salsa dancingBy Steve Fowler

The 2013 version of Salsa, Soul, Sushi & Samosas at The Louisville Palace certainly accomplished its mission of “Breaking the Ice Between Cultures.”

The event took on a life of its own deep into yesterday morning, shifting between the bustling, infectious rhythms of the Kentucky Salsa All-Stars and the seamless, splendidly kinetic grooves spun by DJ Ank G on digital turntables.

I’ve many times appreciated The Louisville Palace as a good-looking Louisville venue with great sound and acoustics for performances in the main auditorium.

Salsa All Stars
Salsa All Stars

But the unique layout of this particular event – sprawled across the picturesque and perfectly lit Palace Lobby, into the adjacent bar area for the salsa band, and even onto the second-floor bar and VIP lounge for more socializing off the dance floor – really highlighted the beauty and presentation of the venue.

Kentucky Salsa All-Stars and Ank G weren’t the only examples of musicianship on display for this event. Before either act performed, the crowd was treated to a rousing performance by Cardinal Bhangra from the University of Louisville.

They quite earned the raucous applause they received, and their energy helped lead the way into what would become a memorable night of dancing and socializing.

DJ Ank G

The crowd didn’t have to move far or wait long after Cardinal Bhangra, as the Kentucky Salsa All-Stars ignited their first set in the adjoining room almost immediately.

Some couples smiled and half-shimmied from the far fringes of the dance floor, but many others who were clearly no strangers to salsa music danced vigorously within a few feet of the band, and others still clamored merely to get close to the sizzling sounds emanating from the stage and to feel the energy of the room.

Within moments of the conclusion of the first salsa set, Ankur Gopal (DJ Ank G) welcomed the crowd into The Palace Lobby and proceeded to spin a web of new house mixed with samples of R&B, soul, Latin, funk, Middle Eastern, South American, and just about every other region of the world with a cardinal direction in its name.

Though he is currently CEO of Louisville tech startup Interapt, Ankur is no intermediate DJ — he’s still involved in the music production business in Chicago, and has honed his craft behind the turntables for well over a decade.

Still, there’s something to be said for any DJ who can get an entire crowd composed of many different cultures, backgrounds, and musical tastes to all find the same groove and move together in celebration.

In doing what it promised to do – by proving that the only barrier between cultures was a shared space to enjoy music, dancing, and socializing – the Salsa, Soul, Sushi & Samosas event fully justified selling out for the second year in a row.

Picture 2Considering there were 1,000 tickets sold, it’s clear next year’s event will only be a secret to those in Louisville who aren’t paying attention. They’ve certainly got their work cut out for them; I heard plenty of comments about how this year topped last year, though I can’t qualify that because I missed last year.

But whatever this event’s future, plenty who experienced Breaking the Ice in 2013 will remember it as one of the more exciting Louisville nights of any year.


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