World Salsa Fraud - Buyer Beware
over a year now I've been getting phone calls and e-mails from salsa
friends all over the world who were upset and asking me to get the word
out about the truth as relayed to me regarding the so-called "Undefeated
Champions" of the WSF - The World Salsa Federation -
the self-crowned King and Queen of the Salsa World, Isaac
and Laura Altman. Those unfortunate enough to have dealt with these
people first hand know how self-serving these folks can be. What is
stated here is a culmination of various interviews with people who have
had dealings with Mr. and Mrs. Altman and my own first hand experience.
There is no slanderous intent here, we just want to inform and educate
the public as to what have been the experiences of numerous people.
grumblings go back to at least the 2002 Salsa and Hustle
Competition in Miami where Mr. Altman, who had selected
the "qualified" judges for that event, gave
the winning place to Salomon Rivera who was listed
on the WSF website as a professional dancer but isn't
even in the same league as Henry
Herrera of Salsa
Racing Dance Studios. Later Mr. Altman sent Henry
Herrera a letter stating that his judges had made a mistake
with the points. Later Mr. Altman did it again, at Bongo's
Cuban Café, where he was a judge. Everyone
who saw the competition agreed that Henry Herrera
should have won it, but Isaac gave it to one of his
own instructors, Dimitry Pierre Louis,
who is also an OK dancer, but again, not even close to
the level that Henry Herrera dances. When Henry
spoke with Mr. Altman regarding this, Mr. Altman blamed
it on one of the corporate sponsor judges. When Henry
asked the corporate judges about it, they stated that
it had been Mr. Altman who had been responsible for the
judges' determinations. Predetermining the winner of
a competition is usually considered unethical behavior,
but then Isaac apparently writes his own rules and changes
them to suit his mood.
year several corporate sponsors withdrew their sponsorship
of an event that Isaac was involved in because of exactly
the same thing. I know for a fact that Mr. Altman is
persona non-grata at several venues here in South
Florida, and continues to shoot himself in the proverbial
Altmans have portrayed themselves as a replacement for
the world-renowned IDO
(International Dance Organization). I personally
can guarantee everyone that this is NOT the case. The
IDO is a serious organization with a history of
credibility and well-organized events. There is no affiliation
between the IDO and the WSF whatsoever.
early September 2002, the first message posted on our
Board regarding the WSF asked,
does everyone think about Isaac and Laura Altman
who have been trying to promote what seems
like a salsa pyramid scheme, "World Salsa
Federation", with their salsa certification?
are the only World Salsa Champs ever crowned
by the "World Salsa Federation",
which they own and judge.
I really need the WSF certification so I can
dance salsa? Do native Latino dancers really
care about such salsa instructions?"
was the beginning of a long and very interesting thread
of messages on our Message
Board. (Feel free, reader,
to add your own thoughts on this!) Usually
on message boards you find some comments for and some
comments against any given topic, but virtually 100%
of the comments that have been posted to date are against
of the people I've heard from object to this self-coronated
guy trying to "certify" people. On his website
he offers Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates
for teachers. All you have to do is send him a videotape
of you dancing and a small fee... that goes directly
into his little pockets.
is he to certify anyone? Until a couple of years
ago, nobody had ever heard of him. He was a virtual unknown
outside of the Ballroom circles, even here in south Florida.
Salsa instructors and people who have won many competitions
worldwide are not so bold as to try to set themselves
up as judge and jury of the salsa world...who is this
guy? With what right does he judge the rest of us?
Do we even care?
have to say yes, I do care, especially when I
see people getting ripped off.
uses his website to promote his certificates, videos
and events. The website is garish, with huge letters
and all sorts of different fonts and animated gifs that
do nothing more than make his page look childish and
obviously that of an amateur. He even has a cheesy version
of Livin' la Vida Loca by Ricky Martin
as background music. I guess he thinks that is salsa.
(Somebody clue him in, would you please?)
doesn't even know how to change the page title, so all
of the pages on his site say, "Site Builder".
I personally would venture to guess that he is trying
to save money by not hiring a qualified webmaster, but
the results speak for themselves.
his website he advertises the event (THE
OFFICIAL 2002 UNITED STATES AND WORLD SALSA, SALSA SHOWDANCE,
SALSA SHINE AND SALSA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS)
that took place here in south Florida from October 31
- November 3rd, stating, "UP TO $10,000 IN CASH
was another matter, altogether.
starters, the competitors were booked at a hotel (Days
Inn) in the famous Devil's Triangle area of Pompano,
a small town just north of Ft. Lauderdale. This area
is home to strip joints, crack whores and drug gangs.
