Arbey Alexander Gonzalez and Maria Fernanda Colombia's finale.
Noel Roque
Noel Roque

Noel Roque wants to change the world “one dance at a time.”

“Let’s just add a little salsa to the world,” he told Global Atlanta. “I have a keen interest in active living and I want to motivate the video game generation to get off the couch and onto the dance floor.”

You might have guessed that for almost 12 years, Mr. Roque worked for the Coca-Cola Co. that has been fending off accusations of contributing to the obesity plaguing people around the world.

“All of our products can be part of an active, healthy lifestyle that includes a sensible, balanced diet and regular physical activity,” is one of many statements the company has made to remind people that it’s OK to drink Coke as long as you keep moving.

Mr. Roque, who was a senior marketing and business development manager for Coke in Latin America, left the company earlier this year in what he calls his “YOLO — You Only Live Once — moment.”

He’s started on a new journey on this “phase two” of his life “with family and friends, interesting activities that can help others and create a better world, creative pursuits and mental, physical and spiritual health.”

Escuela Nacional de Baile, Ecuador

Although he may sound a bit like a life coach, he’s really into business and launched in April 2015, the World Dance Group LLC, which owns the rights to the ESPN World Salsa Championships.

Of course, he isn’t abandoning his marketing experience to promote the championships, using the skills he’s developed to take advantage of what he calls “the collaborative economy” to rely on established networks of salsa supporters.

“Salsa dancing is becoming a global phenomenon and we’ve seen the popularity of salsa dancing explode on TV shows such as ‘So you Think You Can Dance’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars’,” he said.

To prove his point, he cites the more than 450 million households watching the championships when it was broadcast on ESPN TV from Las Vegas, Nev., Orlando, Fla., and Miami.

But even more to the point for Atlanta, this year the 5th World Salsa Championships will be held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis downtown Dec. 9-10 with competitors  coming from around the world.

Besides the United States, the world’s outstanding salsa dancers will be competing from Canada and Mexico in North America; Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela in South America and Italy, Slovenia and Spain in Europe, and elsewhere.

To make this championship happen, Mr. Roque added, he has had to persuade the top salsa dancers to come to Atlanta and in many cases is paying their way and helping them find accommodations during their stay.

Angie Duque and Carolos Realpe of Canada
Angie Duque and Carolos Realpe of Canada

He also has launched, a social network website that is focused on salsa dancing and has been designed to connect salsa dancers around the world.

Mr. Roque wants the world to dance and has trademarked the motto “The World Needs Salsa.”

Why? “…because people will be healthier, happier and more connected both emotionally and socially,” he says “…The world of salsa has no borders — with no limits on race, age, color, geography or language.”

To purchase tickets, click here.