Hot salsa to be
gobbled in the isles

Promotion for a salsa event in Hawaii has in its crosshairs the increasingly appreciated Hispanic market.

A press release went out nationwide Thursday announcing that Pleasant Holidays and the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort are combining for a "Salsa in Paradise" week from Jan. 16-23.

Promoters of the music and dance event include Albert Torres Productions and Salsa Brava Productions out of California, known throughout Hispanic communities worldwide for such shows and workshops. Their participation will also bring top international names in salsa music and dance performances and instruction.

The featured band is Johnny Polanco Y Sus Conjunto Amistad, which recently released the CD "Pa'l Bailador."

Pleasant Holidays and the Marriott are offering travel and room packages for mainland attendees ranging from $685 to $1,220 per person. Further details on rates and packages are available through links at, and from the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort.

The big national announcement followed, by some three weeks, the first announcement sent out locally by Nancy Ortiz.

She is the host of the long-running Alma Latina radio show, founder of a production company by the same name, executive director of Centro Hispano de Hawaii and a key member of the steering committee working the Hawaii side of the event.

Tom Brewster, a businessman familiar to the salsa community, "was the one who wanted to put something like this together," Ortiz said. The circle of contacts grew to reach the network of salsa promoters, instructors and performers. Torres' Salsa Congress events are staged in locales ranging from LA and the UK to Italy, Germany, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

Among the Salsa Congress' award winners is Ray Cruz, 10-year veteran and volunteer host of Hawaii Public Radio's "Sabor Tropical" on KIPO-FM 89.3. He was honored for a lifetime of contributions to the Latin music industry, and is also a steering committee member for January's event. Organizers from California will fly to Hawaii next week for meetings.

"We're going to try and involve the HVCB and everybody who is willing," Cruz said.

"Those of us who are involved are responsible for helping Hawaii in this time of need," he said. "We cannot depend on Asian money anymore."

Cruz feels the national promotion of "Salsa in Paradise" will help boost Hawaii's image among Hispanics, as did a Univision TV show earlier this year. When "Caliente" aired, Cruz said, "I got calls from Puerto Rico, New York and South America saying they had seen Hawaii and how beautiful it was."

"Where would you rather be? Freezing your butt off in New York in January or dancing your butt off in Hawaii? It's a no-brainer."

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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