Monday, June 27, 2011

Report from the First Scandinavian Zouk Congress

Took part in the First Scandinavian Lambada/Zouk Congress in Uppsala about a week ago. The rainy smalltown in Sweden had a very well organised congress with two days packed with workshops and three nights of parties... In our case five nights as a large part of the "Team Finland" decided to take an overnight cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm on the way there and back. And we did indeed terrorise the cruise passangers with zouk where ever they played something zoukable!

At the congress we were 14 Finnish zoukers there, with about 120 participants altogether. The rest were mostly Swedes and there was a small group of Dutch, a couple Norwegian, one Danish and one from Australia. Teachers included Pasty & Josta, Olaya & Papagaio, Tania & Marcelo, Kwok and a number of Swedish teachers of which my favourite was Sanna Nilsson.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Flash mob - zouk style!

Yesterday we had the first (but certainly not the last!) zouk flash mob in downtown Helsinki. We chose the square at the tunnel between the main railway and metro stations as it was forecasted to rain. And it worked out perfectly! With no specific practise we took over the floor one by one, finally forming a group of 5-6 zouky pairs. I was the first to start and was super exciting!

Some fancy improvised moves, stealing, 2-1 dancing... all the usual zouk stuff ;) We missed some lifts as the time just flew by but we'll get around to them the next time! Luckily at least we didn't get interrupted the security, apparently we were considered harmless. Well one very funny interruption kept going through our mob: the over-anxious floor-cleaning guy beeping around! Just the perfect addition to the mad mob!! Two songs and the group spread out. And met for a beer :)

Video cameras were present - here's one video taken by Joni and another one by Laura. Probably there's also more videos and pictures floating around the internet as we saw plenty of cameras there!

On a side note, we got the second place on the Helsinki Samba Carnival - the Roseira won with their Renaissance themed parade by two measly points (103 - 105). The PA system that broke down took a couple important points from our samba school but that's how it goes: everything have to go perfectly to win! In any case, our group within the Imperio do Papagaio got positive feedback and the full 2 points: "good mood, suitable and cheerful choreography! energetic and happy group! singing and appropriate use of space."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Can I have a zouk on the beach?

While the hot summer weathers were visiting Finland we arranged a trip out of Helsinki to the neighbouring Vantaa's Kuusijärvi (='pine tree lake'). The zouky people spread their blankets in the middle of the unsuspecting sunbathers, had a little picnic snacks, chatted and went for a swim in the cool lake.. until Markus arrived with his boombox - which he's named the Zoukblaster - and we just had to start dancing! When we started doing the zouk moves I heard people around us asking if they were on candid camera :D No, just our 2-3 hour unplanned zouk party ;)

Swimming in the lake had a nice cooling effect in the middle of the all the dancing. Have to say it was interesting to dance with the oily/sweaty/half naked guys... After all that dancing on the uneven terrain (+ the samba carnival and tropical party the day before) wore this dancer down and I skipped the bachata party in the evening. Next time bachateros!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Samba Carnaval - Survived it!

It was a fantastic carnival day in Helsinki on Saturday! The temperature went above +25 C and no clouds on sight - hot!! All the dancers were dripping sweat straight from the start and my black makeup was running as if I'd been crying. The sound system of our crew broke down already before the half point of the parade (also before the judges..) and we had to sing with out the melody, luckily we could at least hear the drumming of the bateria clearly. Was a bit rough to dance and sing as loud as you can for about an hour in that heat... but we did it for sure, with a big smile on our face with the help of thousands and thousands of people cheering us :)

Our 'Sanaleikki' group really had team spirit and I'm sure the whole Papagaio samba school impressed the judges with the costumes and the performance! The winner of the Finnish samba championship will be announced on Wednesday (as in Rio after the carnival). The five competing samba schools were 1) Império do Papagaio, theme "Wonderland of child's play" (Helsinki) -- 2) Samba Maracanã, theme "The most beautiful diamond" (Lahti) -- 3) Samba Tropical, theme "The four seasons" (Seinäjoki) -- 4) União da Roseira, theme "Renaissance" (Tampere) and -- 5) Samba el Gambo, theme "Hearts full of the magic of Christmas" (Kokkola). In addition to the samba schools there were also jugglers, capoeira group, folk dancing group, some Brazilian bands and people from the Brazil-Finland organisation.

Here are some ~50 pictures from the carnival taken my friends.
-- A heartfelt thanks to all of my friends and family who cheered me along the road!

Here is one comprehensive set of beautiful carnival pics by Mika Sipura - also with one pretty nice shot of me - the sweaty sambista!

