Thursday, June 28, 2012

Zouk in Brisbane! And the story about how I got doudouleyd...

If you want to dance zouk in Australia Brisbane is the place to go. During my week in Brisbane I had lots of time to go check out the latin dance scene - obviously I focused on the zouk socials and classes since this was the zouk capital of this side of the world! There's something going on every night, either classes or parties; or both. If you're more interested in parties it's best to be in town for the weekend. There's also great latin and zouk congresses in Brisbane and the area - scroll to the bottom of the post (after the full listing of the weekly zouk classes & socials) for more info on the events!

Party time! Let's burnnnn the floor!!

I arrived to Brisbane on a Friday afternoon, just in time for my first party at Rio Rhythmics. On Fridays they have zouk party or a mixed latin night with zouk, salsa, bachata and samba. The week I was there it was the latter but they were playing mainly zouk (definitely my kind of a mixed night!). The studio is quite big but it does fill up. It wasn’t hard to find good zouk dancers and I had a very busy night on the dance floor!

The weekends are packed with parties for zouk dancers, there are commonly several options. It does vary depending on what week you’re there since all parties do not run every week. I was lucky to be there on Brazilian Soul Dance’s monthly Saturday night Zouk Fever. It doesn’t go on very late (7-11pm) but there are heaps of great dancers – and if you want to check out another party in the same night the early finish makes that possible. The studio feels even bigger than the one at Rio Rhythmics. I was on fire that night and practically had to hide in the bathroom to have a little break :D I did enjoy it a lot and my feet were shattered by the end of it. There was also a show that night by the Raw Connection West Coast Swing group. The WCS dancers stayed to watch the zouk social after their performance and many of them got bitten by the zouk bug, I taught a couple of eager guys the basics!

Sundays there are a couple options as well: Casablanca for salsa & zouk and some weeks Rio Rhythmics hosts a Brazil Beatz night (every 2nd Sunday of the month). I rested my first Sunday in Brisbane and went to check out the Casablanca’s salsa & zouk night on my second Sunday there. They have two dance floors with salsa & bachata on the main floor downstairs and zouk on the smaller space upstairs. I was running between both floors as that week there were special salsa guests (Vito and Stefania from Italy) and I wanted to catch their show and a few dances with the top salseros and bachateros as well. There weren't that many zouk dancers actually that night but had great dances, at one point I even shared one dance with four different zoukeros. Thanks boys for that!

On Mondays and Tuesdays there are no zouk socials at the moment but again on Wednesday there was another Casablanca party. That week it was held at Brazilian Touch in the Valley due to another booking at Casablanca. There were a little less people there than at the socials during the weekend - on Friday and Saturday I'd say there were up to 100 dancers or even more, Sunday around 60 and Wednesday around 40. But a good night nonetheless!

Thursdays you can take a little break from zouk: If you dance salsa the one place I would definitely recommend is Cloudland at 641 Ann Street in Fortitude Valley. Free entry and the night I was there even free mojitos (I'm not kidding!). The decor is very cool with a big dining area on two floors, a long bar, dance floor (with annoying surface unfortunately) - and live bands!

Cloudlands - coolest salsa club on my trip!


1, 2, step....

I had time to check out some dance classes too. On Monday I went to check out an open level zouk class by Daniel and Carolyn at the Brazilian Soul Dance. I liked the class; the figure Daniel taught was quite simple but we went through it thoroughly and he covered a lot of important points about how to lead and follow as well as different variations of the figure. There was plenty of space and good dancers. They have zouk classes also on other days.

On Thursday I attended Kadu & Larissa's regular class at Goodlife Gym. Only Larissa was teaching that week as Kadu was still on his way back to Brisbane from Brazil. The class had about 15 people, there were more leaders than followers and the figure was intermediate - a bit tricky but I enjoyed it and Larissa had plenty of chances to give personal feedback to each person. That's currently their only regular class in Brisbane (Larissa has some classes for kids too!) as far as I know but you can find them teaching in several congresses around the world.

In summary.... Weekly zouk socials and parties

Wednesday @ Casablanca (not every week) at 52 Petrie Terrace. Entry: 3 AUD. The music was a mix of salsa, zouk and bachata.

Friday @ Rio Rhythmics Latin Dance Academy at 126 Boundary Street. 8.30pm-12.30am; entry: 10 AUD. They have every other week "Salsa and zouk-lambada baile" and every other "Friday night fever" but on both parties they do play zouk with other latin styles.
Friday also @ Groove Brazil at East Brisbane State School Hall, Cnr Wellington Rd and Stanley Street. They host Brazilian dance nights - check the site for party dates and details.

Saturday @ Brazilian Soul Dance there are some latin socials every week but a special zouk social “Zouk Fever” is once a month at Bulimba Senior Citizens Hall, Cnr Barramul St & Stuart St. It's at 7-11pm; entry: 10 AUD. 
Saturday also @ Rio Rhythmics Latin Dance Academy a latin mix party (including zouk) 7pm-12.30am. Entry: 14 AUD.

Sunday @ Casablanca Salsa Seduction with zouk upstairs, salsa & bachata downstairs. Entry: 3 AUD (the week I visited it was free entry though).
Every 2nd Sunday @ Rio Rhythmics Latin Dance Academy Brazil Beatz party with zouk as well as forro, samba de gafieira and salsa. 7pm-10.30pm; entry: 10 AUD.

