London Salsa Events will soon be two years old and with over 500 events listed and over 4,000 visitors a month I wanted to tell the story of why and how this project came about and why I feel that it is one of the most significant projects in London Salsa.
A little under seven years ago myself, Tina Stamou and Jamil Bacha got together to start a Tuesday On2 club in London at the Boston Music Room. TNT had been around for about 18 months before this date and we had kept a very low profile as we wanted to harness our teaching skills before going broad and public. I remember us spending months to find a venue, negotiate rates, set a launch date, design and print flyers and all the wonderful things that go into running a Salsa night. We put in the effort because this night was going to be our big introduction.
About 3 weeks before our grand launch an event appeared on Facebook which was the launch of another new night by another promoter who had far more clout in London.
This promoter is a friend so I contacted him only to learn that he has made agreements and cannot move the date and that he was sorry for the clash. This was a big cause for frustration as we could have chosen a different date if we only knew. This was no one’s fault but it was apparent that although there are hundreds of teachers in London there is no real place for promoters to communicate and share their plans in a safe and professional manner.
This was the birth of my secret Promoter Collaboration Facebook Group which is now home to 52 members. All major Salsa schools have a representative as well as members of the Bachata scene and Salsa Band leaders. The goal was to have a private place where we can share dates prior to public release, discuss collaboration opportunities and avoid clashes to the benefit of the London Salsa Scene.
London Salsa Events
Facebook messages which were posted to the group become increasingly hard to find as more people posted. When validating a date for a new event we had to scroll up and down and try to find the exact comment and hope that it had not been overridden. This started to become a cause for annoyance as promoters had to keep on re-posting dates so I thought there had to be a better way to manage this information.
I had been playing with Joomla for my own personal development and thought it would be very simple to put together a private website for all event dates. I would keep a close eye on the Promoter Collaboration page and add events when required.
Halfway through building the London Salsa Events website I got a Facebook message asking me for recommended places to dance and a light bulb switched on. Why not make this website a public one for all of London and people visiting London?
I decided to make London Salsa Events very clean, just recommended events, mobile friendly and very easy to navigate. It took a total of 20 hours work to get it all working the way I liked and setting up twitter, Mailchimp for newsletters, Hootsuite for scheduling, Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, a Facebook Page, Designing Flyers (yes, we have flyers) and adding the initial list of events.
We went live on 29th August 2013.
Importance to London
For me London Salsa Events is one of the most important platforms for connecting students from different schools and further building our community. Running a Salsa school is a tough proposition and one of the key aspects is student retention; therefore a lot of schools, consciously or unconsciously, isolate their students and do not expose them to the wider Salsa scene. This isolation has a very negative effect on the learning and diversity that will come from students merging styles from different instructors.
London Salsa Events, managed by Josh Agbetile of TNT, is unbiased and will list all events from all schools and promoters. This will encourage students to go and try other events and classes and will have the effect of improving the creativity of students, breaking down walls and harmonising the London Salsa scene.
Why did I write this blog?
London Salsa Events came about because I felt some frustration and instead of moaning about it, took proactive action to make a change and as a result London Salsa is better because of it. You can do the same for your scene. You do not need to be a teacher, promoter or school owner but someone who wants to make a difference. If I had learned anything from my experience with TNT it is that if you want it you can achieve it.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and as always please leave me your comments.