The hotel itself was a truck stop with big-rigs pulling
in and out at all times of the day and night - a lovely
spot for out of town people who don't know their way
of the competitors had to give the judges rides to get
to the Gold Coast Ballroom for the competition
on Saturday night because no transportation was provided
to them. They didn't even give each judge from out of
town their own room. They made them share! This is unheard
of in a "world class" competition..., which
obviously, this wasn't.
the opening party on Halloween night, Mr. Altman was
heard to use foul language again while addressing the
crowd. What purpose could this possibly have other than
the shock value? Maybe someone should suggest to him
that he take some classes in public speaking. This sort
of behavior seems to be his modus operandi, since
it was mentioned by one of our SalsaPower readers
on the Message
Board a few weeks ago.
did it yet again during the Sunday Salsa Social
at the Gold Coast Ballroom on November 3rd. Having
seen a young man out dancing on the floor who was obviously
not an adult yet, he actually had the audacity to stop
before cussing and say, "There was a young boy over
here.... tell him to cover his ears."
Mr. Altman did not know is that the young boy he was
referring to was my SON.
Now folks, I should tell you, I've been a teacher for
years and I studied Opera in Italy, so I don't need a
microphone for my voice to carry. Not being one to put
up with these kinds of shenanigans, and knowing that
the other people in the audience also deserve some respect
and probably did not appreciate his propensity for foul
language, I said, "No, I will not tell him to cover
his ears. Why don't you refrain from saying something
stated, "I wasn't going to say anything inappropriate."
which I responded, "Why not, you've done it before."
he answered, "That's because we didn't know you
if I'm the only one who is bothered by his inappropriate
behavior in public! It's mentioned on our Message
Board, three different people who were competing
in his event told me about his foul language during the
opening event, and I also heard it from a couple of the
regular Palladium dancers in Margate, Florida.
foul language aside, there were many
other problems. Kelly and David, who helped
train the SalsaRica Rueda Team from Edmonton and
Calgary in Alberta, Canada, have known Isaac for years
in the Ballroom circles. They were told two months ago
that there were 15 Rueda groups from all over the world
that would be competing. When they arrived in Florida
on Thursday, October 31st, Isaac told them that they
had been gradually dropping out and that there were 5
or 6 groups. The day of the competition, there was only
SalsaRica and another group they'd never heard
of called "Team USA". Some of the SalsaRica
members overheard some of the Team USA folks talking
in the parking lot after the event. They said that they
had practiced for 20 minutes prior to the competition
after being called at the last minute to put something
together so that Mr. Altman wouldn't have to cancel the
said, "We are quite disappointed but we are trying
to get through this as professionally as possible and
go home and start again."
competition was made up of four divisions: Salsa Classic
Championship, Shines, Team (Rueda), and Showdance
Finals. In the Salsa Classic division, Laura and
Adrian from Monterrey, México won first place.
In the World Salsa Showdance division, Laura and
Adrian from Monterrey, México won again.
In the World Salsa Shine Division, 1st place went
to Mario De León from Cuba. SalsaRica
won the World Team Division, although on the WSF website
they don't even mention them by name, and the winners
are listed on the SHOPPING page. Team USA disappeared
after the competition was over and didn't even stick
around to find out if they had placed or not. Gee, I
to several other competitors I spoke with, the event
itself was poorly organized. The judges were seated at
the back. Good competitors know that you always dance
for the audience, not the judges, but the judges couldn't
see most of it. It wasn't until the last competition
that the judges were moved to the front.
what happened to that $10,000 prize money?
Rueda team from Canada, SalsaRica, took home $300.
That was all! These folks worked for over a year on their
show, paid to fly to south Florida all the way from Western
Canada, the competition was a sham and they got to stay
in a dumpy hotel in a drug-infested neighborhood full
of strip joints and win all of $300. Divide that up by
the 20 members of the group and it comes out to $15.00
folks, please be aware that unfortunately
there are people out there in the Salsa world who are
unscrupulous and will do anything to make a buck.
for the WSF being the "#1 leader in setting the
standard for salsa in the 21st century".... I don't
think so. We set our standards a bit higher.
us your feedback:
Were you there?
Have you had other contact experience with Isaac Altman
and the WSF? Tell us about it!
post your responses and you can read what other readers
have to say HERE.
Altman? Please send us your rebuttal! We'd
love to hear your excuses!
Altman responds: HERE
These articles were
written in November of 2002.
and letters to the editor on SalsaPower.com are personal
opinions of those people who write them and do not necessarily
reflect the position of SalsaPower.com,
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