And: A video broadcast of the entire(?) carnival! Spot one familiar blond girl at around 18:15-18:30 :D

Friday, June 10, 2011

Countdown to HSC.. 3,2,1!

Final preparations for the Helsinki Samba Carnaval 2011! Days to the carnival: 1!

Tan, check!
Nails done, check!
Hair ready for the final fixes tomorrow, check!
Make up all set, check!
Energy bars and recovery drinks bought, check!
Costume pieces all done, sown together and neatly organised, check!
Well, almost... :D Very very close and everything will be 'check' by the end of the night and can sleep well before the big day :)

Already started to hydrate myself for the carnival, will be a super sunny and steamy afternoon tomorrow!! Also stocking up on magnesium. And healthy food. After visiting the pharmacy and the grocery store earlier today to prepare myself for the exceptionally HOT samba carnival tomorrow started to feel like I'm preparing for war :D The amount of stuff I hoarded.... Bandages, plasters, safety pins, painkillers, sun screen and tons of snacks & sports drinks.. and the very important "recovery drinks" :P

Here's some of the items I'll be packing with me tomorrow (not including any of the makeup and hair products - or the costume)...  And a sneak peak of the costume colors and materials below :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Essential shopping

Today was my lucky day: finally found a new pair of dance shoes for zouk and other latin socials/parties! My collection of zoukable shoes is veeery limited and despite numerous attempts have not found a pair of "real" dance shoes that would fit my feet of strange proportions. Almost ordered tons of shoes from one US online store (that had a super helpful customer service) but backed out at the last minute as there wouldn't have been any sensible way to return them.

So these shoes I just found randomly at a local generic shoe store. Fit is great, they stay firmly on (yes, did some zouk 'laterals' in the store), have just the right heel height, don't look too boring and the price was ok (49,90€, Andiamo). Win!

Also found 4 tops, 2 belts and nail polish on the same trip - all at half the price of the shoes!! Ok, I admit they weren't exactly "essential" but at least cheap :D And hey, returned some jeans to another store so they were basically free... :P

Bought some samba essentials as well: hair extension for the carnival. Needed a new one as I've turned blond since the last carnival and luckily found a cheap & decent looking piece (9€ from Cybershop). It's a whopping 75 cm long (in reality 150 cm, folded) and goes down all the way to my waist. Might keep it long this time and then can trim it for the next carnival since it will get messy anyway after one use. Also got some new piece of belly jewlery that will match the samba costume - very important stuff! ;)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Endorphin overdose!

Best way to rest a sore shoulder? Definitely stay far far away from zouk gatherings!!

Didn't follow that advice but instead gladly spent 4 hours "burning the floor" in the park in beautiful summer weather with the sun setting on the other side of the bay in the end. Had so much fun dancing and doing crazy moves, dips and lifts that totally forgot I should have been resting my shoulder. How did I live before zouk and the fantastic Helsinki zoukers?! Hopefully my arm doesn't fall off :D No severe pains though but that might be due to the endorphin overdose...

The pictures are from last week's Opera zouk... But rest assured, the evening was equally sunny and despite the wind it was warm enough to wear a skirt :) Today there was no chance I would or actually could have stopped for one second to take pics - lot's of wonderful guys making sure I literally didn't step out of the dance floor for hours on end!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ready to play .. Samba!

Helsinki Samba Carnaval is just a couple days away! We had a big dress rehearsal today - no cameras allowed to make sure our costumes and choreographies will remain a surprise on the big day. I was thoroughly amazed by the shere awesomeness of the costumes and floats I saw today. Everybody has clearly worked hard and the level of creativeness and detail is incredible. I'm sure my samba school will win the carnival, can't imagine anyone could top us! I'll proudly sing at the top of my lungs and dance my feet off with my fellow dancers on Saturday!

So, the group to watch is Imperio do Papagaio, the theme to follow will be "Leikki - Wonderland of Child's Play", the place Senate Square, the time 3pm this Saturday! 1000 dancers... 40000 people expected to come see the spectacle... and then cameras are definitely welcome!!

Testing new things

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3...

Bought a new portable speaker - for beach dancing obviously! Did some testing while having a picnic & tanning session with the girls. And couldn't resist doing a couple zouk steps as well, hehe. And worked out fantastically! Volume and bass are pretty impressive and battery life seems good as well, all considering the tiiiiiny size and the low prize. Happy with it already!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Imagine this...

The new background image to the blog is done! Had this vision about making a pretty random but colorful compilation of some of my fave travel and dance related pics - so far :) Hopefully this background will be updated in the future as well.