Paloma Rios


Paloma Rios

Flamenco Wars Leave Students Out of Luck

Dance Studio Banned from Courthouse Events after 2012 Confrontation

Thursday, August 1, 2013
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Flamenco dance instructor Paloma Rios and her 20 students have been banned from participating in all Tardes de Ronda and Noches de Ronda shows — scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday — at this year’s Fiesta celebration. Last year at one of the Noches performances, a backstage confrontation between Rios and Erika Martín del Campo — an instructor with Zermeno Dance Academy — resulted in Rios’s suspension.

In a letter addressed to Rios, signed by El Presidente Josiah Jenkins and Chair of Noches de Ronda Diana Vandervoort, the Old Spanish Days (OSD) board informed Rios that due to “unprofessional behavior at the Courthouse in 2012,” she and her studio are forbidden from participating in performances at the courthouse this year. Rios runs the Paloma Rios School of Flamenco dance studio, and her students range in age from 4 to 20 years old.

According to witnesses, the “unprofessional behavior” refers to an exchange between Rios and Martín del Campo in a dressing room between performances. Martín del Campo became emotionally distraught when she saw her ex-husband, Walter Molina, whom Rios had hired to play guitar during her performance.

Tensions escalated after Martín del Campo aggressively told Rios she could not re-enter the dressing room after Rios briefly left to pay Molina for his services, said witness Gabriela Perez. After an angry verbal exchange between the two dance instructors that attracted the attention of others close by — including OSD committee members — Perez said Martín del Campo called the police, claiming that she felt threatened by the presence of her ex-husband.

“He was just working for me. They were blaming me because they said I knew there was a restraining order against him,” Rios said, as she recalled the incident. “But that’s a lie,” Rios added, asserting there was no such court order against Molina. Martín del Campo did not return calls or emails from The Santa Barbara Independent. Police spokesperson Sergeant Riley Harwood confirmed that officers assigned to work the Fiesta Foot Patrol beat responded to a domestic disturbance call at the courthouse on August 3, 2012, at around 10:30 p.m.

According to the OSD website, the Zermeno Dance Academy is scheduled to perform several shows at the courthouse on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. Those with knowledge of the incident and its players say Martín del Campo has an especially close relationship with OSD organizers and that these ties helped her avoid a similar suspension.

“What are we supposed to tell our 6 year olds?” Gabriela Perez asked, noting her young niece will not be able to perform at the courthouse this year. “It’s an argument between two adults. I don’t see what a threat a bunch of 6 year olds can be to anybody.” In an email addressed to the OSD board and the Santa Barbara City Council, Perez said, “OSD’s decision seems to be favoring one party without taking both sides of the story with the appropriate witnesses.”

El Presidente Jenkins refused to comment specifically about the incident and the suspension, but said in a prepared statement: “We realize there may be disappointment regarding our decision concerning the courthouse dance venue, but we do stand by our decision and hope that it does not deter from the unique spirit of goodwill that Fiesta fosters and is known for.”

Rios and her students are allowed to perform at other events including Mercado del Norte at MacKenzie Park and Mercado de la Guerra at De la Guerra Plaza. If Rios and her studio adhere to the board’s Code of Conduct, the letter Rios received said, she may be invited to audition for next year’s dance events.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

The beleaguered Indy tries to be counter culture even it if means cutting off their nose to spite their face. Trying to hate on and find dirt about Fiesta doesn't look good on the author or the publication. Glad all the other media in town cover and enjoy the region's best festival!

sallyc (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 1:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The Old Spanish Days board maybe needs to go, the more I read the more they sound directly out of the Spanish Inquistion. In addition, I protest the removal of Paula Lopez from the Pequena.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 1:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Not very many Hispanic names on the Old Spanish Days board. Maybe we should call it Old Anglo Days.

banjo (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 3:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Banjo you've actually bring up a great point, it's all a romanticized construct of what one generation thought life was like for their grandparents. This isn't to condemn Fiesta, but to appreciate it in a different historical context.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Events like Old Spanish Days/Fiesta or the Ramona Festival originally began as a commodity of sorts, but more importantly to promote and commodify California itself.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 3:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

OSD is all class..... sounds VERY unfair to Paloma Rios...

