Damian Guzman is featured in this edition of Dance Spotlight! Damian is a well-known latin dancer instructor and DJ based in the Houston area. He was nominated by Jason Haynes. Check out a few fun facts about Damian including his favorite places in Houston to dance and his most memorable dance moment!
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Where are you from?
I’m originally from Puerto Rico. I grew up in one of the largest Dominican neighborhoods in Puerto Rico and I’ve listened to salsa and bachata since I was a kid. I also have lived in Boston, Chicago, and I’m currently based out of Houston.
What (or who) originally inspired you to try Latin dancing?
I have been dancing since I was a child, but when I saw the YouTube video of Ataca & Alemana dancing to the song ‘Te Extrano’ by Extreme (video below), I became extremely inspired to take it to the next level and learn more technique.
Favorite places in Houston to dance?
My top favorites are the Houston Loves Bachata Social, which only happens about four times a year. I also love the Houston Salsa Dura Social, the Culture Beat Social, and the Salrica socials that occur every first, second, and third Saturday, respectively.
Social Dance Pet Peeves? (Hygiene, No connection, People who teach while dancing, etc)
My main pet peeve is when the follow is more concerned with what’s going around us instead on focusing on the connection. It really kills the vibe for me because I feel that they’re only going through the motions and not fully enjoying it. For me, the most important thing on the floor is not who has the best technique or who is the best dancer. What truly matters is who is having the most fun and that’s the person I want to dance with.
Favorite dance moment from your career as an instructor?
One of my favorite moments was in 2016. I went to a city named Cadiz in Spain, which is the place where Bachata Sensual was created. Visiting the city, dancing, and getting certified by the creators of the Bachata Sensual dance style was one of my most gratifying moments in my dance life. I was one of the first two Bachata Sensual certified instructors in the US!
Favorite congresses or festivals in the US/World to attend/teach?
My absolute favorite three US festivals are (in order): (1) DCBX in Washington D.C. (2) the Chicago Salsa & Bachata Festival, and (3) the Dallas Bachata Festival. These festivals are extremely well organized, provide excellent value for the price, and they bring an amazing international line-up.
What are your current favorite songs to dance to? Top two or three…
I’m a hardcore bachatero and I love “Estado Decadente” by Kewin Cosmo & Jensen Hasir and “Paris” by Pinto Picasso. One of my all time favorites is “Amigos Con Derechos” by DJ Khalid, Mr. Don and Johandy.
Favorite dance video(s) you’d like to share?
Some of my own favorite dance videos are these two filmed in New York and Budapest, Hungary.
My absolute favorite show has to be this performance by Ronald & Alba from Spain. They demonstrate an incredible mastery of performance and technique through all bachata styles in one show.