The Johannesburg Afro-Latin Festival
is about bringing cultures, nations, races and age-groups together through Afro-Latin music and dance and celebrating the energy and regeneration of Jozi -- and those who promote Afro-Latin dance and music here throughout the year.
The term Afro-Latin broadly groups various genres of music and dance that have evolved from exchanged cultural expressions between people of Africa (particularly East and Central) and the South Americas. Afro-Latin influences are forged largely from the expression of cultural identity amongst Africans at a time when they were forced into slavery, particularly by Spanish and Portuguese colonizers and traders. With its roots therefore in Africa, Europe and South America, Afro-Latin eventually became a global phenomenon via integration into other artistic styles developing in major centers, especially the cultural melting pot of New York City. Its influences throughout international music and dance styles are vast. The Johannesburg Afro-Latin Festival will focus on street, club and social dance styles and African, Latin and Jazz music styles.
In Johannesburg and around the country there is a significant and growing Afro-Latin social dancing and music scene with many organisations and companies offering classes, events and performances as well as musicians, bands and specialist DJs. There is also an increasing international interest in Afro-Beat music that overlaps with the Afro-Latin offering.
Because we wanted something that was more than a dance congress, we are working to coordinate music and dance education workshops and seminars that offer knowledge, focused training and fun for dancers, music and dance enthusiasts and musicians, along with options for absolute beginners.
We are also collaborating with Joburg's famous Neighbourgoods Market and surrounding spots in Braamfontein. In fact, the entire Festival Launch takes place at Venue Thirteen, situated on the 13th and 14th floors of the 'Neighbourgoods Market building'. The venue boasts stunning rooftop views and two dance floors.
The Johannesburg Afro-Latino Festival will be an annual event celebrating and promoting Afro-Latin dance and music in Johannesburg and South Africa. The event aims to be an enlightening and entertaining experience for local and international guests, focusing on salsa, bachata, kizomba and Afro-beat primarily.
The festival will start out with a launch event focusing on Afro-Latin dance and music in early 2018 featuring four socials/parties with local DJs and and a band, dance showcase, workshops and seminars by local and international artists.
Background : The Festival is co-founded by Olu Kongi and Catherine Peter who became friends in 2004, both owing much of their salsa education and passion to the city of Leeds, UK and some special mutual friends. They have travelled together both for and outside of the salsa world and have a shared love for Afro-Latin dance and music as well as the City of Johannesburg. Olu and Cat hope to create a festival that can do what Afro-Latin music does best: bring people together.
In that vein, for Olu and Cat the event is about bringing cultures, nations, races and age-groups together through Afro-Latin music and dance and celebrating the energy and regeneration of Johannesburg a.k.a “Jozi” -- and those who promote Afro-Latin dance and music here throughout the year.
Biography: Olu Kongi
Olu Olu has been dancing Salsa for over 15 years but prior to that he was loosely involved with the UK Freestyle Jazz dance scene especially in London and Leeds. His salsa dancing started in one of the premier regular salsa nights in Leeds, the now-defunct Casa Latina which also happened to attract the jazz dancers of the day who viewed salsa music as Latin Jazz.
Olu Olu’s preferred salsa style these days is NY Style On 2 but he is equally comfortable On 1 or with the Cuban Style. His main influences and inspiration not only include Eddie Torres, Frankie Martinez and Santo Rico but also Susana Montero and Super Mario of London, UK.
Olu Olu also taught salsa for over 10 years having started with the Latin Quarter Dance Company in Leeds under the tutelage of Nicolai V and Alan. He has also performed with the Latin Quarter around the UK. He has taught for Manhattan Mambo in London, one of the pioneer On 2 teaching outfits in London.
Olu Olu has been a regular teacher at Mambocity 5 Star Congress in London since its inception but he has also given workshops in Leeds, London, Copenhagen, Shanghai and Qingdao in China. His dance style is best described as smooth and jazzy.
He has appeared as a dance extra for numerous UK Television dramas that feature salsa, most notably Fat Friends.
More recently Olu Olu has been concentrating on his other hobby, photography. He has been taking pictures practically all his life and has been dancing for almost equally as long so combining his passion for travel, dancing and photography he can be seen at many of the dance festivals around Europe capturing memories from the dancers' point of view with a keen eye for detail and an unusual perspective of the world at large. He has featured as an official photographer at many festivals and congresses: check out his photo page Olu Olu Snap Snap [https://www.facebook.com/OhMyLeftEye/] on Facebook.
Olu is a self-confessed social media addict and he can be found across many platforms either blogging (jazzman.blog.co.uk), sharing his photography on Instagram (@oak4jazz) or musing on Twitter (@oak4jazz). He is the host of the online virtual Coffee Lounge on Facebook where salseros and salseras discuss a variety of topics affecting the Afro-Latin dance community. He has hosted live Coffee Lounges at various festivals and events.
Olu holds dual British and Nigerian nationality, is a Civil Engineer, and enjoys spending time travelling and learning about the African continent.
Biography: Catherine Peter
"MamboCat" or "SambaCat" depending on the day!-- has been dancing within the Afro-Latin umbrella since 2002. Finding Miami-style salsa via her best friend's Colombian family during her high school years in Fort Lauderdale, USA (gracias Beatriz!), she continued to dance whilst studying at the University of Leeds, UK, training and eventually teaching cross-body style salsa ('on1' and 'on2') with Nicky Lloyd-Greame and Gormack Dione (The Salsaholics). Whilst in Leeds she also discovered Brazilian samba and reggaeton, learning and working with Ella Mesma and Elisa Aloe, and quickly developed a love for all things Brazilian.
Eventually moving to London, UK, Cat continued training and teaching salsa and performed samba, salsa, Latin Jazz, reggaeton and other styles with various Latin cabaret and Brazilian groups in London, including Samba Collective, Yes! Brasil, Tropicalia, Oi Brasil and the London School of Samba. In 2008 she was invited to parade as a 'Passista' in Rio Carnival with the samba school Alegria da Zona Sul. She has featured on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing and performed at international samba festivals and parades, such as the Coburg International Samba Festival. In London she had the great privilege of working and training with Cuban salsa and kizomba legend, Angolan/Portuguese Iris de Brito, a seasoned and renowned choreographer, performer and instructor.
Cat returned to South Africa in 2010 where she founded SambaJozi, and has taught and performed with various local salsa and kizomba dance companies including co-founding BailaAfrika in 2012 before taking a sabbatical for two years, and most recently working with the Salsa Addicts JHB. She founded Candela Jozi Dance Company in 2016 as an Afro-Latin dance entertainment agency and company which also seeks to promote Brazilian Samba and Brazilian entertainment and arts in South Africa through the SambaJozi brand.
Cat's first love is dancing and teaching New York style salsa and cha cha cha whilst sharing her dance-heart with samba and reggaeton. As a choreographer she relishes an opportunity to create a story of movement to a great track.
In her 'other' life she is a consultant, working with various international youth-focused non-profit organisations and advising on brand management and organisational development.