Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Zouk in Rio - setting the Brazilian zoukeros on fire!

One of the things I was looking forward to the most on my trips was to get to zouk in Brazil. I managed to fit an actual congress on my travel plans – the 3rd international zouk and lambada congress in Rio de Janeiro, organized by Renata Pecanha. The congress had four nights of parties and three days of workshop and my plan was to clock in as much dancing as possible.

The workshops were held at the choreographic centre of Rio, located in Tijuca (quite easy to reach with the metro but still took almost an hour to get there unless you lived there which was the middle of nowhere really). The teachers were mainly Brazilians, some familiar names for me, and there were four levels: beginners, intermediate, advanced and professional. I ended up taking mainly the advanced level workshops, some intermediate and some professional, and was pretty happy with them. The leaders taking part in the workshops were very good which made it surely a lot easier for me. Unfortunately I’m sure I missed a lot of info since most classes were if not entirely then at least 90% held in Portuguese. But I learned the sequences none the less. It’s hard to say which I would think were the best ones… Mafie Zoukers’ were maybe the most complicated sequences but I tend to like the technique workshops more (sadly no ladies’ styling classes!).

Workshops workshops workshops...

Leonardo Neves and Layssa Liebscher

As interesting and important the workshops are for me, I live for the parties! The first party was held at the Nucleo de Danca dance school and the place was way too small for that crowd. The dance floor was packed and it was hard to do anything fun.. or anything. And they ran out of alcohol midway through the evening! :D I still managed to dance with quite many people. Actually was dreading about dancing since that was the first time I was zouking in a month! It took me a few songs before I remembered what the whole thing was all about! I was happy to see some familiar faces and I surely wasn’t alone that evening :)

The next two parties were at a tennis club in Tijuca – a fancy big hall with marble floor, very nice to dance on that. I got my party mood on, my new dance shoes worked like a charm and was dancing so much, I felt that every dance was better than the previous one. The same continued on Saturday night! I was on fire to say the least. The end of the party came always too fast (although I had come early).

Both Friday and Saturday night, midway through the night, there was a desperately long break for shows and the two-part zouk competition. Fantastic shows! Truly great and actually very inspiring competition performances! But tooooooo long. Over 2 hours on both nights! The final party was a disaster, it was almost outside Rio (how could they even find a venue that far?), everybody had to wait about 20-30 minutes outside in the rain to get in first. Drinks very expensive. Dance floor was too crowded. Saying all that, I did have some very nice dances again that night (oh I love the Brazilian zoukeros, they surprise me every time!).

I may rather dance myself than watch others but the locals got just crazy about the zouk competition performances - I loved that!!
The most fun part was meeting all the lovely people, sharing the dances and experiences (I think the guys there really liked to dance with me as they kept coming back to ask me) and making friends from all over the world. I had a great week in Rio even after the event – dancing at the Kiosk in Copacabana, at a zouk club in Catete, chilling (or actually boiling) on the beach… All this makes me want to do all this just more! Thanks everybody!!

So would I come back to Rio for the next zouk congress – no. Workshops were fine (ok, aircon could be nice but that’s just how you get a cold I guess). Parties had great dancers – throughout the whole event I had only great or extremely great dances and ended up dancing five (or more) songs in a row easily with some of the guys since the connection was just so easy to find. Perfect for my style! But – a major BUT – not enough dancing: the parties ended early (4 AM – come on, we’re in Brazil, I was expecting 6 AM at least!), there were lots of shows and over an hour of competitions on two nights. And on the other two nights the places were too small! And to top it off, the last part was so poorly organized... Seriously! And only two guys tried to kiss me… men in Rio, I expected more from you!! :D If it weren’t for the almost euphoric experiences on the dance floor I would very mad right now.

What did I learn from this? A couple very nice sequences which I will bring to our FinZouk team. I seem to able to follow the zoukeros in Rio very well and they are PLENTY. Next time I come to Rio (I’m sure I’ll back in this beautiful city) I’ll come just for private classes and parties. Although I was surprised how small the normal weekly dance party venues are but there a plenty of different events every week so that's nice. And now I know some of the local dancers so even better! And since I had such a good experience on the dance floor here I’ll sure as hell come the Berg’s congress in Porto Seguro next year – there I can party all night!!

Some links to videos!


Freddy and Andressa advanced workshop demo
Mafie Zouker and Evelyn intermediate workshop demo

The zouk competition

Friday – the 1st part of the zouk competition (free style): Group 1 including my favourite Kamacho (guy with white hair), I wish you could see his expressions, he looked like he’s having the time of his life!

Saturday – the 2nd part of the zouk competition (choreographies – the 1st part on Friday night was freestyle):
William Teixeira e Paloma Alves, the winners.
Kamacho and Vanessa, a very fun Mortal Combat theme.
Kelly and Demetrius, nice use of props.

Saturday Party 

Flash mob (clip).
This we practiced on a couple workshops earlier that day, quite fun actually!


Freddy Marinho and Andressa Castelhano - I really liked this!

Samba de gafieira show by Leo Fortes and Robertinha.

R’n’b-samba all male group.

Leonardo and Layssa had their amazing show which still gives me goosebumps, so dramatic! Gilson and Natasha gave their amazing performance, which I’ve seen before but never tire from seeing that – Natasha is unreal! There was one almost circus like show – I’ll see if I can find a link. Also Marcelo Chocolate and his partner had a very cool samba de gafieira show – I’ll try to find a link to a video as well.

Rio zouk social scene

There's a couple zouk parties every week in Rio de Janeiro to get out and meet the local dancers. One place to look for up-to-date info is the Cazouk community on Facebook and the Portugues speakers can find more info at, or

I went to a party on the Copacabana beach on a Wednesday night - it's held right next to the beach on one of the cafés. There was about 30-40 people that showed up throughout the nigth and as usual there are lots of great dancers. There isn't too much space but it's a nice free outdoor event though so if there's one when you're in town it's definitely worth to check it out. I also went to a zouk party at a club in Catete; it was 10 reais to get in (if your name is on the list, 20 if not). It's also not the biggest of venues and I had a little problems with the floor (uneven surface) but it was packed with dancers. It was my last night in Rio so I made sure I danced enough!

There's also plenty of great teachers that have regular & private classes, such as Renata Pecanha (Rio style), Mafie Zouker (Neo zouk), China (Soul zouk) and Kamacho to name few of my favourites. If you want to work on the Rio style zouk I guess it's obvious that Rio is the place to do it!!

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