No matter what's going wrong, dancing has always been able to clear my mind. It's almost addictive, you can feel it when you haven't danced in a while.Least favourite part of dance is tricky, probably the late nights interrupting my sleep schedule (very grandma of me I know).
I love helping others, whether that be through sharing a meal with friends, being a shoulder to cry on, volunteer work, having a chat at 3am, spending hours tutoring someone until it finally clicks,
collecting many a drunken friend to drive them home at all hours of the night or simply getting someone out of the house for some adrenaline inducing activity when they're feeling down. I'm currently studying to be a paramedic, which I hope will allow me to continue my passion caring for others as a profession.
"Between two evils, I always pick the one I've never tried before"- Mae West Green
Angel Pavlou, Australian Greek Cypriot
“Spread the love wherever you go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier.”
My cousin married Roly and practically forced me to dance. It was the best decision of my life as I have been dancing since 2014! Have not looked back!
Dance changed my life. I always had two left feet before (I still kind of do) but when I dance it doesn’t matter, I feel free.
I love football and I live for my family.
I’m studying social work and work with disabled children. I’m definitely a nurturer and love seeing and making people happy.
I love Bon Jovi. Whenever I’m stressed I blast his music and find a sense of calm. I love to karaoke and sing, even if I make other people’s ears bleed.
Alistair Pearce, Australian
I got harassed into dance by my neighbour and my wife.
I dance because it is a lot of fun. Gives a real break form everything else that's happening. I can feel a sense of freedom, enjoyment and, occasionally, uncoordination.
I love the sense of community at La Bomba. It is a whole new group of friends I have now and I can go out to any event and see and dance with people I know.
I used to love playing sport - more of the disconnection from everyday life. Don’t get to do it anymore but I love beach fishing in isolated areas. It’s no fun with other people there.
Antonia Enriquez de Salamanca, Spanish- Brazilian
My mum was a samba dancer and introduced dancing to me from a very young age. I would say I've been dancing on and off for my whole life.
I dance because it's fun. I love moving my body to music and seeing the shapes my body makes. I would like to see more equality around the world and better distribution of world wealth.
Happiness is not a destination, it's a state of mind. I go to relax anywhere where there is sun.
My fave person in the world is my Abuela (Grandma), she is a perfect example of the woman I strive to be and she has so much love to give to anyone who crosses her path.
Belinda M Jae, Australian born of Chilean heritage
I have a bucket list and learning salsa and tango were high on the to do list. I always put salsa in the back of mind as something I'd do 'one day' but in 2016 the light bulb came on that if l didn't start now, then when?
For me music and dance are at the essence of who l am. One couldn't exist without the other. I am proud of my Chilean cultural roots and therefore dancing folklore is one way to express that pride. Aside from dancing, singing and performing are what l enjoy the most! Whether I'm a children's entertainer or glammed up in front of hundreds with my 12 piece Motown and Disco band, Motown Connection. I also enjoy making custom piñatas with my small business/hobby, Piñartistry.
My favourite person in the whole world is my daughter. Life was fine before her, but she absolutely rocked it when she came to the world. She's kind, smart, logical, funny and strong. She's an old soul who teaches me more about life than I do to her. Sincerely, we have a bond like none other and she's my best friend. I thank God everyday for blessing me with her as l don't feel deserving to have her.
Belinda Soekov-Pearce, Australian (Estonian heritage)
I did ballet and a short stint of ballroom dancing as a kid. I loved watching the latin ballroom and always wanted to learn it. When I was speaking to my neighbour, I discovered we both had an interest and so it went from there.
I love music of all kinds. I have been playing the piano since I was six and had brief stints with various other instruments along the way. If I'm not playing music, I'm listening to music - dance is just an extension of this.
I love being around my five children, who make me laugh, and are my proudest 'achievement'.
My current (rather all-consuming) challenge is studying Doctor of Medicine.
