At some point in the making of this film I asked myself, what is it about the salsa dance world that attracts many to the point of addiction, often avoiding alcohol or other drugs because these substances interfere with their deeper addiction? I found that some got their start growing up in a home where Latin dance was simply a part of life. Others started by going in search of social possibilities, and others went looking to fill a void in their lives. But when music and motion come together in this form of Latin street dance, something else takes hold and leads to places few, including myself, have regretted going.
Looking for that thing that will fill a void in ones life is not unique. There are things in most people which drive them toward or away from powerful forces. How these forces have played out in each of the characters lives is what interests me.
My seduction and subsequent obsession with salsa started one night in a dark, smoke-filled nightclub in Havana, Cuba. It wasn’t simply the club scene that took hold of me. It was also the walk through Havana’s night streets, past open doors that poured out the sound of music and the sight of people dancing in their living rooms and on their balconies. I only later realized how deeply these early contacts began to inhabit me. Returning to Canada, I found a world as fully focused on breathing salsa, but hidden behind the closed doors of a colder climate. The warmth of the music and the people dancing to it has now opened remarkable doors, as I have come to learn first hand from many of the key figures in the history and evolution of salsa dance today.
Most meaningful undertakings are personal. My goal is to tell the story of salsa that reaches beyond the dance world. The aspirations of Victor and Katia are just as much my aspirations. They want to reach the top and show to the world what they can do on a dance floor. In making this film I want to show that world to as many people as possible. The particular details of their struggles are unique to them, but they are at some level an expression of the meaning of struggle.
Salsa dance, which burst onto the scene in New York City in the early 1970s, struggled to survive in the 1980s. The later 1970s disco era and changing tastes in the 1980s saw salsa fade in popularity. While Billy and Albert were dealing with other demons, Eddie Torres struggled to survive as a salsa dance performer and teacher. Each of them did survive and went on to great things. This story has played throughout time. My hope is that the story you find will live on and add another chapter to a larger story that every era and every pursuit of a broader ambition seeks to achieve.
Edwin Gailits has followed a number of roads to his current role as the producer, director, and editor of Cold Nights Hot Salsa. He began his career as a professional still photographer and then gravitated to theatre, where, for almost a decade, he produced and directed numerous classics theatre productions.
For the past 20 years he has been producing, directing, and editing films in a broad range of subject areas. Edwin has profiled the work of a Shibori fabric artist, examined the relationship between satellite data imagery, mathematics and watercolour painting and has produced a series of hybrid educational/fiction films that explored mathematics. More recently he produced a health care documentary that looks at some of the underlying structural problems of the US health care system. During the making of Cold Nights Hot Salsa, other projects he has worked on include producing films for an organization that studies and promotes the health benefits of music.