Salsa by the beach

Salsa by the beach at Sentosa’s Club Islander was a veritable maelstrom. Mark Koh talks with Al and Karla Espinoza about Singapore’s love of hot salsa…

Hot bodied women twirled in the arms of athletic partners on a newly built deck in Palawan Beach and rich music from internationally acclaimed Ireson, composed of Mexican pianist/composer Alina Ramirez and bassist/guitarist/arranger Mario Lopez, providing a sense of excitement and escapism only matched by my recent viewing of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Minus Johnny Depp with eyeliner of course. Having a turnout close to the expected 800-1000 pax, Sentosa Leisure Group’s Media Communications Executive Zee Soh Fun was thrilled:

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“We had a really overwhelming response from Saturday and intend to do it with participants from across the whole region.” She was also optimistic with a notable marquee over the performance deck as a wet weather plan: “Hopefully there’s longevity and it (Salsa by the beach) will continue forever”.

Sentosa are being serious with their emphasis on Salsa with the market responding well. “We want people to learn more about Salsa and have fun,” said Regina, Sentosa’s Event Manager.

I had the privilege of attending the finals of the salsa dancing competition held on June 25th and bore witness to some truly world class performances in the form of guest act “Liquid Silver Productions”, headed by Al “Liquid Silver” Espinoza and his wife / partner Karla whom I had an opportunity to sit down with after the contestants danced their hearts out under the evening sky.

Al and Karla are the two dance instructors that pioneered the teaching of Lindy Hop in Singapore and worked closely with Dance promoter Fen from Jitterbugs Swingapore in Millennia walk (9 Raffles Boulevard #03-02). Al himself invented his famous ‘Millennium Style’ form of Salsa with hip-hop influences, having started Salsa seven years prior with a whopping 27 year background in Hip-hop dancing.

FASHIONBRAIN: Tell me more about yourselves, where were you born?

Karla: I’m a Peruvian / Columbian

Al: Well, I have Puerto Rican and Mexican blood… so I’m a bit of a ‘messed-up-Rican’ (laughs)

FASHIONBRAIN: Far from messed up! Where do you operate from?

Al: We are based in Los Angeles in America and perform 2-3 times a month. We dance in Korea, Japan, China, Singapore and parts of Europe.

FASHIONBRAIN: How did you get into it in the first place?

Al: Salsa’s in my blood. Mum’s from Puerto Rico and I used to dance while the adults were having barbeques. It was Spontaneous, natural, original Salsa. I got interested in Hip-hop at 11 – but even then it was really deep top rocking.

Karla: Al gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. I was talent spotted by him 5 years ago in a show in Miami and wanted to perform in a festival in L.A.

FASHIONBRAIN: I’ve heard about your famous dance routines. The ‘Terminator’ in particular got you guys across the globe, didn’t it?

Karla: (Laughs) yes, the terminator!

Al: Actually we have quite a few numbers with different lineups. We’ve had some crazy ones like the one where we act like toy robots under the control of some kids. In the ‘Terminator’, I play the role of Arnold Slazenger’s character while Karla is the TX from Terminator 3 and I ‘shoot’ her. Its dynamic and we act a lot.

FASHIONBRAIN: Given the nature of Salsa, isn’t what you are doing very hard?

Al: Karla has a background in Salsa and Jazz. She mastered the ‘Cowboy’ routine in 12 hours flat! Normally it takes couples months to perfect. I’ve been choreographing for a while now, so we get it done.

FASHIONBRAIN: Any particularly exciting shows you have done?

Al: We’ve performed at the ‘Salsa Congress’ – it’s an international festival with up to 5000 people in it. Shows and workshops during the day with nice parties at night.

Karla: Its work and play for us!

FASHIONBRAIN: How do you find Singapore?

Al: Its incredible. And trust me, I’ve been to Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The people here are great, the food is amazing. There’s something really different about Singapore

Karla: Its special!

– More information on Liquid Silver Productions can be found on