Bianca Jade, Australian
Back in 2004, my friend Tara and I wanted to go out one night. Tara is Canadian and was in Australia studying at the time. We both had only $10 each on us. We ended up at a Latin Club on Hindley Street. We had to decide between dinner, a drink or our first ever salsa lesson. We chose salsa and it changed both our lives forever, needless to say we became hooked.
I met Natalie later that year at a Latin Night at the Hyatt she used to run called Miami Nights. She suggested that I enter the Tropicana Amateur Division Latin Dance Competition in January 2005 with my partner, which we won. Natalie then asked us both to start training to become performers and teachers with La Bomba.
Twelve years later and I still absolutely love teaching Salsa especially introducing new students through beginners classes to not only salsa but the Latin culture. My best friend Tara has been teaching and performing in Canada since her return for 12 years also.
I love teaching students to dance and watch their enjoyment and confidence grow. Even though it was 13 years ago that I first learnt to Salsa, I still remember my first class like it was yesterday.
I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 10 years ago and that has put limitations on my body, especially my joints and energy levels. Luckily partner dancing is quite low impact but still I can't wear the pretty heels I used to or participate as much as I would like to anymore.
I love spending time with my son and watching him grow into a beautiful little man. He loves Latin music especially Despacito at the moment. He is my world.
Brier Aardenburg, Australian
My son introduced me to salsa. I’ve been dancing for 2.5 years.I dance to relieve stress and it makes me feel fit, alive and energetic.
Upper body movement is the hardest aspect of dance. I love that dancing is challenging.
I love the beach, mountains and fresh air. Seeking a lifetime of adventure.
Claudio Scorsonelli, Italian/Maltese
“Have no regrets .. forget yesterday, today is a new start.”
I was at an event once which had a demonstration of Latin dancers and I thought "wow I need to do that". So started my interest in exploring Dance.
I love the music and the support and passion shown by Nat and her team of dancers.
The hardest part of dancing, as we all know, is remembering the moves and names as they’re Spanish.
I feel alive exploring new destinations and weekend getaways allow me to refresh.
Dennis Stansfield, Latino Aussie
"Expect the worst, you'll be pleasantly surprised when it doesn't happen."
Got into dancing to try and impress someone, been dancing since 2016.
My mum Natalie created, runs, and owns La Bomba. I'm honestly ashamed to say I've spent my life around it and only started a couple of years ago.
I feed off the positivity, the energy of the room, which is bizarre seeing as I consider myself an introvert, but a good dance makes me feel alive. Reading, writing, listening to music, basically anything that doesn't require too much physical effort.
I feel alive dancing. I feel relaxed with a book in one hand and tobacco in the other, lying on a hammock.
My fave thing... bachata.
Denzil Lim-Hussain, English
Do not be afraid to fail, just learn from your failure to succeed later.
It makes me feel amazing. I like how I can express myself, have fun, and meet new people.
I also love playing boardgames, computer games and roleplaying games.
I am a nerd who holds my family and friends as my most treasured things in the world.
Elise Applebee, Australian
“Reach for the stars! Nothing happens unless we dream first!”
I dance for me. It is something that keeps me feeling healthy and fit and I get to use the one special and unique thing I have... my body.
I dream about a life of balance where I can enjoy all of the things that make me happy.
I feel alive when I am performing on a stage, street or even boardroom. The buzz I get from being in front engaging with people, is indescribable.
My favourite person in the world is my grandma! She is an absolute inspiration in my life. At 94 she still gets out and about with her line dancing and is often down at Brighton, sipping on lattes with girlfriends. She has taught me so many important life lessons and just to live and let go. She has had a rough life, gone through wars, and moved over to Australia with her husband over 54 years ago.... She is gutsy, independent, and such a hard worker. There is nothing not to love about her. I hope that I can be half the woman she is!
Emily Vasquez Stansfield, Chilean background
I started at a young age with ballet and then took a break before getting truly obsessed with the rhythms of Cuban salsa and the energy of Brazilian samba.