BuleriaChk (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 3:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That is not fair they are playing favorites had they really wanted to set an example they would've booted both dance schools from the court house I guess this just proves who know on the fiesta council is only whats important

Dianna (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 4:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with Buleria...this seems VERY unfair to Paloma.

pablo_ochoa (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 4:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Old Spanish Days is a delightful legacy Santa Barbara annual event. This is an unfortunate injustice toward Paloma Rios and her Studio. The OSD Board should have been more understanding of the facts, because it was Old Spanish Days that allowed the Musician Walter Molina to perform on stage at Noches de Ronda, he was not there to meet up with Erica Del Campo,, the Ex, who created the Drama and yelling toward Paloma Rios with false allegations. The OSD Board should also suspend Erica Del Campo from performing as requested of Paloma Rios as Erica initiated the conflict. or, retract the suspension on both Erica and Paloma, and have this be a lesson learned. There are many students involved in this shun, families spending thousands of dollars to perform during Old Spanish Days. The professional position for the OSDBoard to take is to retract the suspension and allow all studios to perform in the integrity of the event.

MyView (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Paloma Rios was Spirit of Fiesta 2005 and the Sr. Ambassador for Santa Barbara during the event and at private venues. After her rein 2005 she began her own studio 2006 to date as owner and instructor.
Erica Del Campo was Spirit of Fiesta 2010 and is currently dancing with Daniella Zermenio Dance Company.
OSD Board has made an inappropriate decision toward Paloma Rios. Erica was not threatened by her Ex, He just performed . Erica unfortunately expressed herself aggressively toward Paloma Rios, instructor- owner of her Studio. There is an out of balance decision, which can be corrected quickly.
OSD Board should see the error of their decision they made, and be fair and professional to all studios. Now is time to create new Rules to performing for OSD Fiesta.

MyView (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 5:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The more I understand about this, the more it stinks.. If Erika Del Campo had any class at all, she would be contesting the decision as unfair. OSD is showing extreme insensitivity to the most basic principles of fairness, and neither should be penalized in such a way for such a minor event.

The girls in each company work hard to perform, and the confrontation between two individuals should not, by any stretch of the imagination, prevent the girls in each company from performing.

BuleriaChk (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 5:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sorry if I wasn't clear. The decision by OSD sucks.

BuleriaChk (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 5:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Fiesta is still happening and it's not too late to book an event with Paloma Rios, if she were to agree to perform.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 5:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Dedicated to all the flamingo dancers:

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 6:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The decision by a perceived "authority" like OSD destroys the young girls' confidence in their teacher disproportionally, far beyond the tempest in a teapot caused by the altercation.

I have no dog in the Fiesta battles, but from what I know, this is an overreaction by OSD, not to mention Erica Del Campo who should be at the forefront of re-instating even a competitor from such unfair treatment.

BuleriaChk (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 7:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I would think not kills confidence in the teacher, but in The El Presidente and. old Spanish Days board members.
How can the El Presidente think that they can turn their back on this situation and not provide the professionalism , respect and courtesy to the dancers and especially to Paloma Rios who was pulled into the situation by the drama of Erica Del Campo, and the narcisistic mind, bringing her personal life into the walls of Noches de Ronda. Her Ex was allowed to perform at the Noches de Ronda, so it must be seen by El Presidente and Noches de Ronda Chair Diana Vandervoort and OSD Board made a premature decision to suspend Paloma Rios and her students, this shows predudice and lack of professional responsibility by Old Spanish Days, who were resoonsible for the defaming decision. This must be addressed and rectified by Thursday pm August 1 2013.

MyView (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 9:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

MyView wrote "------"

(That too.... :)

