ICS Seminar Series - Dr Waldo Garrido and Dr Nicholas Ng

Date: Thursday, 18 June 2020
Time: 11.30am–1pm
Venue: The seminar will be hosted online via Zoom. Please RSVP to e.blight@westernsydney.edu.au by 17 June, 5:00pm, to receive the Zoom details.

From Cha Cha Cha to Yum Cha Cha: Australatin and Chino-Latino hybridity in music and the performing arts

Presenters: Dr Waldo Garrido and Dr Nicholas Ng


From La Campana and The Spanish Club, to the Bondi South American Festival, multicultural audiences in Australia have for several generations danced to various styles of Australatin music performed by local bands. Some of these bands are very authentic in their interpretation of traditional songs, while others present more hybridised and reversioned renditions. On Thursday afternoons, tango music may be heard emanating from Ashfield Town Hall into the surrounding amenities and local Chinese shop outlets. The source of this music is a community social club of ballroom dancing enthusiasts, mainly aged 40 and above, and predominantly from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. While watching the couples dance, informed listeners may soon perceive that the music is not entirely ‘Latino’ with the use of Chinese melodic instruments such as the evocative erhu (2-stringed fiddle). How did this music develop, and when did it arrive in Sydney?

Part lecture and conversation, this seminar seeks to unravel genres of music and dance that have evolved out of Chinese contact with Latino culture through migration, miscegenation and other instances of intercultural exchange in Macau and the Americas. Dr Garrido will provide an overview of Latin music, with particular emphasis on the origins of Cha Cha and similar forms that have crossed boundaries through migration. He will discuss his own autobiographical experience in Australian-produced Latin music, and his reinterpretation of this genre for Australian audiences. Dr Ng reflects on his artistic practice and draws on various case studies including the Cha Cha songs of early Chinese film, and the recent Chinese-themed Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Classical theories of syncretism and hybridity, as codified by eminent scholars Bruno Nettl and Alan Merriam, are discussed in relation to conversations on a ‘new eclecticism’ in music and the performing arts. With old hegemonic powers shifting and new cultural ties forged, how are song and dance affected as we enter into the post-COVID era?


Dr Waldo Garrido (Lecturer in Music Performance and Music Production) is a founding member of the Australian jazz band The Catholics. A world-renowned bassist, composer, singer, and producer, he was signed to Warner Chappell Music for 16 years and continues to hold a worldwide publishing contract with BMG, and a worldwide distribution contract with HIGHRESAUDIO (Berlin). With his Fiesta Latina ranked 12th in the Australian Aria Club Charts, Waldo has published a book for Routledge with A/Prof David Cashman and is currently contracted to compose for the Australian TV show Neighbours.

Dr Nicholas Ng (Research Fellow) has toured around Australia, New Zealand, North America, Canada and Europe to work with prestigious ensembles such as The Song Company, The Australian Voices, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles. He has produced a book and various articles on Australia-China exchange, and recently appeared in Annette Shun Wah's Double Delicious with Benjamin Law at Carriageworks. Nicholas’ work has been documented on SBS Mandarin Radio, ABC Music Show, and in the ABC TV and iView program Compass: Divine Rhythms.