I have been involved with La Bomba since the beginning. La Bomba has been a part of our family since Natalie started with her radio show, events and dance classes.
I love my family and I love travelling so those two things combined are bliss for me. I also love the beach.
Music soothes the soul.
When my cousin passed away I was quite depressed, so one of my best friends thought it would be a good idea to literally drag me to my first salsa class; she was right.
Favourite thing is probably that I'm sharing a positive experience with someone else.....unless I screw up haha.
I guess I dream about moving out of Adelaide (only for a year or two) and chase an entrepreneur idea I have.
"So far, this is the oldest I’ve been." ~ George Carlin
My friends have called me perceptive. I just think their perception is wrong.
I like drinking some whisky while playing a game of davli (backgammon)with my cousin a little after lunch, on a Sunday.
Heidi Linehan, Australian
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
I came across La Bomba over 10 years ago... when I did promo photos for them. It went from there... After living in Brazil, I decided to take up samba. I did classes for a few years, until I was heavily pregnant with my daughter. I was about eight months pregnant when I stopped. Being a Mum then got a hold of me... that, along with running my photography business. It took about seven years to get back into it. Too long, I'd say. Now, I love it. I'd be dancing every night if I could. I describe it as a moving meditation. I can't think about much else when I'm dancing. Dancing and surfing have been my lifesavers this past year.
Helen Clifton, Australian
I started with ballroom many years ago - started La Bomba at the beginning of 2016 after a long break due to a foot injury.
Dancing is good for the soul, coordination, fitness and socially great. I feel like when I dance I am the real me and it releases endorphins!
“When it's raining, look for rainbows, when it's dark, look for stars.”
Look for the best in people even when they let you down.
Jennifer Ng, Malaysian
I dance to express myself and to release stress. Dance makes me nervous because I'm usually a perfectionist so I want to do the moves correctly. It challenges me to let go.
I enjoy music, play the piano and a bit of the violin. I enjoy exploring activities that gives me meaningful experience and I enjoy seeking these out.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Jeremy Gill, British
I like to dance because for a time I can feel part of music and connect to others.
All mistakes are research. It's not a competition. Be a blessing in someone else's life.
When I dance, I feel alive; when I dress-up, I feel relaxed.
I think my friends see me as a gentle, funny person. I would describe myself as someone trying to be.
Jess Woodward, Australian
I was 6 years old. I begun with jazz and my first routine was to Spice Girls’ Wannabe. My costume had a hot pink sequin sash, leg warmers and a fabulous vest and once I got on stage I was sold! Since then I have danced and taught many styles for several companies and dance for me is, and will always be, a part of my life.
My sister and I got really busy and dance fell away from routine until I saw La Bomba's dance deal on Scoopon. I thought it would be a good idea to dance together and learn a new style so we decided to attend Monday nights and meet Nati to find out what classes we could attend. That was early 2016 and since then I haven't looked back!
I love the feeling of finishing a well rehearsed, known routine, but not quite knowing how your body got you from beginning to end!
I am an Exercise Physiologist and Pilates instructor and I spend a lot of my life assisting patients regain their health or improve their quality of life through movement. Dance allows me to celebrate my ability to move freely and I like to incorporate that into my patient exercise prescription.
Healthy looks different on everybody.
Julio César Angulo Australian born of Salvadoran heritage
My parents taught me folk, merengue and cumbia dances as a child. As a 7 year old, the name "La Bomba" was always etched in my subconscious as a radio station, then it evolved into an events company. I knew it by association as where all the Latino-Australians of age would go to party, where the rest of the community (children, and parents) would remain at the community level.
I consider myself an artist whose medium is through movement and dance. I dance to express, more often than not, what I fail to express in words. Everyone moves, everyone can learn steps. But, not everyone can tell a story through dance.
No one type of dance can be considered wrong. You show dance, you don't do it.