BuleriaChk (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 9:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So if your name is not Spanish you cannot serve on the Board?
Perhaps if we change the name to Old Mexican Days then you will have a point.
Of course, the Native Americans that were plundered by the Spaniards, Americans, AND the Mexicans throughout north America may have an opinion here, and they ain't Hispanic.
Maybe we need a "Dance Studio Injunction" and any girls that have big Spanish dresses will be dissallowed from congregating on any stage during Fiesta.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
August 1, 2013 at 9:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is absolutely shameful! I would first like to ask Kelsey Bruggar if she/he had interviewed any other witnesses besides an aunt to one of Paloma Rios dancers? I am not affiliated with either one of these dance studios and I don't know either party very well. My Family is in the flamenco community, we did witness this event. This is the perfect example of a victim being re-victimized! If you would have done your reporting well Kelsey Bruggar you would have probably found out that there have been unthinkable crimes that have been committed here and maybe, just maybe, Erika De Campo doesn't want to talk about it. Paloma Rios is aware of this yet still chose to bring this Man to an event she knew that Erika Del Campo would be attending. If you would have interviewed ANYONE else in the SB flamenco community they would have told you that there was so much more to this one sided story and you would have had enough class not to print this attack on Erika Del Campo. Thank you OSD for standing up for the true victim in this story. I have also noticed Kelsey Bruggar that you have only written articles for the Independent in the last year. If you would have done your homework well you would have noticed that Paloma Rios has been caught lying and cheating. Paloma Rios has only 20 dancers while other studios have well over a hundred dancers because Paloma Rios has a very bad reputation in the flamenco community. I agree it is disheartening that these children are caught in the cross fire. My suggestion is that these families move to one of the many reputable dance studios while Paloma Rios continues to burn bridges in Santa Barbara.

loveflamenco (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 8:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I find it very doubtful that the 2010 spirit of fiesta has an ex husband. Does the Indy have editors or fact checkers anymore or is the whole thing put together by 22-year old interns/ writers like this author? As a decade's-long advertisers with ads in 50 weeks of the year, I am going to pull my support from this rag or place through the Ventura pub (sorry Lazslo, my rep) Sad to see what is left of the SB Independent.

sallyc (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 8:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good reporting Kelsey, not! "Martín del Campo became emotionally distraught when she saw her ex-husband, Walter Molina." The 2010 Spirit has never been married, among many other inaccuracies in this sloppy piece. Maybe Kelsey and her ex husbands should go back to journalism school.

sallyc (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 8:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

huh.... loveflamenco says they don't know either party very well......but then goes on to accuse one party of lying, cheating and unthinkable crimes......and then slam the same party in their lengthy story.

alrighty thennnn....your credibility is non-existent.

reading the article....i would agree the Rios lady has been harshly treated.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 9:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@loveflamenco, if there's an important side of this story that's been left out, I suggest contacting the news editor so they can vet your side of the story and print a follow-up if one is justified: Here's the contact info:

Otherwise, all you're doing is adding innuendo with no facts - that doesn't help anybody.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 9:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

(This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of use policy.)

zuma7 (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 10:14 a.m.

@loveflamenco is blaming the messenger ... but provides no context for her critique and mounts a personal attack on Paloma Rios. At the very least she should provide her account of the event if she was actually there.

And, as EastBeach suggests, contact the Independent for a follow up if the reporter was wrong.

Bad form, @loveflamenco, try again..... your bias is showing...

BuleriaChk (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 11:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You want facts? Do a simple search on Paloma Rios and you will notice that this is not the first time she has been in hot water with Old Spanish Days.

Unfortunately, I witnessed this event so I know more about it than I want to. I will always stick up for victims, even if I don't know them.

The sb flamenco community knows the truth and they will stand behind Erica De Campo. Again, thank you OSD for protecting the victim in this situation.

loveflamenco (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 11:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@loveflamenco - why don't we get the true facts from you? We're all listening for the truth (and watching for the follow-on from the Independent)/

And it is a mark of honor in Santa Barbara to be in hot water with OSD... :)

(well, ok, at least one of us)... :)

BuleriaChk (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 11:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@loveflamenco reminds me of the Doonesbury cartoon....


BuleriaChk (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 11:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Not my story to tell.

It is very obvious to me that the reporter has close ties to Paloma Rios and this Aunt of one of Paloma Rios dancers. Get your facts before you attack a women in print regarding domestic abuse! Then you wonder why victims don't want to come forward!

Bystanders that night witnessed one devastated and scared Erika De Campo and Paloma Rios looking quite satisfied with her actions. That is my recollection of that evening.

loveflamenco (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at noon (Suggest removal)

if its not your story to tell, why are you posting again and again slamming Ms Rios.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 12:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It is VERY unclear that domestic abuse was involved in the incident under review.... maybe a bit of temporary paranoia? Was there actually a restraining order that applied to this situation.....?

Only the Shadow knows...... :)

BuleriaChk (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 12:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I will always stand beside humans when they are fearful and in abusive situations. I am so thankful that OSD feels the same.

loveflamenco (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 12:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

All that has happened here is that the OSD has prevented a group of young children from dancing on Fiesta - something they've most likely been working their dear little hearts out to accomplish. OSD has taken that away from them. That is ALL that has happened.

