Pioneering Salsa..!!

In yet another issue of the +977, I had a chance to interview Binayek Das Shrestha who is considered as one of the personality to initiate the salsa in Kathmandu. Here is a short chat with him about himself and Salsa..!!

Binayek Das Shrestha, is a familiar face in the field of Salsa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Best known as an instructor and for all his charismatic moves in Salsa dance, he is also the founder and CEO of Salsa Dance Academy in Nepal, Binayek Das Shrestha has been teaching Salsa in Nepal for more than a decade now. He worked as a radio jockey at HBC94fm before entering into Salsa. Until today he claims to have taught more than 6000+ salsa students and proudly claims to be one of the first salsa instructors in Nepal. Many of the dance instructors in Kathmandu who teach Salsa were once his student, he says proudly. After hosting two major International Salsa Festivals in Kathmandu, the first one at the International Club, Sanepa, where the salsa lovers had a chance to meet and learn salsa from the Salsa maestro like Suzana Montero and the 2nd Salsa festivals at Shangri La hotel where again the salsa lovers had a chance to learn from international artists like Jorjet & Troy (USA), Tze Yi Wee (Singapore), Nelson de Oliveira Campos (Guinea/Portugal) and the famous Magna Gopal (USA). The reason behind him for organizing such events in Nepal is to bring the world of Salsa to Nepal and help the Nepalese people gain exposure by learning from the world renowned salsa dancers.

As for him, he himself started his Salsa lesson from a man named Andreas Lerk in 1999 after which he never had to look back. He received his formal training in salsa from Spain and has been teaching since 2004. He has represented Nepal at various International Salsa Festival including International India Salsa Congress 2008, Bangkok Salsa Festival 2008, Salsa Vacation with Stars 2009, International India Salsa Congress 2010 and recently at Berlin Salsa Congress 2011. A certified DJ from Microfusa School of Sound, Barcelona, Spain; he is also a photography enthusiast. When asked why for a guy who keeps travelling abroad to be a part of different festivals, he never decided to stay there back, when all the youths dream of it moving abroad. He smiles and says, “I am here to bring the world of salsa to Nepal and that is what I will do for the rest of my life”.

In this issue, we bring you a candid talk with Binayek Das Shrestha.

Q) There are so many dance forms, Why salsa?

A) As a child or even after I grew up, I was never a person who would dance for any occasion nor agree to dance even if someone requested me. I was an introvert and shy and I never thought that I would take any dance form in my life. One day when I was watching the movie “Dance With me”, I suddenly felt that I was born to do this. Maybe it was my destiny in life and that was what I was supposed to do. While even watching the movie, I decided this was what I wanted to do or rather born to do. This is the particular reason for me to choose Salsa.

Q) When did you first learn Salsa and who taught you?

A) I learned salsa with a German Man name “ANDERAS LERK”. He was also the first person to get Latin dance in Nepal. I learned Salsa with him back in 1999. 

Q) Tell me about Salsa Dance Academy?

A) When I started salsa it was more of a hobby and an interest to dance. Back then it was classes and salsa parties which were just for fun and exciting thing one would do when you are learner.  My instructor always organized salsa and various other dance forms at Hotel Yak & Yeti every Sunday evening. As years passed by my instructor had to leave Nepal. It was around this time that we heard from a friend that there was a new place which was very good for salsa and other dance forms as well. This place was “Latin Quarter Salsa Bar & Restaurant” at Babermahal Revisited, at Baber Mahal.

It was year 2004, after a small salsa get together at friend’s place we all planned to head to Latin Quarter Salsa Bar for a tryout. It was a very beautiful place with all the Latin colors and the ambience was really good and the Food & Drinks were really good. After visiting the place for couple of Friday nights, the proprietor of Latin Quater Salsa Bar – Mrs. Rakshya Lama (wife of Captain Vijay Lama) approached me and asked me if I would be interested giving classes there. As I have always loved sharing my knowledge, I agreed instantly. I was however worried whether or not I would have students with no experience in teaching before. However, I was assured by Mrs. Lama who said she would get me students. With the confidence of Mrs. Lama on me, I started searching for a name that would best suit the purpose of what I was venturing into that would be ideal for Nepalese culture although it was pretty weird that I had to start my salsa classes in a bar. I thought of many names and after evaluating the pros and cons, I choose “Salsa Dance Academy (SDA)”. That is how SDA got its name in 2004. After 8 wonderful years of teaching Salsa, it has a name for itself which I am very proud of. I am still thankful to Mrs. RAkhshya Lama and Captain Vijay Lama for providing me with this opportunity and particularly a great platform without which I wouldn’t have been possible to reach where I am today.

Q) Are you inspired by anybody in particular when it comes to salsa?

A) Honestly I must say it was the Latinos, their moves, play, fun and chemistry when they dance. I must say it wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the movie “Dance with Me” actor Cheyenne and his Latino chemistry, which made me dance salsa. 

Q) What would you be doing if you weren’t a salsa instructor?

A) Back then as I was more in computer programming & Networking so if I weren’t a salsa instructor I would be sitting behind the MAINFRAME SUPER COMPUTER probably working on Windows 9. (Laughs)

Q) Do you think the current Salsa scenario is better than when you started? A) Yes, it is. Nepalese Culture is still having a grouch to Salsa dance just because its couple dances. New generation and television exposure have helped a lot to open up and provided more information for a person to get into dance and by dance I mean not only salsa. When I started it used to be only handful of Nepalese people who would do salsa/couple dance. But today 95% of my students are Nepalese than expats which was a different scenario when I started. My records show that from the day I started teaching salsa in 2004; SDA has already registered 7000 students already. Q) What pros and Cons do you have to face in a Nepalese Culture as a Dance Instructor?

A) In Nepali culture dancer/ instructor is not even considered a career and is always looked down. This however is changing with time. Still people and even the younger generations are reluctant taking this as a career. I have been around the world but my heart has always been in my country. My contribution to my country NEPAL is what I must say is a big EXAMPLE towards the new generation. If you have a passion in what you are doing, it doesn’t matter what profession you choose, and people will always respect you. If your concern is money than I believe you can also earn very well if you know what you are giving and how much you are updating yourself to an international level. Every field demands quality and that is what matters plus planning promptly can take you to great heights. I have travelled half the world so many times and this is just possible by what I’m doing. I have never had to worry about running my institute. It’s hard to change anything in just one go but I have spilled the color and expect it to lead to some good direction. 

Any last note for our readers?

Try to find out what your passion lies in and work on it and success will follow you. As for me, day one I started breaking ice and still I’m breaking it and I am loving it.


Cover page of the new issue of +977

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