"The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept." - David Hurley
I started dancing at the back of my sister’s ballet class when I was two. I was put into my own class where I started competing at age 4.
Best part of dancing... when you nail a move you have been working on.
I love my job and hanging out with my nieces. I also love to travel and dream about travelling more!
“If people never did silly things, nothing new would ever be invented!"
My friends describe me as too nice for my own good. I would describe myself as introverted.
I dance because it's what I love to do, I feel free. It's a form of exercise so I feel better in myself after dancing.
I work shift work full time as a registered nurse on a cardiology unit, where emergencies happen, I have to team lead and manage a ward of nurses, patients pass away. Nursing can be very hard at times. So, going to dance or a gig after a day at work with emergencies, emotional families and stressed staff instantly takes my mind off of work enabling me to leave it behind.
I dream of living in a different country. I want to nurse and dance in another country, learn a new language and culture.
Dance like no one’s watching. You only live once. Life is short, make the most out of it.
Loca Liz is what my La Bomba family call me. I'm an extroverted person.
Shaun Christopher, Australian
I joined in my internship year, after I went to Argentina and tried a tango night in Buenos Aires. I've always been a musician, so standing in front of the stage became more uncomfortable than being on it. I wanted to change that. More importantly, because I never danced when I was younger, dancing is the way I'm pushing myself to try things I'm not familiar with and break out of my comfort zone.
Dancing makes me feel creative, and learning to work my feet and body with the music is exciting.
I play sax in the Army Band, I also enjoy outdoor activities - before work took over I tried rock climbing, scuba diving, and riding a motorbike. Lately I've been discovering a cappella music and because of salsa I've been listening to a lot of salsa and other Latin styles.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” - Confucious
Kate Richardson, Australian
I discovered my love and passion for dance around the same time the amazing "2017 South Australian of the Year" award winner Dr David David was in the final stages of surgically transforming my face and giving me the gift of social acceptance. I was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and after 19 years of being rather quiet and shy, I had a brand new face and new found confidence I never knew existed within me. I had grown up accepting not to care what other people thought of me and I honestly think that alone gave me the courage to try this thing called 'dance classes' very late in life. Why do I dance? One word "LOVE". Every now and again you get that amazing partner who takes your hand to the floor and by the time the song ends your heart rate is through the roof and you have a gleaming smile from ear to ear. Dancing is my drug of choice! It's more than just my happy place, its essential to life balance.
What I love most about learning Latin dance genres is essentially a life long ticket to being able to dance socially in most cities around the world and until you’re old and grey.
Mellanye Targino, Brazilian
I started dancing because of my mum when I was about 4-5 years old. I started dancing at La Bomba 6-7 years ago, but I had to go back home (Brazil) and come back this year.
There's a quote I like and I also have a part of it tattooed on me: "The life of a dancer is not easy but sometimes everything lines up, the world is in synchrony, and for one perfect moment you feel totally alive!”
"Mas como menina teimosa que sou, ainda insisto em desentortar os caminhos. Em construir castelos sem pensar nos ventos." Translation "But as a stubborn girl I am, I still insist on misunderstanding the ways. In building castles without thinking about the winds." If that makes sense in English.
Some would say I am calm, some would say I am nervous. They would say I have a sweet heart. Good dancer, intelligent student, good soccer player. I think I am positive, happy, active but also lazy sometimes.
Marco Di Maio, Italian
I’ve been into music. I play the piano. I studied musicality. But never that sort of stuff.
The feet start moving by themselves when I hear salsa.
I learned after why I dance. Everybody, to be happy, needs a form of expressing their feelings and themselves. And I just happen to find in dancing my way of expression. I just find joy in moving to the music. Dancing makes me feel macho, romantic and really, it’s confidence.
With salsa you can never really go wrong. If nothing exceptional or unexpected happens you always come back with a few dances and having tried a few things. You really can’t go wrong. Hardest thing about dance? Addiction.
Dance. It’s a third language.