All this piddly nonsense between the 2 adults is meaningless and should be dealt with in some other manner. The OSD has once again made Fiesta a political joke of a "festival."

sacjon (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 12:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hateful defamation on Paloma Rios gives a very good indication of the Character behind Erica Del Campo. Crying over a musician performing and blaming Paloma Rios is ridiculous. OSD allowed the musician to perform, and the blame and outbursts of emotional drama should not have been allowed and defused by OSD, pay the musician and he's on his way.
If we were to make a list of all the complaints or air the mis conduct of Instructors or dancers throughout the years, a book could be published. In this case, the defamation onto Paloma Rios and her students is quite serious. As I've read, she is holding her head high along with her studio and performing at Marshal's on State St since this horrible shun I see Paloma is a persevering Spirit and will find positivity while this is quickly rectified.

MyView (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 3:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Continued... Also, performing at previously booked venues as seen on various sites. They are a delight to watch as well as the other groups.
This is so unfortunate and disappointing that OSD Presidente and Board has not rectified this matter as of yet.

MyView (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 3:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Myself, I really LIKE the idea of that book.... :)

BuleriaChk (anonymous profile)
August 2, 2013 at 3:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No matter what fiesta is all politics if you don't jump the way they want you to you will always get the short end of the stick in every thing I stand by Ms. Rios and making sure my girls and friends girls stay away from Erica's group

Dianna (anonymous profile)
August 3, 2013 at 12:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

OSD Fiesta has it's rules and regulations, OSDays has made mistakes in the past and have rectified them, made apologies. It's learning and fine tuning for future years. In the rules, it does not say that a dancer from a group can interfere with a Dance Company owner -instructor, telling in this case Erica to Paloma, not to have her musician at the event, or cause argument when he was to be paid. It was not her business. She may have had her abusive life with the individual, but it was not posted as notice. Erica was abusive to Paloma Rios. OSD made an unjust decision,. Erica is not the victim as stated above by Rios. She, was a victim in her personal life that should not have been shared at OSD Fiesta. The victims are the students of Paloma Rios and Paloma, who lost the opportunity to dance at the Noches de Ronda Event. It's their emotions and defamation who are the victims to a prejudge decision by OSD. Abuse is not be tolerated in any circumstance, and being respectful and minding ones own business should be extended to avoid this type situation com occurring.

MyView (anonymous profile)
August 3, 2013 at 5:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Great idea-Name another weekend during the year "New Mexican Days", give the flamenco dancers switchblades, and have a winner take all, no holds barred, last girl standing, full contact flamenco contest on State St.
Who cares that Flamenco is mosty a "white hispanic" tradition that has been coopted by all sorts of people in America...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
August 4, 2013 at 8:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

C'mon, isn't bastardization of other cultures what we do best? (I mean, look what we've done to pizza, calzone, spaghetti, la cosa nostra etc.)

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
August 4, 2013 at 8:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Based on this article, I don't really understand why everyone is blaming Martin del Campo for this. It sounds like her ex was the one who made some bad decisions and caused the fracas. If she had a restraining order against him, it's on him to ensure he abides by the order and stays away from her. It's not like he ran into her at the supermarket. She was 2010 Spirit and she teaches flamenco. How could he NOT expect her to be at these shows? Either he is not very smart or he willfully violated the terms of the restraining order. Either way, it was his responsibility to stay away from her and he did not do so. It's not her fault that he showed up at an event she was working at. I can't blame her for becoming upset when she had taken major legal effort to prevent exactly this type of situation. If anyone should be taking pains to get Paloma reinstated, it's Molina, not Martin del Campo.

lilyofthevalley (anonymous profile)
August 6, 2013 at 8:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You don't know why??? It is obvious she started the confrontation and should not have interfered with the payment of her EX as a musician. As a professional, she should have minded her own business. Obviously, could not handle the truth of being told to mind her business as the individual was to be paid for his performance.
Someone else said that other studios have over 100 students. That is wonderful, yet all studios should be given the same time.
Obviously, personal matters were aired in public and when Erica started with her emotional conflict... was her mistake. As per the article, her Ex-husband did not confront her or contact her in any way.
Crying and manipulation should not have seen the steps of this wonderful event.

MyView (anonymous profile)
August 12, 2013 at 6:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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