By Marissa Willman

Get ready to shake it—the Summer Salsa Mambo Festival and Bacahata Madness Festival is making its way to the desert this month.
From July 26-30, Dance Sport California will present its 16th Salsa Mambo Festival at the Doral Princess Resort in Cathedral City, featuring world-famous dance instructors and activities for all ages and skill levels.
“Whether you’re 60, 36, 16 or 6, it doesn’t matter,” said Bernard Martinez, creative director of the festival. “You’re going to enjoy this event.”
The family-friendly festival attracts more than 1100 dancers and dance enthusiasts from around the world who participate in dance workshops, pool parties, shows, performances and competitions. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., attendees can attend classes that cover everything from stretching and toning to different styles of dance, such as meringue, salsa, Argentine tango and the cha cha cha. Technical classes focusing on spin, styling and footwork are also available.
Workshop instructors come from distinguished careers and represent all different styles of dance. Among the instructors are choreographers who have worked on reality dance shows such as “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
“Although they’re superstars in their own right, they’re very approachable,” Martinez said.
Martinez added that the event is very beginner-friendly, and a beginner’s class is offered every hour.
“When people say they have two left feet, I tell them we’ll find them someone with two right feet,” Martinez said. “This event is for everyone at all different levels.”
The dance curious, as Martinez calls it, can drop in on a beginner’s boot camp to learn the basics to Latin dances such as salsa or Argentine tango. There are also plenty of workshops offered for children to practice their moves and even learn a choreographed routine to perform during the closing night festivities.
“There’s something for everyone,” Martinez said. “You don’t have to be a dancer. If you want to learn, you can learn. If you like watching shows, you can do that, too. There’s entertainment for everyone.”
The festival is held twice a year, once during summer and once over New Year’s Eve. While the summer event is fun for the whole family, the New Year’s Eve bash has more of a party atmosphere and draws a large crowd.
“It’s the largest Latin dance party in the country,” Martinez said.
In the afternoon, festivalgoers head to the pool to let loose with an onsite DJ at an all-out pool party. After dinner, there are evening performances such as open dancing, performances and competitions.
“We’re dancing until 4 a.m.,” Martinez said.
There’s also no need to worry about not having a dance partner, as Martinez said his staff is trained under a “Don’t Say No” policy.
“You can ask anybody who’s part of the staff to dance and they can’t say no,” Martinez said. “You’re going to dance 50, maybe 60 times this weekend.”
Martinez and his wife, Sonyo, started hosting the Latin dance-themed festivals eight years ago when the couple moved to California from New York and opened Dance Sport California, a dance school, in Long Beach. The biannual Salsa Mambo Festivals are just two the numerous dance events the pair host year-round, and one of the most family- and beginner-friendly.
“This festival is a little bit more family-oriented than others and caters more to the beginner to immediate level,” Martinez said. “We make it very welcoming and we invite everyone to come.”
For more information about the Salsa Mambo Festival and to reserve your tickets, visit