Favourite place is home. Home is anywhere in the world where you can speak your language. Favourite person... My dad. What I am, where I am - I owe it to him.
Mario Enrique Vasquez, Salvadorian
I have grown up listening to Latin music. It was a natural progression to try dancing and to start to play the music also.
Been dancing for about 14 years.I’ve been there to see La Bomba since the very beginning! My sister in law, Natalie, started it many years ago. It’s wonderful to have seen La Bomba grow strong with a great culture of music and dance enthusiasts.
I have no choice haha. Once the music starts, I cannot stand still! When I dance I feel powerful and free.
Latin music and dance have taught me a lot about myself and I hope to start making original songs so that my music will allow others to dance and feel wonderful when listening to it.
"With Passion comes Greatness!"
Meghan Allen, Lebanese / Australian
I had always had an interest in belly dancing and salsa dancing. I was at a low point and decided to take a day off from work and do some things for myself to help change my mood. Part of that day was looking up where I could learn salsa. The first place to get back to me I booked! I danced with them for two years before moving to La Bomba. I have been a part of the La Bomba community for almost two years now too.
When I first started dancing, only a few years ago, I can honestly say it changed my life. It gave me self confidence. I learnt a new skill. I made new friends and I started going out and doing things I hadn’t even imagined I would be doing. Dance makes me feel happy.
I try to make the most of every day. Even if it is something little I try to achieve at least one thing each and every day. So when I’m not working as a nurse, or not dancing with the La Bomba crew, I love to get out and about and see this amazing
state and this amazing country. I love to travel. Since I was 15 I have been travelling all over the world. I can’t get enough of it!
“Whatever you do... do it well. Live with passion.”
Natalie Stansfield, Australian Born/Chilean heritage
Your vibe attracts your tribe.La vida es un carnival (Life is a carnival). You only live once.
I fell in love with salsa when I took my first trip to Cuba back in 1997. I created La Bomba. Being around dancers is my happy place, DJ’ing good dance tracks for latin dancers is satisfaction x1million.
When you see me dance you know I am very, very happy...
I love that dancing makes people happy and allows them to express themselves with no words.
I dream of one day running my own salsa bar for dancers to enjoy and non dancers to get hooked on the rhythms.
Nathaniel Jay, Australian
Do one thing every day which scares you!
Dance is great fun, very stimulating for the mind and body. Also a great social activity. Dance makes me feel amazing!
I also love playing music. My dream is to be able to play music and dance every single day.
I love drinking rum and dancing in Havana. Performing at the Singapore Grand Prix. These would have to be two highlights of my life. Can't wait until I can do it again!
Rachael Young, Australian
When I came back to dancing this time, I was in a bad place personally. Dancing came to be the only thing I looked forward to all week. I had the opportunity to recreate myself into the person I'd always wanted to be - outgoing, confident, even sexy - and that was intoxicating. I fell in love with that person. It became the only time I felt like me and the only time I ever got to be just ME - not a wife, mother, daughter, teacher, friend... just me. It is one of the very few things I feel I don't totally suck at (although I have my days when I can't do anything right).
Rolando Garcia Callaba, Cuba
My auntie was the light on my way to dance, she’s an amazing dancer! I’ve been dancing for 22 years.
I found La Bomba when I got to Australia five years ago. Dancing is what I love to do! Dancing makes me feel amazing.
I feel alive in Cuba and relaxed in my Habana. Friends would describe me as crazy. I’m a happy person.
I love clothes, dance, and my mum....Hakuna Matata??
Sara Forbes, Maltese/Australian
Live for today not tomorrow. Life is too short.
I started ballet at around 5 years old and did it for a few years, then my mother signed me up for ballroom where I danced for many years and my passion for dance grew. I did many styles in ballroom/latin and also in jazz, hip hop and rock and roll. I also did my dance exams and completed a high level and did some teaching. Towards the end of year 12 I decided to take a break as in the competitive scene it was challenging to find a dance partner.