Occassionally Smooth Latin Groove has socials (Fridays at the moment) and Kadu & Larissa have some special parties as well. In general it’s a good idea to ask a local dancer or to check the dance schools’ and clubs' sites (links above) for special nights - these seem to be more of a rule than exception! There are also classes in the beginning of most parties.

Zouk classes

Kadu Pires & Larissa Thayane - world top names in zouk - have classes currently on Thursdays at Goodlife gym (650 Wickham Street) at 7.30-8.30pm, 25 AUD for a casual class. The level is intermediate / advanced. You can also book private classes with them for 120 AUD with either Kadu or Larissa and 150 AUD with both for one hour.

Rio Rhythmics has lots of zouk classes running around the year. Bebé Genivaldo & Rachel Findlay are currently there teaching lambazouk - check the site for the current schedule!

Brazilian Soul Dance also has zouk classes several times a week with Daniel Pinto & Carolyn Frost. 24 AUD for a casual class.

Smooth Latin Groove and Groove Brazil have zouk classes as well - plenty of options for the zoukers in Brisbane!

Zouk congresses in and around Brisbane


Brisbane hosts a number of latin events, including the biggest zouk event this side of the world: Brazil Central. Zoukers from all around the world flock to Brisbane for this event and it will be 5-7 October this year (2012). You won't be disappointed with the instructor lineup - many of the top zouk teachers will be present every year. New this year is Roda de Samba event that will be held 4-5 October; something special for the samba dancers as well! 

A newcomer in the Brisbane’s zouk event calendar is the Ilha do Zouk Australia. Organised by Kadu and Larissa, the event will be held for the first time this year, 14-15 July at Tangalooma Resort in Queensland (not far from Brisbane). They're aiming for a more relaxed event, with a couple top instructors giving workshops and zouk parties on the beach. It will be winter time in Australia but perhaps the fresh air is a welcome addition in such a hot dance as zouk.... Looking forward to hear how it's like!

Come on, get DouDouLeyd....! 

I happened to be in the area for the DouDouLe Latin Dance Camp (18-20 May) which is held every year on the Gold Coast, about an hour drive from Brisbane. They have lots of national and international teachers on several latin styles – this year they had classes on salsa, zouk, bachata, cha cha, samba, afro jazz and pachanga. There was 1 hour of workshops on Friday and Sunday and all day on Saturday (7 hours). The zouk was well reprensented on the Saturday's program with workshops by Kadu & Larissa, Alisson & Audrey and Bebe & Rachel as well as Donovan Cochrane and James Quinn-Hawtin. I ended up getting the most out of Alisson & Audrey's class "zouk turn patterns" and still after one month remember most of it! All the workshops were great and the teachers seem to enjoy the festival as well.

Zouk with Larissa and Kadu
Afro Jazz with Virginia and Falco
Zouk with Audrey and Alisson
Pachanga with Stefania and Vito - love the matching outfits!!
I kept wandering on and off in the area, checking out a couple other workshops as well. On the international front one of my favourites were the Italian couple Vito and Stefania with the energetic and fun pachanga – lovely teachers with a great personality!! I filmed this clip at their workshop: take a look in case you're not familiar with pachanga!

Parties were on Friday and Saturday night and Sunday morning (yes!). There were tens of shows at around 8-10pm on both Friday and Saturday – student shows as well as shows by the teachers. Parties started right after the shows and went on (officially ‘til 2 am) ‘til about 3.20 am. The music was a mix of all the styles and the DJs tried to make it so that is was about a third of salsa, a third of zouk and a third of the rest (bachata mainly). I tried to stay on the floor as much as possible but mainly rested the salsa songs, though there wasn't too much time to rest... even one girl asked for a salsa! I had great zouks with the locals and lots of amazing connections, especially with some of the bachateros. The Saturday night had an "Into to the Jungle" theme which was really fun and so many people came up with amazing - and funny - costumes. It's a shame I didn't have time to go and take pics from all the dancing. I was a bit disappointed when the Saturday night party ended - so I guess that means that I enjoyed my time there!

Beachata! Saturday evening, perfect way to start the night :)
Katrina and Nestor - the local world champions of bachata

It's show time! Friday ...
... and Saturday, with the jungle theme!

Even some of the professional performers went went all in on the theme!

Shows shows shows... It was a bit cold to sit and watch all of them but enjoyed seeing people do their best!! Here's Nirico and Emily :)

One of the best things about DouDouLe was how well it was organised. Also it stands apart of most festivals & congresses by that everything was arranged for us attending the event: all the food (two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and snacks + coffee & tea... and all healthy food) and the accommodation in ~7 bed ensuite dorms are included in the price (329 AUD for the weekend). So you don’t have to look for a good place to stay or find time to go out to have something to eat. The location is also nice, next to the beach and they utilized that by having a beachata class (by the bachata world champions Nestor and Katrina!) on the beach at sunset on Saturday – and Sunday morning they had a beach party as well! It was a fairly relaxed event and can recommended it to anyone who likes a couple different latin styles!

The one and only way to end the weekend: zouk on the beach!

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