Twenty Five years of the Thames Salsa Cruise
My, how time flies!
As we approach the Thames Salsa Cruise’s 25th Anniversary on Sunday 21st May 2023, I’d like to offer a few reflections of this very special event that’s been part of the London Salsa scene for quarter of a century.I’d also like to offer my heartfelt appreciation to everyone who’s come on the cruise over the years. You’ve made it what it is: A beautiful, fun evening of joy.
How it began:
I was also editing the Email Salsa News which was a salsa events listing email magazine, that went out weekly.
Fliss, AKA DJ Felicidad and I, decided to celebrate with a salsa picnic by the river in Jubilee Gardens next to Embankment station.
We quickly realised that promoting this free event was taking as much effort as promoting a profit making event with as much reputational risk if things went wrong. (We found out on the day that picnics are banned in Jubilee gardens!) It was time to take a risk and hire a boat as an add-on to the picnic. The idea of the Thames Salsa Cruise was born. Four hours of Sunday afternoon cruising the Thames and back in time to get home ready for Monday.
The Party:I believe dancing should be fun, not some exacting, elitist, performance based art form!
This informs how I teach and the events I run. One time many , many years ago, a couple arrived at the pier, sauntered up and announced they were Latin champions and required VIP status. My response would have failed any customer service exam (including Rian Airs). Needless to say they did not board :)
We also had to hump a PA system from wherever we could park to the boat and back. Back then I mounted two CD Walkmans in a black attaché case with a small mixer. I had many enquiries from other DJs as to where they could buy one.
Mambo Number Five
Anyway Mambo Number FIve was a success and we’ve repeated it on every cruise ever since. Sometimes it's good to be a little silly :)
The River Thames
The Thames has changed so much since we started. It's almost hard to imagine but when we started the London Eye, Millennium Dome, Shard, Headlamp, Walkie Talkie, Emirates Cable Car, Greenwich Meridian Laser and so many more things we're simply not around! It feels as if they've been built just for you to see as you dance the night away.
One of my hack lines is that the Thames Salsa Cruise has been going longer than Shakespeare's Globe Theatre!
“Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep” Henry VI, Part II
Back in 2009 I spent a week editing a video of the Cruise. It’s still a very good representation of what it’s like. If you recognise yourself in the video, let me assure you that you haven't changed a bit :)