I love travelling and just going away and getting away from the daily grind - basically just enjoying life with family and friends. I do want to travel more and visit more countries but also visit the countries where Salsa and Samba come from - a cultural dance trip would be amazing!
I guess my friends would describe me as the life of the party and the social butterfly as I always have things on and keep busy!
Sarah Bierrmann, Australian
I started jazz ballet dance classes with friends from primary school when I was nine years old and continued for three years. I performed onstage during this time wearing costumes and make up, and remember feeling so nervous on-stage. Years later, I remember watching video footage of me performing on-stage as a child and I felt disappointed as I let my nerves get the best of me and I didn’t give my 100% effort. Learning from my time dancing as a child, I now always try my hardest when performing and always have fun at La Bomba!
It’s strange – I dread speaking in front of a crowd, however, I feel most confident in myself and happy when I’m dancing and particularly when on-stage!I really enjoy playing different sports as well as staying fit and healthy and testing myself at the gym. This is fortunate, as I also love different cultural food, red wine and coffee, especially indulging in chocolate and pizza.
I love to wear the colour red and have it featured in my life as I believe it represents love and passion, and as such, reflects how I feel.
I feel most alive when dancing and performing on stage as I feel a mix of strong emotions. I feel extremely nervous yet impatient when waiting backstage, however when I enter the stage and then hear the music and feel it boom within my chest and I start dancing, I feel like all of my love and joy for life explodes out of me! It is in these moments I feel I am celebrating and appreciating the person I am and the fortunate life I live.
I’m dancing to express, not impress.
Instead of “stopping to smell the roses”, I stop to appreciate each sunrise and sunset I catch, as it reminds me, in a way how beautiful, unique, and fleeting each moment and each day is.
Sergio Tatlian, Uruguayan
I grew up listening to cumbia and zamba, but I do love Cuban salsa and bachata since I have been at La Bomba.
I have been friends with Natalie about 10 years through dancing. I've been at the studio around two and a half years. She has an amazing energy. When we dance we are all the same. I love seeing people happy.
I relax by playing music, being in the ocean, riding horses. Seeing my son smile opens my heart.
I’m a positive, happy person. I don't like bullshit.
Shaylee Pham, Australian/Vietnamese
Life is not about the destination, it's about the journey.
I've always loved dancing, but never knew how to dance a proper style. I decided to learn and hoped to find a sexy latino guy.
Dancing has become my passion. It fulfils the empty spaces in my life. It's amazing meeting new people that have the same interest for dance. I love being drawn into the moment and feeling the connection between myself and the other person. Besides dancing I love martial arts, meditation, and yoga. I dream about travelling overseas to gain more knowledge and skills in the hobbies I do. Finding myself through meditation, yoga, and spirituality is also my favourite part of life.
Steph Duong aka Chinita Australian. Vietnamese heritage (dad’s side) but more Latina than Vietnamese
Starting salsa classes was something I had promised myself as a reward for getting a permanent job. I got addicted and never looked back.
Dance makes me feel... Free Joyous Liberated Connected Confident Alive
My other passion is cooking. It was always my hobby before I started dancing. I used to stand on a stool at the kitchen bench and help my mum cook. I love cooking for friends and family, bringing people together and bringing happiness to others. One of my favourite cooking moments is when I made an Arabic sweet for some of my friends. One of them said he hadn’t had them in two years (since he had been home) and that eating them reminded him of home and family. It was a really special feeling to give him that.
One of my dreams is to run a small B&B or cafe where I can cook for people who are more like family than customers, run dance classes and offer massages and tours.
