The Rum Shaker Dance Competition Transformed Miami Bartenders Into A Family Through An Epic Journey In Dance

Earlier this year, the first ever Rum Shaker dance competition kicked off a brand new journey to activate the Miami bartender community.  Presented by Tales of the Cocktail and sponsored by BACARDI, Rum Shaker was inspired by the brand’s “Do What Moves You’ campaign as well as the shared goal of encouraging bartenders to find balance in their lives through health & wellness.  The end results of the first-ever Rum Shaker were far more than anyone involved could have ever hoped for with the program.

Over the span of ten weeks, a group of dedicated bartenders pushed their personal limits through dance and became a true family with an unbreakable bond that will undoubtedly carry throughout their careers.  Ten couples danced, trained, visited Puerto Rico for a showcase during Tales on Tour and competed in explosive Miami Grand Finale. While Jonny Cann and Natalie Garcia took home the top honors as Rum Shaker Champions and Candice Coy and Bobby Gilardi won the People’s Choice vote, all of the bartenders left the experience having accomplished tremendous personal achievements and with treasured bonds that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.

With dozens of bartenders trying out at the Miami auditions, only twenty were ultimately selected to embark on the Rum Shaker journey. The Rum Shaker crew was teamed up into ten couples and they all trained three times per week for ten weeks on a group routine as well as a couple’s routine. Along the way, the program provided the group with access to professional choreographers, personal trainers, nutritionists, and much more to help ensure that they had all the tools to stay physically and mentally strong for the intense program.

The Rum Shaker program also took the whole crew to Tales on Tour in Puerto Rico where they performed at Casa BACARDI, learned about rum blending, volunteered on a day of service in the farms with World Central Kitchen, and had one of the most memorable events of the festival with an explosive dance showcase in San Juan. The Grand Finale in Miami was held at El Tucan where the Rum Shakers got to perform in front of a hometown audience filled with family and friends.  The energy in the room was positively electric and Jillionaire rocked the crowd with a DJ set. The Rum Shakers were the main attraction and they did not disappoint with fierce competition, you can catch videos of the full routines here.

With so much involved in the Rum Shaker program, the group knew that they would truly be tested with the hard work and many commitments, but with open hearts and positive attitudes, the experience allowed them to create remarkably strong friendships and unbreakable bonds. Throughout the journey, they pushed each other at practice, visited each other’s bars, took on outside fitness challenges, and shared many laughs, tears, hugs and spontaneous dance parties along the way.

Heck, they even turned an airport delay into a dance showcase performing their group routine in the terminal! The Rum Shakers truly became a family over the course of the program and even after the last dance, the party did not end.  The group all still talk daily and hang out all the time, so who knows … perhaps a Rum Shaker Reunion could be in the works!

A few thoughts from our Rum Shaker Partners

Elizabeth Costa de Rusch, Director of Advocacy at Bacardi U.S.A.

“Supporting the bartender, on a wellness and professional level, is of the utmost importance to Bacardi Advocacy,” says Elizabeth Costa de Rusch, Director of Advocacy at Bacardi U.S.A. “Late-night shifts, constant traveling and overwhelming schedules can all lend to an unhealthy lifestyle, which means dedicating time and efforts to bartenders’ fitness and overall health is crucial. We believe connecting with the bartender through impactful and authentic programs, put in place to improve their lives, is what makes us true advocates for the industry. Bartenders are the backbone and trendsetters of the spirits world and they deserve the support to enhance their lifestyle and overall well-being. We’re happy to support Tales of the Cocktail in their efforts to accomplish this and it doesn’t hurt if we’re all having a lot of fun while we’re at it!”

Caroline Rosen, Executive Director, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

“Tales of the Cocktail Foundation was honored to host Rum Shaker as a platform for bartenders to stay active and explore a new passion. The Foundation’s mission is to educate, advance, and support the hospitality community and Rum Shaker was a perfect extension of our mission. The Rum Shakers were an enthusiastic, hardworking group and incredible to work with. I look forward to Rum Shaker’s future as it continues to grow and bring people together through dancing and great cocktails!”

Juan Coronado, Bacardi Category Rum Ambassador

“Since 1862 Bacardi has been committed to the arts and culture and we have pioneer lots of initiatives and programs designed to offer a better mental and physical health to our communities allowing them to rediscover that fire and passion in their hearts that won’t allow anything to get on the way of their dreams.

The Bacardi Rum Shakers committed to this activation with dedication and enthusiasm, they get to be witness of their own progress and talents throughout the 10 weeks of dance choreography training and the indivisible bond that holds them as a family is made out of the same values of our family.”

David Cid, Bacardi Global Master of Rums

“BACARDI Rum has a great history of celebrating life through amazing cocktails, art, and music. The Rum Shaker platform continues that tradition by bringing bartenders closer together to celebrate themselves & each other through music & dance. With today’s hectic lifestyle, Rum Shaker is a unique experience that drives bartenders to focus on their mental and physical well being, by inspiring you to be physically active, push your boundaries, and break out of your shell through a public performance.”

Casey Rosenberg, Rum Shakers Head Dance Teacher/Choreographer

These 20 bartenders completely transformed before my eyes! They grew in so many ways: their stamina, dancing, stage presence, work ethic and dedication all made leaps and bounds throughout this program. We’ve also developed such a close-knit family bond. You can see it in the teamwork at rehearsal, the laughs, the (always active) group chat… It was definitely an experience to remember!

Tara Fougner, Co-Founder, Thirsty Media

Thirsty could not have been more proud and honored to be part of the Rum Shaker journey.  Over the course of the 10-week program, we witnessed these bartenders transform in immeasurable ways. Many of these bartenders started out as strangers with varied experience in dance and are now a true family of performers. As a community, we all need to do a better job of bringing the bar world together in a more inclusive way and expand opportunities to bartenders outside of just the craft cocktail world, Rum Shaker is a shining example of a positive way to do just that.  Rum Shaker not only changed the dancers, it touched so many hearts around the industry and will forever be an experience that I hold dear to my heart.  Also, let’s face it, dance brings people joy and this program showed us all that pursuing a healthier lifestyle and making a commitment to health & wellness can be fun!

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