Tessa LaVey Lugg, Australian
I didn't start coming to classes consistently until after I met my boyfriend who’s a teacher here. I've now been dancing at La Bomba solely since December/January. And I just started teaching. Dancing makes me feel beautiful and has given me the confidence in not only my body but also my abilities and what I'm capable of. It's my happy place and I enjoy the fact that you can create connection with someone with no verbal cues. There's something really raw about being so close to someone who you don't even know the name of and putting complete trust in them and knowing exactly what they are trying to communicate to
I dream of moving to New York. I love travel and could continue to travel until I died. I've already danced in New York and Cuba, I'd love to visit the Dominican Republic for bachata. I want to compete nationally and learn as much as I can from as many people as I can. But mainly I want to live in New York for at least a year. And become a real adult. I feel as though I'm only half way there and am trying to keep my head above the water.
No one can hurt you unless you give them the power to do so.
Big believer in karma.
Tony Hvasanov, Chinese/Russian
Be like water. Be positive (like my blood type).
I needed to do more social activity so signed up after seeing a Groupon deal. I’ve been dancing for about 10 months.
I enjoy dancing. It's fun and I enjoy the social aspect. Make new friends. Dancing makes me relaxed and happy.
I also like to exercise, hike, spend time with friends and eat out.
I can relax anywhere. As long as there is peace and quiet.
I enjoy being around positive people. Dancing is my favourite activity currently.
Vita Smith, Australian with Dutch heritage
I've been doing performance dance for about 15 years. Many moons ago, I chose to do one of my university placements in India. When I came back, a small group of us decided to set up a support organisation for the Rural Unit for Health & Social Affairs, where we completed our placement. We were quite involved with the Indian community in Adelaide, and one time, whilst attending the Indian Mela and watching the Bollywood dancers, the dance teacher invited others to join. And so began an eight year Bollywood dance career! After finding myself forced to drop dance for a year while I worked full time and studied, I returned, but swapped into the Latino world.
For those precious moments, whirling around a dance floor or having fun with friends during a Reggaeton...nothing else matters. Just for a time, all your cares are set aside, and you find yourself 100% in the moment.
Favourite place... don't ask me to pick just one! Ive travelled 34 odd countries thus far, and have had the privilege of seeing some of the most beautiful and spectacular places and creatures on earth....from the backwaters of Kerala in India, to trekking in the the Himalayas, admiring the marine wildlife in the Galapagos to the sheer beauty of Thompson Gazels and Leopards in Africa....
Zoe Marie, Aussie/Italian
I grew up obsessed with Dirty Dancing the movie. When Havana Nights came out, salsa was on my radar. I was 19 when I walked into my first class. I had the time of my life and have never looked back. I’m told by friends I am honest, loyal, loving, funny, as crazy as them. I am a chameleon. I've never loved or been more passionate about anything in my life besides salsa. It changed my life, from a chubby, pimply, insecure 19 year old little girl, to a woman who sometimes is still insecure, but it helped give me the confidence to overcome so many things in my life, and I've met brilliant people, and made beautiful connections
LA BOMBA: da bomb, explosive.
1997: My first trip to Cuba sparked an idea. There was no salsa in Adelaide... I had to bring this incredible energy and joy to Adelaide.
1998: a one-hour lunchtime Latin spot on Adelaide airwaves.
1999: LATIN ALL STARS FESTIVAL at the Gov. Nothing could have prepared me for the crowds that attended this event on the 27th December 1999. It was phenomenal, the Gov reached capacity - over 750 punters, and people were turned away.
Latin dance workshops and regular classes were set up, we were approached by other venues to run nights, and created a samba showgirls troupe: LAS CHICAS BOMBA.
TODAY: LA BOMBA runs a large Latin dance studio in Hindmarsh, organises yearly cultural tours to Cuba and continues to run successful Latin dance events and festivals around Australia.
Emily Vasquez (my sister) is La Bomba's artistic director. Our parents hail from Chile, and we love to promote all types of Latin American music, dance and culture. The rest of the team are from El Salvador, Cuba, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Italy and Australia.
What I love most about LA BOMBA is the diversity of people who attend our shows and dance studio. We have evolved into a community, a family, a fun and enjoyable place. LA BOMBA is beautiful and positive, and I am very proud of what I have created.